Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Letter to the Future

A Letter to the Inaugural United States Synchronized Skating Olympic Team:

     I write this letter to you shortly after returning home from the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in the year 2015. I am unsure of when in the future this letter will actually find you, but do know with all my heart, that one day it will.

     You have been chosen to represent your country on the Olympic stage, so I am writing to remind you what this truly means. I am writing to remind you what this sport it truly about.

Haydenettes celebrate a clean short program at the
2015 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships
     In 2015, there is a common misconception that Synchro is the discipline that skater’s “fall back on”. You and I both know this to be untrue. If you are like me, then the sport didn’t choose you, you chose it. You chose synchro because it was the biggest challenge you had yet faced. You had to master the jumps of Freestyle, the turns of Ice Dance and the lifts of Pairs Skating - all while staying in perfect unison with your 15 team mates. You chose to be a person your teammates could depend on. You took on the responsibility of not only looking out for yourself and improving your skills, but also lifting up those around you with support. I like to call synchro the “Miracle Sport”, because you and I know that 16 people skating a perfectly clean program in perfect unison can be somewhat of a Miracle.
The Haydenettes - my teammates for life 

Nothing will replace the feeling you have after 
you've skated your best
     You are now representing the Ultimate team sport. You will not only skate together on the Olympic stage, but you will become one unit. You are representing the best of what the United States has to offer, past and present. I ask you now not to forget what this sport is truly about. The skaters who competed this weekend in the 2015 World Championships did not grow up choosing to skate synchro in the hopes of one day becoming Olympians. We did it in spite of the fact that the Olympics were not an option. There is something special about this sport that grabs on to your heart and does not let go. It is a sport for fighters, the kind of athletes who do not give up on themselves or each other. It is a sport where you will have your highest highs and your lowest lows, but yet you will never be alone. It is a sport where in those few moments in your career when the miracle does happen, you can skate to the middle of the ice, hug your adjacent puzzle pieces, and stand side by side as you share your accolades with your best friends. You are a part of something so much bigger than one person. So please do not forget the sport and the love for being a part of something that reaches far beyond your own wants and needs. We have been working tirelessly so that you would have this chance.

2015 World Synchronized Skating Team
So please, skate with your heart, skate with your soul and know that generations of synchronized and precision skaters before you are smiling, knowing that all of our dreams came true! We know you will represent us well, now GO GET EM’ USA!

A member of the 2015 United States Synchronized Skating & World Team                

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How Did We Get Here?

I write this blog post to you as I’m about to depart for the 2015 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships, which is the final event of the season for me and my team, the Haydenettes (Team USA 1), and I think to myself “how did we get here?”.  In less than a week from now another season will have come and gone; final performances will have been skated and champions will have been crowned.
Haydenettes last practice at home before heading to Canada for the World Championships

So how did we get here?  Well I guess you could say time just flies when you’re having fun.  But most of all we got here from the help, support, and dedication of many incredible people. 

Our coaches.  They push us every practice, they know what’s best for us, we give them our all and trust them 100%.  We have succeeded and reached this point thanks to all the hard work of our coach, Saga Krantz.
With Coach Saga after the short program at The Spring Cup in Milan, Italy

Our family.  They love us unconditionally, day in and day out.  From sitting in the crowd at a competition or watching online, they support us whether we win or lose and we would not be the individuals we are today without them.
Me with my parents at the Award Ceremony at this year's National Championships

Our managers.  Who organize travel plans, schedules, and everything in between, and are there to support us every step of the way throughout the season. 
Haydenettes with our team manager, Gail Mayer, at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk earlier this season

Our friends, who might not understand anything about the sport, but are always there to cheer us on.  
Younger skaters, who look up to us and remind us of where we once began our journeys and why we fell in love with this sport in the first place.

Former skaters, who created a legacy for us to follow, acted as role models for us, and created dreams for ourselves that we are living out today.
Current and former Haydenettes at the 2015 US Championships

And then of course, our teammates.  We wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t put our undivided trust and love into our team as a whole.  We work as one unit on and off the ice and are able to create lifelong memories and friendships along the way.
2015 Haydenettes

So how did we get here? We practiced, we sacrificed, we worked as hard as we could.  But we wouldn’t have made it here on our own.  Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today, off to compete at the World Championships.  I couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you.  

Let’s go USA! 

Ashley Tomich

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Final Push

After months and months of practice, countless run-throughs, and even more “Let’s do that section one more time” comments, it’s hard to believe that we are already at this point in the season, making that final push towards stepping out onto the world stage. In just a few days 25 teams, representing 20 countries from all around the world will meet in Hamilton, Canada for what is sure to be a tight competition and an incredible event.

Scott Brown with the Miami Senior Team
Coming off of the US Synchronized Skating Championships with such strong performances by all the teams in the senior division, the Haydenettes and Miami University were thrilled to be named the 2015 US World Team, but the hard work definitely did not end there. For Miami, our goal was certainly to reclaim our spot on their World Team, but also to take it much farther than that. These past several weeks have been packed with skating and training in an effort to ensure that we are as prepared and well set up for success at the ISU World Championships as possible.

While the rest our classmates and the Miami University student body cleared out of Oxford and headed for the beaches over spring break two weeks ago, we stuck around and put in several hours of intense practice, pushing our stamina and tweaking our programs ever so slightly. We were very lucky to welcome back one of our choreographers, Scott Brown, for some attention to detail in the short program. He helped us prepare to fill the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton with our joy of skating from the moment we enter the ice.

Miami Skating taking a quick break to watch the Varsity Hockey Team on TV

We truly have been pushing ourselves harder than ever and putting in a tremendous amount of work over the past month. The best part of this work however, has been doing it together as a team. Without all 19 athletes giving everything that we have each and every practice, we couldn’t have accomplished everything that we have so far this season. It’s in those times that you don’t think your legs can take even one more crossover, that looking over at your teammates is the most empowering. This one glance allows you to do what you yourself might not have been able to do without your teammates giving 150% as well.

“You will never know your limits until you push yourself past them!”

Former Skyliners Junior teammates and DREAMmates Audrey McQuade and Ashley Mulhern ready to take on the World once again
It’s always so important to remember that anything can happen on any given day, at any competition, but especially at the World Championships. In the sport of synchronized skating, there are so many things that are out of our control as skaters when competing. We can’t control the judges, the technical panel, or even the other teams, but the one thing we do have control over is our own performance. As we look towards the World Championships, we have set our sights as high as we can and will head into the competition with the goal of putting on another show, skating with strong performance all week long, exciting the arena, and leaving our mark on Hamilton. We may not be able to control our final placement, but we can most definitely control how we feel when we hit our ending position and give ourselves and the audience a performance to remember. This is sure to be a week that will remain in our memories for the rest of our lives.
2015 US World Team

We can’t wait for another ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in North America, where you can count on the crowd to be bursting with spirit, deafening cheers, and a true passion and appreciation for the sport of synchronized skating. Good luck to all the teams competing and we’ll see you there!

Representing the USA with Love & Honor,
Ashley Mulhern