By Chelsea MacIntosh
As athletes from every Team USA team from around the country gathered in Orlando, Florida the last weekend of May for the inaugural Elite Synchronized Skating Camp, a new vision was formed for the sport of synchronized skating. The camp had full participation from every Team USA team so it was truly amazing to see all the athletes together. The two day camp was full of knowledge from guest coaches and learning how to push our sport to a higher elite level on and off the ice.
All the athletes were divided into three teams: Team Red, Team White, and Team Blue. I personally was a member of Team Blue, however, each team participated in the same activities, just on a different schedule. On Saturday, our first event was off ice pair elements with John Coughlin and Alena Lunin. Here we learned the basics of tension and how to create power and speed from that for elements such as death spirals and pair spins. We also were able to try out some pair lifts and the basics of throw jumps. After pairs, we laced up our skates and hit the ice to learn skating skills and edge work form Kelly Morris-Adair. At first, we started with what seemed to be a simple gliding exercise, but we soon found out how controlling your blade from your ankle can be extremely difficult. We learned how to use our ankles to place the blade where we wanted it to go.
After on ice, it was time for the S.T.A.R.S. fitness testing. This program was developed specifically for figure skaters and tests our physical fitness level. Each athlete was tested individually on aspects such as speed, strength, and balance. It was challenging but also rewarding when you were finished and able to see the areas where you needed to improve and the areas that you were strong at. After fitness testing, it was strength and flexibility. Here, Kat Arbour went through the top qualities that elite teams possess and how to create a proper training schedule that would lead to peak performance times. We then went through several different workouts that were created for teams to do together without the need for a gym and machines. We all found them very useful and fun since sometimes getting to a gym can be very difficult for 20 girls at one time.
The camp also included a nutrition session with Connie Evers. Topics such as proteins and carbohydrates were discussed in how to use the right ones at the right time to properly fuel our body to be able to train. Team Blue then hit the ice for Speed and Power lead by Suzy Semanick-Schurman. Knowledge regarding how to generate the most speed from a stop was the main focus. We also went through work with hockey pucks and how to control our free foot actions while skating. After our last activity, all the teams came together for a presentation lead by Dan Kruger and Karin Sherr. We focused on what it means to be a Team USA athlete and set our focus and goals on the upcoming competition season.
Sunday began with a presentation by Peter Zapalo, focusing mainly on proper meals such as post workout called recovery meal and also the optimal meals to eat the day of the competition so performance can be maximized. Edges and turns followed with Kelly Morris-Adair where we learned how to apply push, set, twist and turn to all of our turns. We also learned how to control the turns. We also spent time with Scott Brown working on choreography. We were able to learn different movements and how to adjust them for different types of music. He really urged us to reach and perform out of our comfort zones to be able to come up with new movements. We then hit the ice with John Coughlin and Alena Lunin and put our pairs skills to the test. We tried synching our spins, learned the basics of death spirals on ice and also learned the mechanics behind pair throws and jumps. It was exciting to try new skills. The day ended with Hip Hop lead by Taylor Hoover. We all learned the same dance and then performed it for one another in groups. All the athletes were cheering each other on and it was fun to get into the music and dance.
Overall, the camp was truly an amazing experience. It was inspiring as an athlete to see where this sport can grow and to know that we have the ability to create the change within our own individual teams to enhance Team USA. If I had to sum it up, I would say that this camp was full of hard work and hope for the bright future of this sport. It was the launching pad for the sport of synchronized skating to be on the next level. Also, I am thankful to have met and become friends with such a wonderful group of talented skaters. The whole weekend we were all part of the same team, Team USA. We were not members from our individual teams, we were all teammates on Team USA. I can’t wait to be home with my team and share the knowledge I learned from this camp with all my teammates and implementing the knowledge into our training for a successful season.
Thank you U.S. Figure Skating for hosting this Elite Camp. Thank you also to Leslie Graham, Kelli Evers, Kelly Vogtner and Robin Greenleaf for putting together and organizing this camp. Thank you to all the coaches, guest coaches, volunteers and the RDV sports complex for hosting us. This camp was an amazing opportunity and will lead to a bright future for the sport that I love so much.