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Rockettes capture synchro world title

Marigold Ice Unity earns silver; Haydenettes win bronze

The Rockettes won the gold medal at the 2011 World Synchronized Skating Championships.
The Rockettes won the gold medal at the 2011 World Synchronized Skating Championships. (Paul Harvath)

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By Lauren Magliola, special to icenetwork.com
(04/09/2011) - In 2010, the world's best synchronized skating teams came to the U.S. to compete in the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships. At the end of the event, two Finnish team were at the top of the podium, with a home team from the United States capturing their first bronze medal.

A year later, home field advantage transferred to the Finns, with the best teams in the world traveling to Helsinki to compete for a world title. Despite the change in scenery, history has repeated itself. The Rockettes, from Finland, are once again world champions, while their Finnish teammates Marigold Ice Unity followed closely behind in second and the Haydenettes from the United States again took home the bronze.

The leaders by a slim margin after the short program, the Rockettes were the second to last team to take the ice on Saturday night.

Before skating in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, captain Kristina Herbert had some motivational words for her teammates.

"I told them that this is our ice, our time and our program," she said afterward.

The Rockettes took command of the ice, earning 140.62 points for their technically strong free skate. The program was highlighted by a unique opening group lift that earned 7.49 points. Overall, seven of the Rockettes' 11 elements earned total scores of higher than seven points.

Similar to the technical element scores, the team's program components scores were astronomical. With the highest possible score for each program component being 10, the Rockettes earned scores of 8.79 or higher for each component, reaching their highest scores in the performance/execution and choreography/composition categories.

The Rockettes have now won three of the last four world titles, only missing the top spot in 2009, when the team did not qualify for the competition.

Marigold Ice Unity also has a tradition of winning at the world level, but has recently found itself consistently placing a close second to their Finnish rivals.

Just over a point away from the top spot after the short program, the team known for its creative and emotional programs also took the ice to impossibly load cheers from animated Finnish fans.

Their free skate to music from "The Pirate Queen" and "Lord of the Dance" engaged the fervent crowd, bringing them to their feet with their last element, a level four line that earned 7.77 points, and a finale of quick and energetic moves similar to Irish step dancing.

"It was great the way the audience was supporting us," captain Satu Andersson said. "It was like having an extra team member on the ice."

The team's free skate score of 139.94 was less than a point away from first, but despite the intense rivalry between the two Finnish teams, Marigold Ice Unity was more than happy to take home the silver.

"We are really happy to get silver," Andersson said. "A little disappointment for not winning maybe, but most of all we are happy because we had two great performances."

The Haydenettes, from Lexington, Mass., won their first-ever world medal last year in front of their own home crowd. The 19-time U.S. champions repeated the feat, this time in front of the home audience of their head coach Saga Krantz.

"Placing on the podium in our coach's home land is indescribable," captain Kelly Ottaviano said.

The team's Burlesque free skate earned 134.24 points, which placed them fourth in that portion of the competition. The lead they had carried over from the short program, however, was enough to hold off Team Surprise of Sweden and capture bronze medal for the second consecutive year.

The program was highlighted by a fun and flirty no hold step sequence, which earned a total of 7.63 points. The team also earned high marks for performance and choreography.

"To be on the podium again is great," captain Jenna Longo said. "This medal is definitely something that will hold a wonderful memory for me."

Miami University, the second U.S. representative in Helsinki, skated an emotional and powerful "Hypnotized in a Dream" free skate. The team from Oxford, Ohio, earned 106.10 points in the free skate for a total of 162.74, which was good enough for 10 place overall.

The final results mark the second world medal for the Haydenettes and the third overall for Team USA. The Rockettes' win is the sixth world title earned by a Finnish team, and the combined effort of Marigold Ice Unity and the Rockettes at this event brings the total number of world medals won by Finnish team to 16. No other country has earned more than 10 total world medals since the first World Synchronized Skating Championships were held in 2000.