by Grace Leonard
This weekend 26 teams representing 21 different countries will arrive in Budapest, Hungary to compete at the 2016 World Synchronized Skating Championships. All teams are sure to turn out some great performances with the top teams from Finland, Sweden, Russia, Canada and the USA expected to be exceptionally competitive.
Team Canada 1- Les Suprêmes
Short program- “Put a Spell on You” from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack
Long program- Moulin Rouge from the original film soundtrack
Following the 2015 World Championships a journalist at CBC praised Les Suprêmes’ 6th place performances on home soil and mentioned, “their time will come.” Less than a year later and it looks like that time has arrived. In February they ended Nexxice’s 9-year reign as national champions and stole away with the title of Team Canada 1, coming out on top in both the short and long programs. Prior to that momentous event they earned a silver medal at the Neuchatel Trophy and placed 4th at the French Cup (2nd in the free skate). Les Supremes also heads into this weekend with the highest score of the entire season, 217.42, which they earned at the Canadian Synchronized Skating Championships. The expectations are there, now it’s only a matter of rising to the occasion.
Team Canada 2- Nexxice
Short program- Carol of the Bells
Long program- Bohemian Rhapsody
The defending world champions, known for their skating skills, are definitely entering this competition in a different position than they are used to, but don’t count them out of the running for a podium finish or another world title just yet. This team helped debut synchronized skating at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona and came away with a bronze medal. They also fared well at last month’s Shanghai Trophy with a solid 4th place finish. Their season’s best score of 212.59, which they received at the Canadian Synchronized Skating Championships, is the 4th highest score for this season. Before their big win on home ice last year, Nexxice earned three consecutive world silver medals.
Team Finland 1- Team Unique
Short program- Peace of Mind
Long program- Empty Promises
The question surrounding both Finland’s entries this year is whether either of these teams can skate well enough to put Finland back on top. With last year’s world silver medalists and 2014 champions, Marigold IceUnity, absent from the competition the door is wide open for Team Unique. The last time Team Unique qualified for worlds was in 2013 when they walked away as the World Champions. After placing first at this year’s Finnish National Championships they seem to be gaining momentum reminiscent of their successful, 2013 season. Team Unique started this season off in 4th place at the Finlandia Trophy. Just when it seemed like they would once again be unable to overcome Rockettes or Marigold IceUnity, they collected back-to-back bronze medals at the Neuchatel Trophy and French Cup against tough international competitors. Their season’s best score is 203.42.
Team Finland 2- Rockettes
Short program- “Why?” (from Schindler’s list)
Long program- Rocket Journey to the Moon
The other team competing on behalf of Finland this weekend will be the Rockettes. They finished in a bittersweet 4th place at last year’s championships, so they are definitely looking for a podium finish. Since winning gold at the Finlandia Trophy, they competed at four events and ended up on the podium every time. They earned silver at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, Spain for an intricate free skate that reminded many of synchro’s precision days. Their beautiful space dresses not only convey the theme extremely well, but also make the program unforgettable. They earned another gold at the Leon Lurje Trophy, silver at the French Cup and bronze at the Finnish National Championships. Although they fell short to Marigold IceUnity and Team Unique at that competition, due to their placement at previous qualifying events they were awarded a spot on the world team. Their season’s high score is 210.44. They are Finland’s first synchronized skating team and they also have three world titles to their name.
Team Russia 1- Paradise
Short program- Meditation (from the opera Thais by Jules Massnet)
Long program- Carmen
Paradise is the favorite headed into this weekend’s competition. With the exception of their second place finish at the Finlandia Trophy earlier this season, Paradise is undefeated. Their extensive medal inventory includes gold from the Neuchatel Trophy, French Cup, Grand Prix Final, Shanghai Trophy and the Russian National Championships. This team started their rise to the top back in 2012 when their “Hallelujah” short program vaulted them to the top of the world standings. The following year, a video of their short program to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” went viral. However, despite their success in the short program competition, they failed to make the overall podium in 2012, 2013, and 2014. At last year’s world championships they finally accomplished their goal of winning Russia’s first world medal. Their season’s best score is 213.50, the third highest recorded this year.
Team Russia 2- Tatarstan
Short program- Mission Impossible
Long program- The Nutcracker
Russia’s other successful senior team will be looking to improve on last year’s 9th place finish this weekend. Tatarstan is known for playing to the audience during their performances so it should be a good show. This season they earned a bronze medal at the Spring Cup and a silver medal at the Russian National Championships.
