JENNA McCorkell’s beaming smile said it all as four years of pain suddenly evaporated in Sochi as she came of the ice on Saturday night.
McCorkell’s Olympic journey has had more valleys than peaks – she missed the Games in Turin through injury and last time around in Vancouver produced a stuttering performance, including two falls, which meant she didn’t get to perform her free skate.
So it was clear to see why she punched the air with such delight after a season’s best 50.09 in the short programme of the team figure skating.
“It was my season’s best by 11 points and that’s a big step up from the European Championships. I’m just proud to finally put a performance in at the Olympic Games,” she said.
“I did my absolute best and I was really relieved after what happened in Vancouver because that was such a massive disappointment to me. I wasn’t really ready four years ago but I’ve came in here knowing my practices have been going very well and I felt more confident. I knew I could do it and I’m over the moon to have skated like that.”
McCorkell was always using the event as a sighter for her main target in Sochi, Great Britain are ranked tenth in the world and it would have needed even more than a miracle on ice to secure a place in the top five that get to compete for the medals with their free skates. She will now go back into training and reset her targets on the individual event later in the Games. McCorkell is even prepared to bleed for the cause, heavily grazing her knuckles during a dizzying spin, one of the elements of her skating she claims needs to improve.
“No pain, no gain,” she joked, as she dabbed the blood from her hand. “I’ve got to get my head back into training now and pretend this didn’t happen. I’ve got a day off now and then it’s back to work.
“There is room to improve for the individual event and I’m excited now to go back to work in training, I can’t wait to get out here again. I got a little buzz after landing those two early triples. I knew I could land them, I do them day in, day out in practice but you’ve got to do it at right moment too.
“The two biggest elements are at the start of my programme and I’m so just relieved. We’ve got to improve the spins, it’s still a few points short of my personal best and we can work on the technical side of things.”
McCorkell isn’t short of support in Sochi, from her friends and family in Northern Ireland to her training bases in Dundee and Belgium – the country of her husband, two-time European men’s bronze medallist Kevin van der Perren.
“The experience has been fantastic, I’ve had so much support, it gives you such a lift,” she said. “I’ve got all their cards with me and I took a look at them before I left and knew they were with me. I’m very happy that I finally really enjoyed an Olympic skate and hopefully there are two more performances like that to come.”
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