by Leah Winn
This past week nearly 100 teams competed in eight different divisions at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. The event was hosted by the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association and was held at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo, MI. This competition also determined who would represent the United States in the senior division at the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships next month in Budapest, Hungary.
The event started Thursday afternoon with an exciting Opening Ceremonies. Former Ice Dancers, Tim McKernan and Dean Copely skated a “Blades of Glory” routine that gained national attention.
The competition opened with the juvenile championships. After finishing 2nd at last years Nationals, the Skyliners, received an impressive eight 1st place ordinals out of a possible nine, earning them the gold medal. Coming in 2nd were Teams Elite, followed by Chicago Jazz in 3rd, and Mini Mates in 4th.
The next event was the intermediate championship. Last year’s winners, DC Edge were not at this year’s event, which left the door open for a new champion. Winning their second division of the day, the Skyliners took gold with a score of 65.00. Midwestern champions, the Capitol Ice Chips earned silver with a score of 61.83, while Eastern champions, Team Ashburn earned bronze with 60.22. Teams Elite earned the pewter medal with a score of 59.20.
Next was the junior short program. Skating to Michael Jackson, the Skyliners earned an impressive 70.00 for their short program. Chicago Jazz earned a solid 2nd place with a score of 64.59 for their entertaining Chicago/All That Jazz program. Fond Du Lac Blades earned a score of 50.59 placing them in 3rd, while the Lexettes, winners of the recent Junior World Qualifier, placed 4th with a score of 50.47, after a disruptive fall in their program.
In the senior short program, the Haydenettes put an enchantment on the audience with their “Spell” themed program, earning a score of 68.88. Last year’s World Team Members alongside the Haydenettes, Miami University earned a short program score of 57.96 which placed them in second. The Crystallettes skated a fun program to “Juicy Wiggle” and placed 3rd with a score of 53.85. The Skyliners placed 4th with a close score of 53.82.
Friday began with the adult championship. After placing 2nd at Easterns, DC Edge flew to a score of 61.06 and a gold medal with their Batman themed program. Esprit de Corps, the Eastern champions placed a close 2nd with a score of 59.75. The Colonials placed 3rd with a score of 55.75, earning their first adult national medal, and Team Delaware placed 4th with 55.70, causing an East Coast sweep of the adult division. The Pacific champions, Denver Synchronicity, and the Midwestern champions, the Crystallettes fell just short of the podium earning 5th and 6th place, respectively.
Following the adult competition, was the novice championship. Earning their third National Championship in a row, the Ice Mates of the Hayden Recreation Center skated to gold earning an impressive score of 76.88 for their Mexican themed program. Finishing in 2nd were the Midwestern silver medalists, the Starlights, earning a score of 68.48 for their Halloween themed program. Skating to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, Midwestern champions, the Crystallettes, placed 3rd earning a score of 67.09. Finishing in 4th were Chicago Jazz earning a score of 63.53.
The junior free skate reminded us that anything can happen in the world of synchronized skating. Chicago Jazz, in 2nd after the short program, took their given opportunity and ran with it. They skated their free skate to the soundtrack of Carousel and earned a free skate score of 102.28, and a combined total of 166.87. This score earned them the gold medal, the team’s first since 2008. The leaders after the short program and last year’s National Champions, the Skyliners, had a few falls in their free skate which led them to a free skate score of 94.08, a combined total of 164.08, which ultimately placed them in 2nd place. Lexettes rose from 4th to a 3rd place finish after their free skate with a combined score of 156.31, and Fond Du Lac Blades finished in 4th with a combined total of 142.27.
The Skyliners who represent the Skating Club of New York, and the Lexettes of the Hayden Recreation Center will represent the United States as part of Team USA at the Junior World Challenge Cup in Zagreb, Croatia. This was decided earlier in February at the Junior World Qualifier event which took place in Dearborn, MI. The Skyliners will represent as USA 1, and Lexettes will represent as USA 2.
Saturday began with the master’s championship. Eastern champions, DC Edge, earned gold earning a 5/1 majority. Allegro! earned silver, while the Midwestern champions, the Goldenettes, earned bronze. Placing 4th and earning the pewter medal was Team Delaware.
Following was the collegiate championship. Earning their 12th title in a row, Miami University earned an impressive score of 90.12 for their USA themed program after placing 3rd at last month’s Midwestern championship. Skating to 2nd were the Wolverines of the University of Michigan with a Beetle Juice themed program and a score of 86.28. Eastern silver medalists, the Metroettes of the Hayden Recreation Center, fielding students of the surrounding Boston area, placed 3rd. Skating to a home crowd, the Western Michigan Broncos skated a high energy, country themed program earning the pewter medal.
The last event of the competition was the senior free skate. The top two teams from this event will represent the United States at the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships, April 8-9, in Budapest, Hungary. With their strong lead after the short program, the Haydenettes skated to their 24th National title with their street beats free skate, earning a free skate score of 133.60, and a combined total of 202.26, their highest of the season. Miami University of Oxford, OH skated a strong Latin Dance free skate earning them a score of 125.90, and a combined total of 183.86, also their highest of the season. The Haydenettes will represent as USA 1, and Miami University will represent as USA 2 at the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships. The Haydenettes will also represent the United States at the Shanghai Trophy in China, March 4th-6th. The Skyliners improved upon their 4th place finish in the short program to a bronze medal, earning a combined total of 169.47. The Crystallettes finished 4th with a total of 166.96, earning the pewter medal.
Congrats to all teams that competed at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships!