Newcastle figure skater Kailani Craine will compete on the biggest stage in sport after a breakthrough victory in Germany secured her a last-gasp spot at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The 19-year-old defied the extreme pressure of the final qualifying event to atone for her world championships disappointment in April and reach her first Olympics.
The three-time national champion had to finish in the top six at the International Skating Union Challenger Series’ Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf. And Craine rose to the occasion, claiming her first senior ISU title by just 0.44 points after the short and free-skate programs.
Craine, skating to a Moulin Rouge medley, included five triple jumps, three level-four spins and level-four footwork in her free skate to score 109.43 points for a combined gold-winning total of 167.45.
She clenched her fists in ecstasy after the routine then doubled over with her hands over her face as she realised she had done enough to reach Pyeongchang in 2018.
“I felt really good in my free program,” she said.
“I felt really prepared for this competition. It wasn’t the best free program that I’ve done, but it was enough to get me first place and to qualify an Olympic spot.
“I don’t think anything really can compare with what the Olympic Games are going to be like.
“It’s been a dream since I started skating, so I really just want to be able to skate my best, but I want to soak up every single moment.”
Her performance qualified Australia for a place at the Olympics, and Craine is easily Australia’s best-performed women’s figure skater.
The teenager, who shares her time between Newcastle and the US, grew up skating at Warners Bay.
Her victory atoned for a below-par free skate at the world titles in Helsinki which cost her an automatic spot at the Olympics.
In Friday night’s pairs event, Australian junior world champions Harley Windsor and Katia Alexandrovskaya stunned the skating world with a huge personal best to take the bronze and an Olympic spot.
Russian-born 17-year-old Alexandrovskaya is seeking to have her citizenship application expedited to compete for Australia at the Games.