Team Sweden 1- Team Surprise
Short program- “Hello” by Adele
Long program- Sabre Dance (from the ballet Gayane)
Team Surprise is literally the world’s most successful synchronized skating team. Since the World Synchronized Skating Championships started back in 2000, they’ve won gold six times. The last time they stood on the podium was when they claimed gold on home ice in 2012. Their success this season however, indicates their medal drought may be coming to an end. Hungary is the home country of their head coach Andrea, so the team is determined to put out two strong and memorable performances in her honor. They began their season with a 4th place finish at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona and gained momentum from there, nabbing gold at the Spring Cup and Swedish National Championships. Last month they earned a bronze medal at the Shanghai Trophy and won the free skate event over Paradise. They hold the second highest recorded score of the season: 215.32, which they earned at their national championships.
Team Sweden 2- Boomerang
Short program- Uptown Funk
Long program- Jazz
In regards to Boomerang, the question on everyone’s mind is how will they top their long program from last season? It’s not everyday you see a synchronized skating team execute a dress change and skate to Kanye West. It’s also not common, or safe to vault a skater several feet in the air like a cheerleader, but that didn’t stop this team from executing an element like that at the start of their 2013 free skate. Boomerang programs always display the innovation common in Swedish synchronized skating. This season they placed 4th at the Leon Lurje Trophy and 2nd at the Swedish National Champions. This weekend they will look to build on their success and improve from last year’s 11th place finish.
Team USA 1- Haydenettes
Short program- The Spell
Long program- Street Beats
From 2010-2013 the Haydenettes earned four consecutive world bronze medals, but have ended in 7th place for the past two seasons. After a 5th place finish at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, they returned to Boston, revamped and have consistently medaled and broken 200 points at almost every competition since. They collected silver medals from the Leon Lurje Trophy and the Shanghai Trophy, as well as a 7th consecutive and 24th overall national title. They most recently skated their free skate in front of 15,000 spectators in Boston at the 2016 World Championship exhibition. Their season’s best score is 202.26.
Team USA 2- Miami University
Short program- “Breath of Life” by Florence + the Machine
Long program- Latin Dance Medley
Miami University will compete at the World Championships for the second year in a row. The last time the Varsity program made consecutive appearances was in 2008 and 2009. Since making their competitive debut this season, they have brought home gold from Anaheim and Dr. Porter, as well as two international silver medals from Salzburg and Milan. In February they skated into second place at the U.S National Championships and snagged the Performance of the Year award for their free skate. Their season’s best score is 183.86.
Based on international competitions this year and last year’s world standings, the following teams can also be expected to leave their mark on the ice in Budapest in their fight for the top ten spots.
Team France- Les Zoulous
Short program- “Enter The Circus” (from the Cirque du Soleil show Ouidam)
Long program- Melting (from the deluxe edition of Grease)
Team France skated two clean performances at last year’s World Championships to end up in 14th place. Les Zoulous will be skating three men this year, a rare occurrence on any synchro team. It will be interesting to see how this factor affects their choreography choices. Aside from winning the French National Championships, they also placed 4th at the Mozart Cup.
Team Germany- Team Berlin 1
Short program- Lindsey Stirling with Roundtable Rival (a modern western piece)
Long program- Phantom of the Opera
Team Germany placed in the top 10 once again at last year’s World Championships (they were 10th in 2013 and 9th in 2012). Each year this team gains more international exposure. This season they were 5th at French Cup, 4th at the Spring Cup, and 6th at the Shanghai Trophy (the only country to receive an invitation without two world entries). Additionally, they won the German National Championships for the 21st consecutive time.
Team Italy- Hot Shivers
Short program- Danse Macabre
Long program- Patch Adams
Hot Shivers ended last season in Hamilton 13th in the world, a few steps down from their top 10 finish on home ice in 2014. Aside from winning the Italian National Championships, they also placed 5th at the Mozart Cup and 6th at the Spring Cup this season.
Team Japan- Jingu Ice Messengers Grace
Short program- Lupin the Third (inspired by a Japanese manga series)
Long program- Beauty and the Beast
This will be Jingu’s 8th time competing at the World Championships. Last year they finished 12th. Although Japan’s synchro program is not as established as other countries, this team continues to improve each season. They fared well at their international competition this season, the Leon Lurje Trophy, and ended up in 6th place.
Best of luck to all teams! Stay tuned for updates.