Han secures Sochi Olympic Games spot
Brooklee Han skated her heart out on Day 2 of the Nebelhorn Trophy, securing Australia a place in the ladies’ individual figure skating for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Her result in the free program meant that she finished in overall fifth place – but most importantly, first out of non-qualified competitors. With only six spots on offer, Han ensured Australia would continue its proud history of figure skating at the Winter Olympics. "Coming here to gain an Olympic quota spot was my ultimate goal," Han said. "I'm happy that I achieved that. Being one off at worlds was disappointing but I knew I would be in strong contention here. I knew I had my work cut out for me but I got the job done."
Skating to the soundtrack of the Taiwanese movie Secret, Han delivered beautifully in her free routine, faltering slightly on only one jump. Her segment score of 98.42 and total score of 147.16 eclipsed her previous personal bests of 91.26 and 141.88 respectively, which she achieved at the 2013 World Championships, and put her in first place. With just three skaters chasing qualification still to come, Han had done everything she needed to do to qualify.
"Both programs were not perfect, but I'm happy with my long program," Han said. "I was disappointed with the fall on the loop in my short program as I can skate a clean short easily."
The 18-year-old, who lives and trains in the US city of Connecticut, delivered an emphatic performance with four triples, including a triple lutz. At a technical level, her spins were a vast improvement from the previous day’s short program. Han was third overall in the Technical Element Score, with a score of 51.62 - higher than those of the better ranked Miki Ando of Japan and Ashley Cain of the USA. She also recorded the highest score out of all competitors for the total of her three spins - 12.33.
It was her presentation that also really impressed. Han used the powerful emotions in the soundtrack to really take the crowd with her and engage them and the judges in her performance.
The event was taken out by Elena Radionova of Russia but it was Japan’s Miki Ando, who finished in second place who delivered the most anticipated performance. The two-time World Champion, who is the only female skater to complete a quadruple jump successfully in competition, has returned to the ice since having a baby in April and has set herself as a medal contender for Sochi.
Rounding out the top-six qualifying nations alongside Australia were Georgia, Norway (for the first time since 1964), Austria, Czech Republic and Brazil (for the first time ever).
Article courtesy AOC/Alice Wheeler | http://www.sochi2014.olympics.com.au
Image: Brooklee Han of Australia competes in the Ladies Short Program © Ronald Martinez/Getty Images