SEOUL, South Korea -- Figure-skating coach Jacqueline Bennett said the one-week camp in Florida was important in preparing the Jamaican pair of Tamra Mitchell and Nigel Davis for the Special Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Mitchell and Davis, who are more accustomed to the highly strength-oriented speed skating, will be the island's first competitors in the artistic world of ice figure skating and, though optimistic, Bennett stressed the value of the experience.
"The preparation went well... we had technical help from experts at the ring. We got assistance, support and plenty of ideas to help our athletes to improve their dance moves. It's the first time, so if we don't win gold or silver, the experience will still be good. We look to learn and move on," she said.
Bennett admitted she is not an expert on the complexities of dancing on ice, but explained some differences between the two and added that they approach the competition with "an open mind".
"The ice is different... the rough type is normally used for ice hockey and speed skating, but for figure skating the ice is thinner or more refined so that the individual can glide along.
"This competition is down to footwork pattern, and there has to be consistency with the timing. Tamra and Nigel have really worked hard and we come to Korea with an open mind, because anything can happen on the day," said Bennett, who is director of roller-skating for Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ).
The slim-framed Mitchell smilingly told the Jamaica Observer she is nervous, but fairly confident ahead of the Games' opening on January 29.
"I'm nervous, but that happens with speed skating also... and the cold (weather) makes it worse. It (the preparation camp) was very good in Florida. I'm about 85 per cent confident heading into the games," she said.
Davis, another of the Jamaican team with an almost permanently pleasant demeanour, could not hide his excitement behind his shortly-worded responses to questions about his readiness for the novel challenge.
"I'm feeling ready, yea man. Nervous? Not for me...I'm not nervous, and right now I'm relaxed," he said.
The two skaters and their coach joined the rest of the travelling party in New York on Thursday where the entire team was feted by Team Jamaica Bickle's (TJB) CFO Lance Clarke, TJB public relations representative Andrea Daley and TJB advisor Dalton Evans.
Food and refreshments were provided by Caribbean Food Delights, which normally feeds athletes at the annual Penn Relay Championships.
Meanwhile, the Jamaican contingent, inclusive of 16 floor hockey players, arrived safely in the wee hours of the morning (Friday afternoon, Jamaica time) in ice-cold South Korea, after an approximately 15-hour sojourn across the Pacific Ocean from New York.
The athletes were warmly welcomed and fed by volunteers at the registration centre in Seoul before being escorted to the Seoul Women's University (SWU), where they will be hosted until tomorrow.
The sight of flag-bearing local student supporters, led by team leader So dam Jeong, and the buzz of cozy greetings seemed to boost the Jamaicans as they look to embark on their historic march.