You can’t become a World Champion without getting to the World Championships.
Sounds painfully obvious, no? While true, it is the most important consideration for Senior teams headed to their respective National Championships in Canada, Finland, and the U.S.A. this week and next. Each country will qualify two teams to compete at the World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, in April. But while it will be considered an upset if Nexxice (CAN) and the Haydenettes (USA) don’t earn berths to represent their countries at Worlds, Finnish Nationals is anyone’s game.
Though Rockettes and Marigold Ice Unity were the respective gold and silver medalists at the past two World Championships, both teams were beaten by Team Unique at the first of three World qualifying competitions held for Finnish teams earlier this year, with Marigold finishing second and Rockettes third. At Mozart Cup, Rockettes finished second in the short program behind Nexxice, followed closely by Unique in third and Marigold in fourth — in the free program, however, Marigold overtook all their competitors to finish first in the free and first overall, with Rockettes holding their second place position and Unique dropping to fourth behind Nexxice, who finished third. But just a week later at French Cup, Unique and Marigold traded short and free program placements, and Unique finished with gold while Marigold took home silver.
Did you get all that?
(Further reading: The 2012 WSSC website has an excellent article about the tight race for World berths in Finland here.)
Nexxice has had a strong domestic and international season, and will almost surely earn one of Canada’s two berths to Worlds. Canada’s second spot was won solidly by Les Supremes last year, but Nationals will mark the first time all four Canadians Senior teams meet this year, so there could be surprises in store. And while chances are good that the Haydenettes, defending two-time World bronze medalists, will again earn the chance to represent the U.S.A. at Worlds, there are no guarantees. They struggled in the short at Neuchatel Trophy two weeks ago, and while they won the free skate, they finished second overall to fellow U.S.A. competitors the Crystallettes. If the Haydenettes do win U.S. Nationals, it will be their 20th National title — an impressive feat in itself.
Canadian and Finnish Nationals kick off this week, with U.S. Nationals beginning next week. There are opportunities to watch online and follow along with the results:
- Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships (Feb. 23-25): Website
- Finnish National Synchronized Skating Championships (Feb. 24-26): Website (Updated Feb. 24)
- U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships (Feb. 29-Mar. 3): Website
Best wishes to all competitors!