Thursday, March 31, 2011

From Miami: A Post-Nationals, Pre-Worlds Update

Hello Followers!

An apology on the delay, as life’s marathon has been rather challenging to keep up with.

First, let’s have a quick recap on the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships from our perspective.

The event was amazing! There was so much energy the whole week that we couldn’t help but to feed off of it when we competed. After placing second in the short program we were completely ecstatic at the chance to come back again the next night and claim our spot on the world team!

Leading up to the free skate we were all so fired up to skate. We couldn’t wait to get out there and show everyone our passion for this sport. We will never forget that moment in the locker room when we found out we were in second place - we don’t think we’ve ever cried such tears of joy in our lives!

For Taylor, it was a really awesome experience to have received this honor in her home state. She loved being supported by both current Miami teammates and old ICE‘Kateer teammates throughout the week.

At awards it was a great privilege to be given our medals by former Miami skater, and DREAM program founder, Becky Search! Afterwards we went to the World Team meeting where we were given our sweet new USA jackets! We heard from a few officials what they had to say about the competition and a few words on Worlds. We finished up the night with a celebration dinner with our parents and headed off with high spirits into Spring Break.

As second semester of school is speeding up, with four weeks left in the semester, so has our training on and off the ice. We’ve made great progress since U.S. Championships and are moving forward in the right direction everyday. Monday, Dan Krueger came to our practice to give us constructive feedback to focus on with our few practices left before the World Championships. For fifteen of the twenty skaters, it will be our first time as World Competitors. We are humbled and overjoyed to be apart of such a special honor and look forward to representing the United States in Helsinki next week. We’re excited to see the atmosphere of the World scene, as we’ve heard it will be like nothing we have seen before. We ordered some new apparel, just for the event and of course can’t wait to put on our World Team jackets.

Best of luck to our Team USA counterparts, the Haydenettes, as they prepare their final week before Worlds as well! We look forward to being in Finland with them and will be sure to report to everyone how the week is going.

Love and honor,

Taylor and Sarah

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Road to Helsinki!

Hey Everyone,

Just thought I'd give you readers an update on how the Haydenettes are preparing for the World Synchronized Skating Championships in Finland in a week!

After the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in California we came home with much work ahead of us before going to Finland. For the past few weeks we've been training hard as usual, fixing details and video reviewing our programs. We've also had several spirit practices including St. Patricks Day, Hope for Japan day, Neon Day. (see pictures throughout). We are also very excited for this weekend's spirit practices as well :-)

Another exciting event on the Haydenettes March calendar included a visit from one our local news stations, Channel 7. They did a segment on our team and our training for the World Synchronized Skating Championships in April. It was a very cool experience having a news crew at our practice and on the ice with us. Here is the link to the news story:

The Haydenettes also paid a visit to the State House in Boson on March 30th. We had a great time meeting our local representatives and were also honored with several certificate citations from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' House members. One our teammates works at the State House and we were lucky to see her office and meet her boss. The Speaker of the House also announced our accomplishments this season to the current House members, as she spoke of how our hard work had paid off this season we received a standing ovation! It was a very exciting day for all of us.

We have only a few practices left before the World Synchronized Skating Championships, and we are all excited to compete in our coach's home country of Finland!

We will keep you updated while were in Finland! Keep your fingers crossed and GO USA!!!

Jenna and Noelle

photo credit: Erika Hoffman

Saturday, March 19, 2011

California Here We Come!

The Miami University Collegiate team arrived in Ontario, Calif. Thursday afternoon, just in time to come cheer on our junior team at the junior Short event. Before the event started, the DREAMmates had a very special opportunity to present the awards for the juvenile and intermediate medalists. It was very exciting to share such great moments with the younger skaters and honor all the teams.

After the awards, the competition returned right away with the junior short programs. The Miami junior team was full of energy and excitement druing their skate and we were so glad we could be there to support them. The team had a great night's rest and definitely enjoyed sleeping in on Friday morning. We headed to one of the unofficial practice arenas that afternoon, where we had a great first practice getting back on our feet after traveling. That night, we went to watch the senior team perform their short program, as well as the junior free skate event.

Up bright and early Saturday morning, it was finally time for the Collegiate team to take the official ice. Our practice ran very smoothly, which helped fuel our motivation to perfrom later that night.

