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Fond Du Lac Blades defend intermediate title

Team Del Sol, Chicago Jazz take silver, bronze

The Fond Du Lac Blades look poised on the ice during their gold-medal performance.
The Fond Du Lac Blades look poised on the ice during their gold-medal performance. (Paul Harvath)

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By Rebecca Staed, special to icenetwork.com
(02/22/2008) - The Fond Du Lac Blades, the reigning champions, showed that dreams do come true after reclaiming gold in the intermediate division at the 2008 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships on Friday. Dressed in stunning blue costumes with a single glittering star, the Midwestern Sectional champions charmed the crowd with their free skate, which was set to a medley of Disney songs about wishes and dreams.

"This music represents the ideas and feelings of the seniors on the team," coach Jenny McMahon said. "They dreamed big, and their goal was to get to juniors and be part of Team USA, and it happened."

With 10 graduating seniors, coaches McMahon and Heather Pagel will have to rebuild next year.

"Some of these girls have been skating together for 10 years, and some were on our junior team a couple years ago," McMahon said with tears in her eyes. "It's an emotional year for us. We are sad to see them go, but we are excited because they made our dreams come true as well."

The team suffered one fall during their lyrical performance, keeping them from a personal-best score. The fall could not put a dent, however, in their impressive, 63.33-point free skate, which gave them more than a two-point cushion ahead of the second-place finishers, Team Del Sol.

The Pacific Coast Sectional champions, Team Del Sol delivered an entertaining, breakthrough performance. Their heady routine, set to the Edward Scissorhands theme, Jackson 5's "The Boogie Man" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller," was cleverly choreographed by San Diego dance teacher Shannon Darcey.

"We hired Shannon last summer to do an off-ice summer dance session," head coach Karen Weismeier said. "It was totally different from what we normally do, but the girls quickly developed the style."

Their 61.09 points was a personal best, which Weismeier said was expected of this particular group of skaters that first came together at the juvenile level.

"Every year, they get better and better," she said.

The Chicago Jazz did not miss out on the silver medal by much, trailing Team Del Sol by less than a tenth of a point with their 61.00-point free skate, which was also a personal best. They skated with soul and class against the backdrop of Ray Charles' "Hey Now" and Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."

"This team learned a lot this year," said coach Dorothy DiVito. "When they started out, they were very separate, but they have come together as a team."

It was a particularly hard year for the Chicago Jazz, according to head coach Colleen Darken, because of the skaters' disparity in age.

"We have a lot of different-aged girls [from 13 to 18] and one boy," explained Darken. "So it was hard to get everyone to skate the same, but it all worked out. They skated their best at nationals -- when it counts."

Skating last, Team Image claimed their first-ever national medal (pewter) in its 20 years of competition, which was all head coach Sylvia Muccio needed for a memorable event. They skated to a medley of Latin grooves that was fresh and fun and earned them 58.20 points.

"This team blossomed throughout the year and did such a fabulous job of staying focused and understanding what we had to do to improve," Muccio said. "Everyone wants to win. All the scores are very close, and we are way up there. We are very happy."