by Meghann Ronan
The 2014 Eastern Sectional Synchronized Skating Championships are set to begin this Friday, January 31st in Hershey, Penn. The Central Pennsylvania Figure Skating Club will host the event, which kicks-off non-qualifying events at 7:00 a.m. EST in the Hershey Park Arena and kicks-off qualifying events with the masters division at 5 p.m. EST in the Giant Center.
Last year’s masters division Eastern Champions, DC Edge, and the 2013 National Champions, Esprit de Corps are favorites to win in the five team field. Team Delaware, Gotham City Synchro, and Essex Blades are also competing. All teams will advance.
The juvenile division is next to take the ice, with a total of ten teams competing. Team Ashburn had to withdraw due to injury but will still exhibit their program. Six of these teams will continue on to the National Championships in Colorado Springs next month. The Skyliners and Mini Mates are favorites in the division, having consistently battled each other for the top spot over the last several years. Others to watch include the Synchroettes, DC Edge, and Team Delaware.
With fourteen teams competing for only four qualifying spots, the intermediate division is undoubtedly one of the most difficult of the weekend. The Star Mates and Skyliners are favored in the division, with several other teams vying for the remaining positions. Team Ashburn, the Superettes, the Colonials, Team Esprit, and the Chesapeake Sailors have each been within three points of each other at both the Cape Cod Classic and Colonial Classic earlier this season. It truly is anyone’s game.
The junior and senior events will close each night’s competition. Each team competing in these divisions will advance to Nationals. The Haydenettes, Lexettes, and Skyliners junior team each have byes for the event because of their international competition schedule. Favorites to win the junior and senior divisions are the Synchroettes and Skyliners, respectively.
Saturday’s competition begins with the championship rounds of pre-juvenile, open juvenile, preliminary, and open adult divisions after their qualifying rounds take place on Friday. These four divisions are the largest of the event, with twenty-eight teams in pre-juvenile and open juvenile, seventeen in preliminary, and sixteen in open adult.
The championship round of pre-juvenile will consist of twelve teams. Favorites to win include the Chesapeake SkipJacks, the Colonials, Team Esprit, Team Ashburn, and the Nor’Easters.
In the open juvenile division, DC Edge Red, Wallace Synergy, the Nor’Easters and the Saratoga Stars are among favorites. Ten teams will compete in the championship round.
The final round of the preliminary division will also consist of ten teams. Favorites include the Shooting Stars, Skyliners, Team Ashburn, and the Synchroettes.
The Ocean Blades and Esprit de Corps are favorites in the Open Adult Division.
The adult division also looks to be very close this season. Last year’s National Champions, Esprit de Corps, narrowly defeated the Colonials at the Colonial Classic. DC Edge and Team Delaware have yet to face their East Coast competitors, but based on their history will also be fierce opponents. Team Image will be competing as well, with hopes of improving on their score from Colonial Classic.
Five of the seven teams competing in the novice division will qualify for the National Championships. Favorites for the division include the Ice Mates, Skyliners, and Synchroettes. Team Delaware, Sparklers, Team Image, and Philadelphia Symmetry will also fight for the remaining spots.
The University of Delaware is looking to reclaim their collegiate title from Team Excel after withdrawing due to illness last year. Also looking to claim the title is the University of New Hampshire after placing second the past two years. In total, six of the eight teams competing will advance to Colorado. Other teams to watch include Oswego State, the University of Massachusetts, and Boston University.
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