The 2014 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships wrapped up today in Italy, with some familiar names landing on the podium. Finland 1 (Marigold IceUnity) were gold medalists after last medaling in 2011. Canada 1 (NEXXICE) won the silver medal for the third straight year, narrowly edging out Finland 2 (Rockettes), who won bronze after not qualifying for the event last year. All three teams skated clean in both segments, and were the only teams to get all of their technical calls in the short or the free.
While the American Senior teams are competing at their National Championships to earn spots on the U.S. world team this weekend, some international heavy-hitters will be on the ice in Sweden and Croatia.
Sweden’s National Championships take place from March 3-4. With only 2 Senior teams, it’s a guarantee that both will be at Worlds in April. However, the pressure is still on both teams to perform at their best as they prepare to compete for World medals in their home country in just over a month. Team Surprise missed some calls at Spring Cup a few weeks ago, losing the free program to Russia’s Tartarstan (9th in the world in 2011), though still finishing first overall. Typically a medal contender at Worlds, eyes will be on Team Surprise’s performances this weekend to gauge their improvement. Additionally, Team Boomerang had their highest ever finish at Worlds last year (8th), and will surely have been working hard in an effort to challenge for a higher finish this year at home.
At the Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy taking place March 1-3, Paradise (RUS) and Team Berlin 1 (GER) are expected to lead the pack based on their competitive history, though there are also other seasoned international competitors in the mix. Paradise surprised many people when they beat defending World Champions, Rockettes (FIN), in the short program at SynchroFest International back in December. However, they finished 3rd behind Team Unique (FIN) and Marigold Ice Unity (FIN) at French Cup in early February. Team Berlin 1 has been a top 10 finisher at Worlds a number of times in the past, so their performance and scores will be watched closely by their competitors as well.
Live streaming is available for the Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy, for the price of $8.00 (USD) for both days of the event.
Rockettes (FIN1) successfully defended their title as World Champions today, a feat no team has managed to achieve since Team Surprise (SWE1) did it way back in 2000 and 2001. It was also the first time the entire podium has been identical at back-to-back championships, with Marigold Ice Unity (FIN2) repeating as silver medalists, and the Haydenettes (USA1) earning their second consecutive bronze medal.
Full results, including protocols, are here. A few interesting facts:
In the free skate, the top 5 teams all earned the same technical base value, though no team received all their calls.
FIN2 and USA1 both were both given deductions for a late start in the free (teams must begin skating within 10 seconds of the music starting). Neither deduction affected the overall results, though FIN2 would have won the free program portion without it.
For the first time, the top 10 was made up entirely of teams from countries who had 2 entries at Worlds. This was true for all segments of the competition.
There has still never been a team from any country other than Finland, Sweden, Canada, or USA on the podium at Worlds. Finland has won 16 medals to date, Sweden 10, Canada 7, and USA 3.
Finland is the only country to have had two teams on the podium at Worlds–and they’ve done it an impressive 5 times in 12 championships (2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, and 2011).
Finland has only been shut out of the medals once, in 2007. That year, Sweden, USA, and Canada were on the podium.
No team has ever won more than two consecutive World Championships. If Rockettes can win gold again next year, it will be the first three-peat. (Team Surprise did, however, win back-to-back World Challenge Cups in 1998 and 1999, followed by a victory at the first ISU World Championships in 2000.)
I couldn’t be there in person this year, and sadly, there was no live feed available outside Finland. Twitter was hopping though, and updates are still coming in from around the globe tagged #SynchroWorlds. In Canada (and perhaps some border cities/states), you can watch the CBC broadcast next Saturday, April 16, from 4-6 PM (EDT).
I’ll likely have some more thoughts after videos start to surface, and I have a chance to scrutinize the protocols further. Congratulations to all the competitors. Though for many of you it will be brief, enjoy your off-season!