29/05/2024

Kailani Craine in the Free Skate at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics Photo: Olympic Winter Institute of Australia

The 2021 Nebelhorn Trophy is the last chance for Australia's top figure skaters to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics with skaters in each discipline vying for a quota place

After the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships, Australia is yet to earn a quota placement in any of the four figure skating disciplines for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. There is now one last opportunity to qualify at the Nebelhorn Trophy this weekend.

The Australian team will send skaters in each discipline with experienced skaters Brendan Kerry and Kailani Craine hunting their third and second Olympics respectively in the singles events, while the teams of Anastasia Golubeva and Hektor Giotopoulos Moore, and Holly Harris and Jason Chan are attempting to qualify for their first Olympics in Pairs and Ice Dance.

Men’s Singles

There are seven quota spots available in the Men’s Singles event at Nebelhorn, more than any other discipline, with 26 countries vying for one of the remaining spots.

Canada, France, Russia and the United States will be looking to take an additional quota placement in Oberstdorf in the Men’s Singles, boosting their teams and putting all three in a superior position in not only the individual events but the team events as well.

After missing out on World Championships earlier this year due to a foot injury, this is Brendan Kerry’s only chance to earn a quota placement for Australia.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kerry and many other skaters didn’t have the opportunity to compete internationally last season with the Australian only notable competition last year at the French Masters where he won bronze.

The last major competition he attended was in February of 2020 at the Four Continents Championships, where he finished 12th.

Only returning to on-ice training in early July, it’s unclear if the 26-year-old will have all of the jumps he’s previously had in his arsenal.

Previously Kerry has earned an Olympic quota placement through the World Championships in the season prior to the Olympics, and this will be his first time competing at Nebelhorn and pressure will be on to finish inside the top seven and ideally on the podium.

Photo: Olympic Winter Institute of Australia

Women’s Singles

By far the most hotly contested discipline the Women’s Singles only has six quota spots available while athletes from 33 counties are competing for the chance to qualify for the Olympics.

The outright favourite for the event is the United States’ Alyssa Liu, who even without the quadruple jumps that she previously used in juniors has a personal best 18 points ahead of the next best competitor. Should she win, she’ll earn the USA a third quota placement and will likely have secured her own place on the Olympic team.

This isn’t the first time Australia’s Kailani Craine has had to fight for a quota placement at Nebelhorn, previously winning the event in 2017.

Like Kerry, Craine wasn’t able to compete much in the 2020/2021 season, only competing at World Championships, and was unable to train on-ice for three months and when she was able to the sessions were shorter and were every other day rather than every single day.

Ahead of the 2021/2022 season, Craine returned to her coaching team based in the United States and took the opportunity to compete at the Cranberry Cup International, ultimately she finished 12th, scoring 142.10, losing levels on several spins and having under rotation calls on several jumps in the free skate.

The 23-year-old is capable of bouncing back, with a competition under her belt for the year she’s been able to test both of her programs and will have made any needed adjustments to earn herself a second Olympic assignment.

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Pairs

One of the hardest events to predict there are just three Olympic spots on offer in the Pairs competition at Nebelhorn with 14 countries looking to earn the quota placement.

Spain’s Laura Barquero and Marco Zandron are considered to be the favourites after their first competition for the season earning a total score of 184.94 if they can get within ten points of that score they’ll be the first team to qualify.

Australia has entered newcomers Anastasia Golubeva and Hektor Giotopoulos Moore. A new pairing Golubeva and Moore competed at the Junior Grand Prix Russia event where they finished fifth behind four Russian teams scoring a 158.68.

While not the perfect skate at JGP their score could look very different to that of the event with the requirements for the short program not having the same specific jump and throw requirements and will be able to change their jumps to triples rather than the double axel or flip they are restricted to in Juniors.

At their first senior competition, it is hard to say whether they will perform up to this new level or if they will replicate a similar performance at JGP but if they have been able to fine-tune certain elements in particular the low catches on the triple twist the Australians will have a better chance to beat the odds and earn the quota spot.

Ice Dance

At Nebelhorn 2021 the Ice Dance field is one of the tightest with only four spots available and 17 nations vying for one of those spots, the team that just misses out won’t have been far off the four that do earn Olympic qualification.

The expected favourites are 2020 World junior silver medalists Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya of Georgia who missed the 2020/2021 season entirely due to health issues. This is their first competition back but expectations are deservedly high after their performances in the 2019/2020 season in both seniors and juniors.

Holly Harris and Jason Chan will compete for Australia in their second competition for the season after finishing in fourth at the Lake Placid International earlier this month.

The event will be won or lost in the levels in the Free Dance, as well as the key points in the Midnight Blues pattern of the Rhythm Dance.

Their main rivals will be the Armenian team of Tina Garabedian and Simon Proulx-Sénécal who finished second in Lake Placid and the Korean pair Yura Min and Daniel Eaton who finished sixth at the same competition but just over two points behind Harris and Chan.

https://youtu.be/JLd_IjkDRg0

The competition commences with the Men’s Singles Short Program on Thursday at 5 pm AEST and concludes with the Ice Dance Free Dance on Sunday morning at roughly 4 am.

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