Winter Olympian and World Championship figure skater, Kailani Craine, faces big challenges with lockdown.
Newcastle’s, Kailani Craine’s brilliant skill in mastering the arts on ice is what led her to debut at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, as well as other prestigious competitions including the World Championship, the Four Continents Championships, and the Skate Canada International.
However, for the 22 year old, like many elite athletes, the covid lockdown in 2020 was the biggest challenge in her ice skating career.
For Kailani, lockdown meant going back home to Australia from the U.S, disrupting her part time training in Los Angeles. Consequently, Kailani received a three-month break, saying it was “the hardest thing [she] had to do in her career”, as the longest break she’s ever had since was only five days.
“Three months is crazy, even after a week [of not training] I usually can’t feel my feet properly and it takes me a while to get back into [ice skating], but I think I knew that it would be a struggle to get back on there.
“You forget how strenuous and how much pressure is put on your feet in skates and it was definitely a struggle to get back especially with my timing, elements, the jumps and my twitch muscles. It was a big learning experience. It’s taught me how to handle change, and now I feel like a stronger competitor”, she said.
Kailani started ice skating when she was 8 years old after attending a birthday party at an ice skating rink. The experience blossomed a new talent, and her parents soon paid for private lessons, and her passion was born.
An unusual sport to take up in Australia, Kailani did not think it could be something she could eventually be competitive in.
“I really just loved it – I didn’t really think it was a competitive thing at first, but I just really enjoyed it and I kept stepping up in levels.
“None of my parents or relatives skated at all, which is quite strange actually in the figure skating community. Sometimes peoples’ parents skate but not me.
I just did it quite naturally. It’s such a weird sport for an Australian to take up professionally so, it was really cool for me,” she explained.
Kailani started her international career as a junior skater where she competed and won at numerous events including Skate Down Under in Sydney in 2013, and the Lombardia Trophy in Italy 2014 where she landed a gold medal at only16 years of age.
During 2017-2018, Kailani’s talents lead her to be the first place Olympic qualifier in the ladies event in PyeongChang at the Nebelhorn Trophy.
At only 19, Kailani competed for the first time at Olympic level at the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in 2018 where she placed a final ranking of 17th out of 30 competitors.
She described competing at the Winter Olympics as one of “the best moments of [her] life”.
“It was better than what I thought it would be. Some experiences, they don’t live up to your expectations, but this exceeded them by far and even qualifying for the games was an amazing experience as well”, she said.
However, the pandemic left a huge dent in not only the figure skating community with the cancellation of all competitions, but the whole sporting world including postponing the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Although she is not training or having “ice time” now as often as she used to in Los Angeles, her competitions in March and April 2021 are yet to be determined whether or not they are cancelled so, she still needs to be “competition ready” no matter what.
“So, I’m not training as much as I would be in my peak time, but I am definitely starting to build hours back up on the rink and all the gym work that comes on top of that”, she said.
However, being back home in Australia brought its rewards. Kailani was able to be featured in a Delta Goodrem’ new Christmas music video, ‘Only Santa Knows’, where she showED off her brilliant ice skating.
Kailani has also partnered up with Pepsi Max in their #FlavourFavourstheBold simple sip challenge.
Alongside Kailani Craine, Pepsi Max has enlisted the nation’s quirkiest talent, from stuntmen to roller-skaters, and their complex, unique skills to kick off the debate of which cola drink is best, showing how simple it is to sip the drink whilst performing a skill.
Pepsi Max is also challenging Aussies to showcase their complex or quirky skills on social media, and are encouraged to share the challenge with the Instagram and TikTok hashtag #FlavourFavourstheBold.
Kailani takes on this challenge, as she takes a sip of Pepsi while performing a combination ‘catch-foot’ spin on ice…blindfolded. (Check the challenge out from her Instagram).
Kailani hopes that by partnering with Pepsi Max and doing the challenge, people will be exposed to figure skating and hopefully will give this sport a go, especially to Aussies who may have never thought of figure skating as a competitive sport.
“I love incorporating my sport with anything. It was so fun – I actually think it helped me as a skater as well, if I can do it blindfolded while tasting Pepsi, I can definitely do it anytime”, she said.