The 2009 Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships were held from January 28-31 at the William G. Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown, New Jersey. I was able to attend part of the competition and what an experience! One word which may be really obvious, but here it is anyway...TEAMWORK. Over 130 synchro teams (with 8-20 members on a team) from the east coast, from Florida to Maine, came to compete -- that's about 2000 skaters. Plus you have the parents, spectators, coaches, supporters and volunteers, so this has got to be one of the largest synchro sectionals around.
The Midwestern and Pacific Sectionals also took place during the same weekend, so this was a very busy weekend for all the synchro teams throughout the U.S. Results at sectionals will determine which teams will head on over to Portland, Maine in early March for the 2009 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, where they'll compete in juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior, senior, collegiate, adult and masters. In total, 92 teams will advance to the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships after the three sectional championships are completed.
I was chatting with Pat Lynch, the event chairperson, who noted that one of the most important aspects of the event is, in fact, "moving people." Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue when 20 member synchro teams don't know when and where to go? Therefore, synchro events are tightly scheduled and highly organized. And the schedules handed out reflect just that. Teams were assigned dressing rooms, and to the minute, they knew when they could enter their dressing room, exit, wait at rink side, enter the competition rink, exit the competition rink, take official team photos, go back to the dressing room to change and exit. It was very interesting to see how a synchro event is run at this scale, even down to the detail of "How do 16 girls get their guards after skating?" Answer: Tireless effort of volunteers who carry buckets of guards between programs. I also loved the cheering section in the stands for all the teams. I can't explain it -- there's a different vibe at synchro events, almost like a gigantic party. It was great to see so many teams of girls hug and high-five and be excited (squeal even) after their skate and after the scores were announced. See results of competition on icenetwork.
- There are approximately 525 synchronized teams registered with U.S. Figure Skating nationwide.
- Synchronized skating is not yet an Olympic sport.
- At the 2008 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Providence, Rhode Island, the Haydenettes won the gold in the senior division, with Miami University taking silver and the Crystallettes bronze.