British Ice Dance Couple Nick and Penny have qualified a place for Great Britain at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang with a career-best score of 177.3.
The Olympic Qualifier event in Nebelhorn saw Nick and Penny finish at the top of the Ice Dance medal board with a personal best.
It was the couple’s first international competition since they returned to the ice at the IJS Sheffield back in August, following more than a year out due to injury
Penny shattered her right knee last year, an injury which required intensive surgery and threatened to take her off the ice for good.
The Nebelhorn Trophy was the couple’s second competition since their return debut in Sheffield, where they made an impressive come-back skate to take top spot.
Now the couple are celebrating following their qualification to enter their third Olympics after achieving the best score of their career in Germany, officially qualifying a spot for GB at PyeongChang.
Nick and Penny showcased new programmes on the international stage which had been choreographed with support from Olympian and ice skating legend Christopher Dean.
The couple led in both their Short and Free Dance to give a striking overall performance, especially when we consider where they were less than a year ago.
Following their skate at the weekend Penny tweeted: “So happy to finally be back where we belong! My heart is full, we just qualified for our 3rd Olympic Games!”
High Performance Programme Manager Robin Cousins said: “Nick and Penny overcame the nerves and excitement of returning to competition, and performed two very strong programmes - securing a spot for Team GB in PyeongChang.
“They're now looking forward to having more competition time in front of judges and audiences to hone the performance in the lead up to the Games.”
With their performance score reaching new heights, the team may now be entered to represent Great Britain in PyeongChang next year.
Great Britain was well-represented at the qualifier, as fellow athletes Natasha McKay, Graham Newberry and pair Chris Boyadji and Zoe Jones also put in great performances in Germany.
Graham Newberry finished in 10th place out of 26 other skaters with a score of 188.71. Graham’s Coach Christian Newberry said: “Graham had a great experience at the Nebelhorn Trophy. He has learned so much this year after winning the British Championships, he has much more to do for the upcoming season.
“The feedback he received from Robin Cousins and Tish Houghton was very positive and his new programmes went down very well with the judges and audience.
“He was disappointed to not get an Olympic slot but being so close has really inspired him to work even harder.
“He would like to thank everyone for all their support and is looking forward to competing at the Golden Bear in Croatia in three weeks.”
British ice skater Natasha McKay finished 18th in a group of 33 other Ladies, with a total score of 124.35.
Coaches to Natasha, Debbi and Simon Briggs, said: “We are incredibly proud of the poise, strength of character, and resilience that Natasha has shown in Germany during the Olympic Qualifying Event.
“Heading into this event, she prepared herself to the highest possible standards expected. Coming from a highly successful season, she won her first British Senior Championships and competed at her first European and World Championships, which were both successful events for her.
“We knew heading into the Olympic Qualifier that this would be a tough Ladies event with many strong skaters all pushing for the same thing, but we also knew that qualification was a strong possibility.
“While the event did not go as we would have wanted, it was clear from how the scores at the event played out for the qualifiers that we are on the right pathway, and that the experience gained from this event will carry forward over the next four-year cycle heading towards Beijing 2022.
“Moving on, we are pleased with how Natasha has handled the last 12 months, and we are looking forward to the rest of the 2017-2018 season.”
British Pair Chris and Zoe Boyadji also achieved a score of 142.54 at the event, which put them in 14th place in the overall rankings, with 16 very strong pairs skating in total.
We’re very proud of all skaters, who gave it their all to represent Great Britain. For many we are sure the event was an invaluable learning experience, and we wish to congratulate all competitors and their devoted support teams.
In what was an exciting weekend for British ice skating, Elise Christie also took World Cup Bronze at the first event of the Short Track Season in Hungary.
Elise skated through a leg injury she sustained in preliminary rounds to finish third in the 100m final – it’s the first time the speed skater has picked up a World Cup medal. Click here to read the full release.
With the Winter Olympic countdown now firmly on, Britain’s best are making every preparation to secure their spot on the world’s most important medal podium in PyeongChang.