Thursday, November 25, 2010

And so it begins! Kalamazoo 2010

Standing there, in the final pose of our senior short program at the Kalamazoo Kickoff Classic, I quickly glanced up at the judges to my right and knew that while this marked the end of our first competition, it was really only the beginning.

My teammates and I had an early start Saturday morning, on the ice at 6:30 for a quick practice before we left Chicago for Kalamazoo. When we arrived at the rink, hair already slicked back into neat buns, we had a quick floor practice, then headed straight into the locker room to get ready for our monitoring session. The best way to describe our first run-through of the session was definitely "nervous." However, we pushed through the program and the stumbles before skating over to our coach standing in the doorway. Hearing her voice as calm as ever, we all started to breathe again. She reminded us of the things we tell ourselves every day, and we all skated back into position with a new sense of confidence. After that, the rest of the 45-minute session went extremely well, and we left the ice in high spirits.

Although we'd missed our preliminary and juvenile teams' strong third-place performances earlier that morning, we were eager to watch our novice team perform its "Soul Train" number for the first time in competition. As soon as they took the ice, we were cheering as loudly as we could! They skated beautifully, and we were all so proud of their second-place finish: a great start to the season!

After finishing our hair and makeup (with everyone smashed into the mirror of the hotel's fitness center!) we loaded the bus to head back for the senior short competition. Finding an open space in the emptying rink, we warmed up, stretched and, in what felt like no time at all, we were in the locker room slipping on our "Lace and Leather" short program dresses. When we took the ice, I heard all our moms cheering as loudly as they could, attempting to replicate the cheers the other teams normally lead. This sight made us all smile and relax a little as we hit our starting pose.

At the end of the day, we walked out of the Ice Cube with a silver medal, which is always something to be proud of! Although not our best skate, we were still very happy with the program we put out on the ice that day. Some elements went really well, while others we got straight to work on at practice the next morning.

As I said before, Kalamazoo is only the beginning. It is a starting point from which we are able to gain both experience and valuable feedback from the judges. With the Dr. Richard Porter Classic in Ann Arbor coming up next weekend, we are excited to compete against many of the teams we will eventually see at the U.S. Championships, and are EXTREMELY excited for the debut of our free program!

Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The 2011 Season is Upon Us - Kalamazoo Kick-Off

The Crystallettes had a long, but fulfilling day to mark the beginning of our season.                                                                                                                                                         We are fortunate enough to live within reasonable proximity to the competition site, so we began with practice at our home rink around 8 a.m.  On the bus, we were able to relax and watch Toy Story 3. We arrived in Kalamazoo at 11:30, and although we missed preliminary and juvenile, we had the opportunity to watch many more teams.

One reason the senior team values this competition so much is that it is the only competition in which we are able to cheer for many of our other teams.  Our coaches know how important it is for younger Crystallettes to receive support from the senior team, but quite often the times conflict, and the seniors aren’t able to attend.

As we slowly prepared for our own event at 7:30, we were able to watch several divisions and cheer on three of our own teams.  The day picked up around 2 p.m., when the beginner one division began. This  For spectators, this division was the highlight of the day. Watching those fearless little girls and boys skate for the pure love of the sport was not only entertaining but also quite inspiring. Another highlight of the day was the novice division.    This division is highly competitive and always exciting to watch.  Every team looked strong for this early in the season. The Crystallettes conquered the division with their "Sorcerer’s Apprentice" theme, earning 61.28 points.             We are extremely proud of our novice squad for their gold medal and amazing start to the season.

When our turn finally arrived to take the ice, we were more than ready.  Although much of the arena had left by the time we skated, it felt as though there was a full crowd. We were calm and confident as we took the ice.       The program was a little tentative at first, but as it progressed we began to relax and enjoy the experience. We skated a clean, solid first performance. My teammates and coaches were overjoyed.

Our scores are extremely beneficial in that they tell us exactly what needs to improve. Leaving the arena with a gold medal was satisfying, but the more important accomplishments lie in the months to come.

