By Erin Banco
Junior division teams from across the country will compete this weekend in Fond Du Lac, Wis. for the 2014 World Junior Team Selection Competition. The top two teams will earn the honor of representing Team USA in Neuchatel, Switzerland for the ISU Junior World Championships March 6-8.
Last year the Skyliners and Lexettes represented Team USA in Helsinki, Finland for the first official ISU sanctioned junior world competition. It marked the Skyliners’ fourth appearance and the Lexettes’ first appearance at the world competition. Only eight other teams have represented the US at the competition since the inception of the Junior World Challenge Cup in 2001. These teams include Chicago Jazz, Team Braemar, the Hockettes, the Colonials, Team Elan and the Superettes.
This year 12 teams will be competing for the opportunity to travel to Switzerland. These teams include the Capitol Steps, Chicago Jazz, Fond du Lac Blades, Hockettes, Lexettes, Miami University, St. Louis Synergy, Skyliners, Starlights, Synchroettes, Team Braemar and Team Delaware. Precisely Right withdrew from the competition after cancelled flights out of Newark airport.
Although the Skyliners and the Lexettes are favored this year, Chicago Jazz will be looking to make a comeback and clinch one of the top two spots. Chicago Jazz has made eight appearances at the world competition—the most appearances for any US team in the history of the competition. Saint Louis Synergy will be in contention for a top spot after earning second place at the 2013 Dr. Porter Synchronized Skating Classic last month, as well as Team Braemar, the reigning national champions, and former junior world team members from 2009-2012.
The 2014 Foot of the Lake Synchronized Skating Classic will take place in conjunction with the selection competition. Teams will compete in the senior, novice, intermediate, juvenile, preliminary, open adult, beginner, pre-juvenile and open juvenile divisions.
The competition marks the first match up between last year’s top competitors and senior world team members, the Haydenettes and Miami University. The Haydenettes and Miami University will compete against the Skyliners, and Starlights. Miami University earned first place at the 2013 the Dr. Porter Classic last month, in front of the Skyliners and Starlights who placed third and fourth, respectively.
Chicago Jazz will be looking to gain the top spot in the novice division at this year’s competition. The team placed fourth at the Dr. Porter Classic, however none of the teams that placed ahead of them will compete this weekend.
The Fond du Lac Blades, the host of the competition, will be looking to lead the intermediate division. The team placed second in its respective flight at the Dr. Porter Classic last month. The club also fields a team in the junior, juvenile, preliminary and beginner divisions. Its juvenile team placed third behind Chicago Jazz last month and is favored to garner a medal this weekend.
Ten teams will compete in the preliminary division and the Fond du Lac Blades are once again favored to earn one of the top spots. St. Louis Synergy and Chicago Jazz are also in contention for earning a medal.
Chicago Radiance and Ice Kicks will be looking to earn medals at the competition this weekend in the open juvenile division. The Dazzlers are also expected to earn a medal. The teams competed in separate flights at the Dr. Porter Classic. It will be interesting to see how the division shakes out this weekend with just one flight for the division.
Beginner 1 and beginner 2 divisions will both have one flight with eight teams in each. The Sheboygan Lakers is the only team competing in the open adult division. The competition will begin Friday evening with the senior short program and it will close Saturday night with the junior free skate.