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NEXXICE, Haydenettes claim top spots in short

Canadians ride crowd to lead; Hometown Haydenettes get loud cheers; Miami takes 10th

NEXXICE of Canada edged the U.S. champion Haydenettes by 0.97 points in Boston.
NEXXICE of Canada edged the U.S. champion Haydenettes by 0.97 points in Boston. (Jay Adeff)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(04/05/2013) - There were cheers. There were tears. There were chants, painted faces and fans from around the world. Oh yeah -- and there was a lot of synchronized skating on display Friday night as the 2013 World Synchronized Skating Championships opened at Boston University's Agganis Arena.

Twenty teams representing 15 countries took the ice for their short programs. The event began with the exciting, competitive debut of Team Mexico and concluded with the traditional synchronized skating powers in a race for the world title, which will be awarded after Saturday afternoon's free skate.

Canada's NEXXICE, the reigning world silver medalists, have a slight lead over the hometown darling Haydenettes, who have won bronze at this event for three straight years. Team Paradise, representing Russia, is in third. Just over three points separate first and fourth places.

NEXXICE (Team Canada 1) earned 72.84 points for their "Telephone Call from Istanbul" short program. Four of the five elements in the technically sound performance received Level 4s, the highest awarded in figure skating. The team's Level 4 block received a program-high 7.93 points.

"It felt amazing out there with my teammates. We took the ice with power and really did what we needed to do to stay focused," co-captain Amy Cebulak said.

Competing so close to their home country definitely had its advantages for NEXXICE, as there were maple leaves scattered throughout the bowl.

"There are a lot of fans, especially a lot of Canadian fans," co-captain Nichole Manahan said. "We had an inkling they were going to be here, but to see them spread out and hear the loud cheering is really nice."

The seven-time reigning Canadian champions will present their free skate tomorrow to the classic Strauss piece "Die Fledermaus," as they skate for their second world title (2009).

The Haydenettes brought over 900 of their nearest and dearest from their nearby hometown of Lexington, Mass., to cheer them on at worlds. They didn't disappoint their hometown crowd as they sit in a close second place with 71.87 points following the aptly named "Run this Town" short program.

Explained longtime Haydenette Jenna Longo, "It's incredible to hear the crowd. There is no other competition where a crowd is that into it and all eyes are on you. This is our hometown and our home country, so we have a lot of fans. Our goal was to make everyone feel the performance, and I think that's exactly what we did."

As Rihanna's voice sang, you could literally hear "screams from everywhere" before, during and after the performance. The energy built as the team executed such elements as a Level 4 moves in the field sequence worth 8.36 points and a Level 4 block.

The Haydenettes feel placement comes second to the pride they feel as a team following each event.

"The goal for the competition is to make ourselves, our coach and our country proud," team member Kelly Ottaviano said. "The results come secondary to what we feel inside and how we feel we have progressed through the season."

Paradise (Team Russia 1) played to the sentiments of the American crowd as they performed an expressive short program to beloved "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston. Their program components, the highest of the competition, accounted for 36.05 of their 69.66 points.

"This program is very emotional," team co-captain Daria Bykova said. "We skate with a lot of feelings. It was a skate for the American people."

Paradise narrowly leads Team Unique (Team Finland 1), which earned a short program score of 69.28 points. The reigning world champion Team Surprise (Team Sweden 1) is in sixth going into the free skate.

Miami University (Team USA 2) returned to the world stage in style and took the ice to deafening cheers.

"It was crazy," said team co-captain Ingrid Benson of the crowd's enthusiasm. "To have the support of the United States, the entire arena was standing for us. That helped us build in our performance. It was amazing."

The team skated sixth, opening up the second group, and went on to earn 56.38 points for their "Danse Macabre" short program. They are in 10th place.