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Team Braemar tiptoes by Skyliners in junior short

Lexettes slide into distant third place; Hockettes wind up in fourth

Team Braemar held off the Skyliners by just 0.44 points in Plymouth, Mich.
Team Braemar held off the Skyliners by just 0.44 points in Plymouth, Mich. (Jay Adeff)

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By Josh Ellis, special to icenetwork.com
(02/28/2013) - Starting from scratch in November with a completely new short program, Team Braemar's junior synchronized skating team was behind the eight ball, but that change has done them well. After the short program, Team Braemar leads the field in the junior event at the 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Plymouth, Mich.

While other teams were refining their programs, Team Braemar was rebuilding theirs. After a visit from officials in October, a suggestion was made to scrap their current program and start over. That's exactly what Pam May and the Minnesota-based team did with a new song and new costumes.

The team has 58.57 reasons to be glad they did.

"I'm happy I listened to direction," coach Pam May said. "Sometimes as a coach, you don't want to change because you think you know it all, but I could see what they were seeing."

Skating their new program to "The World Will Remember Us" from the Bonnie and Clyde musical, Team Braemar earned a competition-high 28.11 points for their elements. They were the only team to earn a score of more than seven points for a single element, which they did on their intersection, receiving 7.09 points. All told, for their five elements, their lowest grade of execution (GOE) was 1.30.

"I felt they skated the best they could," May said. "We went for the highest levels on everything and we were really close. I am really happy with their execution; they made sure each element was executed properly."

Team Braemar's score is nearly 15 points higher than their short program score was at the World Junior Team Selection Competition last month, where they sat in third at this point of the competition.

Braemar will need a consistent performance Friday to hold off the Skyliners, who are in second and less than a half-point behind.

With 58.13 points -- although an improvement from their score last month -- the Skyliners sit in second place. The team's coach, Josh Babb, thinks their performance was just the tip of the iceberg for what this team is capable of.

"They skated, for them, average; they're capable of much more," Babb said. "They have improved a ton since the qualifier, but I have seen what they're capable of, and I think they're capable of even better."

Skating to "Because We Believe," Babb, a self-proclaimed TV buff, chose the Chris Mann song after seeing him on the show The Voice. The team reeled in the event's top components score, while they finished behind the leaders in points from their elements.

The Skyliners already have their plane tickets to Finland to compete in the 2013 World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships, due to their second-place finish at the selection competition.

The first-place finishers at the World Junior Team Selection Competition, also headed to Finland in one week's time, the Lexettes, are in third place after the short program.

Coach Saga Krantz was pleased post-skate with their performance.

"They did extremely well. We are very happy with our performance today," Krantz said. "It was a clean skate, and they seemed to be enjoying it a lot, so I am very happy with it."

Skating to music from the Academy Award-winning film, The Artist, with red costumes to match the film's time period, the Lexettes' score rivaled the top two for their components, but fell behind on their element score. The base value for their elements was nearly five points lower than that of the top two teams.

They earned a total of 49.06 points.