Winter Olympics: Waratah figure skater Kailani Craine launches maiden Games campaign from Warners Bay rink where career started | photos

There’s nowhere else Kailani Craine would rather launch her maiden Winter Olympics from.

One last lap around her beloved ice skating rink at Warners Bay.

The floor was entirely hers as the Waratah 19-year-old perfected figure-skating routines for the Games at the same place it all started more than a decade ago.  

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Craine told the Newcastle Herald before leaving for South Korea during the week.  

“This is where I should be leaving for the Games.

“I love coming home. All my friends, family and life are here. I love skating it. Whenever I come back to this rink it brings back memories of how it all started.”

By now Craine would have received her green and gold uniforms in PyeongChang and prepared for Friday’s opening ceremony, both “really exciting moments” before debuting towards the end of competition on February 21 and 23.  

Women’s figure skating is arguably the Games’ blue riband event, recently projected onto the big screen via Hollywood move I, Tonya, and Craine will take centre stage representing Australia.  

“I was actually thinking about this last night, I just really wanted to go to an Olympic Games and that’s why I got to this place,” she said.

“I didn’t take no for an answer. It’s literally the only thing I’ve ever wanted, so now I’m going to have to come up with new goals for myself.” 

Craine was one of the first Australian athletes to book her ticket for the 2018 multi-sport carnival, needing a top-six finish at the International Skating Union Challenger Series’ Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany in October.

She went above and beyond at the final qualifying event to claim her maiden senior ISU title with a gold-medal and career-high total of 167.45, combining scores from both the short and free programs.

Last month’s official announcement on the Australian team came as no surprise for the eight-time national champion, including four crowns each across juniors and seniors from 2013-2014 to 2017-2018.  

Craine, who is based mostly out of US city Los Angeles, competed at the ISU Four Continents Championships in Chinese Taipei until January 27 and finished 16th

In November the St Francis Xavier College, Hamilton, graduate was fifth at the Shanghai Trophy.    

This followed 10th at her ISU grand prix debut in Canada the month before.

Craine said she may use a difficult “triple loop, triple loop” combination in the second half of her well-established short program to maximise point scoring. 

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