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Synchronized skating is a sport where between eight and sixteen figure skaters (depending on the level) perform together as a team. They move as a flowing unit at high speed over the ice, while completing complicated footwork. Synchronized skating grew rapidly in the late 20th and early 21st centuries and today there are approximately 600 synchro teams in the United States alone.
The sport was originally called "precision skating" in North America, because of the emphasis on maintaining precise formations and timing of the group.
Like any other discipline of figure skating, there are many different levels at which synchronized skaters can compete. These levels include: synchro skills (1, 2 or 3), preliminary, pre-juvenile, open-juvenile, juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior, senior, open collegiate, collegiate, open adult, open masters, masters and adult. Synchronized skating uses the same judging system as singles, pairs and ice dancing. The discipline is primarily judged on skating skills, transitions, performance, composition, interpretation and difficulty of elements. What makes the sport so unique is the incredible teamwork, speed, and intricate formations.
Each level performs a free-skate program that requires elements such as circles, lines, blocks, wheels, intersections, moves in isolation, and, at high levels, lifts. Teams are required to perform step sequences, ranging in difficulty with each level. In the Junior and Senior divisions, teams are required to perform a free-skate, also known as long program, as well as a short program. Generally, the short program is more technical in nature, where the free skating program is longer and provides an opportunity to showcase expression, emotion and interpretation.
The different levels are permitted to compete at different competitions. Synchro Skills levels can compete at any U.S. Figure Skating synchronized skating non-qualifying competition or a Learn to Skate USA competition. Preliminary, pre-juvenile, open-juvenile, open-collegiate and open-adult can compete at the same competitions as well the Eastern, Midwestern or Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships. Teams at the juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior, senior, collegiate, adult or masters are permitted to compete at all competitions listed above. However, at their respective sectional championship a placement in the top four earns them a spot at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. Junior level teams compete in a world qualifying competition where the top two teams attend the Junior World Synchronized Skating Championships. At the senior level teams compete at nationals for a spot at the World Synchronized Skating Championships, the top two teams attend.
As stated above, a synchronized routine may consist of straight line sequences, wheels, blocks, circle step sequences, or also moves in isolation. Moves in isolation are when one or more skaters separates from the rest of the group and performs freestyle type moves. For example, three skaters may separate and go into sit spins, while the rest of the team is in a circle formation. The three skaters will then join the group again and carry on with the routine. Novice, Junior, and Senior programs also include moves in the fields where the whole team does moves such as bellman spirals, 170 spirals, unsupported spirals, spread eagles or bauers connected.
In 1956, the first synchronized skating team was formed by Dr. Richard Porter, who became known as the 'father of synchronized skating'. The 'Hockettes' skated out of Ann Arbor, Michigan and entertained spectators during intermissions of the University of Michigan Wolverines hockey team. In the early days, precision skating (as it was then called) resembled a drill team routine, or a precision dance company such as The Rockettes.
During the 1970s, the interest for this new sport spawned tremendous growth and development. As each season passed, more and more teams were developing more creative and innovative routines incorporating stronger basic skating skills, new maneuvers and more sophisticated transitions with greater speed, style and agility. Due to the enormous interest in the sport in North America, the first official international competition was held between Canadian and American teams in Michigan in March 1976. With the internationalization of the sport, it has evolved rapidly, with increasing emphasis on speed and skating skills, and "highlight" elements such as jumps, spirals, spins, and lifts that originally were not permitted in competition.
There are international synchronized skating competitions at the Senior, Junior, and Novice levels (with Senior being the most elite). The International Skating Union held the first official World Synchronized Skating Championships (WSSC) in 2000 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. The top junior teams from around the world competed from 2001 to 2012 at the ISU Junior World Challenge Cup (JWCC), held in a different location every year. The JWCC were accompanied in 2013 by the ISU World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships, to be held biannually in odd-numbered years with the JWCC in even-numbered years. Other long-running, major international events attracting elite teams at different levels include the French Cup, Spring Cup, Neuchâtel Trophy, Cup of Berlin, Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy and Prague Cup.
The ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships (WSSC) are the world championships for synchronized skating. Held since 2000, the WSSC is an annual event organized by the International Skating Union and attracts the most elite teams from around the world to compete. The top positions have been dominated by Finland with three different World Champions (Marigold IceUnity, Rockettes and Team Unique) and 19 medals and Sweden with the team (Team Surprise) with most World titles and medals for a single team. Other major countries include Canada with two gold, four silvers and five bronzes (for NEXXICE, Les Suprêmes and the now-discontinued Black Ice), as well as the United States with one silver and four bronzes (for Miami University and Haydenettes, respectively).
|2019||Helsinki, Finland||Team Paradise||Marigold IceUnity||Rockettes|
|2018||Stockholm, Sweden||Marigold IceUnity||Team Surprise||Team Paradise|
|2017||Colorado Springs, USA||Team Paradise||Marigold IceUnity||NEXXICE|
|2016||Budapest, Hungary||Team Paradise||Rockettes||Haydenettes|||
|2015||Hamilton, Ontario, Canada||NEXXICE||Marigold IceUnity||Team Paradise|||
|2014||Courmayeur, Italy||Marigold IceUnity||NEXXICE||Rockettes|||
|2013||Boston, United States||Team Unique||NEXXICE||Haydenettes|||
|2012||Gothenburg, Sweden||Team Surprise||NEXXICE||Haydenettes|||
|2011||Helsinki, Finland||Rockettes||Marigold IceUnity||Haydenettes|||
|2010||Colorado Springs, United States||Rockettes||Marigold IceUnity||Haydenettes|||
|2009||Zagreb, Croatia||NEXXICE||Team Unique||Team Surprise|||
|2008||Budapest, Hungary||Rockettes||Team Surprise||NEXXICE|||
|2007||London, Canada||Team Surprise||Miami University||NEXXICE|||
|2006||Prague, Czech Republic||Marigold IceUnity||Team Surprise||Rockettes|||
|2005||Gothenburg, Sweden||Team Surprise||Rockettes||Marigold IceUnity|||
|2004||Zagreb, Croatia||Marigold IceUnity||Team Surprise||Rockettes|||
|2003||Ottawa, Canada||Team Surprise||Marigold IceUnity||Les Suprêmes|
|2002||Rouen, France||Marigold IceUnity||Team Surprise||black ice|
|2001||Helsinki, Finland||Team Surprise||Rockettes||black ice|||
|2000||Minneapolis, United States||Team Surprise||black ice||Marigold IceUnity|||
|2018||Zagreb, Croatia||Team Junost||Team Skyliners||Team Crystal Ice|||
|2017||Mississauga, Canada||Team Junost||Team Fintastic||Musketeers|||
|2015||Zagreb, Croatia||Musketeers||Team Fintastic||Les Suprêmes|||
|2013||Helsinki, Finland||Musketeers||Team Fintastic||Spartak-Junost|||
|2016||Zagreb, Croatia||Les Suprêmes||Team Fintastic||Team Junost|||
|2014||Neuchâtel, Switzerland||Team Fintastic||Les Suprêmes||Musketeers|||
|2012||Gothenburg, Sweden||Team Fintastic||Musketeers||Les Suprêmes|||
|2011||Neuchâtel, Switzerland||Team Fintastic||Musketeers||Team Braemar|||
|2010||Gothenburg, Sweden||Team Fintastic||NEXXICE||Musketeers|||
|2009||Neuchâtel, Switzerland||Team Fintastic||NEXXICE||Musketeers|||
|2008||Rouen, France||Team Fintastic||Gold Ice||Musketeers|||
|2007||Nottingham, Great Britain||Team Fintastic||Les Suprêmes||Chicago Jazz|||
|2006||Helsinki, Finland||Musketeers||Team Fintastic||Chicago Jazz|||
|2005||Neuchâtel, Switzerland||Musketeers||Team Mystique||Gold Ice|||
|2004||Milan, Italy||Musketeers||Team Mystique||Gold Ice|||
|2003||Kungsbacka, Sweden||Musketeers||Burlington Ice Image||Les Suprêmes|||
|2002||Zagreb, Croatia||Ice Image||Spartak-Leader||Musketeers|||
|2001||Neuchâtel, Switzerland||Team Fintastic||Les Suprêmes||Superettes|||
The Finnish member of ISU, the Finnish Figure Skating Association, holds the Finnish Synchronized Skating Championships at the novice, junior and senior levels. Also, it holds two Finnish Championships Qualifiers before the nationals. Since the late 1990s, the senior-level battle for the qualifier wins and Finnish Championship—and the ensuing ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships (WSSC) entries—has mainly been fought between three teams from Helsinki, Marigold IceUnity, Rockettes and Team Unique, while a fourth and sometimes a fifth senior team has competed along in the intervening years.
