Brooklee Han, 18, Joel Barlow High School alumna and Redding resident, will have her dream of competing for the Australian Women’s Ice Skating team in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, fulfilled.
Ms. Han has dreamed of being in the Olympics since she was 6 years old, she said.
“My mom tells a story from when I was 6. … I said, ‘I can compete at the Olympics with horses when I am older, I can play my violin at Carnegie Hall when I am older, but I have to skate in the Olympics now when I am young,’” Ms. Han recalled.
That dream is now a reality. According to a post on her Facebook page on Jan. 6, she was selected to be a member of the Australian team.
Before Ms. Han left for the Four Continents Championships in Taipei City, China, she was presented with a trophy to recognize her nomination and selected as a member of the 2014 Australian Winter Olympics team. Her coach of six years, Serhii Vaypan, was with her when she received the award.
Ms. Han came in 12th during the Four Continents Championship in 2013 and just returned from 2014’s competition. She was ranked 21st for women in the World Championships.
In the International Skating Union (ISU) World Standings, Ms. Han is ranked 40th.
On her blog, Ms. Han said that she and Mr. Vaypan met at the International Skating Center of Connecticut (ISCC) in Simsbury during a weeklong camp and Ms. Han’s mother arranged lessons with him.
According to Ms. Han, he is the “missing ingredient” to her training. She also said, “I am very thankful to have him for the past six years; he is why I am where I am today.”
The road to the Olympics was filled with training in Connecticut at the Veterans Memorial Ice Rink in West Hartford and the Newington Ice Arena. Her training was not only in the United States — she has also trained at the Icehouse Figure Skating Club in Melbourne, Australia.
According to her biography on the Winter Olympics website, Ms. Han said she trains 24 hours a week in the low and high season.
Her goal for the games is to skate two clean programs.
Ms. Han graduated from Barlow in 2013. She has since visited the school to talk to students about her training and keeping education a priority.
During her junior and senior year, Ms. Han said in a blog post, she missed more than 50 days of school. She said she knew she had to take responsibility on herself to keep in touch with teachers and up to date with work.
She also told a group of students about how she spent a 15-hour flight from South Korea doing homework so she wouldn’t fall behind.
On Tuesday, Jan. 28, Ms. Han was invited back to her alma mater for a pep rally hosted by Dr. Katherine Nuzzo, Michael Santangeli, athletic director, and Dr. Thomas McMorran, head of school.
Students sang and Dr. McMorran gave her a backpack full of notes from students wishing her luck at the Olympic games.
“I am honored to have such a wonderful community backing me,” she said.
The Barlow lobby even has a banner with Brooklee on it for visitors and students to see.
Since graduating, Ms. Han has been focusing on training, which has gotten her to this point — the Winter Olympics.
The opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics is Feb. 6 and the games begin Feb. 7. The closing ceremony is on Feb. 23.
Figure skating events are set for Sunday, Feb. 9, Wednesday, Feb. 12, Friday, Feb. 14, Monday, Feb. 17, and Thursday, Feb. 20.
The community can support Ms. Han by following her on Facebook at Brooklee Han-Australian Figure Skater and on Twitter @bookleeh95.