Up against the higher ranked Ukraine winners, Siobhan Heekin-Canedy and Dmitriy Dun and Japanese silver medallists Cathy and Chris Reed, the Australian champions finished their engaging circus-themed free dance for a personal best overall score of 128.42, and also achieved the International Skating Union (ISU) minimum entry score for World Championships for the final dance.
“Finally making the podium and being a part of the medal presentations was just amazing,” Danielle O’Brien said. “I nearly made a mistake on one of the spins, but covered it and we are really happy with our performance. We are very proud, but we still have the Short Dance score to achieve and only one event left to do it.”
The pressure on the Sydney couple is mounting as they approach their last opportunity at the Four Continents Championships next month in Japan to reach the required 29.00 minimum score in the Short Dance, before the 2013 World Championships in late March.
“Scoring 28.50 in the Short Dance was so close. We were happy to be in third position at that point, but would trade the place for last if was 29 points,” Danielle told her father from Poland.
Bronze medal for O'Brien and Merriman. Photo: Kylie Yacopetti
Bronze medal for O’Brien and Merriman. Photo: Kylie Yacopetti
The Olympic Winter Institute of Australia scholarship holders have been based in Detroit with top coaches Pasquale Camerlengo, Anjelika Krylova and Massimo Scali since late 2011 in a bid to achieve their Olympic dream.
Their string of history-making achievements for Australian Ice Dancing this year include breaking into the top 20 at the 2012 World Championships, winning their sixth straight national title, moving onto the podium in Poland after two narrow 4th place misses and posting personal bests.
Other world-class ice dancers, such as the 12th placed Chinese team at World’s in 2012, are in the same predicament as they struggle to make the unusually high target scores prior to the 2013 World Championships. Compounding the problem for national federations, and indeed the ISU, is that the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships are an Olympic qualifying event. In Ice Dance, 19 entries – by country – will be determined with only five remaining entries decided at a further Olympic qualifying event in Germany this September, but only if the skaters make the minimum ISU scores.
“We wouldn’t keep going if we didn’t think we were now world-class,” explained Greg. “Training with Pasquale, Anjelika and all our training partners [which include World Bronze medallists and European Champions Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat from France] is motivating us every single day. Of course it’s hard work, but we are focussed on always improving our technique. Competing in so many events this season has been good for our performance skills and we can feel the difference it has made because we are more prepared and step up a notch at every event.”
Article courtesy of the Burwood Scene