|2014||Helsinki||Marigold IceUnity||Rockettes||Team Unique|||
|2013||Turku||Team Unique||Marigold IceUnity||Rockettes|||
|2012||Espoo||Rockettes||Marigold IceUnity||Team Unique|||
|2011||Espoo||Rockettes||Marigold IceUnity||Team Unique|||
|2010||Espoo||Rockettes||Marigold IceUnity||Team Unique|||
|2009||Helsinki||Marigold IceUnity||Team Unique||Rockettes|||
|2008||Helsinki||Rockettes||Marigold IceUnity||Team Unique|||
|2007||Helsinki||Marigold IceUnity||Team Unique||Rockettes|||
|2006||Helsinki||Marigold IceUnity||Rockettes||Team Unique|||
Throughout the years, the Finnish senior teams qualifying for the World Championships have been selected based on their performance at the two qualifiers and the national championships. In the season 2012–13, the teams were selected as follows: the Finnish Champion qualified automatically as Team Finland 1 for the WSSC. Team Finland 2 at the WSSC was the team which earned the least points from the first qualifier, the second qualifier and the Finnish Championships. The points equaled the sum of the positions at the three competitions with growing coefficients: the coefficient was 0,3 for the first competition result, 0,5 for the second and 1 for the last.
In the United States, there are several other recognized age and skill levels. Sanctioned by the USFSA, the divisions include Beginner, Pre-Juvenile, Preliminary, Open Juvenile, Open Collegiate, and Open Adult (the non-qualifying divisions/ the divisions that do not go to Nationals) and Juvenile, Intermediate, Novice, Junior, Senior, Collegiate, Adult, and Masters (qualifying levels).
ISI (Ice Skating Institute) is another governing body which focuses on a more recreational form of competition and does not have the same divisions as those of the USFSA. Teams can compete in the Tot, Jr. Youth, Youth, Sr. Youth, Teen, Collegiate, Adult, or Master age groups, in any of five categories: Formation, Advanced Formation, Skating, Open Skating, and Dance.
While most skaters participating in synchronized skating are female, the rules allow mixed-gender teams.
The Senior team level consists of 16 skaters. Skaters must be at least 15 years old and have passed the Novice Moves in the Field test.
|2017||Rockford, Illinois||Haydenettes||208.83||Crystallettes||189.50||Skyliners||172.96||Miami University||172.84|||
|2016||Kalamazoo, Michigan||Haydenettes||202.26||Miami University||183.86||Skyliners||169.47||Crystallettes||166.96|
|2015||Providence, Rhode Island||Haydenettes||210.55||Miami University||194.70||Skyliners||178.99||Crystallettes||173.78|
|2014||Colorado Springs, Colorado||Haydenettes||205.02||Crystallettes||179.77||Starlights||154.90||Miami University||149.64|
|2013||Plymouth, Michigan||Haydenettes||206.33||Miami University||191.28||Crystallettes||176.96||Skyliners||151.56|||
|2012||Worcester, Massachusetts||Haydenettes||202.92||Crystallettes||185.54||Miami University||182.64||ICE'Kateers||145.15|||
|2011||Ontario, California||Haydenettes||217.41||Miami University||195.50||Crystallettes||179.85||California Gold|||
|2010||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Haydenettes||231.14||Crystallettes||210.35||Miami University||202.68||Starlights||167.80|||
|2009||Portland, Maine||Miami University||204.72||Haydenettes||203.97||Crystallettes||184.10||California Gold|||
|2008||Providence, Rhode Island||Haydenettes||213.37||Miami University||201.26||Crystallettes||184.10||California Gold|||
|2007||Colorado Springs, Colorado||Haydenettes||201.04||Miami University||199.56||Crystallettes||159.65||California Gold||158.06|||
|2006||Grand Rapids, Michigan||Miami University||179.72||Haydenettes||161.28||Crystallettes||155.12||Team Elan||126.96|||
|2005||Lowell, Massachusetts||Haydenettes||*||Miami University||*||Crystallettes||*||Team Elan||*|||
|2004||San Diego, California||Haydenettes||*||Crystallettes||*||Team Elan||*||Miami University||*|||
|2003||Huntsville, Alabama||Haydenettes||*||Miami University||*||Team Elan||*||Crystallettes||*|||
|2002||Lake Placid, New York||Haydenettes||*||Miami University||*||Crystallettes||*|||
