Ice Network

Lexettes whip into first at U.S. Synchro Champs

Ice Mates skate to novice crown; Altitude training pays off for Dazzlers
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The Lexettes of the Hayden Recreation Centre FSC, who won the 2014 Junior World Team Selection Competition in January, amassed 55.00 points to grab the lead in the junior short program. -Jay Adeff

It was fierce, it was fearless, it was muy bien.

With their Spanish-themed program earning them a whopping 55.00 points, the Lexettes lead after the junior short at the 2014 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

"I thought they skated their absolute best by far," coach Saga Krantz said. "We have done a lot of changes over the past two weeks, and there are a lot of risky elements. I am beyond happy with that result."

Skating in black dresses, which reflected the flamenco style, the Lexettes achieved their big score with a series of difficult, and well-performed, elements. One in particular caught the eye of their coach.

"Their whip intersection," Krantz said as her eyes lit up. "I think the whip intersection is difficult to execute correctly, and the way they were able to do it today left me speechless."

Krantz' charges lead by nearly seven points heading into the free skate.

A funky performance to a rap rendition of tunes from The Great Gatsby has Saint Louis Synergy in second place with 48.03 points. The score represents a season's best for the group from the Metro Edge FSC of Missouri, which has been building the performance throughout the season.

"It was one of their best skates of the season," coach Ramona Peterson said. "We came out from our international focused on working on our GOEs (grades of execution) and the performance part of it, the expression, so I think they brought all of that tonight."

In fiery red costumes with a splash of orange, Saint Louis Synergy impressed the judges with its no hold element and step sequence, which received 6.36 points.

In third place after the short program is Chicago Jazz with 47.20 points. Dressed in pink, skating a swing-style program, the team that represents the Chicago FSC has some work to do to make up ground in the free skate.

"They were good," coach Lisa Darken said. "We have certainly done better at practice, but hopefully they got the kinks out and we'll fix the few mistakes."

Chicago Jazz placed second at the Junior World Team Selection Competition in early January, which earned it a trip to the Junior World Challenge Cup later this season. At the former competition, the Jazz finished third in the free skate behind the two teams ahead of it here, but Darken remains confident in her team.

"Our free skate is really consistent and strong," she said. "The elements are beautiful, so I think we should make up some ground."

The five teams teams in fourth through eighth are separated less than three points, which should make for an exciting conclusion. Team Braemar is in fourth with 46.04 points, followed by the Hockettes, Miami University, the Synchroettes and the Skyliners.

Ice Mates snag novice crown

Taking home the novice title were the Ice Mates of the Hayden Recreation Centre FSC, who earned an impressive 65.70 points for their free skate.

"It feels amazing," Allyson Bartels, a third-year Ice Mate, said after the performance. "I'm really proud of what we did out there. A lot of us came in from other teams, but we've really come together and become friends this year."

Performing to a medley of songs including "Once Upon a December," the Eastern Sectional champions credit their camaraderie for the unison and grace they exude on the ice.

"We have several new members, and we've overcome a lot of injuries as well," second-year Star Mate Stephen Murray said. "We've really come together and gelled as a team this year. It's an incredible feeling that I can't even put into words. We're together."

Posting an elements score of 30.60 points and a components score of 37.10, the Ice Mates earned the novice crown by a 1.79-point margin.

Earning silver were the Dearborn FSC's Crystallettes, who earned 63.91 points for their Burlesque performance.

"It wasn't our best skate, but we're really happy with how things ended up," Alison Panek said. "We're happy to be here, and to get a medal is an amazing experience, especially because there are skaters on our team who haven't ever been to nationals before."

Despite a few bobbles, the Michigan-based team persevered with speed and sass, a lesson the seasoned members hope to teach the new recruits.

"We want to go out there and be our best," Erin Quigley, a fifth-year Crystallette, said. "We want to be the best skaters we can be. We didn't have our best skate today, but we did the best that we could, and that's important."

Rounding out the top three were the Skyliners, representing the SC of New York, who demonstrated incredible precision in their Willy Wonka-themed program.

"We've really grown as a team, and that helps us," Alana Resnick said. "We've worked a lot on our edges, making sure we're together and that our posture and expression are where they need to be. It's important to have a big presence on the ice."

The team earned positive GOEs on each of its eight elements, en route to 60.85 points and the bronze medal.

Taking pewter were the Synchroettes (Essex SC of New Jersey) with 58.61 points.

Dazzlers out of this world in winning intermediate

The Dazzlers did just as their name suggests, claiming the intermediate title with 59.21 points. The deciding factor for the team from the DuPage FSC in Illinois may have been its preparation for competing at altitude.

Leading up to the event, which takes place more than 6,000 feet above sea level, the team skated at practice for 15 minutes straight, without stopping, to boost its endurance.

It certainly paid off.

"I think what helped us the most was our interval training," team captain Alyssa Pressley said. "A lot of the girls on the team have never skated at altitude, so it helped us be physically fit to perform here."

After the team's scores were read, the coaching staff could hardly contain its excitement.

"It was electric!" an excited Colleen Goldenberg said, along with fellow coaches Debbie Buirge and Meg Plummer. "That was absolutely the best skate of their season."

The Dazzlers barely qualified for these Championships, finishing fourth at the 2014 Midwestern Sectional Championships. After that competition, the team got down to business, and it showed.

"It was hard work and dedication," Goldenberg said on her team's improvement since sectionals. "They came in for extra ice time on their own and really put their all into it."

Skating to what they called a "Fembot from outer space" program, three musical selections were spliced into one program, which also featured sound effects that accompanied the out-of-this-world skate.

In second were the Star Mates of the Hayden Recreation Centre with 55.70 points. Skating to a medley of songs from Motown: The Musical, the team, and coach Erika Hoffman, showed great joy after it got off the ice.

"We are thrilled with that performance," Hoffman said. "We have been building for this moment all season, and my hope for the team is to be proud of how they skated, and we accomplished that today."

Wearing elegant purple dresses, the Star Mates earned the best components score of the competition, helping them improve five spots from last year.

"It was the biggest relief," second-year Star Mate Jen Volcker said. "When I got on the ice, I wasn't thinking of placement; we just wanted to skate our best, and it really paid off."

In third place, with 52.87 points, were the Ice Diamonds of the Mentor FSC. Skating to music from The Great Gatsby in a classy golden ensemble, the performance was centered around Alex DiCola, the lone male on the team, who served as Jay Gatsby. He and his teammates reenacted the famed party scene out on the ice.

"They skated great," coach Debi Gamber said. "Our goal was to go out there and have a good time, and they did just that. The bronze medal is the icing on the cake."

In fourth place, and earning the pewter medal, was Team Delaware with 52.20 points.