We headed back to the competition rink that evening ready to take the ice. Everyone loved being able to warm up outside in the California sun in just a T-shirt instead of layers of jackets. After walking through the program off ice, we entered the locker with great anticipation to perform our "Brazilian Carnival" program. We stepped onto the ice, and before we knew we were already hitting the ending pose! The team had a clean skate, full of emotion, fun, and interaction within the team and with the audience in the arena. We waited for the last two teams to skate and then we found out the most incredible news- we had won the 2011 U.S. Synchronized Skating collegiate title! This marked the 7th consecutive win for Miami University in the collegiate event, which is the highest consecutive record for any team in the United States. Excitement and thrill ran through the team and we couldn't wait for the awards ceremony and to see all of our supporters that had come to cheer us on. This competition was extra special for me, being from San Diego, CA, because many family members and friends were able to see me skate and to share this joy with me!

Spring break was the week after the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships for us, so I was super excited to stay home in California and to bring some teammates with me! We had a fun filled week up and down the coast of Southern California, touring various places including La Jolla Shores, Julian, downtown San Diego, and DISNEYLAND!!

This has been such an unforgettable season. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL TEAMS! Now we wish the Miami University senior team and the Haydenettes the best of luck at the 2011 World Championships next month in Helsinki, Finland. GO USA!

Friday, March 18, 2011

California Dreaming

Hi Followers!

So sorry it has taken so long to get out our U.S. Synchronized Skating Championship blog, but it has been a busy few weeks!! Plus, now that all of the synchro chat has died down it will give everyone something to read and reminisce on!

The Haydenettes left for California EARLY on Wednesday morning; we had to meet at the Hayden Ice Rink at 4 am. The local skaters from the Ice Mates, Lexettes, and Haydenettes boarded the bus and headed towards Logan Airport. We met the rest of our teams at the airport, and checked in. We had an extremely long flight to LAX. We landed and were all anxious to get out in the California weather! We boarded buses and headed out on the hour drive to Ontario, our final destination for the weekend! The Lexettes and Haydenettes had Panera for lunch before heading to the competition rink to cheer on our juvenile team (Mini Mates) at official practice. We were able to rest up before heading to our own practices. We had practice late at a rink about a half hour away. Both the Lexettes and Haydenettes had strong practices and we were more than ready to get in bed!
Thursday the Haydenettes had a long day! We woke up and ate a nice breakfast and headed to the rink. We watched Ice Mates and Lexettes official practices. Both were very strong and we were excited to see the 2011 U.S. Syncrhonized Skating Championships had really begun. We then enjoyed a bit of fresh air and lunch before heading back to watching the Mini Mates compete. We were so proud of them! This was their first U.S. Synchronized Skating Championship since 2008 and following their second place finish at the Eastern Sectional Championships, they had a beautiful skate. We returned to the hotel to prepare for our practice. We did hair and make-up and packed our suits for the nights junior competition. We heard the Mini Mates placed 3rd which was incredible and well-deserved. We had a solid 45 minute practice and felt anxious to compete the next day! Noelle and I headed to the rink to participate in the award ceremony for the intermediate division. It was such an honor to distribute medals to the other competitors and be a part of such a great experience. Personally we both felt distributing medals to competitors was an honor because it made us appreciate and realize how far we have developed. We both can remember our first U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships! After the ceremony we changed into our suits and headed to dinner to meet the rest of the Haydenettes. We finished the night with watching the junior Short flight. The Lexettes sat in third place, with a fabulous skate!

Friday morning begun early! We headed straight to the rink for official practice! We got to warm up in the sunshine and slowly began to wake-up and focus ourselves on the task at hand. We skated an extremely strong official practice that felt dynamic. It was great to stretch out our skating on the official surface. We were on fire and ready to compete! We returned to the hotel to eat some breakfast and relax. We were able to watch Lexettes free skate official and eat lunch before having to start our competition preparations. We added some more beads to our normal make-up and had to leave extra time to ensure we were able to apply everyone's beads correctly. Short program day at U.S. Championship is always very exciting for the Haydenettes. We get to wear the "CB" jackets. These jackets were donated to the Haydenettes in the 80's and we have been wearing them since then! It is incredible to see all the names on the insides of the jackets, it makes you feel a part of long tradition. While wearing the jackets you feel proud to represent all the past and future Haydenettes! On top of all that its so fun to sport such a retro jacket! Upon following our normal traditions, we headed to to competition rink, where we got to congratulate the Ice Mates, the new U.S. novice champions, before opening to senior competition, skating first out of nine. We were very pleased with our skate and were thrilled to hear our scores! We took some great pictures in our CB jackets, ate dinner, and headed back to the rink to cheer for the Lexettes free skate and watch the junior event. The Lexettes skated what we thought was a flawless skate, having the entire Hayden crowd mesmerized, we are very proud of them and their fourth consecutive 3rd place finish at the U.S. Championships.

