Chicago Jazz lead after short program

World junior team to be named at event conclusion

The Chicago Jazz competes at the U.S. Synchro Championships.
The Chicago Jazz competes at the U.S. Synchro Championships. (Paul Harvath)


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By Kelly Hodge, special to
(01/12/2008) - Chicago Jazz had a long night, but they proved that in this competition anyway, the best really was saved for last. While the teams below them battled out for second place, the 2007 World junior bronze medalists sailed through a near perfect short program to come out on top by more than eight points.

Skating in beautiful ivory dresses, their program to "East of Eden" had everything - flow, power, depth of edge in their step sequences and a confidence that just kept building. The received the highest base value possible in the junior short program, a 34.50 earning level 4's on every step sequence, and adding on another eight points to their technical mark with GOE's of nearly all plus 1's and plus 2's. "I thought it was strong and it felt good," said team member Courtney Voss. "We had been waiting all day and the excitement just kept building. We couldn't wait to get out there and show off what we have been working so hard on."

Teammate Caitlin Britton agreed. "The whole thing just felt amazing, but finally knew we nailed it when hit the last step sequence of the block - our last element."

With 69.20 points heading into tomorrow's free skate, Chicago Jazz has taken a huge step towards securing a record sixth consecutive berth on the U.S. World Junior Synchronized Skating Team.

Miami University Junior Varsity Synchronized Skating Team has yet to make their first trip to any international competition, let alone the World Junior Challenge Cup. The team didn't let that phase them as they put everything they had into their fun, energetic program to "You Can't Stop the Beat," from the sound track to the motion picture Hairspray.

High program component marks, especially for Musical Interpretation and Performance Execution, at 6.32 and 6.21 respectively, really cemented the team into the second spot.

The team also received level fours on all of their step sequences, but they had some minor element deductions, and while their GOE's were strong, they couldn't touch Chicago Jazz.

This team is unique in that with the exception of one sophomore, the remaining athletes are all freshman at Miami University. The age cap in junior is under 19, requiring nearly 100% turnover and a brand-new team every year.

"I actually love it," said Coach Carla DeGirolamo, of her freshman team. "It is a clean slate every year. Every skater has wonderful individual skills and it is a lot of fun to work with them and help them to gel into a new team. My strategy this year was to create a program that really played to their strengths as athletes and skaters - speed, technical difficulty and expression and presentation. I think it worked and I'm thrilled with the results."

Jessica Swartz, the sole sophomore added, "It was just awesome. We had so much fun out there. Our goal for tomorrow is of course to skate clean, but we really want to earn that spot on the World Junior Team.

Miami University earned 61.14 in tonight's short program.

Less than two points behind the Redhawks is the Colonials, with 59.75 points, certainly within easy striking distance of second place.

Skating to "Colors of the Wind" from the motion picture Pocahontas, the team has spent the past month training their turns and step sequences to improve their technical score. This strategy worked well for them, as they earned level fours for two step sequences, but did see a third downgraded to level three. With nearly all GOE's in the positive and no major mistakes the team is pleased with how the did.

"We are very pleased," said Brittany Bressler. "We have been training so hard, working to get everything called and it was really nice to see that pay off tonight. This is a huge improvement from our last several competitions."

Bressler continued, "Tomorrow we want to skate hard, crisp and set every edge in the program up so that we can execute it to our best ability."

The Lexettes of Lexington, Mass., finished fourth with 54.87 points, with less than three points separating placements four through seven.

The World Junior Team will be named following the free skate tomorrow evening.