The organization left the competition with three silver medals and two gold medals.          Needless to say, it was quite a successful day.  Now each team is back to work with critiques to conquer before the Dr. Richard Porter Classic in less than two weeks. With a team traveling from Finland to compete at the senior level, it is our first “international” competition of the season!

(Photographs by Kit Hammond Scheessele)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Introducing Sarah Arnold

Hi, Everyone! My name is Sarah Arnold, and I am from Milwaukee, Wis. I am a member of Miami University’s senior varsity synchronized skating team. I am a junior communications major with a 2D media studies (photography) minor. My freshman year I thought I wanted to study speech pathology, but then I realized that wasn’t where my passion lied. I searched a little more through the journalism, studio art and interactive media studies majors. I discovered a communications major with possibilities in advertising, public relations, layout and design was the better choice for me.

My favorite Team USA moment has to be competing in Prague, Czech Republic, in January of my freshmen year. It was not only my first international competition with Miami but my first-ever Team USA competition. Being the skater who finds it as important to have my camera strapped around my neck as it is to have my skates in my bag, I did my best to capture every monumental photograph of the competition. I remember sitting in the stands with the junior team and the Colonials cheering on our senior team in the short program. I went to the bottom of the stands and looked up at more than 50 skaters and parents holding American flags and wearing Team USA coats. I snapped pictures from left to right, making the experience so surreal. Between cheering on the senior team and photographing in the stands, and skating the competition that weekend, I had such an incredible experience that I will never forget.

When I’m not skating, I’m usually doing homework, taking pictures of other various events on campus, editing pictures with Photoshop, cooking or having friends over for dinner. Growing up with multiple food allergies, I’ve learned to love cooking and share recipes with friends and family. In the summer, I enjoy swimming, golfing, running, taking pilates classes and lying in the sun soaking up a golden tan. I’ve also put together promotional advertising posters for the Wisconsin FSC, Wisconsin Edge, created memory photo books of Miami’s seasons, posters, collages, you name it.

My third season as a Redhawk is going really well. It’s always fast paced, exciting and rewarding. All our teams have worked incredibly hard these past 12 weeks, preparing for hockey game exhibitions, parents’ weekend exhibition and the Dr. Richard Porter Classic. I’m very excited to compete our programs in just a few weeks!

See you all at the Ann Arbor ice cube!


Fun Facts

Favorite skater: Tessa Virtue
Favorite books: Firefly Lane
Favorite TV show: Friends
Favorite place I’ve traveled for skating: Neuchatel, Switzerland
Favorite foods: Coffee, fruit, seafood
Favorite quotes: "Good things take time, as they should. We shouldn't expect good things to happen overnight. Actually getting something too easily or too soon can cheapen the outcome." - John Wooden
"Slow down and enjoy it all."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Introducing Ashley Mulhern

Hi! My name is Ashley Mulhern, and I am a member of Skyliners Junior Team. I am a senior at New Canaan High School in New Canaan, Conn. I will begin college next fall, and I plan to major in either exercise science or psychology. Either of these majors will keep me involved in synchronized skating beyond being an athlete.

I started skating at the age of 4 and began synchronized skating when I was 6.  My first experience on the ice was in San Diego, Calif., just a few days before I moved to Connecticut. My Aunt "P" took me to the mall rink. We spent hours falling and crawling on the ice. My aunt called my mom in tears apologizing because she thought I would never want to skate again. Little did she know I had fallen in love, and the minute I got off the plane in Connecticut, I asked my mom for lessons. From then on, skating became everything to me, and it was all that I wanted to do.

Once I tried synchronized skating, it was like a whole new beginning for me. Now it was about something bigger than me. Synchronized skating was about working as a team and helping each other be stronger than we could ever be on our own. To this day, the sport continues to pull me farther in as more bonds and friendships are created.

My favorite Team USA memory was in Gothenborg, Sweden, at the 2010 JWCC. I was standing along the boards, seconds before the short program, waiting to be announced, and just taking everything in. It was so surreal that after all these years of competing, I was actually there. It finally hit me as I stared up at the JWCC JumboTron and they announced, "Representing the United States of America!..." that this was all really happening. Tears filled my eyes for a split second before I was reminded that I needed to go out and skate the program of my life. I was, and still am, so honored to part of Team USA!

