Florida Sunsations score at Synchronized Ice Skating Championships

Jessica Riddle, Entertainment Editor

143 teams, 2,145 skaters, 628 coaches and choreographers made their way to Hersey, Pennsylvania, to compete in the 2012 Eastern Sectionals Synchronized Ice Skating Championships.

One team stood out from the rest. The team is from the bright sunny state of Florida. Sixteen girls and their parents traveled all the way from Oldsmar, Florida, to represent the state in this U.S. Figure Skating competition. They are the Florida Sunsations. Girls ranging from the ages of 11 to 17 come together and work every Saturday for three  hours to perfect their competition program. The Florida Sunsations skated to a medley from the Broadway Hit Musical Damn Yankees.

The Sunsations had looked forward to competing in their first Synchronized Skating Sectionals against 16 other teams in the Intermediate Division. Arriving in Hersey on Thursday morning, the team had “Official Practice” that afternoon. Official practice is the first opportunity for the Technical Specialists to score the base value on each element in the four-minute program. In the Official Practice, each team must perform their program twice back to back, and then leave the ice. Each Official Practice session is only 10 minutes, and no scores are provided at this time.

Friday arrived too soon – the big day of competition. Friday morning wasn’t easy for this team; they had practice at 5:45 in the morning at a rink 30 minutes from their hotel and another practice at 7:45 at a different rink. The adrenaline helped the girls scramble to the cars in 30-degree weather and speed off for their unofficial practices. By 9 am the team returned to their hotel and relaxed until time for competition in the Giant Arena in Hershey.

As the competition started, the teams and coaches worked like clockwork, moving in and out of the dressing rooms in their allotted time, plus making sure every boot, hair-piece, and bow was in the right position.

The loudspeaker blared “The Florida Sunsations,”  signaling the team members to take their places. Every team member’s heart beat accelerated, nervousness taken to the ultimate level.  This moment was what they had worked for all year.

The team moved as one unit in and out of each required formation, hands and heads in the same direction, along with skates moving in the same pattern covering the large sheet of ice. One misstep almost brought one of the lines down, a move that could have been disastrous. Teamwork came to the rescue as one of the skaters grabbed the arm of the skater falling,  only to bring her back up to move into the final formation.

Once the music died down, and all skaters left the ice, the Sunsations waited for their marks in the Kiss & Cry area.  Finishing with a score of 37.45 they were currently in first place after two teams. Waiting with the rest of the parents, they watched the remaining 15 teams compete. Even though the team did not achieve their goal of placing in the top four, they did achieve a higher point value then previous competitions.

Students who love to skate and compete should check out the Sunsations website to learn more this very cool sport in sunny Florida:  http://www. floridasunsationssynchro.com/