|2001||Colorado Springs, Colorado||Haydenettes||*||Miami University||*||Crystallettes||*|||
|2000||Plymouth, Michigan||Haydenettes||*||Team Elan||*||Miami University||*|||
|1999||Tampa, Florida||Miami University||*||Haydenettes||*||Starlets|||
|1998||San Diego, California||Haydenettes||Miami University||Team Elan||*|||
|1997||Syracuse, New York||Haydenettes||*||Team Elan||*||Miami University||*|||
|1996||Chicago, Illinois||Haydenettes||*||Miami University||*||Team Elan||*|||
|1995||San Diego, California||Team Elan||*||Haydenettes||*||Miami University||*|||
|1994||Providence, Rhode Island||Haydenettes||*||Team Elan||*||Miami University||*|||
|1993||Detroit, Michigan||Haydenettes||*||Team Elan||*||Crystallettes||*|||
|1992||Portland, Maine||Haydenettes||*||Team Elan||*||Goldenettes||*|||
|1989||Providence, Rhode Island||Haydenettes||*||Goldenettes||*||Detroit Capets||*|||
|1988||Reno, Nevada||Haydenettes||*||Fraserettes||*||Detroit Capets||*|||
|1986||Boston, Massachusetts||Hot Fudge Sundaes||*||Haydenettes||*||Detroit Capets||*|||
|1985||Lakewood, Ohio||Fraserettes||*||Ice Crystallettes||*||Minneapplettes||*|||
|1984||Bowling Green, Ohio||Fraserettes||*||Ice Crystallettes||*||||*|||
The Collegiate team level consists of teams with 12-20 skaters who must be enrolled in a college or degree program as full-time students. Skaters must also have passed the Juvenile Moves in the Field test. It is a Varsity Sport at colleges such as Miami University and Adrian College. Many more have developed club-level collegiate teams without varsity status such as the team at The University of Delaware and the University of Michigan. The Miami University Synchronized Skating Team has been a trailblazer in collegiate synchronized skating, fielding the first completely funded varsity synchronized skating program in the United States, as well as working towards gaining "Synchro" NCAA status in the United States.
|2016||Kalamazoo, Michigan||Miami University||90.12||Univ of Michigan||86.28||Metroettes||82.15|
|2015||Providence, RI||Miami University||94.12||Univ of Michigan||85.69||Metroettes||84.25|
|2014||Colorado Springs, CO||Miami University||96.80||Team Excel||78.77||Michigan State||78.60|
|2013||Plymouth, MI||Miami University||92.26||Univ of Delaware||84.11||Univ of Michigan||77.98|||
|2012||Worcester, MA||Miami University||87.80||Univ of Delaware||84.29||Univ of Michigan||80.83|
|2011||Ontario, CA||Miami University||96.16||Michigan State||85.17||Univ of Michigan||83.96|
|2010||Minneapolis, MN||Miami University||107.60||Univ of Michigan||98.46||Univ of Delaware||94.97|
|2009||Portland, ME||Miami University||100.63||Univ of Illinois||86.79||Michigan State||85.79|
|2008||Providence, RI||Miami University||107.46||Univ of Delaware||97.77||Michigan State||87.11|
|2007||Colorado Springs, CO||Miami University||102.61||Michigan State||92.17||Univ of Delaware||88.74|
|2006||Grand Rapids, MI||Miami University||Western Michigan||Univ of Delaware|
|2005||Lowell, MA||Miami University||Western Michigan||Michigan State|
|2004||San Diego, CA||Western Michigan||Miami University||Univ of Delaware|
|2003||Huntsville, AL||Miami University||Western Michigan||Univ of Michigan|
|2002||Lake Placid, NY||Miami University||Michigan State||Western Michigan|
|2001||Colorado Springs, CO||Miami University||Western Michigan||Michigan State|
|2000||Plymouth, MI||Miami University||Univ of Delaware||Univ of Michigan|
|1999||Tampa, FL||Univ of Michigan||Miami University||Univ of Delaware|
|1998||San Diego, CA||Miami University||Michigan State||Bowling Green|
|1997||Syracuse, NY||Miami University||Bowling Green||Western Michigan|
Although not currently an Olympic sport, it has already been reviewed for Olympic eligibility. Fans and participants of this fast-growing discipline have begun to strive for recognition by the rest of the skating and athletic world. In 2007 synchronized skating took one step closer to Olympic Games contention when it was selected to be part of the Universiade or World University Games as a demonstration sport. Countries from around the world competed in Turin, Italy with Sweden, Finland, and Russia coming out on top.