It is not often that you will find me off the ice, but when I'm not practicing with my team or individually, there are several things that I love to do. I love helping out weekly at Skyliners beginner and preliminary practices. This brings me so much joy because I love seeing their progress and being able to give them someone to look up to. I hope to share with them my love of the sport and help them dream of the future the way I did, and still do. Also, I love my job, working at the local gelato store, Gelatissimo. My boss is amazing in understanding my limited schedule due to skating and, to top it off, makes the best gelato!

My absolute favorite thing to do is spend time with my younger sister, Madison. She is my best friend, and no matter what we are doing, we always have a great time together. In addition to being my best friend, she is also my biggest fan when it comes to skating! Even when she can't make it to my
competitions, I can feel her presence cheering me on and making me smile even wider.

My Favorites

Favorite sports figure: Herb Brooks
Favorite city: New York City
Favorite musician: Taylor Swift
Favorite movie: Miracle
Favorite TV show: So You Think You Can Dance
Favorite place I've traveled for skating: Prague, Czech Republic
Favorite quote: "Even when you've skated the program of your life, it's the feeling of teamwork that you'll remember. You may forget the formations, the steps and the marks, but you'll never forget your teammates."
Favorite program skated: Skyliners 2009-10 junior free skate ("Vida"):

Monday, November 15, 2010

Introducing Bianca Jackson

Hi there! My name is Bianca Jackson, and I am a member of the Starlights senior team. I am in my senior year at New Trier High School. As I work through my college applications, I am hoping to enter college next fall as an engineering major and eventually go on to medical school.

I started skating for the Starlights eight years ago on their preliminary team. That year, we had a perfect season, winning each competition with our Blues Brothers program. I was hooked! I've skated on two U.S. Championship-winning teams since, including juvenile in 2006 and novice in 2007, but I think the highlight of my skating career so far was capturing the pewter medal with my teammates in our first year at the senior level last year. When we saw our results on the JumboTron from the kiss and cry, we all jumped and screamed as loudly as we was so exciting! Looking back and watching it now, it's actually pretty funny, but it is also something I'll never forget.

This will be my fourth year as a member of Team USA: two years at the novice level, and one at the senior level. My favorite memory is our long program this past season at the French Cup in Rouen, France. When I hit that beginning pose, it finally dawned on me that here we were, representing the United States! It sent a shiver down my spine, but the moment the music started, all that disappeared, and we went on to skate a clean run-through. Showing everyone that we could compete against these top teams that went on to the World Championships was such an amazing experience, and I can't wait to do it again this coming year!

When I'm not on the ice, I keep extremely busy! Aside from synchronized skating, of course, I have two other major passions: crew and karate. I started rowing for my high school this past spring and rowed on the varsity lightweight boat for the season. We won the Midwest Championships and went on to compete at the National Championships--a first for our team in the division! I also am nationally ranked in karate. I've won national championships in multiple divisions, including kata (forms), kobudo (weapons) and team kata. In addition to these two other sports, I love to run, go to the movies and practice new tricks on the trampoline with my friends!

And now for some favorites!

Top 5 most played songs on my iPod right now: "Power" by Kanye West, "Your Man" by Down with Webster, "We R Who We R" by Ke$ha, "Raise Your Glass" by P!nk and "Alright With Me" by Kris Allen
Favorite cities: London and Boston
Favorite movie: Mean Girls
Favorite book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Favorite TV shows: Grey's Anatomy, House, Gossip Girl and Nikita
Favorite magazines: Lucky and SKATING
Favorite vacation spot: Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Favorite food: FROZEN YOGURT!!!! Especially from Red Mango :-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Introducing Audrey McQuade

Hi! My name is Audrey McQuade, and I am a member of the Skyliners junior team. I am a senior at Valhalla High School. I enjoy school, and I know I definitely want to go to college next fall, but I do not know where I want to go or what I want to study.

