Team Excel Skates with Marigold Ice Unity
by Lee Anne Filosa, Lauren Gendzier, Julianna Mori and Shauna Quinn
When Marigold IceUnity, three-time world synchronized skating champions, of Helsinki, Finland arrived in Boston for the 2013 World Synchronized Skating Championships in April, they were focused, determined, and ready to compete for the world title. After placing third in the free skate and fourth in the competition overall, they still had a job to do. They were to stay in Boston for another week to star in The Skating Club of Boston’s annual show, Ice Chips. Throughout their weeklong stay, Team Excel skaters of all ages and levels had the opportunity to skate with and experience the speed, strength, and flow of Marigold Ice Unity.
Team Excel fields teams from Beginner through Senior and focuses on preparing synchronized skating teams for regional, national, and international competitions as they seek to achieve their full potential. At the Collegiate and Senior levels, the pursuit for excellence is made possible by the Team Excel Scholarship Fund, which was created by a group of generous donors in 2010, and is maintained by regular donations from Team Excel families and alumni. With this tremendous level of support, Team Excel was able to bring Marigold IceUnity’s Head Coach, Anu Oksanen, to Boston to choreograph programs for Senior and Collegiate at the very beginning of the 2012-2013 season. This marked the ten year anniversary of the first time Anu came to work with Team Excel’s Head Coach Merita Mullen’s Junior team in 2002, after they met at a U.S. Figure Skating conference. “Her creativity and self-confidence combined with approachability impressed me,” said Merita. Team Excel Collegiate and Senior skaters were thrilled to work with Anu this past summer, and the experience with Anu made the opportunity to skate with Marigold IceUnity especially meaningful. The Excel skaters wanted to meet Anu’s team, and learn from some of the best synchronized skaters in the world.
When the Finnish team stepped on the ice in their bold blue practice dresses, many of the Team Excel skaters were in awe and just wanted to watch. Soon enough, Team Excel skaters joined Marigold skaters in their pivoting block and moves in the field. “Skating next to them was so easy with their incredible posture, flexibility, and strength” said Julianna Mori, a member of Team Excel Senior. For moves in the field, they taught skaters their spread eagle pattern, worked on Ina Bowers and helped several skaters with their spirals. “Marigold even showed us some new stretches I am going to try,” said Julianna. The teams also taught each other this season’s step sequences including extensions and arm and head movements. “Marigold’s steps were much more challenging than they seemed and you needed a lot of speed and knee bend to get through them and maintain your flow,” said Shauna Quinn, another member of Team Excel Senior. Several Team Excel skaters have been practicing what they learned from Marigold skaters to become even stronger for next season, and to prepare for Anu’s return this summer.
Marigold and all of the Team Excel teams finished their season with their final performances in Ice Chips. After eating, skating, and hanging around backstage with Marigold, Team Excel skaters realized that Marigold IceUnity is very similar to Team Excel. “This team is very similar to ours – very friendly and welcoming!” said Shauna. The skaters bonded over their mutual love for the sport, and although Team Excel skaters were sad to see Marigold leave, they look forward to a continued relationship with their sister team from Finland.
The Team Excel skaters would like to thank The Skating Club of Boston, Team Excel, and Marigold IceUnity for this incredible opportunity.