by Kelsey Helwig
I have always been a performer. I love the spotlight, the adrenaline, and the sense of pride I get from performing in front of an audience.
After my first skating competition I knew competing was why I loved the sport. Practicing was fun, but I was hooked on competition. I skated freestyle, artistic, interpretive, dance, and spins competitions. Growing up, I spent most of my weekends at a random ice arena in the Metro-Detroit area competing sometimes three or four times in one competition.
As I got older I noticed that my skating reached a plateau. I was having trouble getting double jumps and keeping them consistent, and I soon grew restless with my skating. I was most frustrated when the girls I competed with moved up a level without me. By remaining in the same level, I dominated my opponents because the only thing holding me back from moving up was jumps. I could out-spin and out-skate them, but my competitiveness quickly faded. I needed to be challenged, so I decided to look for something new.
That year at my ice arena the synchro coach approached some of the girls at the rink. She said she wanted to start a teen synchro team and since most of the girls at the ice arena were close in age, she hoped to get all the “teens” to join. I had heard about synchro before, but since our rink never fielded a team, I was unsure of what synchro was. I knew there were teams that practiced at 5 a.m., were required to run at least a mile a day, and wore matching outfits. I wasn’t sure if I could fit in. After a lot of consideration I decided to join the team
Teen Fantasia taught me what synchro is all about. Girls I skated with became like a family. I learned that the excitement of competing could be even more exciting when you share it with twenty other girls. I found that three turns and edges could be really fun. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed synchro and found myself looking forward to the practices.
The best part about skating on Teen Fantasia was that I was finally challenging myself again. Synchro skating was very different than individual skating. And that took some getting used to. It was hard for me to comprehend that when we went on the ice we weren’t just relying on ourselves, but we were also relying on our team members. I didn’t like that if another teammate fell and I skated perfectly, we would still be deducted. For a long-time individual skater, this seemed unfair. What I didn’t realize was that these things are what being on a team is all about. Skating synchro requires you to trust your teammates. I realized that worrying about myself and making sure I did my best was essential because my teammates relied on me, too. Being a member of a team means sharing the highs and the lows–synchro taught me that.
The best part about my Teen Fantasia synchro experience was that I got to be on a team with some of my best friends. At least half our team was my age and I loved that they were by my side. As much as this team challenged my skating abilities and patience at times, it was an amazing experience that helped me grow as a skater.