I started skating at the age of 5 and joined the Skyliners when I was 9. During my first skating lesson my coach told me, "The ice is your friend. Don't be afraid to fall on him. He will always catch you." To this day, that is the most useful thing I have ever learned from a coach. Whenever I am nervous to try something new on the ice, I hear her voice in my head, and I remember that it's okay to fall because the ice is my friend and he will always catch me.

Before I joined Skyliners, I dreaded competing. It was intimidating getting on the ice all alone, with the judges outnumbering me three or four to one! Stepping onto the ice at my first synchro competition, I felt confident. It was comforting being surrounded by my teammates and best friends. That's when I realized how fun and exhilarating competitions could be, and how much more I preferred team skating.

My favorite Team USA memory happened at my first international competition in Zagreb, Croatia. The competitors' hotel was within walking distance from the arena. To get to the competition, all we had to do was walk across the courtyard. On our way to compete the short program, a little boy ran up to me and asked, "Where are you from?" In response I waved the mini-American Flag I was holding in my hand. When he saw this and recognized the flag, he started chanting, "USA! USA!" in an accent influenced by his native tongue. Feelings of excitement and pride overwhelmed me. I love having the privilege to wave red, white and blue. They are powerful colors.

When I am not on the ice, I am usually doing homework or hanging out with my two younger sisters. They can make me laugh until my stomach cramps and tears stain my cheeks. Once a month, the three of us, along with my mom, deliver groceries to underprivileged people in our area. We have fun driving all around town and annoying my mom with loud music and dancing in the car. Also, it always feels good to help people. I do not really follow any professional sports, but I love going to my sisters' volleyball, basketball and softball games and watching them play. I have never been involved with sports teams at school, so I participate vicariously through them.

Here are some of my favorites. . .

Favorite Sports Figure: Herb Brooks
Favorite City: New York
Favorite Movie: Forrest Gump
Favorite Book: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Favorite TV Show: Law and Order: SVU
Favorite Vacation Spot: Wildwood, N.J.
Favorite Food: Nutella
Favorite Place I've Traveled for Skating: Zagreb, Croatia

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Introducing Noelle Pearson

Hey there! My name is Noelle Pearson, and I'm from Eden Prairie, Minn. This is my first season with the Haydenettes. I am a sophmore at Framingham State University. Framingham State is a small, liberal arts university located 30 minutes west of Boston. At Framingham, I am pursuing a degree in economics and a minor in French. I decided to major in economics because I've always like business and math courses. Growing up, I attended Normandale French Immersion Elementary, where all classes were taught in French, and all students are fluent in French at age 10. I knew all along I wanted I wanted to continue my French education throughout college.

I started figure skating in Braemar's city classes at age 3. I began synchronized skating when I was 6 on Team Braemar's juvenile line. I skated with Team Braemar for 10 years (two on juvenile, two on Novice, seven on junior). I've always loved synchronized skating because each skater on the team is just as important as the skater next to him or her, and everyone has to work together to achieve thier goals. This will be my fifth season as a member of Team USA.

One of my favorite skating memories was the 2009 World Junior Team Selection Competition in Fond du Lac, Wisc., where Team Braemar placed second and won its first berth to the World Challenge Cup for Juniors. It had always been a team goal to compete at junior worlds and to actually achieve it and represent the United States was unreal. Here's a link to our kiss and cry at the 2009 World Junior Team Selection Competition:

My favorite Team USA memory is at our first international competition, in 2007 at the Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy. It was an experience like none other; we were exposed to some of the best senior teams in the world! The best part was hearing the national anthem play as the American flag rose after we won the junior divison. I felt so honored and proud to be an American skater! It was an unforgettable experience.

When I'm not on the ice, you can find me at school, work, baking or with my friends! I also love to scrapbook; I have scrapbooks full of skating photos, results and competition tags from every year I've skated for Team USA. With my friends, you can find us at the movie theater, baking cookies, shopping or quoting funny movies!

Some of my favorites...

