Synchronized Skating Competition
February 1, 2023
On Friday, January 20th, I competed in the Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships in Norwood, Massachusetts. Synchronized skating consists of a team of around 8 to 20 skaters performing footwork and various skating elements in perfect unison. At this competition, there were six judges watching teams perform spins, jumps, and dance choreography. Skating elements are judged on composition, presentation, and skating skills. Routines also must include specific requirements at each level of competition.
My skating team, SunCoast Skating, is a newly founded team established towards the end of 2022. Our team is based in Wesley Chapel where we have practiced every Sunday morning since October in order to prepare for this competition. Most teams have been practicing together for at least a year, if not longer, so we were being ambitious to attend such a prestigious competition, but we all had a good attitude and knew it would be a great experience.
As for our routine, our coach this year decided on a Top Gun-themed routine paired with a compilation of music from the two iconic movies. Our routine started off with the team in a v-formation while in a salute position. This really helped set the stage for the themed performance. To top it all off (pun intended), the team was given outfits designed to look like a Top Gun uniform. We were all thrilled with our music, costumes, and choreography.
Over the few months we had to practice, the team, who were mostly strangers to me, soon became friends. This provided a unique challenge to our coach as there were various skills and heights to consider in the development of our program. Despite these challenges, we set out to Massachusetts to present our new club to the skating world.
I left school early on Wednesday in order to catch my 4:00 pm flight. The short three-hour flight felt like forever because I was so eager to compete. When we finally landed at the Boston airport, we rented a car and drove straight to the hotel where my team was assigned to stay.
Bright and early Thursday morning, my team had “unofficial ice” which means we are able to practice our routine for a few minutes on a practice rink, not the one that is used for competing. We were able to run through our routine twice before we had to get off in order for the following team to practice. After practice, we went to another part of the ice rink to watch some competing teams. We were very impressed with some of the routines but we knew if nothing else, ours had the best music and costumes. One of the perks of traveling with your team is actually hanging out with friends in the hotel. While we did have a curfew, the “big” kids had a bit of leniency. We spent time bonding over The Conjuring. For me, this was probably not the best thing to watch in order to get a good night’s sleep before a competition.
While Tampa was preparing for Gasparilla, Friday morning I found myself feeling nervous as I went to the rink again in the morning for “official ice”. This is when teams get to practice on the actual competition rink. The ice was so smooth and the sound system was top-notch. Spectators watched from above as we practiced our routine. We could all feel each other’s excitement as we held arms and glided in a circular formation.
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On the afternoon of the competition, my team met in a hotel room to have our hair and makeup done. As with everything in synchronized skating, we matched right down to the shade of our lipstick and slicked-back buns. It was then time to change into my dress and head to the rink which was only a short drive away. Time at a rink for competitions looks something like this: get your team checked in, head to an off-ice practice room, walk through your routine off the ice, get your skates on, perfect hair and makeup, and get on the ice. As soon as my team stepped onto the ice, we were allowed one minute to warm up by skating around to get our feel for the ice and then we were ordered to step into our starting positions. The routine was a blur as a mix of adrenaline and nervousness filled my body. We managed to make it through our routine without any major mistakes. We then stepped off the ice and waited in the receiving area just like I had seen on TV. There were 21 teams competing in our category, so we had no idea how well or poorly we did in comparison until later that evening. While we did not earn a medal, we all rejoiced that evening in the hotel and concluded our time together with The Conjuring 2 and some pizza. We all discussed what elements we wanted to include in our program next season and the possibilities of music we would like. I went to bed that evening feeling thankful I had taken the initiative to join this team and be part of something so special. It has already brought me such personal fulfillment to add this to my skating career.
On our final day in Boston, my mom and I decided to take some time to explore the city. We switched to a high-rise hotel right in the downtown area. We were on the 28th floor and the view was amazing. We visited Brookline and my mom pointed out where she used to live and the places she used to go. Afterward, we visited a few colleges. We saw Boston College, Boston University, and Harvard. We also enjoyed a delicious Italian lunch in the North End and some of the famous cannolis at Mike’s Pastry and Modern Bakery. We had to try both to compare, but I won’t give away my favorite here. We also did a hop-on and hop-off trolley and happened upon the Converse headquarters where we made a detour to the Flagship store.