Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Olympic dream over as Jenna McCorkell stumbles out

Northern Ireland's Jenna McCorkell pictured during her Olympic Figure Skating short programme during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at the Pacific Coliseum.

The massive disappointment was etched on the face of Coleraine girl Jenna McCorkell as she held her head in her hands at the end of an Olympics debut she had dreamed about since she was seven years old but one that had failed to go the way she wanted.



The enormity of the occasion appeared to affect the 23-year-old in the short programme of the ladies figure skating at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver and an unfortunate tumble left her out of the top 24, which means she misses out on the free programme tomorrow ... and out of the Olympics before she really got started.

Her score of 40.64 was well below her personal best of 53.80 set just last month in the European Championships in Estonia and left McCorkell in 29th place with only the top 24 moving on to the second part of the competition.

Despite her build-up to the Games being disrupted by illness, that saw her arrive in Canada a fortnight ago still on anti-biotics for a chest infection, practices had gone well and she looked strong in the warm-up before her routine.

She had plenty of support in Vancouver as her parents, Craig and Ainsley, watched on as well as her husband, Belgian international Kevin Van Der Perren.

Skating to ‘Dance of Death’ by Franz Liszt, the seven-times British champion started off well completing the first of the eight required technical elements, the double axel, without any problems.

But then she failed to land the first part of the combination, the triple lutz, taking a hard tumble on the ice and because she failed to complete either part of the jump it was a mandatory mark deduction.

That appeared to knock her confidence. She managed only a double flip when a triple was required and when it was all over no words were needed to describe the frustration and disappointment.

While waiting for her score, McCorkell still managed a wave and a quick hello to everyone watching on television but once 40.64 was posted it was clear her Olympics were over before she even had the chance to perform her free programme.

McCorkell, funded by Sport NI and who was the first ice skater from Northern Ireland to make the Winter Games, will now turn her attention to next month’s World Championships in Italy.

Friends and other family members stayed up into the small hours of this morning to watch her perform and while there was sadness that McCorkell had failed to skate a clean programme there was still immense pride with her achievement of making the GB squad.

“The short programme, unlike the free, is like a ‘hit or miss’ situation,” explains family friend Karin McBride.

“In the free you have an opportunity to make up the points if you miss an element.

“This cannot be done in the short; once an element is missed it can be very costly.

“Jenna has spent all of last season perfecting her short programme for that very reason and has scored really well all year.

“She will not only be disappointed but frustrated with her performance,” she said.

The leader after the short programme is last year’s world champion Kim Yu-Na from Korea with a score of 78.50, with Japan’s Mao Asada lying second.

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