Favorite sports figure: Sasha Cohen
Favorite sports team: Minnesota Twins
Favorite city: Paris, France
Favorite TV show: Gossip Girl
Favorite movies: 27 Dresses, The Devil Wears Prada
Favorite book: The Catcher in the Rye, Harry Potter
Favorite place I've traveled for skating: Gothenborg, Sweden
Favorite Team USA program I've skated to: Quest for Camelot (Team Braemar 2008-09 junior free skate)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Introducing Jenna Longo

Hi! My name is Jenna Longo. I am a member of the Haydenettes synchronized skating team. This is my fifth season competing as a Haydenette. I am a sophomore at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. Bentley is a small business school on the outskirts of Boston. I have recently declared myself an accounting major with a minor in economics. I knew I was going to be an accountant when I was 9 after my parents had caught me taking inventory of my recently retrieved Halloween candy. The scary part was that I wanted to collect the candy to take the inventory, not eat it.

I first stepped on the ice when I was 4 years old, expecting to be a hockey player. I joined my first synchro team at the age of 8. I competed with Team Millennium for the next six seasons before becoming a Haydenette. I am eager to better my skating and can be found on the ice quite often. I have passed my senior moves in the field, gold dance test six international dances and intermediate freestyle.

My favorite Team USA memory is competing at the 2010 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships. This was my fourth year representing USA on the World Team; however, this was the most inspiring competition. The thrill and exhilaration produced from the crowd sparked a new passion inside me. Being able to win a World medal in front of a such a supportive audience and in our home country is an experience that is unforgettable. Each aspect of that competition was something to remember. The experience was too surreal to put into words.

When I'm not on the ice, which is not too often, you can find me with my three best friends. We are inseparable; we shop, eat and giggle constantly. Being so close to Boston, we frequently take trips into the city to watch as many Celtics and Bruins games as possible. My roommate, Kaleigh, and I are too often caught making funny noises and communicating in our own language. At school, I partake in many co-ed intramural sports, including soccer, volleyball, dodgeball and softball. I also participate in Service Learning, which is a community service component offered at Bentley, as well as Beta Alpha Psi, Bentley's finance and accounting group. I love summer! I am a competitive water ski and show skier. I first water skied at the age of 3 and have been doing it ever since. It is near and dear to my heart, similar to skating. Summer is the time of the year when I try to take full advantage of water skiing and catching the sunsets.


Favorite Sports Figure: Tessa Virtue
Favorite Sports Teams: New York Yankees, Boston Bruins
Favorite Cities: NYC, Boston, Paris
Favorite Band: Vampire Weekend
Favorite Movie: Miracle
Favorite Book: I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
Favorite TV Show: Gossip Girl
Favorite Vacation Spot: Summer house
Favorite Place Traveled for Skating: Hungary
Favorite Quote: "Inveni te ipsum--Find Yourself" found in Cum Laude written by Cecily von Ziegesar

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Introducing Lauren Bracken

Hey, guys! My name is Lauren Bracken, and I am from Valley Center, Calif., a small town in San Diego. I am a member of Miami University's collegiate varsity synchronized skating team. I am a sophomore chemical engineering major with a paper science focus at Miami University. I knew I wanted to go into engineering because I have always been a math and science person and found those subjects very interesting. I have had a great first year and beginning of my second year exploring the major, and I can't wait to start my first internship in the field this summer!

I began skating at the age of 3 1/2. Before synchronized skating, I skated on California Theatre On Ice for five years and competed at the International Theatre On Ice Competition in Toulouse, France. In 2003, I joined my first synchro team, Team del Sol. I skated with Team del Sol for two years before joining California Gold senior in Lakewood, Calif., for four years. I graduated from Valley Center High School in 2009, became a freshman at Miami University and earned a spot on the junior varsity team that fall.

One of my favorite skating memories is the 2007 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, where California Gold won the pewter medal. This was not only my first national medal but also the first time a Pacific Coast Section team had ever won a national medal in the senior division.

