Cheltzie Lee shocks herself in Winter Olympics figure skating
Article by Carly Crawford, The Herald Sun
25 February, 2010

Stepping on to the rink for her first Olympics, 16-year-old Lee dazzled spectators with an athletic routine performed to Michael Buble's Feeling Good, a show that put her 18th of 30 skaters with a score of 52.16 points.

"It's the best score I've ever gotten in my short program and it's the perfect time to do it at the Olympics," she said.

The former gymnast later paid tribute to her friend Innes, who died in the 2007 Sydney Harbour ferry crash.

"I am sure she would be so proud of me," Lee said. "I wish she was here with me."

It was a remarkable effort considering Lee only learnt she would skate at the Games three weeks ago when an Israeli competitor withdrew.

End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.

"Ever since I found out, I've been training my butt off so I'm glad I've done the best I can do," she said.

Coach Kylie Fennell was thrilled her young charge had made the top 24 to qualify for the free skate final tomorrow.

"Tonight she even surprised me with her confidence and maturity," Fennell said.

Lee has a permanent spinal defect after a 2007 car crash in Colorado, where she spends time training.

When she is not competing, she wears a yellow wristband dedicated to Innes, who died in the ferry disaster with three other members of Australia's ice skating community.

Another grieving skater, Canada's Joannie Rochette, broke down in tears after finishing her program, just two days after her mother's death.

The 24-year-old is poised for a medal, lying third behind South Korean Kim Yu-Na and Japan's Mao Asada.

Therese Rochette suffered a heart attack shortly after arriving in Vancouver.

Rochette said "words cannot describe" how she was feeling. "It was hard to handle, but I appreciate the support. It was very nice to have the warm welcome," she said.