There are many speculations as to why synchronized skating may never become an olympic sport. These include:
"Why Not Synchro 2018" is an ongoing campaign which became popular over social media through the hashtag #whynotsynchro and #whynotsynchro2018 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This was popularized at the Mozart Cup, held in Austria in January 2014. During the medal ceremonies, teams gathered on the ice and created the shape of the Olympic rings. This image was then shared widely over social media as skaters petitioned to get awareness about the sport. A petition to the International Olympic Committee was posted on change.org calling for 15,000 signatures and asking the IOC "Synchronized Figure Skating: Make it an Olympic Event." The petition states "The time has come to add this incredible event to the pinnacle of the sport of figure skating."
Synchronized skating has been covered by Skating magazine since the sport's inception. International and national level competitions are covered by local newspapers highlighting local athletes and teams. Television coverage is taken by major news channels and is usually broadcast after the competition date.
The competitive levels of synchronized skating, like those in other disciplines of figure skating, are now judged using the ISU Judging System that was introduced in 2004. Each element is assigned a difficulty level by the technical panel made-up of a technical specialist, assistant technical specialist and a technical controller. Each level of difficulty for a particular element corresponds to a pre-determined base value. The base value is the number of points that are awarded for an executed element before the grade of execution or any deductions are applied. The base value for every element can be found on the ISU website under ISU Communication 1532, Appendix D. Judges assign a grade of execution from -3 to +3 to each of the elements. Each grade of execution, or GOE, corresponds to a point value. For each element, the highest and lowest GOE values are dropped and the rest are averaged then added to the base value. The sum of all the scores of the elements comprises the Technical Elements score.
A series of five categories comprises the Program Components score. The Program Component score includes the following categories: skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography, and interpretation. These components are evaluated for the entirety of the program. Each judge gives a mark for each component. The mark given ranges between 0.0 and 10.00 and can vary in 0.25 increments. Then a trimmed mean is calculated by dropping the highest and lowest score. The remaining scores are then averaged. The panel’s points for each program component are multiplied by the factors: .8 for the short program, 1.6 for the junior, senior and collegiate free skate and 1.0 for intermediate, novice and adult. The factored results are rounded to two decimal places and added. The sum is the Program Components Score.
The Technical Elements and Program Components scores are then added to form the total segment score. The team with the highest total segment wins the competition. For junior and senior teams that have two programs, the scores of both programs are added together. The team with the highest combined score is the winner. In the event of a tie, the team with the highest free program score wins the competition.
In the United States, the introductory levels of Preliminary, Pre-Juvenile, Open Juvenile, Open Junior, Open Collegiate, and Open Adult are still judged under the 6.0 judging system. These levels can compete at the regional level but cannot qualify for the national championships.
In Canada, all levels are judged with the ISU judging system.
|1||Team Surprise||87.84||2004 Neuchâtel Trophy|||
|2||Rockettes||83.46||2010 Cup of Berlin|||
|3||Team Unique||82.36||2009 Worlds|||
|5||Marigold IceUnity||78.68||2009 Worlds|||
|1||Team Surprise||159.60||2004 Neuchâtel Trophy|||
|2||Marigold IceUnity||147.31||2014 Worlds|||
|4||Paradise||145.84||2014 Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy|||
|1||Team Surprise||247.44||2004 Neuchâtel Trophy|||
|4||Marigold IceUnity||223.45||2014 Worlds|||
|5||Paradise||220.54||2014 Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy|||
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