Belfast Telegraph

Jenna’s all set for her Olympic debut

By Nigel Ringland

Jenna McCorkell makes her introduction into Olympics competition tonight when she skates in the short programme of the ladies figure skating at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

It will be the fulfilment of a dream she has had since she was seven and the completion of a journey that started in her home town of Coleraine and sixteen years later has crossed the world ending on the west coast of Canada. Injury robbed her of the chance to compete in Turin in 2006 but over the last fortnight the 23-year-old has made up for that disappointment, soaking up the Olympics experience.

“It’s just so exciting and really different from any other competition I have ever done, it’s so cool to have so much going on in other sports as well and its been a lot of fun mixing with so many new people. We have an amazing apartment with a great view which makes it even more special,” explained Jenna, speaking from Vancouver over the weekend.

“I have learned a lot about the other sports and athletes and what kind of training they do and everything that their sport requires, its very different to the kind of things figure skaters do.”

One of the highlights was walking into the BC Stadium at the opening ceremony with Team GB.

“It was absolutely amazing. We were all so hyper and excited. When they announced Great Britain, I had butterflies in my stomach!” she said.

Jenna’s build-up to the competition hasn’t been without its difficulties. She had been suffering with a viral infection in her chest and throat for more than six weeks and was almost forced to pull out of the European Championships last month in Tallinn.

The seven-time British champion, who will be the first skater from Northern Ireland to compete in the Winter Olympics, still managed a personal best in the short programme in Estonia before illness affected her free programme and she finished in 14th.

“Well, illness is not something that you plan or control so it was very frustrating for me but I did the best I could with the situation,” she said. “I'm feeling a lot better now.”

Under the watchful eye of her coach Yuri Bureiko, Jenna will skate the short programme tonight to Dance Of Death by Franz Liszt and two days later her long programme will be performed to the Voice Of The Violin by Andrea Camilleri.

In order to maximise her chances she has been working with internationally renowned choreographer Shanetta Folle.

“I was very lucky to be able to work with one of the world’s best choreographers this season, I think she has done a great job with the music choice and the programmes.

“The style is a little bit different from what I normally do but I like it.”

Jenna won’t lack from support either. Her parents, Craig & Ainsley McCorkell arrived in Vancouver over the weekend and after finishing 17th in the men’s competition for his native Belgium last week Jenna’s husband Kevin Van der Perren will join them. Now all that’s hoped for is that Jenna will do herself justice.

A top fifteen finish would be an exceptional achievement.

“We worked so hard for so many years and I am happy to be here,” she said. “I want to do my best and make everyone proud.”

Belfast Telegraph

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