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Finland dominates podium at 2010 World Synchros

Haydenettes bring home first world medal

Team Finland 1 had no trouble winning the free skate and bringing home the gold medal.
Team Finland 1 had no trouble winning the free skate and bringing home the gold medal. (Paul Harvath)

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By Becca Staed Bishop, special to icenetwork.com
(04/11/2010) - Finland reasserted itself as the world's best in synchronized skating Saturday night as the gold and silver medals went to the country's No. 1 and No. 2 teams, Team Finland 1 and Marigold Ice Unity, respectively, and the United States claimed its second-ever world medal since Miami University won silver in 2007 with the Haydenettes coming in third -- its first time on the world podium.

Team Finland 1, last year's silver medalist, posted an international best score of 223.90 to win its second World title, while only 0.50 points separated Marigold and the Haydenettes, which collected 216.98 and 216.48, respectively.

"It is a great feeling to win," said coach Kaisa Nieminen. "They worked really hard. The other teams were very good as well. Everyone was skating good, clean programs, so it feels good."

Skating to "Badge of Honor," "War," and "Mona Lisa Smile," Team Finland 1 was extremely energetic from finish to start, displaying excellent speed and clean edges in all of its elements, including its opening Level 4 block and step sequence, which earned the highest GOE of 7.60 points. Its Level 4 circle was well-spaced and featured a Level 3 step sequence. The team was graded Level 4s on its move in the field, line, wheel and step sequence within its no-hold block as well. Its 71.28 component mark was the night's highest by more than two points, receiving a 10 from one judge for interpretation.

"[This routine] was actually a second option," Nieminen said. "I had already decided to do something else, but then I had to change my plans. I wanted to do something fast and with good spirit, and the girls have a lot of spirit, and I thought this was something they would enjoy doing."

Marigold's fifth-place finish in the short program was hardly a concern as less than a point separated it from third place.

"The points were so close that I knew anything was possible," said coach Anu Oksanen. "Our free program has been very strong this year. So all they had to do was go out there and skate it the way they can."

The team was on the podium last in 2006 when it won its third world title and sixth (now seventh) world medal.

"We were very happy to be back on the podium because it's been a couple of years," said Oksanen. "Today wasn't perfect, but like the program itself, it is fight all the way until the end, and that's what my girls did."

Marigold earned 141.64 points for its Les Miserables free skate that opened with two excellent Level 3 moves in isolation elements. It received Level 4s for six of 10 elements, as well as on the step sequences within its block and circle. It had the second highest program component mark of 69.12.

Despite the slim margin between silver and bronze, the Haydenettes' third-place finish marks a major feat in synchronized skating in the United States -- only the country's second world medal in 10 years of the inaugural event.

"I thought it was an extremely pretty skate," said coach Saga Krantz, a past member of Team Finland 1. "It's for sure the best skate of the season. I am very proud of them."

The Haydenettes skated to music from West Side Story, exhibiting excellent presentation as well as smooth, clean lines and edges. It opened with a Level 3 pairs element, followed by a Level 4 block, featuring a Level 4 step sequence. Its intersection, wheel, circle and moves in the field also garnered Level 4s, as did the step sequences within its circle and no hold block. In all, it picked up more than 16 points in GOEs.

"West Side Story is very American and we wanted to do something for the crowd that came to support us," Krantz said. "I love that type of music and the girls can skate that type of music very well -- something more traditional instead of modern.

"We know how very tight the competition is, but it's an extremely big achievement for us."

Canada's No. 2 team, Black Ice, finished third in the short program and fourth overall with 210.90 points after its free skate to Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."

"It's all about the motivation and the work and the challenges," said coach Cathy Dalton, who has been with the team since its inception 18 years ago. "It's nice to see a new group of skaters develop as a team. There's no fast forward button. It just takes time to get back to the point where you can challenge for the podium position."

The United States' No. 2 team, the Crystallettes finished 10th in the free skate and ninth overall with 169.36 points, achieving its goal to finish in the top 10 at this event.