Saturday we had a later wake-up call, which was nice. It allowed us to catch up on some much need sleep since the week was wrapping up! We had some breakfast and headed to the competition rink for our official practice. We were scheduled to skate last in the senior event. We had a great official practice and left the rink in high spirits! Saga always likes to make sure that we get fresh air before we compete, instead of staying confined in our hotel rooms, and since we were in California it was perfect! As a team we headed to the Victoria Garden's, an outdoor shopping mall about 15 minutes from our hotel. This allowed the team to get the fresh air we needed, keep active, and clear our minds for the competition later that night. Some of our team members even took a horse and buggy ride around! We really enjoyed ourselves in the California atmosphere. We were sporting our new Burlesque t-shirts with our new names! We were really in the spirit and more than excited to compete.

Heading back to the hotel, we had a quick dinner and some rest time to really settle in the competition mode. We prepared as we normally do with our traditions and our hair and make-up. We were dazzled up in our competition make-up with our new Burlesque hats to get into the mood. It was our time to compete and everything felt just right, we were ready as a team. Skating last, the ice was a bit rough, but we were fired up and had been anticipating this night the entire week. With just a few small and minor mistakes, we were extremely pleased with our skate. It was one of those skates that is just so much fun to skate and enjoy. We heard the scores, and were ecstatic. We found out we were the 2011 U.S. champions, and which added up to make the Haydenettes 19 time U.S. champions. Our team had such an amazing experience from that point on. The award ceremony was special, following with a new World Team photo, a cover shot, and lastly the World Team reception!

More is to come from Noelle on our preparations for the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland!!


Friday, March 11, 2011

2011 JWCC Neuchatel, Switzerland Update 2

Hey Everyone!

Thursday was an awesome day. We celebrated three birthdays here in Neuchâtel; our team doctor, Dr. White, Skyliners’ Brooke Abbott, and Team Braemar’s Lily Schroeder. Braemar woke up early for practice, but Skyliners got to sleep in and have a nice relaxing breakfast. Then we headed back into town for more shopping. We explored chocolate shops and clothing stores and enjoyed the scenery of the town. At lunch, we sang and had an amazing chocolate cake for Brooke’s birthday. After lunch we went back to the hotel to prepare for practice.

Our practice was about a half hour bus ride away, in the mountains. The drive was beautiful. When we got to the rink, there was a small debacle over the ice. A Swiss citizen was under the impression that there was a public session, even though we were on the rink’s schedule. He did not take the news well when our teammate Paige explained to him in French that he had to leave the ice and, no, we could not share it. Other than that practice went extremely well and we were confident going into the start of the competition.

The event officially started Thursday night with the draw. We all enjoyed the performance by a local Swiss marching band. To chose skate order, the captains grabbed chocolate bars that were numbered. Originally,

This morning we woke up nice and early for official practice. Our practice went very well and we were so excited to compete. Walking back from the rink, we took the scenic route by the lake and got a lot of great pictures. We spent the rest of the afternoon resting and preparing for competition.

Going to the rink we felt our normal competition emotions; excitement, nervousness, but most of all, pride. We love hearing “Representing the United States of America. . .” and were anxious to be introduced that way. In the locker room we relished putting on our short program competition dresses for the last time. We have grown to love the bright orange and pink costumes, so getting dressed was a little bitter sweet. On the ice, we performed very well, but technically it was not our best. Team Braemar is currently in fifth place and Skyliners are in sixth. Tomorrow, Skyliners skate thirteenth and Braemar seventeenth. We are looking forward to getting to cheer on Braemar after we skate!

Now, it is bedtime in Neuchâtel.


Audrey and Ashley

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2011 JWCC Neuchatel, Switzerland Update1

Bonjour from Neuchâtel,

We arrived in Switzerland at around 7:30am on Tuesday morning. Both Skyliners and Team Braemar were excited to get off the plane after a surprisingly short flight from Newark to Geneva. We went through customs, added another stamp to our passports, and then hopped on a bus for the 2 hour ride to our hotel. Once at the hotel we got settled in just in time to take a trip to the local super market and get some much needed cases of water for the week to come. Soon it was time for lunch and a walk to the rink just to get a lay of the land.

Everything here is beautiful, especially the view from our hotel which is right on the water. Before we knew it, we had changed into our practice clothes and were headed back to the rink, but this time for our first practice of the competion. As we were all exhausted from the travel and being awake for so long, the practice went well. Before we were finally able to let our heads hit the pillow, we filled ourselves with a pizza dinner. Once back at the hotel we were more than ready to go to bed and get some much needed sleep.

