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Redding Skater Awaits Word On Olympic Bid From Australia

Brooklee Han of Redding will find out on Dec. 4 if she will represent Australia in the Winter Olympics.
Brooklee Han of Redding will find out on Dec. 4 if she will represent Australia in the Winter Olympics. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

REDDING, Conn. – Redding’s Brooklee Han will find out in a few days whether she will represent Australia at the Winter Olympics in Sochi In February. The June graduate of Joel Barlow High School knows she has done everything in her power to earn the spot.

“I think the policy is definitely in my favor,’’ Han said. “I’ve had strong international results, and I feel like I’m the one who deserves the spot and has the best chance of doing well.”

Han is headed to Australia to compete in its national competition, which began Nov. 30. The Ladies short program is Dec. 5 and the long program is Dec. 6.

Unlike the United States, however, Australia’s selection process for the Olympics does not take into account the results of the national competition.

Australia selects its representative based on previous results. The process is also open to interpretation, although Han’s recent accomplishments make her the clear favorite to earn the Sochi spot. The selection will be announced on Dec. 4.

Han earned an Olympic berth for Australia by finishing fifth at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany in September. She finished first among skaters whose countries had not already qualified for the Olympics. After finishing 10th in the short program, Han zoomed to fifth with a score of 98.42 in the long program, eclipsing her previous personal best by more than seven points. Her total score was 147.16.

At the Volvo Open Cup in early November in Latvia, Han skated even better. She  won the short and long programs and won first place in the international event with a total of 151.76.

“I think going into this season, I had some good momentum,’’ said Han, who is coached by Serhii Vaypan and trains in Newington. “I feel  like I’m being taken more seriously as a senior international skater. The judges and the panels are starting to look at me more and I think I’ve improved technically in the quality of my jumps, skills and interpretation of music.”

Han said part of her improvement can be attributed to getting an earlier start on her long program, which she skates to the sound track of "Secret," a Taiwanese movie.

“It’s a piece I enjoy skating to,’’ she said. “We spent a long time looking for something that no one has used before, but that people were also familiar with. We found this piece in mid-April and finished choreography in late May. I think this season we were more prepared with the program.”

Han has also been able to devote more attention to skating. She was accepted to Wesleyan University but elected to delay her college entry to focus on skating. She is taking two classes but has spent most of her time preparing for and taking part in the figure skating season.

“It has been a different kind of year,’’ Han said. “There’s a lot of extra responsibility that comes along this season, in terms of drug testing, paperwork and extra work for the Olympics. It’s nice to have one less thing to think about so I can focus on skating.”

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