By Taylor Kennedy
Twenty four teams from 19 countries competed this weekend at the 2015 ISU World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships in Zagreb, Croatia. The Skyliners and Lexettes competed for the U.S. as Team USA 1 and 2, respectively.
The teams arrived in Zagreb early last week to begin a rigorous practice schedule before the competition commenced Friday with the short program. For five teams, this year marked their first time competing at worlds. Those countries included Croatia, Latvia, Turkey, Belgium and Spain.
After competing at the event from 2010-2013, the Skyliners failed to qualify in 2014 and as a result sought redemption at this year’s competition. With a score of 172.91 at the U.S. national championships, an improvement from its score at the French Cup, the Skyliners was in a good position to take on the stiff competition at worlds.
Team USA 2, The Lexettes, scored a close 166.80 at the U.S. nationals, and placed second at the Mozart Cup with a score of 140.83. It too hoped to earn a medal.
After Friday night’s short program, Team Finland 2 (Team Fintastic) was in the lead, scoring 60.95. Very close behind was Team Finland 1 (Musketeers) with a score of 59.08. The two teams have a notorious rivalry and often earn similar scores at both domestic and international competitions. Finland almost always earns a spot on the podium at worlds.
Team Finland 1, the Musketeers, came off of a strong competition season after taking the gold medal at the Cup of Berlin with a score of 156.25. The team also scored 179.58 at its national championships and earned the gold. Team Finland 2, Team Fintastic, took the silver medal at the Finnish national championships with a score of 175.64, just less than four points behind the Musketeers.
About four points separated the Finnish teams from the next pack of skaters in the worlds short program. Team Canada 1 (Les Supremes) ended up in third after the short with a score of 54.99. The team was in a competitive position entering the world competition. It won the French Cup with a score of 176.00, the highest score for a junior team this season, and won its own national title with a score of 173.76.
The Skyliners scored 53.96 points in the short program and landed in fourth place. The team was in position to clinch a medal after its strong performance Friday night. Team Russia 2 (Crystal Ice) placed just behind the Skyliners and earned fifth place with a score of 52.42.
The teams that placed fifth through ninth in the short program earned scores within about three points of each other. Team USA 2 (Lexettes) ended the short program competition with a score of 48.42, enough to earn eighth place. The team skated a strong short program, with one fall, and hoped to improve its standing in the long.
Team Russia 1, Team Sweden 2, Team Germany and Team Italy placed ninth through twelfth place respectively, and earned similar scores. Six points separated twelfth from thirteenth place. The majority of the remaining teams skated clean programs, including those that competed for the first time at the competition such as Team Turkey.
Heading into the long program, both Finnish teams were prepared to battle it out for the top spot. Team Sweden, Team Russia and Team USA were looking to claim medals as well.
In the end, though, Team Finland 1 (Musketeers) skated the strongest long program of the evening and earned the gold medal. The team scored 113.90 points in the long, which was enough to move it up from second place to first. The team earned a total competition score of 172.98
Leaders after the short program, Team Finland 2 (Team Fintastic), earned the silver medal. It scored 105.78 in the long program, about eight points behind the Musketeers, and earned a total competition score of 166.73.
Team Canada 1 (Les Supremes) held on to its third place standing from the short and earned the bronze medal. It scored 107.10 points in the long program and earned a total competition score of 162.09.
Rounding out the top four was Team Russia 2 (Crystal Ice) with a long program score of 104.01 and a total competition score of 156.43.
Earning 98.86 in the long program and 152.82 overall, Team USA 1 (Skyliners) ended the competition in 6th place. Team USA 2 (Lexettes) held on to 8th place after the long program, scoring 98.69 in the long program and 147.11 for the entire competition.
The competition ended with the medal ceremony where Team Finland took center stage. Congratulations to all teams that competed, especially to those who made their first appearance at the competition!