I am THRILLED to announce that I am joining the International Figure Skating Magazine family as a regular contributor and that I will soon be posting a link where people can go to subscribe and get a discount! My first IFS assignment was about Synchro and gave me the chance to chat with lots of insiders.
Many conversations later – and I want to share some of the cool things that I found out. If you’re a die hard fan – you’re also going to want to pick up next month’s issue for a completely different look at Synchro than what I am going to share here. So what is the deal with Synchro? When I am at events – the excitement is transmitted via the athletes into the watching crowd and it’s a blast. As I watched some of the Synchro girls practicing their programs on their own during their session at my club I asked them what has them hooked? Regardless of who you talk to, the gift of Synchro is in the teamwork. Synchro Sarah says: “I really like how we work as a team and because you are with your friends you get more out of the experience.” Team mate Hannah as the five year veteran of the group says: “It’s a sport that at the beginning of the year you meet somebody, a stranger, and by the end of the season, that same stranger is your best friend! These friends are special and they’re with you for life. They see you when you’re sad, happy, frustrated, and in tears. With makeup on and makeup off, half awake or half asleep, at 4:53 am, at 11:30 pm, these bonds that we create are special.”
The team aspect aside, the skaters in today’s Synchro world are passionate and committed skaters. Choreographer for 2009 World Champions, Nexxice, Anne Schelter says that on a 3 hour session, Nexxice will often devote half the time to practicing and improving skating while the other half is devoted to working on a program. She says thoughtfully: “Our idea is to bring the skaters to the front; let them come forward and then guide them into expressing what we need. If you can engage them they will believe in it more and then they can make it happen”
So how far can Synchro go? It is the goal of many of the sport’s skaters, coaches and fans to see Synchronized Skating at the Winter Olympics. Is it realistic? Well fifteen year-old Marita hopes so; telling me at my club that she presented a speech in Grade 9 to that effect. She says: “Synchronized skating should be included in the Olympics because it is practiced in a lot of places and it would be good to get another women’s team sport recognized.” She is not alone in her view, with Nexxice coach Shelley Barmett echoing the sentiment: “This is a fabulous sport for women and is a fabulous team sport.” She acknowledges that not all of the countries are at the same level yet and that with a sport so young it is still suffering from growing pains. “We are still feeling our way and not quite ready yet.”
Cathy Dalton, the Coaches’ Representative for the ISU Synchronized Skating Technical committee started coaching 31 years ago and says that things have changed dramatically. Whereas it used to be that skaters did it only for fun and the once a week practice was more like a carnival rehearsal; in today’s world the skaters spend hours upon hours on the ice improving on their skating skill which is the hallmark of the world’s top teams.

If you get the chance to go to an event – you should do it. It’s loud, it’s fun and it’s great skating.

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