“Love the sport.”

A beautiful quotation about synchro for your Monday, from the Haydenettes on USFS’ Dare to DREAM blog. Enjoy, and share. (via @GetItCalled)

Love the sport for the pure joy of accomplishment. Love the sport for everything it can teach you about yourself. Love the sport for the feeling of belonging to a group endeavoring to do its best. Love the sport for being involved in a team whose members can’t wait to see you do your best. Love the sport for the challenge of working harder than you ever have at something and then harder than that. Love the sport because it takes all team members to give it life. Love the sport because at its best, its tradition will include your contributions. Love the sport because you belong to a long line of fine athletes who have loved it. It is now your legacy. Love the sport so much that you will pass on your love to other athletes who have seen your dedication, your work, your challenges, your triumphs… and then those athletes will, because of you, love the sport.

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!

32 blades. 16 skaters. 1 heart.

My name is Chelsey, and I adore synchronized skating.

I despised the first few years of my skating “career.” My parents enrolled me and my brother in CanSkate simply so we’d be able to hold our own at public sessions when we went skating with our classmates. I had to be dragged to the rink early Saturday mornings, and was filled with contempt as I sat perched atop the tall wooden bleachers in the arena and watched my parents tie my skates for me.

I remember noticing the precision teams performing in the club carnival when I was 9 or 10, and thinking it looked a lot more interesting and fun than skating alone. I joined a team when I was 11. I’d be lying if I said my love affair with the sport was instant. There were some rough patches the first few seasons–which should not come as a shock to anyone who’s ever spent significant amounts of time with large groups of adolescent girls–and at times I was certainly tempted to quit. But I held on just long enough so that something finally clicked…drew me in with a force that I couldn’t, and didn’t want to elude. I never looked back.

I competed for 16 years, up to the national Senior level, and when my desire to improve the sport grew stronger than my desire to compete, I became an official.

My time spent as a Technical Specialist and judge has been far more rewarding than I ever could have anticipated. I don’t know that anything will ever quite beat the rush of having one of “those” skates–the kind where for a few minutes in time, you’re mentally, emotionally, and physically connected to every one of your teammates in a way that’s hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it–but having the opportunity to offer teams feedback, educate coaches and skaters, and discuss skating ad nauseam with other like-minded officials has provided another level of excitement and inspiration I wasn’t quite expecting.

So. All that said, why create this blog?

In a nutshell–to share. To share information. To share experiences. To share insight into sometimes cryptic rules and communications, from an official’s perspective. To share ideas. To share memories. To share a love of the sport.

Welcome. I hope you’ll enjoy your time here.

– Chelsey