By Erin Banco
The 14th Annual Kick-Off Classic will take place this weekend in Kalamazoo, Mich. as 117 teams compete at Wings Stadium at the first major Midwestern synchronized skating event of the year.
The competition will commence Saturday morning with the juvenile division and will last until Sunday morning.
Twelve teams will compete in this year’s juvenile division. As in previous years, Chicago Jazz will be the team to beat. The Crystallettes, Starlights and St. Louis Synergy will also be looking to edge their way up in the division after completing successful seasons last year.
The Intermediate division, a division that consistently grows year to year, will take place Saturday afternoon. The Fond Du Lac Blades will look to retain their momentum and strength from previous years. But St. Louis Synergy, Starlights and the Crystallettes will also look to medal and beat the Blades who placed second at the 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships.
Two Canadian teams will make an appearance in the junior division this year, adding even more pressure on to some of the top US junior teams. Synergy from Leaside Skating Club and Les Pirouettes of CPA Laval will look to edge in front of teams like Chicago Jazz and Team Braemar. Last year Synergy won the short program with a score of 43.81. The Canadian teams are the only two teams competing their long program at the competition. The Fond Du Lac Blades will return to the junior division this year. The club has fielded strong junior teams in the past and their presence this year will add new tensions in the division.
The Crystallettes won the Novice division at the 2012 competition and will look to win the gold again this weekend. Starlights and Chicago Jazz will also look to earn medals.
The Kick-Off Classic has consistently been an important competition for collegiate teams. Usually The University of Wisconsin and Adrian College compete, but this year only Western Michigan University and Illinois Skating will make an appearance.
Adrian College will perform in the senior short this year and will compete against the Starlights. Adrian College competed previously in the collegiate division. They Crystallettes will not compete in Kalamazoo this year.
The beginner, pre-juvenile, open collegiate, open juvenile and preliminary divisions will also compete at the competition. The open juvenile and preliminary divisions are the largest divisions to compete at the event and will each include 17 and 16 teams respectively. This year the open adult division will be split into two separate divisions. The open adult “younger” division includes the IllinoiSkating Fighting Alumni—former skaters from The University of Illinois teams.
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