ASHFIELD’S Jamie Whiteman admits he has got the taste for major championships after flying home from the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival with a smile on his face, writes Ben Baker.
The 16-year-old (pictured left) took to the ice for the first time at the Svijanska Arena in Liberec on Monday for the short programme a bag of nerves recording a score of 37.90 to rank 10th.
However that wasn’t the case less than 48 hours later in the free skate with the Ashfield Comprehensive School pupil improving three places to seventh overall with a total of 118.37.
Whiteman was well short of Petr Coufal, from the Czech Republic, who won gold with a score of 169.73 but insists he is more than satisfied with his performances in Eastern Europe.
“My second skate was so much better than my first effort earlier in the competition and I am just so happy to finish the competition on a high,” said Whiteman.
“I managed to get over the experience of being at such an Olympic-style event and I really tried to concentrate on what I needed to do.
“My legs just got used to being on the ice very quickly the second time around which was a good feeling and helped me put in a good performance and one I was pleased with.
“I was also a lot better prepared after the short programme and although I let myself down a bit with my first skate I knew I’d come out and perform better and move up the rankings.
“I just wanted to make sure that I made the most of this opportunity and I am so glad I have done that and can head back to England proud of what I have done.”
Home favourite Coufal made a dramatic jump from third to first following the free skate to take gold with Russian Maksim Kovtun settling for silver and France’s Simon Hocquaux bronze.
Like Coufal and Co, Whiteman may have spent just seven minutes on the ice in Liberec but he insists it was more than enough time for him to catch the Olympic bug.
“My focus now is to carry on learning harder tricks and doing more competitions and hopefully to just better myself,” he added.
“I’ll leave Liberec with the best memories of skating in front of a great crowd and the most amazing experience which will really help for the future. And I am so keen to keep doing big competitions like this and I will be doing all I can to make sure I get to skate at the best events in the future now.”
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