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Crystallettes earn first win in 16 years

Long wait for any Crystallettes division

The Crystallettes won gold at Synchros.
The Crystallettes won gold at Synchros. (Paul Harvath)

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By Rebecca Staed, special to icenetwork.com
(02/23/2008) - There is a feeling of vindication in the Crystallettes adult team camp.

For 16 years, no Crystallettes team has earned a national win; lady luck never seemed to be on their side. Last year, the Dearborn FSC team finished second, and while satisfied with a podium finish, they came into Providence with a palpable goal -- to break out of the long-standing losing streak suffered by all of the Crystallettes divisions.

Mission accomplished.

The team posted a new personal-best score of 56.26 and grabbed their first gold medal at championships since 1992.

The adult team set itself apart from the rest of the field -- 4.26 points apart, to be exact -- to win their division at the 2008 U.S. Synchronized Skating Team Championships.

They turned the arena into a nightclub scene with their "woman scorned" theme, skating to a pop combination of "Candyman" by Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" and "Maneater" by Nelly Furtado.

"This team is a riot," coach Holly Teets said. "We already have next year's theme picked out, which I can't tell. But this was just a fun theme."

At this level, fun is what the sport is all about. All of the skaters work full-time jobs, and with the economy in a rut, it was difficult to get enough skaters for the team, which is comprised of former Crystallettes seniors and former Team Elan (now Evolution) senior and adult skaters.

"They do this for enjoyment," Teets said. "Nobody's mommy is footing the bill at this stage in the game."

Back in the dressing room, coaches Teets and Stacy Holland were getting score updates via text. Teets never watches her team's competitors.

"There is one team that I can worry about, and that's my own," she said.

After competition, she will review the DVD's and make notes on how to improve for next year.

"I knew that the highest score was 52.00," said Teets. "So I thought, 'Oh my gosh. If they can just stay vertical and stay on their feet, they could actually win this.'"

They did all three.

Also moving up a spot from last year and taking home silver was Esprit de Corps with a solid 52.00-free skate. They skated to a medley of swingy songs by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy to gain their eighth gold in the division.

This year, the team brought in the Haydenettes' senior coach and choreographer Saga Krantz to perk up their choreography, expression and interpretation.

"They have a good technical base and good skills," coach Deirdre Wilson said. "But we wanted to add the finishing touches to make it a better program."

A week before competition, one of their skaters suffered a concussion after a skating fall. The skater went on to skate with both the masters and adult teams.

"We have had our share of injuries, but they are strong and they recover nicely," Wilson said.

The Eastern Sectional champions, made up of an equal mix of veterans and newcomers, worked hard to become more consistent and energetic performers this year, according to Wilson. But mostly, they came to medal.

Team Delaware barely secured the bronze medal with 51.88 points, just .12 points over the fourth-place finishers, the Western Michigan University Alumni Team.

Their routine was set to a medley of songs from the Broadway show Rent. Before receiving their marks in the 'kiss and cry,' the team broke out in the ever-poignant "Seasons of Love" chorus.

Earlier this morning, coaches Megan O'Donnell and Wendy Deppe were more concerned with another season -- the flu season -- as one skater tried to fight off the illness.

"We weren't sure if she was going to go on," O'Donnell said. "She actually threw up at 3:30 this morning. About a minute into the program I looked at her face, and she looked OK, so I felt good."

To top it off, the team had a rough official practice.

"About four people went down, so we were wondering about their confidence level," O'Donnell said. "So to go out there and have a clean performance, they made us really happy."