Ice Network

Lexettes, Chicago Jazz snag Challenge Cup spots

Top two squads to represent USA at 2014 Junior World Challenge Cup
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The junior world synchro team, made up of Lexettes and Chicago Jazz, pose for a group picture in a creative formation. -Chelsea Schlecht

The Lexettes and Chicago Jazz will represent the United States as USA 1 and 2, respectively, at the 2014 Junior World Challenge Cup. The Junior World Team Selection competition was held Jan. 3-4 in Fond du Lac, Wis. As the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships is held about a week prior to the Junior World Challenge Cup, this annual event is held to determine the U.S. representatives.  

The Lexettes of Hayden Recreation Centre FSC were named USA 1 for the second year in a row. Skating to a medley of Spanish music, the Lexettes skated a technically strong short program which landed them in second place. Only 0.36 points behind the leaders following the short program, they knew there were points to gain in the free skate. 

The Lexettes, skating to a Shirley Bassey medley, went on to win that segment with a total of 107.17 points, besting the second-place team by more than six points.

"It is definitely harder to stay at the top than it is to get to the top," said Lexettes skater Rebecca Wales of the pressure going into this competition having been named USA 1 last year. "This year's team knew that we had our work cut out for us at the junior world qualifier. We are very happy with our skates, and we are thrilled to be able to represent the United States again as Team USA 1."

Chicago Jazz, who represent the Chicago Figure Skating Club, were named USA 2. Chicago Jazz led after the short program with 48.36 points. Their "swing" program was fast and energetic. Despite a fall in the block element, they managed to outscore their competition in both the technical and program components marks.

Their free skate program, to Scheherazade, garnered the third-most points in the free skate but was enough to keep them in second place overall.

"I am thrilled and excited for the skaters and organization," said Chicago Jazz head coach Lisa Darken. "I feel the skaters have really focused all year for this moment."

The team is very excited to be returning to the Junior World Challenge Cup, a competition they last competed at in 2009.

"We are proud to bring our organization back to this competition," Samantha Pearsall, Chicago Jazz captain, added. "We are excited to represent our country and U.S. Figure Skating."

Saint Louis Synergy, in only its second year at the junior level, found itself in third place. The team placed second in the free skate and just narrowly missed a second-place finish (less than a point separated it from Chicago Jazz). It will compete in its first international assignment later this month.

The Skyliners, members of the past four junior world teams, finished in fourth.

Shannon Jahrling, a member of the Lexettes, is looking forward to improving on last year's sixth-place finish at the world junior championships.

"We know that last year was our first time at worlds, and now we want to do even better," Jahrling said. "We will continue to work incredibly hard in order to make ourselves even more competitive both in the U.S. and internationally."

The 2014 Junior World Challenge Cup will be held in Neuchatel, Switzerland, March 7-8. There will be 21 teams from 16 countries competing at the event. The teams from the USA hope to improve on last year's sixth- and seventh-place finishes.