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Nexxice wins world synchro title in Croatia

Haydenettes fourth; Miami University seventh

Canadian Champions and defending world champions NEXXICE hope to repeat their success from the 2009 season.
Canadian Champions and defending world champions NEXXICE hope to repeat their success from the 2009 season. (Mary Jane Hanlon Rogers)

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By Kelly Hodge, special to icenetwork.com
(04/04/2009) - The 2009 World Synchronized Skating Championships took a different turn after the free skate, with Team Canada 1 breaking the Finland-Sweden winning streak that has been in place as long as there have been world championships.

The bronze medal winners from 2007 and 2008 were the last team of the evening, and had no idea that the teams before them had left the door wide open, each making at least one major error. This included Team Unique (Team Finland 2) -- leaders after the short program and former world champions Marigold Ice Unity (Team Finland 1) and Team Surprise (Team Sweden 1).

Nexxice, Canada's number one team, sailed through the open door with a clean, technically excellent program to "Carmina Burana." The team received the highest base value possible for all of their well balanced program elements, a sheet of positive Grades of Execution (GOE), and the evening's highest program component scores, to win the free skate with 143.46 points and the overall championships with 223.58 points total.

Their program was highlighted with a moves in the field sequence that started with mirror image change edge spirals that had each half of the team coming towards, then pulling away from, one another.

"It was such an amazing feeling," said captain Jennifer Beauchamp, "Our focus, like last night, was to earn a personal best for our team and for our country. We focused on ourselves and our skating. We're so pleased with our performance, our skating and of course our placement."

The team's delicate, light, and effortless skating style showed, as they easily earned the highest skating skills mark, seeming to float from one element to the next.

"We've been working on developing our skating skills over the past few years. We work on it on every practice, every day, even here on our 20 minute practices," explained Beauchamp, of her team's superior skating quality. " We have been working with our coaches on exercises that develop the relationship between the blade and the ice. We really went back to the basic skating skills this year to work on the edges and quality turns that are now required in synchronized skating."

It certainly paid off in the most recognizable way possible as Nexxice became the first team outside of Finland or Sweden to capture the most coveted title in the sport.

Team Unique, Finland's number two team, achieved their goal and became the third team from Finland to collect a world medal, the silver. Though it wasn't the gold they were on track for after the short program, it was good enough.

"I think the team could have skated a little cleaner, " acknowledged coach Mirjami Penttinen. "But, otherwise the program was really beautiful. We got all of our calls, so I'm really happy about that, and we achieved our goal of winning a medal, we are really happy."

The team put out a strong performance to "Nessun Dorma" by Puccini and "Fight of the Sicki Troops," opening with a well executed Level 3 no hold block, with a Level 4 step sequence.

Their characteristic speed and unison was displayed throughout the night, with one of the program highlights being a group lift in which four skaters were lifted in the air, all connected, and broke apart as the lift groups began to rotate. A fall on a pairs element was their only obvious error.

The Finns earned 137.92 points for their free skate, and 220.28 overall to take home the silver.

Sweden's Team Surprise came to win it all, but it wasn't meant to be. Skating to a mix of "Ghost in the Shell" and "Love in Venice," the team put out everything they had, skating with power and speed, and much stronger than they did in the short program.

But, there were too many errors to come close to Canada or Finland 2's technical prowess, including a fall near the end, in a block and several step sequences receiving downgrades.

"Our goal was to win this competition," said coach Andrea Dohany. "We did our best. Anyone can fall. The skaters did a great job. We have a dangerous program and we took a risk. That's it. I think the skaters did well, so I'm satisfied."

The team moved up from fourth place to edge out the Haydenettes for the bronze medal, with a total of 209.30 points.

The Haydenettes had a good night, finishing in fourth place, less than two points off the podium with 207.40 points. They skated a strong clean program to the Forbidden Kingdom, highlighted with strong step sequences -- each one in their program earning the maximum Level 4, and executed with GOEs of + 1 or +2. Downgrades on a point of intersection and a pairs element were their only obvious technical errors.

Miami University also skated a clean program to finish in seventh place, two spots higher than last year.