Waking up Wednesday morning, we were all very excited to try the breakfast at the hotel, and it was clear that none of us were left disappointed. After breakfast, we walked over for the rink and warmed up for our first practice of the day in the official arena. This practice went well and we were happy with our progress from the night before. We then enjoyed a short 1 hour break before we took a walk down the street for lunch. Before going back to the rink for our second practice, we were able to spend a little bit of time shopping downtown. The area was so cute and there was a lot of fun shopping. Our time there ended way too quickly and we are all hoping to go back and explore the rest of the town tomorrow. We then returned to the rink and hopped onto the ice. Our run-throughs started off a little bit shaky, but by the end we were feeling great and expressing to those watching in the stands.

Back at the hotel we had some time before dinner where about half of us went to check out the art museum across the street from our hotel. Later, we met team Braemar in the lobby of the hotel for an all Team USA dinner at the hotel restaurant. We had a lot of fun mixing up the teams and laughing and telling each other stories the whole time. By 8 o’clock we were all tired once again and headed up to our rooms to relax and get ready for bed.

Excited for another fun day in Switzerland


Ashley and Audrey

2011 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships

Hey Everyone,

From the moment that we got off the plane in California, it was clear that this competition was going to be a special one for the Skyliners. We were confident and ready to compete. We started off the week with a few unofficial practices at both the arena and at a local rink. They all went very well and helped us to feel very comfortable going into the competition.

As Thursday rolled around, so did our short program official practice, the juvenile and intermediate competitions, and the junior short program competition. We were very happy with our official practice and knew that we just needed to turn up the expression for the competition that night. Later in the day we headed back to the rink to watch the juvenile division. It was great to see the competitors just having a ball out on the ice without a care in the world. This was a wonderful reminder of where we all started so many years ago, and how far we have come since then. The Skyliners juvenile team put out their best skate all year, full of enthusiasm and expression, earning them the gold medal.
This was extremely exciting for all of us, as it was the first National gold for the Skyliners organization.

As we waited for the intermediate competition to begin, we got the chance to walk around the rink and visit with friends from all over the country. Returning to our seats we heard the familiar tune of the flash mob, which we then preformed alongside several teams in the stands. The intermediate competition was very strong and the Skyliners intermediate team was able to finish with a silver medal in their first season ever as a team. As the rest of the team went back to the hotel to begin hair and makeup for the short program, Audrey and I stayed at the rink and were honored to have the opportunity to hand out the trophies for the juvenile and intermediate champions. This was a very cool experience that we were able to share with our Dreammates. Finally it was time for the junior short program and we were so excited to be skating last in the event. Getting off the ice, we were all happy with our performance, but most pleased with the amount of expression we were able to bring to it. As the scores came up, we could not believe that we had just earned a 63, our highest score all year, and were sitting in 1st place.

Friday morning we skated a strong official practice and knew that we would need to keep up the same energy all day in order to achieve our goal of improving upon our 2nd place finish from last year. In the middle of the day, we went back over to the rink to watch our novice team compete. We cheered loudly as they entered the ice and hoped for a great skate. They put out an extremely strong program, which made us very proud and landed them in 4th place. At this point we could not have been more thrilled with the Skyliners organization as a whole for medaling in every level so far, and now it was our turn. Waiting in the locker room before walking rink side, the spirit and enthusiasm were unlike anything I has seen before. I knew that this was our time and we were ready to go out and skate the program of our lives. From the minute that we stepped out onto the ice, the crowd roared, and it was clear that they were behind us 100%. The program flew by and before I knew it we were hitting the ending pose in shock of how we had just skated. Although there were still 3 more teams to skate after us, when our score of 127 came up, we all went wild in the kiss and cry. It was unreal to us. Waiting in our locker rooms for the final teams to skate, we opened to curtains in between them, joining together to perform the flash mob dance once again, this time in our skates and with Chicago Jazz and Team Braemar. Soon Josh came in and relayed the amazing news that we had done it, and we were now U.S. champions. It was unbelievable to us all. Standing on the podium, so many things were running through my head, but two of the most important were how extremely proud I was of my team and what we had just accomplished, and the second was the fact that dreams really do come true with hard work, determination, and passion. We then had a blast taking our Junior World Team picture with Team Braemar, and heading up to a reception where we received our World Team jackets. It was an incredible experience and certainly one that none of us will ever forget.

As I sit here on the plane to Switzerland with all 39 of my fellow Team USA teammates, it is still so surreal what happened last week, but none of us are stopping there. We are all ready to go again and show the world what we’ve got, feeling even more confident than before. I am extremely honored to be representing our country in the coming week, and hope to make everyone at home proud.
More from Neuchatel and the 2011 JWCC,

Ashley Mulhern