Hot competition for last Winter Olympic places

The final Winter Olympic Qualification competition for Sochi 2014 begins tomorrow in Oberstdorf, Germany and four Australians are hoping to secure their place including six-time Australian Ice Dance champions, Danielle O’Brien and Greg Merriman.

Winter Olympic dream on the line for Danielle O'Brien and Greg Merriman

Winter Olympic dream on the line for Danielle O’Brien and Greg Merriman

The stakes are high for the inner-west dance team who moved to Detroit two years ago for better coaching and training conditions.

With 22 entrants in the dance, only five spots remain for next February’s Sochi Winter Olympics but coach and former World medallist, Massimo Scali, says Danielle and Greg are ready to achieve their dream.

“Dani and Greg are doing really well and are feeling confident on the ice. They are ready – physically and mentally – to compete,” Coach Scali said from Germany this morning.  

“They’ve had a really good preparation in the weeks following their win at Skate DownUnder. There is a lot on play at this competition.  Step by step they just need to do their job and switch off their brains.”

“Danielle is pretty easy for me to understand as I can read it in her eyes.  I then help her to go back mentally, calm her down and reassure her that what they are doing is really great.”

The Winter Olympic atmosphere has arrived early with over 30 international journalists and television networks covering the hotly contested event.

“The atmosphere here is good,” said Scali. “You can feel a little bit of Olympics in the air.  All the teams here are ready to do their best and represent their country. As for Dani and Greg, they are going for it and fighting for it.  They are ready.”

Australia’s hopes in the men’s event rests on the young shoulders of 18 year-old Brendan Kerry, who recently placed 5th in a Junior Grand Prix in Latvia following his win at Skate DownUnder, where he unleashed his best ever performance, which included two triple axels and a triple/triple jump jump combination. He will need all of that and more to clinch one of the six remaining Olympic berths in the Mens event.

Also representing Australia is Brooklee Han in the Ladies event.

To view Danielle and Greg’s interview aired this week on ABC  go to  sochi2014.olympics.com.au  

Full string is:  http://sochi2014.olympics.com.au/media/29BCFAB0-24DD-11E3-ACF0005056A37760

By Belinda Noonan

 

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