South Island event last chance to qualify

Line up . . . Dunedin Ice Skating Club will host the South Island tournament this weekend. The synchronised team (pictured last year) will compete for a spot at nationals. PHOTO: THE STAR FILES

Dunedin ice skaters will get one final chance to qualify for the national championships at this weekend’s South Island tournament.

The Dunedin Ice Skating Club will host skaters from Gore, Alexandra, Queenstown and Christchurch for the three-day event.

Coach Megan Kliegl said it was the final regional competition.

About 125 skaters, from Kiwi skaters to masters, would be competing in a series of grades.

“Usually the competition lasts one and a-half days but they’ve had to make it three.

“All the grades are bigger so it’s a really good sign.”

The competition was the last chance for skaters to qualify for the New Zealand championships, which will be held at the end of October.

Five Dunedin skaters have already qualified and a few more were hoping to do the same.

The synchronised team had to score 16 technical points to secure its place.

“They’ve worked so hard, so everyone’s rooting for them.

“It would be heart-breaking if they don’t get it.”

The synchro criteria was the hardest it had ever been in New Zealand, she said.

A team from Christchurch would also try to qualify and, unlike other sports, if both teams got 16 technical points they could both go to nationals.

“It’s not a case of whoever wins gets it,” she said.

“New Zealand are trying to mirror international requirements so when our athletes do make it overseas we fit in better.

“And the higher the standard in New Zealand, the higher the quality of athletes we’re going to get and that’s reflected in our solo skaters.”

Skaters were already benefiting from New Zealand “pushing the boundaries” because they were starting to see “exceptional talent” from younger skaters.

“They’re really raising the bar.

“What used to seem impossible is now their warm-up.”

Kliegl said there had been a growth in ice sports in Dunedin.

The Dunedin Thunder ice hockey team had been getting heaps of people in the audience at their games, and its was trickling into figure skating as well.

“It’s really positive for us.”