Skaters

Synchronized Skating:
Figure Skating's New Edge

More by Katrina Vassell - 03/12

When you hear the words “synchronized skating,” what is the first thought that comes into your mind? If you have never heard of the sport, you might think of synchronized swimming. While synchronized skating and synchronized swimming share common traits, such as precision and unity, synchronized skating is in many ways a hybrid of a multitude of sports and arts. It is often said that a synchronized skater must possess the elegance of a ballerina, the agility of a marathon runner, the speed of a sprinter, the vision of an artist, the performance of an actress, and the rhythm of a musician, and the movement of a dancer.

Synchronized skating, more commonly referred to as “synchro” by the skating community, is an ever-growing sport at both a national and local level. A typical team consists of 8-20 skaters, who simultaneously skate to a choreographed program in complete synchronization—hence the name “synchronized skating.” Precise timing coupled with intricate footwork, in formation, forms the basis of the routine. Once the main elements of the program are established, embellishments such as various arm holds add complexity to the program both aesthetically and technically.

At our very school, senior Isabel Duncan, junior Katrine Ryan, junior Katrina Vassell, sophomore Hannah Nilsson, and freshman Brook Ferris are all synchronized skaters of the Skating Club of Southern Connecticut, based in Terry Connors. Concluding a successful season with bronze, silver, and gold metals, the girls have recently returned from the 2012 Eastern Sectional Championships. “I think we did really well this season.  Most people don’t realize is that we don’t compete against each other if were on the same team. We all skate at the same time. So, if one person messes up, we all do. But also we feed off of each other’s positive energy,” Ryan said.

Apart from the skaters mentioned above, junior Charlotte Maguire, junior Michaela Brady, freshman Christina Noujaim and freshman Franny Matlak were also synchronized skaters. Maguire, Noujaim, and Brady skated on the Spitfires, a team based in Stamford Twin Rinks, and Matlak skated with the girls from the Skating Club of Southern Connecticut. Upperclassmen might remember Lauren and Ashley Snow, two internationally ranked synchronized skaters who graduated DHS last year.

Although our school has many synchronized skaters, the average student usually has misconceptions about the sport. The most common misconception is that the program is primarily jumps and spins. “Whenever I tell people that I’m a synchronized skater, the first thing they ask is if I can do that jumpy thing or that spiny thing in the air,” Nilsson said. Yes, the skaters are expected to maintain their individual skating abilities in order to do “that spiny thing in the air.” However, synchronized skating programs place more emphasis on footwork than on freestyle skills, such as jumps and spins.

Also, most people tend to think synchronized skating is an Olympic sport. This confusion arises from the fact that synchronized swimming is in the Olympics. While synchronized skating is not yet an Olympic sport, the discipline is growing in popularity. Countries from around the world such as Sweden, Finland, and Russia all have synchronized skating teams. “I really hope that synchro goes all the way to the Olympics. It’s already growing so fast in popularity. If synchronized swimming is an Olympic sport, I don’t see why skating isn’t,” Ferris said.

If you are interested in synchronized skating, the Southern Connecticut Synchronized Skating teams encourages you check out Terry Connor’s website for more information.

Skating Club of Southern Connecticut website: http://www.terryconnerssynchro.org

Synchronized skating official website: http://www.usfsa.org/Programs.asp?id=44

Neirad article featuring synchronized skating alumni Lauren and Ashley Snow: http://darienps.org/neirad/archive/200811.pdf

Lauren and Ashley snow showcase their metals and room in Cribs: http://darienps.org/neirad/0901cribs.php