Former SUSF Elite Athlete Program (EAP) scholarship holder and ice dancer Danielle O’Brien has qualified for next year’s 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
O’Brien and competition partner Greg Merriman confirmed their selection in their first Winter Olympics after finishing sixth in their free dance at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Following some shaky moments early on in her circus-inspired dance routine, O’Brien and Merriman recovered to deliver a a personal best score of 76.68 for their playful free program to finish on 127.20 points overall – and third out of the non-qualified nations.
“I felt very nervous today,” said O’Brien, speaking to the Australian Olympic Committee press.
“It’s been a long two days since the short dance. I was just so ready to compete that the adrenalin had sort of worn off until I got on the ice. It was one of the hardest free dances we’ve done. It was solid. I knew we’d given it everything and whatever was going to come of that would come of it.”
“Skating last we knew we only had to be ahead of three,” Merriman added. “We felt ready to do our job. It was a tight pack. Our performance was far from our best, but we got the job done.”
O’Brien and Merriman will become only the second Australian pair to compete in ice dancing at the Olympics – after Monica MacDonald and Rodney Clarke at Calgary 1988.