Newcastle teenager out to make Australian skating history | Video, photos
KAILANI Craine completed her HSC exams at St Francis Xavier College last year, but she hasn’t checked her ATAR score yet.
The 18-year-old has more important things on her mind, like trying to become the first Australian woman figure skater to make the podium at an Olympics or world championship.
Craine is in Los Angeles preparing for a series of three major international events culminating in the world championships in Finland from March 29.
She will contest the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in South Korea from February 14 then skate as Australia’s only female soloist at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, from February 23.
The three-time national champion’s target is a top-17 spot at the world titles in Helsinki, which would guarantee Australia a place in the Olympic figure-skating competition at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
All this has left little time to worry about her university entrance score.
“I’m excited to be done with school now. I can go train with my friends in LA,” Craine told the Herald from LA. “I haven’t looked at my ATAR yet – I need to ask a friend how I can do that – but in my exam results I did pretty well.”
The 160cm dynamo competed in the world championships in Boston last year, finishing 27th. She won silver in the second-tier international Challenger Series Warsaw Cup in November and bronze in the Volvo Open Cup in Latvia to rise to 35 in the world rankings.
Craine said she was performing routines with the same technical difficulty as the world’s best and saw no reason she could not reach the world championship podium this year.
“With the way that I’m going at the moment I’m incredibly confident in myself,” she said. “I want to skate well at all three events to increase my ranking a bit, which I have done.
“I’m doing the same things that people that are podiuming at worlds are doing, so there should be no reason why I shouldn’t be going for the podium at worlds.
“I just need to put it all together in the one program where it counts.
“But getting top 17 for the Olympics is my first goal.”
Sydney’s Joanne Carter is Australia’s best-performed skater in international competition, finishing 11th at the 1997 world titles and 12th at the Nagano Olympics the following year, but Craine is regarded as the woman most likely to eclipse her.
“I love if people say that, but I always am a person who always wants more and more. I want to get results that no female figure skaters in Australia or even the world can do.
“I think there’s only a handful of girls in the whole world who can do triple axels, and if I can get one of those I will definitely be the first Australian female figure skater to do one of those.
“That’s the next big goal, but my mind is set on the Olympics for now.
“I have begun them [in training], but I haven’t landed one yet.”
Craine hoped her improved ranking would allow her to skate later in the world championship program, when scoring in generally higher.
“I’ve definitely improved my consistency this year and the way I feel with all my elements.
“I don’t have to stress going into each element, because I’ve done it thousands of times, millions of times even.”
Craine is living with mother Katrina and father Stephen at her American coach’s Manhattan Beach guest house in LA. She practises by herself at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium at Warners Bay when she is not training with her coaches in Sydney or overseas.
She feels confident she will be on the plane to South Korea next year if she locks up a place for Australia in March or at a back-up event in Germany in September.
She has been untouchable in domestic competition in the past three years, beating American-born 2014 Winter Olympian Brooklee Han to the national title on each occasion.
“Lately I haven’t been beaten by anyone else in Australia. Right now there shouldn’t be anyone, but I don’t want to stay the same, because that’s going backwards. I need to get better even.
“I want to think about it [the Olympics], but also I need to just knuckle down and think about where I am in the moment and how I can get to the Olympics.
“But obviously I think about the Olympics all the time. That’s just a complete dream.”