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By Susan D Russell
the unprecedented success of two of Australia's top ice
skaters last season, 28 year old Canberra resident, Miriam
Manzano, 2001 Australian National Ladies Champion and
Queenslander, Anthony Liu, 2001 Australian National Mens
Champion, have been invited to compete at the 2002 Skate
America Grand Prix event in Spokane, Washington this October.
America is the first of six prestigious, invitational
only Grand Prix events, the others being held in Canada,
Germany, France, Russia and Japan, culminating in the
Grand Prix Final to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia
in February 2003. All participating skaters earn points
for placements at their assigned events with the top six
point scorers in each discipline advancing to the Final.
the 2002 World Championships in Japan, Manzano skated
into 16th place out of 24 women, surprising even herself.
She is the first Australian woman to be invited to Skate
America since the inception of the Grand Prix series in
America is considered one of the top Grand Prix events,
drawing people such as the 2002 Olympic champions, American
Sarah Hughes and Russian, Alexei Yagudin.
the 2001-2002 season, Anthony Liu had a season of historical
firsts. He placed 4th at the Goodwill Games in Brisbane
in September, where many felt he should have won the bronze
medal. His 10th place finish at the 2002 Olympic Winter
Games marked 50 years almost to the day since Adrian Swan
placed 10th at the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, Norway. Liu
went on to the 2002 Worlds in Japan, placing 7th. It was
the first time an Australian man had placed in the top
10 since 1912 when Dunbar Poole placed 6th in Manchester,
England. Liu's success has secured two spots for Australian
men at the 2003 World Championships in Washington, DC
Manzano and Liu are two of the most popular skaters among
their peers and fans internationally. They represent a
rising interest in the sport of ice skating in Australia.
There are many other young skaters across the country
(Bradley Santer, Stephanie Zhang, Daniel Harries, Stuart
Beckingham, Emilia Ahsan and Lauren Winsborrow) who are
progressing through the international ranks.
with all winter sports, corporate funding for ice skaters
is almost non-existent which prohibits many of these talented
and dedicated athletes from attending training camps abroad
and thus, are denied the opportunities of skaters from
other nations who, with financial backing, are able to
train overseas with the best coaches among the best skaters
in the world.
The success of Steven Bradbury and Alisa Camplin at the
2002 Olympic Winter Games should prove to Australian corporations
that financial sponsorship of Australian athletes involved
in winter sports is a solid investment in the future.