Ninety teams from across the country will compete this weekend at the 2012 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., hosted by The Skating Club of Boston and Team Excel.
The juvenile division will kick-off the competition Thursday at noon. Thirteen teams will compete in the division. The top six from the 2011 National Championships—Skyliners, Chicago Jazz, Mini Mates, Phoenix, Synchroettes and Team Delaware—will look to earn the top spots. Other contenders include Philadelphia Symmetry, who placed fourth at the Eastern Sectional Championships ahead of last year’s national competitors Team Delaware and Team Image, and from the Midwest, the Starlights, who placed second at sectionals just behind the reigning national silver medalists, Chicago Jazz.
The intermediate division will follow the juvenile competition. The Star Mates, a newly formed intermediate team out of the Hayden Figure Skating Club, earned the highest score, 63.65, at their regional competition out of all the teams in the division. They will be competing for a top spot with the 2012 Midwestern champion, St. Louis Synergy, and the 2012 Pacific champion, Team Del Sol. The Fond Du Lac Blades, who won the 2011 national championship, will look to hold on to their title.
The Hockettes and the Ice Mates are coming into the novice competition with the highest scores from their regional championships. The Hockettes earned a total score of 69.70 at the 2012 Midwestern championships and the Ice Mates earned a total score of 69.03 at the 2012 Eastern championships. Both teams are in the running for the title. Other top contenders include The Skyliners, Ice ‘Kateers, and Team Braemar.
The junior division will follow the opening ceremonies on Thursday night with the commencement of the short program. Team Braemar and The Skyliners both qualified in January for the Junior World Challenge Cup, which will be held in Goteborg, Sweden March 15-17. The two teams will look to place in the top two spots at this year’s national competition. The Lexettes placed second in the short program at the junior world qualifier but fell into third place after a disappointing freeskate. They will look to make a comeback and clinch a top spot this weekend. Other podium contenders include Miami University and Chicago Jazz. All teams competing in the division will look to earn a placement that will allow them to compete internationally next year. Historically, the top five or six teams from nationals have received funding from U.S. Figure Skating to compete abroad.
Competition among the senior division teams will be fierce this year. The top two teams will earn a spot on the 2012 U.S. World Team to compete at the World Championships in Goteburg, Sweden at the beginning of April. Top contenders include last year’s world team members, the Haydenettes and Miami University. Challenging them will be the 2012 Midwestern champion, the Crystallettes, who recently returned from a first place finish at the 2012 Neuchatel Trophy in Switzerland.
Also fighting for a spot on the senior podium is California Gold, the reigning national pewter medalists, and the Skyliners, who are new to the senior division, but placed fourth at the Dr. Porter Classic ahead of California Gold. Other teams to watch include the Ice ‘Kateers, last year’s fifth place team, who placed sixth at the Mozart Cup in Austria in a competitive field of thirteen international teams, and the Starlights, last year’s sixth place team, who placed fifth at their international, the Spring Cup in Italy. Senior short competition begins at 5:14 p.m. on Friday followed by the freeskate on Saturday at 8:08 p.m.
The collegiate division has been extremely competitive in recent years, and this year is no different. The University of Delaware earned a score of 79.58 at the 2012 Eastern championships, the highest regional score out of all the teams competing in the division this year. They will be competing with Miami University, who earned a bye to the competition, and the University of Michigan for the top spot at this year’s competition. Western Michigan University and Michigan State will also look to earn a spot on the podium. The University of Wisconsin and The University of New Hampshire both had successful performances at their respective regional competitions and will look to improve their placements from the 2010 national competition.
Contenders in the adult division include the eastern sectional champions and reigning national champions, Esprit de Corps, the eastern sectional silver medalists and Dr. Porter champions, DC Edge, the reigning national pewter medalists, Team Delaware, and the midwestern sectional champions, the Crystallettes.
Eight teams will compete in the masters division Saturday. This is a drop from the 12 teams that competed in the division last year. Expected leaders include Esprit de Corps, Allegro! and DC Edge.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on this weekend’s competition. Megan Romeo of Miami University will also provide frequent updates on the competition. Read her first entry on preparing for nationals.