REDDING, Conn. -- Brooklee Han moved from Redding to Texas late last summer in a bold move to rejuvenate her elite figure skating career. After producing the best score of her career last weekend, it appears Han is gliding back toward the top of her game.
Han finished 14th in last weekend’s Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, South Korea. She posted a free-skate score of 103.61 points and a total score of 152.61, both of which are career highs. Skating with a joy and passion that seem to have her eluded in recent years, Han catapulted herself back into Olympic contention. She represented Australia at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi and would like to represent the nation again next year — when the games will be held in that same arena in Gangneung.
“For the most part I was very satisfied with my free program,’’ Han said. “It was the best overall performance I had put out in a while and it felt great to do that.”
Han said she still feels she can do better, particularly in her short program. She fell on an opening triple lutz, and also felt some of her jumps could have been smoother. “There is still room for improvement in the speed and overall presentation with the program,’’ Han said. “I was happy with how well I recovered from the fall and with the performance and execution of the rest of the program.”
The performance provided a boost in confidence for Han, who finished 17th in last year’s Four Continents and seemingly plateaued. She moved to Texas to train with Darlene and Peter Cain, and she feels she has already improved.
“Two of the most noticeable changes have been in my jumps and presentation,’’ Han said. “We made some changes to my jumping technique, which has helped me to rotate more efficiently in the air. I have also put in a lot of time working the Cains and my choreographer to improve the presentation of my programs.”
Han, 21, still feels there is a lot of progress to come in working with the Cains. One of the reasons she moved to Texas was to work with higher level figure skating athletes.
“The environment at the rink is fantastic and I feel blessed to have such an amazing coaching team and training mates,’’ said Han, a 2013 graduate of Joel Barlow High School. “Prior to moving down here, I have never really had other elite athletes to train with. Getting the chance to train alongside other skaters with similar goals has been a huge help.”
Han also served notice that she will be a factor when it comes time to determine Australia’s representative at next year’s Olympics. Kailani Craine, who has won three straight national titles, finished 16th at the Four Continents with a score of 136.91, far behind Han’s total.
“It felt great to be the top-placing Australian lady this week,’’ Han said. “Placement is never something I really focus on. As an athlete, the only thing I have control over is myself, so that’s what I try to focus on.”
Han said she’s adapting to the Texas lifestyle in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. “While I have kind of missed snow this winter, I wasn’t too heartbroken,’’ she said -- and feels her best figure skating performances are still in front of her.
“I am very satisfied with the progress I have made since moving down to train with the Cains,’’ Brooklee said. “Although I am very happy with my performance at the Four Continents Championships, I feel this is just the beginning of even better things to come.”