Sad that Olympics are over? Synchro Nationals!

Are you sad that the Olympics are over?

Looking for a great family outing?

Many people on this board know that I’m the resident synchronized skating fanatic. Now I’m going to earn that title!

2010 U.S. Synchronized Skating Team Championships
March 3-6, 2010
Mariucci Arena
Minneapolis, Minnesota.

All-event passes are $45. Single event passes are cheaper.

If you live anywhere near this location, I highly recommend this competition. I’m driving 300 miles to see it.

If you’ve never seen synchronized skating, here’s a link to a montage to “Don’t Stop Believin’” (from the TV show Glee). youtube.com/watch?v=dWTUeiJYMR4

I wouldn’t bring little ones (under age 7), as I think they’ll be bored sitting in a plastic chair (or a lap) for hours, and there are no skating Mickey Mouses, princesses, or pirates (although much of the music will be from movies featuring these characters!). Older children will enjoy this competition.

Do what I do–bring a cooler full of drinks, sandwiches, and veges, and some bags of fruit and crackers. It’s amazing how hungry you get sitting in a cold place watching competition. But the lines at the concessions in the arena are usually sooooo long (at least 1000 skaters will be there, along with their parents and fans like me), and you hate missing the skating just to get a plastic bowl of nachos and a water-downed soft drink! So bring your own food, and be prepared to eat it out in your car during the twenty-minute zamboni breaks. (You probably won’t be allowed to bring food into the arena, although it’s possible that they’ll bend the rules.)

Although there are practices all day on Wednesday, the actual competition starts Thursday. Opening Ceremonies are at 1:25, and they only last ten minutes. Then the **Juvenile Championships **are held at 1:45. This event features teams with skaters all under age 13. You and your children will be amazed at how good these teams are. Look out for the four-time-in-a-row champions, the Chicago Jazz, and Team del Sol (California). And cheer for St. Louis Synergy–this is the team that my daughter helps coach. Last year, they became the first team in Missouri history to earn a spot to Nationals, and they are proud that they earned the spot again.

The Intermediate Championship follows Juvies, at 3:32. Intermediates are the “catch-all” level, with skaters mainly under age 15, but 25% of the team can be up to age 18. Look for Team Image from Yonkers to win for the second year in a row. Inspiring story–this team has been around for 20 years, and never accomplished anything great until last year, when they won Nationals. But their coach was not there to see them win–she was at home under doctors orders, receiving treatment for breast cancer.

The Juniors (age 14-19) will skate their Short Programs at 6:15. Be prepared to sigh with wonder at Team Braemar from Minnesota–beautiful edges. Skyliners from New York will duel with Braemar for the Gold. But look out for Chicago Jazz.

On Friday, March 5, the competition starts at 3:07 with the Novices, under age 16. (There’s an age-overlap with Intermediates, but Novices are required to have passed a higher test level to compete at this level.) It’s anyone’s Gold Medal to win in this division.

Senior Short will start at 6:08 p.m. This is the highest level of synchronized skating, the only level where above-the-head lifts are allowed. These are the most advanced skaters, and their footwork passes and intersections are breathtaking.

This year, the Senior event at Nationals will be tense and thrilling because for the first time in ten years, Synchro World Championships will be held in the U.S., so all of our Senior teams are fighting for the opportunity to represent our country on home ice (in Colorado Springs). There are four top contenders: Haydenettes of Lexington, Massachusetts, Miami University’s Varsity team, Crystalettes of Dearborn, Michigan, and California Gold.

After the Senior Short comes the Junior Long.

Do you think adult skating is cute and harmless? Well, get over that idea!

The Masters teams compete on Saturday, March 6, at 12:22 P.M… All of the skaters on these teams are over 35, but you won’t see “cute.” They skate at a high level, doing many of the same dangerous and difficult elements that the younger teams do. Watch for Denver Synchronicity and La Furia.

The Adult Division follows at 2:27 p.m. Most, but not all, of the adults on these teams are younger. These teams skate at a high technical level; many of the skaters competed with elite teams while they were growing up, and so there is a lot of experience on the Adult teams. However, as adults they have all the pressures that adults face–jobs, family, money, aging bodies, etc. Look for Crystalettes from Dearborn, and Denver Synchronicity.

