Nationals draw formidable ACT squad
David Kirkpatrick, Canberra Times
14th November 2001

Olympics or no Olympics, Miriam Manzano has set a personal challenge to win another title at the national ice skating championships in Sydney next month.Manzano will lead one of the strongest ACT teams to have graced the ice and is confident that she can repeat her last success, which was in 1993. The 26-year-old has returned from an overseas campaign in some of the best form of her life and hopes that will continue at the nationals.

"I've been really happy with my form lately, I seem to have reached another level with my skating and, hopefully, I can maintain that in three weeks' time," Manzano said. "I haven't really been at this level for the national championships before, so it's kind of exciting for me." Manzano had been vying with Australia's Joanne Carter and Stephanie Zhang for a place at next year's Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Zhang has since gone on to claim first dibs on the spot, but there are a number of other big events on the calendar including the Four Continents Championships in Korea in January and the world championships in Japan in March.

"Overall my attitude since coming back from overseas, and doing quite well, is to achieve everything that I want to do,' she said. 'I just want to win every day. It's the same sort of feeling when you work hard every day, and you know that you've worked harder than the other competitors, and the sense of satisfaction that comes from that."

Manzano will represent the ACT in the senior women's category, while Stuart Beckingham is hoping to make a breakthrough in the senior men. Beckingham, 20, was injured at last year's championships, but believes he should give favourites such as Anthony Liu, Bradley Santer and Daniel Harries some tough competition.

"Major competitions in Australia are hard to come by, a lot of skaters drop out and only the good ones stay on," Beckingham said. "'The ACT titles were a good tester and at the Hollands Trophy in April I had some good comments from one of the senior judges."

Beckingham has been skating for the past 12 years after his father, a keen cross-country skier, took him along to the rink for a practice session.

"There was an old guy on the ice doing a whole heap of tricks and I decided I'd like to try doing that," he said."I took to it pretty quickly ... I like combining the tricks with the music and the technical side of the choreography."

St Clare's College student Kacie Shelley and Jacinta Greenwood from Canberra Girls Grammar will compete in the novice women's category. Year 8 Calwell High student Jason Dale will contest the novice men, while Lauren Jeppesen-Hwang, Rebecca McKibbin and Katharine Gosling will take part in the intermediate women. Mandy Howe, Elke Shelley and Brodie Dale will compete in the primary girls and Cameron Fletcher in the primary boys.