by Grace Leonard
The much-anticipated Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships have arrived! This weekend, more than 2,000 synchronized skaters will compete in Richmond, Virginia to earn a spot on the podium and qualify for the National Championships in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the end of February. It will be an intense and jam-packed three days of competition.
The competition will get rolling Thursday afternoon at the Coliseum with the qualifying flights of the open juvenile division. Flights A and B will feature nine teams each and Flight C will have 10. The top four finishers in each flight will move on to the championship round on Saturday. Coming off a gold medal finish in Group A at the Colonial Classic earlier this month, DC EDGE will be looking to place near the top in Flight A and defend their title of 2015 Eastern Sectional Champions. Ice Illusion and Team Ashburn will also be looking to make it into the championship round. It will be a battle for the top four slots in Flight B with three medalists from Easterns last year: CNY Blizzard, Nor’easters and Shadows, plus Mirror Images Purple who are coming off a gold medal skate from Group C at the Colonial Classic. Definite teams to watch in Flight C will be Central Park Ice, Mirror Images Silver and Wallace Synergy who all medaled at this year’s Colonial Classic. The hometown team, Richmond Synchro, will also be skating in this flight.
Competition begins at the Convention Center on Friday where the preliminary teams will take the ice for their qualifying round. Flight A has nine teams competing and Flight B has 10. DC EDGE Blue will look to defend their 2015 eastern sectional title starting with placing near the top of flight A. Skyliners and Shooting Stars also medaled at last year’s event. Philadelphia Symmetry could continue to build off their momentum from a silver medal finish at the Colonial Classic and also place in the top four. In Flight B, three strong teams from New Jersey, Synchroettes, Precisely Right and New Jersey Black Diamonds, will be forces to be reckoned with.
The pre-Juvenile qualifying round will follow and feature three flights with 10 teams each. Colonial Classic medalists Shimmers, DC EDGE Blue, Saint Sensations and Team Ashburn should all fare well in flight A. Starcatchers, Skyliners, Central Park Ice and National Blades of flight B will also hope to perform well based on results from this season and previous ones. In flight C, Hayden’s Shooting Stars will aim to win the eastern gold medal again. The Colonials, Philadelphia Symmetry, CNY Storm and DC EDGE Red will challenge them.
Juvenile will be the first division for teams eligible to qualify for nationals. Nine teams will compete for four spots. Skyliners will strive to keep their gold medal streak alive (they’re three for three) as well as defend their 2015 title. They’ll face tough competition from Mini Mates, last year’s eastern silver medalists and the reigning national champions. Synchroettes, last years bronze medalists, are also in contention for a top finish.
Junior short program will be next with only two teams competing. Just like last year, Team Delaware will battle it out against the Synchroettes. Both will continue on to nationals regardless of who comes out with the gold. The Skyliners and the Lexettes received byes to nationals due to their international assignments.
The novice division will be a 10-team field with the top five finishers advancing to nationals. Ice Mates won easterns last year and are the reigning national champions. They will hope to add yet another title to their team’s impressive record. After an impressive, gold-worthy performance of their space themed program at the 2016 Colonial Classic, Team Ashburn also enters this competition as a top contender. Team Delaware, Synchroettes and DC EDGE all competed at nationals last year and will seek to earn the privilege of a repeat appearance. Skyliners are also in contention to defend their 2015 eastern silver and national bronze medals.
The senior short program will wrap up Friday’s events. Only Team Excel will compete because last year’s champions, Skyliners, have a bye to nationals due to their competition in Switzerland. The only other senior team on the east coast, Haydenettes, received a bye to nationals as well. Team Excel will skate to a remix of Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey.
The open collegiate division will get underway on Saturday morning. Nine different universities from up and down the east coast will compete this year, one more than last year. Princeton University will be out to win the division again. Oswego State Ice Effects, formerly a collegiate team, and the Catamount Blades from University of Vermont are sure to be competitive too. Liberty University Blades are considered a varsity club at their school and will also be looking to bring home some hardware and possibly improve upon their fourth place finish last year.
The open adult division will feature only four teams this year, all medalists at last year’s sectionals. The returning champions, Cutting Edge, are coming in to the competition with the goal of preserving their sectional title on their minds. Team Reflections, Gotham City Synchro and Esprit De Corps will all be looking to improve upon last year’s placements.
Five teams will skate for first place in the open masters division. The defending champions, DC EDGE, hope to maintain their top standing. Coming off of a gold medal performance at Colonial Classic, Philly Spirit will look to best the competition once again. Team Delaware Dazzle, Precisely Right and The Colonials are also expected to put out season best skates this weekend.
Junior free skate will be the first IJS event on Saturday. Synchroettes and Team Delaware will face each other again. There will be cumulative scoring at this competition, so both teams are striving for solid showings in both the short and long programs.
Next up will be the adult division. Seven teams will compete and each one will advance to nationals regardless of how they place in Richmond. It will likely be a close fight for the gold between Esprit de Corps and DC EDGE. Both teams have switched on and off as national champions for the past few years. Colonials and Team Delaware were the bronze and pewter medalists respectively at easterns last year and will try to skate to another podium finish this time around. New to the adult division, Team Excel will also be challengers, coming off a gold medal performance at the Colonial Classic.
The masters division will follow, with only three teams competing. In the absence of Esprit de Corps, eastern silver medalists last year and the reigning national champions, DC EDGE should set themselves apart as a strong, nationally competitive team. Gotham City Synchro and Team Delaware will also look to put out strong performances that set them up nicely for nationals. All three teams will advance.
Intermediate is the largest and probably the most anticipated event of the competition. A stacked field of 17 teams will compete for only four spots at nationals. Last year, DC EDGE won easterns and went on to win national gold. They have consistently medaled at competitions this season and will definitely be ones to watch. Team Ashburn has come a long way since they finished in 11th place at last year’s sectionals. Fresh off a victory at the Colonial Classic, they will look to keep up their momentum with another great skate this weekend. Skyliners, Star Mates and Team Delaware are also expected to have strong performances. These teams have always come out on or near the top at Dr. Porter and previous national and sectional competitions.
This year’s collegiate division will feature only five teams. Since last season, the collegiate division lost Cornell, the University of New Hampshire, Team Excel and the Chesapeake Captains. Therefore, all remaining teams automatically advance to nationals. UDSST (University of Delaware) will be looking to add another eastern sectional title to their extensive track record and receive positive feedback from the judges before competing at Tri-States in a few weeks. The Metroettes, who won a national bronze medal in their inaugural season, will challenge them for the top spot. University of Maryland Terrapins, University of Massachusetts and Boston University are expected to deliver strong and energetic skates as well.
The senior free skate will be the last event of the day. Team Excel is the only entry. Spectators should get excited to witness some nice group lifts and expressive program execution, the perfect conclusion to a weekend full of synchro.
Best of luck to all teams competing this weekend! We can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on! Don’t miss out on any of the action – follow Get It Called on Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Facebook. If you use #SynchroEast16 on social media this week we might share, reply or retweet you!