Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Bittersweet Ending

Although there is no such thing as a “perfect” season or team when it comes to synchronized skating, I have to say that this year came pretty close in the minds of Miami’s senior team. All results aside, this team was truly one in its own. We had it all, including two outstanding programs that we loved to perform. Most importantly though, was the indescribable bond we shared on and off the ice. Our never tiring work ethic and passion were unsurpassed.

We could not be more proud of the programs we put out and impression we made at Nationals. The team and coaching staff were so honored when we were awarded the EDI award for Best Performance at the 2012 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. But beyond that, the feeling that I know we all mutually experienced when we finished our long program reminded us all of why we are here. When we hit the ending pose, numbers or placements didn’t matter. We had already achieved what we had set out to do; in our minds we were already champions. I am humbled by each and every one of my teammates – together we felt limitless.

Of course it is awesome to win championships; that is always a goal. But that’s not what it’s really about. Winning championships is certainly not what has kept me in this sport for so long. It’s about a shared passion and relentlessly working towards a common goal, even though you know the results are out of your control. It’s about learning to allow yourself to put it all out there and be vulnerable. It’s about working through adversity and accepting challenges as they come. I’ve placed first, last, and everywhere in between, but it is hard to compare anything to this season and this team. Miami’s motto of love and honor has never been more applicable.

Being a student-athlete at Miami is a one-of-a-kind opportunity that I’m so grateful to be a part of. I’m so fortunate to have my teammates as a part of every aspect of my life, not just skating. Although the season is over, we are still hard at work. We are on the ice training and getting excited for our annual ice show at the end of April, in addition to studying hard to finish out the semester strong academically. We are all trying to enjoy each moment and most of all, enjoy each other in these last weeks of school before we once again part ways for summer. Before we know it, a new year will be among us.

Love & Honor,


(Photo Credit: Tom Ostin and Wendy Arnold)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2012 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships

This year’s U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships are definitely something we will remember forever. After not doing as well as we had hoped in Switzerland, the Haydenettes came home ready to prepare for Nationals. We worked very hard changing every element in our short program and rearranging and changing elements in the long. We were determined to improve our programs to ensure we would get things called. Spending countless hours on the ice, we worked with Saga to figure out the series of four turns with which we were most comfortable and best showcased our edges.

This past weekend, all our hard work paid off. We went into this National competition feeling confident that our “New Package” was better than ever. Wednesday afternoon we had our regular practice at the Hayden Recreation Centre in Lexington, and then we went to our teammates’, the Lapucks’, house for dinner. Mrs. Lapuck prepared a wonderful dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and many other goodies. We had enjoyed Thanksgiving at their house so much (earlier in the season) that she decided to repeat it! After the team dinner we got on the bus with Lexettes and headed to our hotel in Worcester.

Thursday morning we had a great unofficial practice. We did sections of our programs, really focusing on being neat with the changes. After practice we ate lunch then went to the DCU Center to watch the day’s events. We were able to watch the Intermediate division and were so excited when the Star Mates won. They have overcome many struggles this season, with injuries and sickness, and it was amazing that at their National Debut they were able to secure the gold.

After the Intermediate Free Skate, we met up with our fellow Dreammates to do Juvenile Awards. Presenting medals to these teams is a very special opportunity and we were so happy that we got to give the Bronze Medals to our juvenile team, the Mini Mates. We had missed their skate earlier in the afternoon because we were at practice, but we heard it was amazing and everyone was very proud of them.

On Friday we woke up bright and early for short official practice. We did one run through and a of couple sections. The practice went very well and we were all excited to get to compete that night. Back at the hotel we did video review, ate, and rested until it was time for hair and makeup.

Finally it was our turn to compete. We were focused during our warm up off the ice and ready to show the Nation our great new program. On the ice we worked together and stayed calm. Our short program earned 64.26 points, a huge improvement from our score in Switzerland.

We were ecstatic.

Saturday morning we woke up ready to put on our Poker Faces and go Gaga. We drew to compete first after the ice make, and were happy to have the clean ice. Saga reminded us to stay relaxed. The ice was so smooth that all of our glides flew without any extra push. Official practice felt really great. After we skated, we rested and ate until it was time to prepare for the competition.

