REDDING, Conn. -- Olympic figure skater Brooklee Han found a way to dramatically reduce her commute time to the rink. Unfortunately, she had to move nearly 1,700 miles from her Redding home to do so.
Han, 21, announced last week that she moved to the Fort Worth area. She is now coached by Darlene and Peter Cain at the Dr. Pepper Star Centers in Euless, Texas.
She had previously trained under Serhi Vaypan in Newington since 2007.
“It was a quick move,’’ Han said in a phone interview from Texas. “I had just made the decision that I wanted to change coaches. I’m very grateful for what Serhi has done for me. There’s no way on earth I would have accomplished what I have without his guidance. I’m grateful for what he’s helped me achieve. I just felt it was time for a change.”
Han, a dual citizen, represented Australia, her father’s homeland, in the 2014 Winter Olympics and finished 20th. Earlier in that skating season, she won the Volvo Open, her first major victory in international skating competition.
As Han contemplated a change, she sought coaches who could devote attention to her skating, interacted well with skaters and had a history of success. She found them all in the Cains, whose daughter Ashley skates in internationally for the U.S. in singles and pairs. Peter Cain competed in the 1980 Olympics for Australia, and Darlene is a former Canadian ice dancer.
“There are a ton of coaches, but some of them are really busy,’’ said Han, who is in Texas with her mother, Pinky, dog Willa and cat, Fat Louie, while her father remains in Redding. “I’ve known Ashley and it’s hard to coach your child. Peter and Darlene have the best parent/child coaching relationship that I’ve seen. They also have some good skaters and have gotten good results."
Han now trains with Ashley and her pairs partner, Timothy LeDuc. Other training partners including Amber Glenn and Alexey Krasnozhon, who both train under the Cain.
She’s also finding easier access to the rink, which is about 10 minutes from an apartment where she is living. The Dr. Pepper Center also has seven rinks, and the region is a budding area for skater development. In Connecticut, she faced lengthy commutes from her home in Redding to Newington to train with Vaypan.
Han plans to compete in the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany beginning Sept. 22 in Germany. She also hopes to compete in the Volvo Cup in November, and will be at the Australian championships in late November.
Han posted her highest International Skating Union score last year at Nebelhorn at 151.7 points and finished seventh. She finished fourth in the same competition in 2013. She has finished second in the Australian national championships three of the past four years, and won the event in 2013.
Han's short program will be the same as last year, to “Dans la mansion.” She is planning her long program to “A Dream Within A Dream” and is working with choreographers affiliated with the Cains.
“I’m working on increasing the level of technical difficulty, and working on some new combinations,’’ Han said. “I’m trying to increase the quality of my performances and make everything a little bit more polished.”
Han graduated from Joel Barlow High School in Redding and attended Wesleyan University but is taking a temporary leave of absence. She figures to return to Connecticut to finish her education. She’s also hopeful she can return to the Olympics in 2018 in South Korea. She even drew inspiration from watching the recent Summer Olympics.
“Watching it gave me a boost of inspiration,’’ Han said. “It was a nice reminder of what it felt like to be at the Olympics. It helped relight that fire inside me.”