Then comes the “rowdy” event at 4:57–the Collegiate Division. Fans treat this event like they would any NCAA event–they wear school colors, wave pennants and flags, sing the college fight song, and cheer like wild animals. Often, the team mascots show up and encourage the cheering. And the skating is fantastic. Here are the colleges that earned the trip to Nationals this year:

Miami U
U of Michigan
Michigan State
U of Illinois
W Michigan
U of Wisconsin
U of Delaware
U of New Hampshire
Boston U
Oswego State
Cornell

The competition ends with the premier event, the Senior Long Programs, at 7:57.

I hope that this summary will peak your interest and I hope you’ll decide to give it a try. Synchronized skating is a great sport that the whole family can enjoy–my 80-year-old father loves watching the teams. And I love the sport so much, I’ve written three novels about it–the newest novel just came out a few weeks ago. See my signature website to check them out.

Cat,
Since you know alot about skating, I wanted to ask your opinion on COP. (Is synchro even judged under COP?). We have a pretty good debate going on over in the TWOP forum, questioning the rules as they are laid out right now. I think that for the first time in a long time, there is an overall agreement (Plushy camp aside) that it is a fairer (more even?) judging scale, but that some of the difficulty (catch foot positions, hinge spirals) have made the skating itself less enjoyable. I don't follow skating as religiously as I used to, so it made me wonder about an "insiders" opinion.

[quote="KayDeeNici, post:2, topic:188687"]
Cat,
Since you know alot about skating, I wanted to ask your opinion on COP. (Is synchro even judged under COP?). We have a pretty good debate going on over in the TWOP forum, questioning the rules as they are laid out right now. I think that for the first time in a long time, there is an overall agreement (Plushy camp aside) that it is a fairer (more even?) judging scale, but that some of the difficulty (catch foot positions, hinge spirals) have made the skating itself less enjoyable. I don't follow skating as religiously as I used to, so it made me wonder about an "insiders" opinion.

[/quote]

I would be happy to talk about CoP (IJS). What's the TWOP forum and how do I get there?

I am personally pleased, for the most part, with the CoP judging system. I recently attended Midwestern Sectionals (synchro), where the Open teams are still judged by 6.0, and I and many others were reminded of why we HATED the 6.0 system! Ordinals all over the place, and no clue why certain teams won (even with horribly disruptive falls and slow recoveries from those falls) while other teams with clean programs and good skating were in the bottom of the flight.

6.0 is a wretched system that allows judges to pick and choose winners and not provide any feedback to the skaters and teams. Too much power.

But I do agree that at this point in CoP usage, the programs in all the disciplines (except ice dancing) look alike. Even the "glorious" program by YuNa Kim contained basically the same elements as all the other ladies. (She just did them better.) Because there is no point reward for "innovation" or "using historic elements," the skaters and teams apparently feel obligated to stack their programs full of as many point-getting elements as possible. It's a math game now. This is rather boring, especially for the non-skating public.

It's especially deadly for synchronized skating, which was (and still is) considered a "developing sport". It's hard for a sport to develop when there is no point reward for creating new maneuvers. Teams don't dare deviate from the established program that all the other teams are doing, or they won't win, and the parents will have wasted all that money and the skaters will have spent all that time in the rink all year long for nothing. It just doesn't pay now to create anything new in synchronized except in ISI (recreational) competitions, and THAT'S where you can see innovation these days!

All levels of synchro except the Open levels (not at Nationals), the Masters, and the Juveniles, are judged by CoP. Open levels, Masters, and Juveniles are, unfortunately, judged by 6.0. (I think the same is true for the other disciplines of skating, too--the Opens and Juvies are still judged by 6.0. I'm not sure about the various adult levels in the other disciplines.)

IMO, CoP is a lot tougher for synchro teams than for the other disciplines, and changes were made this year for the sake of synchronized skating.

For example, last year, if only ONE skater out of the sixteen on a team failed to do an element; e.g., if in a spread eagle wheel, one skater failed to get into the spread eagle position, the element was NOT called. That might be OK for Junior and Senior teams, but it was absolute death from many lower level teams, especially Intermediate teams which often include a hodge-podge of skaters of different sizes, ages, and synchro experience.