When we took the ice for our free skate we were focused and ready to perform. Our program is so crazy and fun. Saga has given us amazing choreography and we all love emanating Lady Gaga with our expression. Taking one element at a time, we skated strongly. We could feel the energy from the crowd while on the ice. The excitement built throughout the program as every element seemed better than the last. When we completed our pivoting block, the audience cheered so loudly. We got an extra boost to take us through the last minute and a half of our program. At the end of our moving circle and before our no hold step sequence is our favorite part of the program. We all get really into our Gaga character and do an awesome dance. At the end of the program we were so happy with our skate. Everything was left on the ice. Our hearts and souls were poured into that skate and it could not have been better. When we got our score we knew all our heard work over the past few weeks had paid off.

We are thrilled to have helped the Haydenettes to their 20th national title this year. We are even more thrilled to be heading to Sweden in a few short weeks with the Crystallettes. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and cannot wait to update you all from Göteborg! GO USA!

Audrey & Tessa

Photo Credit: James Smith and Ted Castro

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012 Synchronized Skating Championships Recap

What an amazing day it was at the US Synchonized Skating Championships today! With the Masters and Adult division up first, I had a ton of fun cheering with my old teammates on the Starlights, as well as marveling at how much the Adult division has grown. I was so impressed by the speed and precision of the top teams, and it was incredible to watch. Then came the collegiate division, another division that is just getting more and more competitive every year! I especially love watching these two divisions, a pleasure I didn’t always have when I was competing, and because of how much FUN the programs always are.

It was really great to see all of the familiar faces that I have missed being absent from the skating world this past year. I got to spend yesterday cheering with my fellow dreammate, Annaleigh, and then was able to spend today cheering with my fellow Starlights alum, Samantha. Here’s a picture of us, standing on the OTHER side of the ice this year J

Finally, it was time for the Senior Free Skate, always the highlight of the competition! It was really cool to see how widespread the music choices were for this year: from Charlie Chaplin to Trans Siberian Orchestra to Lady Gaga! This diversity really showed how coaches and choreographers are really stepping outside of the box and out of their own comfort zones to create unique programs that will catch our eye. Overall, it was a wonderful competition. Congratulations to the 2012 US World Team Members, Haydenettes and Crystalettes!

I have to admit, it is strange attending the Synchro Championships as a spectator, rather than a skater. Making the decision to attend Dartmouth College, where there is not a synchronized skating team, was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. While I’m loving my time at college, watching everyone skate here in Worcester, seeing the excitement and passion of all the skaters, has reminded me how much I love to skate. Although I may not be competing at Dartmouth, I know that skating is going to remain a large part of my life for years to come. That’s the beauty of this sport: it’s a family, a community, of wonderful people with one common passion: skating!

Love, Bianca

Friday, March 2, 2012

Nationals 2012 - Day 2

Today was a long and eventful day at the DCU Center! Novice Championship, Senior Short Program, and Junior Freeskate were all super fun and exciting to watch. Many of the teams were hundredths of a point away from each other which made it all the more thrilling to watch! Fellow DREAM-mate Bianca and I were reminiscing about our old synchro days while we watched the teams skate. We kept hearing songs that we've skated to and dresses that reminded us of old dresses. (Of course, synchro has come a long way from our Preliminary and Teen-Intro teams!)
My lovely west coast DREAM-ers, Emmy and Linnea, were able to meet up with one another after Senior Short and, of course, take a picture :]

Hope you all had as wonderful a day as me and I can't wait for tomorrow's grand finale!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nationals 2012 - Day 1

Nationals is finally here! After all the blood, sweat, and tears, teams from all around the country have gathered here in Worcester, Massachusetts to show off what they've been working on the past season. Some of the DREAM skaters had the opportunity of presenting the Juvenile awards! It was a lot of fun to see everyone's excited faces as we put medals over their bunned heads.

I then got to see my cousin who skates on Epic Edge Intermediate. I don't get the chance to see her that often, but the fact that we share this common love for synchro makes it even more special to see her every year at nationals.
The Opening Ceremonies took place after the awards ceremonies and featured all the teams organized by state from west coast to east coast. It was exciting for me since out of all of the nationals I've been at, I have never been able to sit down and watch Opening Ceremonies! It was a dignified and impressive event. The Skating Spectacular showcased national and international competitors from the U.S. and was quite entertaining!
After the opening ceremonies and the first couple of Junior teams, I ran off to dinner at Buca Di Beppo with my lovely California Gold girls. Fellow DREAM-mate Emmy and I snapped a picture in the midst of hundreds of other pictures that everyone on the team had to take with one another.
For me, Nationals is a whole new experience this year since I'm not here to compete. I really miss having a team to interact and share memories with (though I am lucky enough to be spending the majority of my time on this trip with California Gold) But it's amazing to see what bonds can be made in just one season. Tomorrow will be another long day, so I wish everyone a goodnight and congratulations to those who competed today!