By Hannah Solmor
Teams of all levels will gather in Marlboro, Mass. this weekend to compete in the 2015 New England Challenge Cup. For many teams, this is just another competition, but for the teams competing at the junior level, this competition is arguably the most important. The top two junior teams at the Junior World Team Selection Event will represent the U.S. at the ISU World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships* this March in Zagreb, Croatia March 13 to 14.
The Junior World Team Selection Event
The junior world qualifier event, which will begin promptly at 7:21 p.m. Friday, will be an exciting competition as some of the top teams from across the country vie for spots on the junior world team. Twelve teams will compete for the top two spots. Teams competing include, California Gold, Chicago Jazz, Fond Du Lac, Hockettes, Lexettes, Miami University, Skyliners, Saint Louis Synergy, Starlights, Synchroettes, Team Braemar, and Team Delaware.
Last season the Lexettes qualified as Team USA 1 with a total score of 155.17 and Chicago Jazz qualified as Team USA 2 with a total score of 146.72. Both teams will look to maintain their positions as representatives at the junior world competition this season. The Lexettes earned 7th place at the 2014 Junior World Challenge Cup in Neuchatel, Switzerland and Chicago Jazz earned 10th place.
Several of the teams competing at the event this year–including the Skyliners, Team Braemar, and the Hockettes–have competed at junior worlds in past seasons, and will challenge Chicago Jazz and the Lexettes to reclaim their spots on the junior world team. A number of other teams have represented the U.S. on the international stage and look to step up to the next level of competition.
First to take the ice this weekend will be the Skyliners who placed 4th at last year’s junior world qualifier, missing a spot on the junior world team, but who represented the U.S. at junior worlds from 2010-2013, and who most recently earned 7th place at the 2013 Junior World Championships in Helsinki, Finland just behind the Lexettes.
This season the Skyliners placed first at the Dr. Porter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich. in December with a total score of 134.76, about four points above Chicago Jazz, who placed third with a score of 130.70.
Last year’s national silver medalists, Saint Louis Synergy, will also vie for one of the top two spots. Saint Louis Synergy received third place at last year’s junior world qualifier and narrowly missed the opportunity to compete at junior worlds. This season the team earned 4th place at the Dr. Porter Classic with a score of 130.30, behind both Skyliners and Chicago Jazz.
Other competing teams to watch include Team Braemar, a member of the junior world team from 2009-2013, and Miami University. Team Braemar placed second at the midwestern sectionals last week, just behind Chicago Jazz, earning a total score of 136.00. The Crystallettes and Miami University earned third and fourth respectively at last week’s sectionals–Miami University with a score of 127.26, just more than three points behind Team Braemar. The Crystallettes, who earned a total score of 131.26 at sectionals, will not compete at the qualifier this weekend.
The New England Challenge Cup
The challenge cup event kicks off Friday afternoon around 4 p.m. with the open juvenile competition. As this is a non-qualifying division, this will be the last competition of the season for many of the teams. The Munchkins, Synchro Stars and Nor’Easters qualified for the championship round at Easterns, and will compete against each other again.
Following open juvenile is the senior short program. The Haydenettes will compete against the Starlights. The Haydenettes have just returned home from their international assignment in France where they scored 62.10 in their short program. The Starlights competed at the midwestern sectional championship last weekend and scored 49.94 in their short program. Both teams will compete again on Saturday afternoon in the long program.
The event continues with the masters division around 6:50 p.m. Friday evening. The only team competing in this event is Esprit de Corps.
Saturday’s competition is filled with all levels. Twelve beginner teams will compete in three different divisions (beginner 1 to 3).
The juvenile division will also be an exciting event. The top three teams from the eastern sectional championship this year, Skyliners, Mini Mates, and Synchroettes, will compete against each other this weekend. Team Excel and Team Image, who placed 7th and 8th respectively at the eastern sectional competition, will join them.
Seven intermediate teams will compete. Favorites are the eastern sectional silver medalists, the Skyliners. The Colonials, Superettes, Team Excel, Synchroettes, and Team Image will challenge the Skyliners, though none of them have qualified for nationals.
Many preliminary teams will compete for the final time this week. The eastern sectional championship silver medalists, Skyliners, will compete against bronze medalist Shooting Stars. Four other teams will also compete, including Excel Crystals, Synchroettes, Team Image, and Unity. All teams, with the exception of Unity, made the championship round at sectionals.
Saturday afternoon five novice teams will compete for the top spot. The eastern sectional champions the Ice Mates will compete against midwestern bronze medalist Chicago Jazz. Only .96 of a point separates their sectional scores. The easterns silver medalists, the Skyliners will also compete, in addition to the eastern bronze medalists, the Synchroettes. All teams except Team Image will compete against each other again at nationals.
Following the senior free skate, five pre-juvenile teams will compete. It is sure to be an exciting event as four of the five teams competing made it to the championship round at easterns. Shooting Stars will look to take the top spot.
The collegiate division will be one of the main events of the competition. The winners of the collegiate division each year are given the collegiate trophy. Boston University, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of New Hampshire will each vie to regain the trophy. The University of Massachusetts won the gold last year. Newcomers to the collegiate division, the Metroettes, will challenge them, as they hope to continue their momentum from their second place finish at the eastern sectionals.
The last event before the junior free skate is the adult division. Esprit de Corps will compete against The Colonials. This could be an exciting showdown, as both teams have defeated each other this season; Colonials at the Colonial Classic, and Esprit de Corps at the eastern sectionals.
Follow results on our twitter page @GIC_Results to stay updated from the New England Challenge Cup, and find out which teams will represent the U.S. at junior worlds this year!
*For simplicity and clarity we refer to the Junior World Team Selection Event as the “junior world qualifier” and the ISU World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships and the Junior World Challenge Cup both as “junior worlds,” though we recognize these events have formal titles.