Helsinki welcomes the world April 8 and 9

It doesn’t feel like nearly a year has passed since I was planning, packing, and praying that my luggage would greet me in Colorado Springs for the World Synchronized Skating Championships after a journey that was to involve an inexcusable number of stop-overs in various American cities (pro tip: don’t wait until the last minute to book flights through Expedia). Miracle of miracles, it did–it wouldn’t have been the least bit shocking had it not, however, given that each of the three prior Worlds I’d been to were marinated in their own special flavor of “this will be funny later” sauce. But those are stories for another time.

The 2011 edition of the WSSC kicks off next week in Helsinki, and should be an exciting one. Reportedly the event is close to sold out, which really isn’t surprising since Finland’s entries, Rockettes and Marigold Ice Unity, are the defending gold and silver medalists respectively. There will be a number of teams with their eyes on the podium, however:

  • 2010 marked the first year Team Surprise (SWE) was shut out of the medals, ever, including World Challenge Cups (precursor to the official ISU WSSC).
  • An error in the short program kept Nexxice (CAN) off the podium in 2010, after they won gold in 2009, and bronze two years in a row before that.
  • The Haydenettes (USA) finally earned a medal in 2010 (bronze), after being perennial fourth-place bridesmaids more times than my normally encyclopedic synchro brain can remember. They’ll want another one.
  • Miami University is the only other American team to ever medal at Worlds (silver in 2007). They’re back on the World Team in 2011 after being beat out for USA 2 honours by the Crystallettes last year.
  • Oh, those Russians. Traditionally, the teams from Russia and Germany duke it out to see who can earn the distinction of being the 5th-best country at the competition, thereby earning 2 berths to the next year’s Worlds. Paradise (RUS) has been the only non-Swedish, Finnish, Canadian, or American team to challenge for a medal, when they placed 2nd in the short program at Worlds in 2007. Never count them out.
  • Les Suprêmes, Canada’s second entry, has been absent from Worlds since 2005. Though Nexxice beat them by a fair margin at Canadian Nationals, they are the only other team in the mix to have stood on the podium, earning bronze back in 2003.

Wikipedia has a handy summary of all of the podium results of past Worlds.

The competition kicks off with the short program next Friday, April 8 at 8:40 AM (MDT). The free skate will follow on Saturday, April 9 at 5:45 AM (ack!) MDT. I’ve yet to find any information about live streaming, but will post an update here if I do. In the meantime, the Worlds official website has some great team profiles, photos, and promotional videos worth checking out.

Happy skating to everyone at the competition, and happy internetting to the rest of us!

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