by Katie Fiore
Like so many skaters that return year after year, this year was my 9th year attending a Miami summer skating camp, and 4th year at the elite camp! I look forward to it each year because it’s about so much more than the skating activities. With practically every club in the country represented, camp offers a unique opportunity to meet, skate and live with 88 fellow synchronized skaters! While people’s backgrounds and teams are different, the common experiences are very clear.
Dorm life is a big part of the experience. We all stay in one dorm, right across the street from the rink. It’s newly remodeled with nice rooms and common areas. We are supervised by counselors, all members of a Miami Varsity Team. The counselors are a big part of what makes it so fun. They all really get to know the campers, and they are always happy to share in activities both serious and silly. This year, Tori Alexander, Paige Ditoppa, Nikki Vitale, and Callista Vojvodich led their groups as counselors. The head dorm supervisor was Miami Varsity Synchronized Skating Coach, Katie Bowling.
Theme days surely add to the fun! This year, Team USA day was a favorite, as campers dressed from head to toe in red, white, and blue. The immense representation of USA pride was very relevant, as American synchronized skaters are all one team and continue to make strides as a country. Throughout the week each skater remained motivated to work hard and explore beyond their comfort zones to improve as much as possible.
We participated in on ice classes such as agility, skating skills, twizzles, turn sequences, body movements, musicality/interpretation, freestyle and a daily synchronized skating element workshop with varsity coaches Carla DeGirolamo, Lee Ann Shoker, and Katie Bowling. We also participated in a pairs element class with David Goodman and a technique/edges class with PSA Master Rated coach Kelly Adair. A fan favorite for on-ice classes was learning a fun and challenging senior level no-hold in our synchronized skating workshops! Each of these on ice classes provided a focus on body awareness while as well pushing skaters to challenge themselves and try something new. Being intentional and focusing on each aspect of your body while you skate was a common theme this week, and is an incredibly helpful tip many campers were able to take home. Though there is a constant focus on technique, we were also encouraged to push ourselves to our limits and work on getting our bodies off of their centers.
As for off-ice classes, we participated in cardio intervals, yoga, an admissions meeting, multiple Q&A’s, a GOE class with varsity coach Lee Ann Shoker, strength and conditioning with Varsity Synchronized Skating trainer Mackenzie Cutter, mental training with Varsity Synchronized Skating coach Katie Bowling, and daily stretch/dance classes with dance teacher Lana Kay Rosenberg. Strength and stamina have a growing importance for synchronized skaters, as each level has different physical demands. Flexibility and musicality as well play a major role in being a competitive synchronized skater, so daily dance classes that included dynamic stretching were a great place to improve upon these areas. Being educated on our sport and mentally prepared are equally important. In mental training class we participated in a helpful exercise differentiating our positive and negative thoughts, and how to trigger reassuring messages. In GOE class we watched videos of current World Champions in multiple disciplines. We analyzed the skating skills from each video (current mens, dance champions) and then compared them to the current synchronized skating World Champions and discussed which areas we need to improve upon so we can raise the bar as a sport all together.
Learning new things and experiencing a preview of life as a Varsity Synchronized Skater keeps so many campers coming back summer after summer. It’s amazing to be surrounded by such talented synchronized skaters from all over the country, with the common interest of improving our athleticism and knowledge of the sport, to benefit our synchronized skating as a whole. I’d like to thank the Miami Summer Skating School faculty for providing me with such a wonderful place to grow, meet some of my best friends, and have many incredible experiences year after year.