Now the rule is, if an element is recognizable, it is called, even if one skater on the team does not complete the element. Instead of giving no credit for the element, the judges will give the element (with the one botch by one skater) a lower GOE. This seems a lot more realistic to me, and better for the continued growth of the sport. After all, it's a very rare thing for sixteen skaters to all have the same exact ability and to all be able to complete every element every time. It's hard enough for ONE skater to do that!

Anyway, point me to TWOP, and we can have fun discussing the two systems. I agree that the judging in this Olympics was the best ever. I had no disagreements with anything.

It is the Olympic 2010 forum at TWOP

Blades of Glory is the forum subtitle, and I just want to warn you it's not as tame as these boards. Lot's of cursing, and pretty much snark galore (of course, that is the theme of Television Without Pity!) I've mostly just read the posts, because as I said, it's been awhile since I followed the sport. I really don't know how much longer it will stay open, the site is either super quick (The West Wing), or really slow (BSG) to take down the message boards once the show is done. However, there is a general figure skating message board as well, under sports shows.

[quote="KayDeeNici, post:4, topic:188687"]
It is the Olympic 2010 forum at TWOP

Blades of Glory is the forum subtitle, and I just want to warn you it's not as tame as these boards. Lot's of cursing, and pretty much snark galore (of course, that is the theme of Television Without Pity!) I've mostly just read the posts, because as I said, it's been awhile since I followed the sport. I really don't know how much longer it will stay open, the site is either super quick (The West Wing), or really slow (BSG) to take down the message boards once the show is done. However, there is a general figure skating message board as well, under sports shows.

[/quote]

Hi, KayDeeNici,
I took a look. I apologize, but I really don't have time to read through 323 pages. Wow. I don't think the site looks like a very useful or uplifting place to discuss skating.

Here are a couple of suggestions.

skatingforums.com/

www.usfsa.org

www.synchroboards.com

These sites are not so "snarky," the threads are a lot shorter, and there are plenty of people who know a lot about skating. I would suggest checking them out and then asking questions.

In the meantime, as I said in my earlier post, I like IJS for the most part.

I agree that it has stifled some creativity, but as Yu Na Kim demonstrated, it is possible to earn huge point totals in IJS and still skate artistically.

Another example of a team that has learned how to skate artistically and still garner huge points is Team Braemar Juniors. Here's a link to their gorgeous program from last year. youtube.com/watch?v=SHuyU7QrMy0

I think that the biggest problem with IJS is a failure to explain it and promote it to the non-skating public (fans). 6.0 was a "brand," and now it's gone, and people don't know what to do with "122.46." Is that good or bad?

Recently Skating Magazine featured a series of articles in three issues explaining the IJS. Well, IMO, if it took three articles to explain the system, it's way too complicated. I think they need to take it back to the drawing room and figure out some of the flaws.

Did you know that one of the proposals during the formation of IJS was for skaters and teams to perform TWO programs--a Technical Program and an Artistic Program?

The proposal failed 40-60. The countries in favor of the proposal were the U.S., Canada, Japan, and all the other non-Soviet (former) countries. The countries that voted against the proposal were all the former Soviet countries. Sigh. Darn it all. I honestly think that an Artistic program would help to win back fans. At the moment, two programs are required and both are technical programs. One is just longer than the other. Boring to the average fan.

Cat,
Oh no! In no way did I mean that we were discussing on a technical level (although there supposed to be some former judges lurking about). The posters are a mix people, some of whom are your casual Olympic viewers, some of whom are former skaters, and some who are just diehard skating fans. And since its TWOP, the nature of the discussion is pretty critical. Particularly in relation to the style/presentation that skaters adopt. I’m looking forward to reading some links you posted. From what I checked of skatingforum.com, it seems that our group wasn’t the only one that thinks Mao Asada needs to ditch whatever it is that is hampering her (and how does she compete without the lutz or sal?) In the Gala, she looked like she was having fun and skating to music that suited her personality. In her sp and lp she looked like she’d rather be strangled. I would also rather that most of the ladies drop their love affair with the bedazzler. And how cute was Cheltzie Lee!
Sorry, I just get excited when other people like skating!

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