Skating for Team USA has been such an honor and accomplishment. Stepping onto the ice and hearing the announcer say, "Representing the United States of America" is one of the most exhilarating and thrilling moments. Earning the privilege to represent your country is not something that many can claim, and it has been one of the best experiences in my life.

There are so many opportunities within the synchronized skating community, and one thing I especially love are the relationships that are built and last a lifetime. You not only meet friends from the entire country but also in various countries around the world, since synchro has such a tight-knit community. To this day, I still remain close friends with my very first set of teammates!

Outside of skating, you can usually still find me spending time with my teammates since we're not only teammates but also classmates and roommates at school. We always have the best time no matter what we're doing, whether it's taking a weekend trip out of Oxford, heading to the movies or even just grabbing dinner. When I'm home, I am a volunteer skating coach for Sports 4 Exceptional Athletes. That is such a rewarding position, knowing that we are truly making a difference in the lives of people who may have never had the chance to skate or play any other sport otherwise. I also love going to the beach in the summer and making scrapbooks of each skating season. :)

This past weekend the Miami collegiate team performed during the intermission of the RedHawks' varsity hockey game. All three teams are working very hard and looking forward to our first competition of the season, the Dr. Porter Synchronized Skating Classic! See you there! :)

Miami Collegiate performs at the hockey game (Photo by Lauren Szandzik, Miami Junior team)

Fun Facts

Favorite Skaters: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
Favorite Sports Team: San Diego Padres
Top played songs on my iPod: New Taylor Swift Album, Speak Now
Favorite Books: The Harry Potter series
Favorite TV show: Glee, Gilmore Girls
Favorite place I've traveled for skating: Neuchatel, Switzerland
Favorite quotes: "Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean." -Ryanosuke Satoro
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Introducing Annaleigh Yahata

Hi! My name is Annaleigh Yahata, and I am a member of the California Gold senior team. I am a senior at Esperanza High School and plan to attend college next fall majoring in business administration or urban studies.

I first started skating when I was 9 years old. I started out in Saturday group lessons until I saw a synchronized skating team practicing. I was captivated by the girls my age, skating in circles, attached to one another and doing kick lines down the ice.

"That's what I want to do!" I told my mom.

The next thing you know, I was trying out for the synchro team in my rental skates and jeans! I skated on the ICE 'Kateers for six years before I started skating with California Gold. In addition to synchro, I continued to skate singles and competed at regionals at the intermediate level. However, synchro has always been my passion, and I love everything about it: teammates, traveling, running programs until you feel like you're going to pass out and the exhilaration of competing and performing.

My favorite Team USA memory happened in France this past year. We had limited time to see the city, so we raced from one place to the next. It was fascinating to see historic sites from the stained glass of Cathedrale Notre Dame to the panoramic view of Sacre Coeur. At the Musee d'Orsay, we found the most beautiful ballet room and struck a pose. Being in such a beautiful and historic city with the best friends a girl could have was definitely one of my best days.

When I'm not on the ice, I love dancing. I have been dancing since I was 3 years old and have never stopped loving it. My favorite genre of dance is contemporary since it is open for interpretation and allows the dancer to get lost in the movement. In my spare time, I like creating cupcakes. Many of the cupcake decorating ideas start from cupcake decorating books given to me as gifts from those calling me "the cupcake girl." I volunteer at my church working with children at summer school and service events. I also love taking pictures and scrapbooking. Right now, I have four scrapbooks and am guilty of having taken more than 5,000 photos in 2010 alone.

Here are some of my favorites:

Favorite sports team: Los Angeles LAKERS!! Woot woot!
Favorite cities: San Francisco and Santorini, Greece
Favorite musician/band: Florence + The Machine
Favorite movie: Miss Congeniality
Favorite books: Harry Potter
Favorite TV show: I can't decide! It's between Gilmore Girls and White Collar.
Favorite vacation spot: Greece
Favorite food: This is probably a question I will never be able to answer, but right now it's clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.
Favorite place I’ve traveled for skating: Rouen, France
Favorite quote: "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." - Charles M. Schulz