Synchronized Skating
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Synchronized Skating History

Introduction
       Synchronized skating, a large and fast growing discipline, consists of 8-20 athletes skating on the ice at one time moving as one flowing unit at high speeds. This discipline of Synchronized Skating was originally called precision skating in North America because of the emphasis on maintaining precise formations and timing of the group.

History
       Dr. Richard Porter is given credit for forming the 'Hockettes' as the first synchronized skating team. He became known  as the 'father of synchronized skating'. The 'Hockettes' skated out of Ann Arbor, Michigan and entertained spectators during the intermissions of the University of Michigan Men’s 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 1970’s, the interest in this new sport grew and resulted other areas to form their own teams. With the passage of each season, more teams began to develop more creative and innovative routines incorporating stronger skating skills, new maneuvers with sophisticated transitions performed 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, spins, and lifts that originally were not permitted in competition.

The Present
       At the senior level, the best teams in the world as of the 2008 World Championships are Rockettes of Finland, Team Surprise of Sweden, Nexxice of Canada and Marigold Ice Unity of Finland. Other top teams include ,Miami University Synchronized Skating Team of the United States , Les Supremes of Canada and the United States' Haydenettes.

       In the 2000s, although not currently an Olympic Sport, 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 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 Torino , Italy with Sweden, Finland, and Russia coming out on top. Synchronized Skating has already been reviewed for Olympic eligibility.

       Synchronized skating has been covered by Skating magazine since the sport's inception and has helped its growing popularity. Miami University has been a trailblazer in collegiate synchronized skating, fielding the first completely funded varsity synchronized skating program in the United States, as well as their coach Vicki Korn working towards gaining "synchro" NCAA status in the United States. The increasing number of skaters with synchro experience attending colleges has resulted in more colleges and universities developing club level collegiate teams that lack varsity status, but that may be changing with the support from Title IX.

The fast paced, intergreat synchronized programs are crowd favorites
        Synchronized skaters usually have a gold medal in two or more disciplines - MITF and ice dancing. A team depends on each skaters on the synchronized team to flow skate error free in order to perform in unison.

        Individual skaters must possess an ice presence along with a full complement of skating skills, including power, ability to perform advanced footwork, and feel for skating to the music's tempo. The team's program is choreographed to music that allows incorporating the required formations - for example: circles, lines, blocks, wheels, and intersections. The teams are required to perform difficult step sequences involving a number of complicated turns such as twizzles , counters and rockers and simpler turns like choctaws.

        In Junior and Senior divisions, teams are required to perform two different routines; a short program and a free skating program. Generally, the short program is more technical in nature, where the free skating has a longer time limit giving more opportunity to showcase expression, emotion and interpretation. Teams in the senior division are also permitted to perform lifts in the free skating including pair lifts of 2 skaters that cannot be extended overhead, as well as group lifts consisting of three or more skaters which can be extended overhead to full arm height in a variety of positions.

       A synchronized routine may consist of straight line sequences, wheels, 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.

      This may involving three skaters separating and doing for example, a sit spin, while the rest of the group do something such as a circle step sequence. The three skaters will then join the group again and carry on the routine. Junior and Senior programs also include moves in the fields where the whole team does moves such as spirals, spread eagles or inna bauers connected.

Competitions
        There are international synchronized skating competitions at the novice, junior, and senior levels. The senior level is considered the most elite competition. The International Skating Union held the first official World Synchronized Skating Championships in 2000 in Minneapolis, MN, USA, in which the strongest senior teams from across the globe gather to determine which is the world's best.

        In 1996 the first "World Challenge Cup" was held in Boston, MA, USA. It was unofficially the first competition to crown a world champion of synchronized skating (Team Surprise of Sweden). The top junior teams from around the world compete against one another in the World Challenge Cup for Juniors, held in a different location every year. Recently the top novice teams in the world have had an opportunity to compete against one another with the Leon Lurje Trophy which was held for the first time in the 2006-2007 season.

       In the United States and Canada , there are several other recognized age and skill levels - Beginner, Pre-Juvenile, Preliminary, Open Juvenile, Open Junior, Open Collegiate, and Open Adult - that may compete in non qualifying competitions and may also compete at the Eastern, Midwestern or Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships.

       Two Senior teams qualify for the World Synchro Championship. The Junior World Synchronized Skating Championships were held in Helsinki, Finland March 2013. Adult Synchronized Skating events were held in the International Adult Championships held in Oberstdorf, Germany May 15 – May 18, 2013. There is movement, abet slow, towards synchro becoming an Olympic Exhibition event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

       Masters in the qualifying levels. These are the divisions for USFS, or United States Figure Skating.

       ISI (Ice Skating Institute) focuses on a recreational form of competition. Teams can compete in the Tot, Youth, Jr. Youth, Teen, or Adult divisions as either synchro or formation teams. The formation teams are not allowed to pick up their feet while going backwards.

       While most skaters participating in "synchro" are female, the rules allow for mixed gender teams.

Judging
       Synchronized skating competitions are now judged using the ISU Judging System that was introduced in 2004. Each element is assigned a difficulty level, and that level of difficulty corresponds to a base value. Judges assign a grade of execution from -3 to +3, with 0 being the base value. Each grade of execution, or GOE, corresponds to a point value. For each element, the highest and lowest point values are dropped, and the rest are averaged. The sum of all the scores of the elements comprises the Technical Elements score.

       A series of five categories comprises the Program Components score. Each judge gives a score for each category. The scores for each category are calculated in the same manner as the Technical Elements 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 with two programs, the scores of both programs are added together, with the highest score being the winner of the competition.

       In the event of a tie, the team with the highest free program score wins the competition.

       The highest score ever recorded at a synchronized skating event was won by Team Surprise of Sweden at the 2007 World Synchronized Skating Championships in London, Ontario, with a total segment score of 222.24 points.

References:     

U.S. Figure Skating Synchronized Skating Promo
The 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating media guide is now available for download. Click here.

U.S. Figure Skating has produced a video to promote synchronized skating in the United States. Click here to order a DVD copy of this video for your synchronized skating program or figure skating club.

Source - U-Tube Videos

Perform Beautifully in Life, Hayden Synchronize  Scott Hamilton introduces the Hayden video

Synchronized Ice Skating

Olympia Synchronized Skating

SYNCHRO SECTIONALS 2011

2011 World Synchronized Skating Championships

Team Surprise Free Skating WSSC 2012 Götheborg

Note: Use the left navigation arrow to return to this page after viewing a video clip.
 
Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

USFS Synchronized Team Skating
Synchronized Skating Guide
Synchronized Skating History
Overview of Synchronized Skating
Starting A Synchro Team
Parents of Team Skaters
Role of Parents of Synchro Skaters
Drill Teams Began as a Chorus Line on Ice
Line Skating And Drill Teams
Skating In Absolute Unison
Becoming a New Team Manager
Synchronized Skating Classes
Synchronized Skating Camps
2013 Summer Synchro DREAM Camps
ISI Synchro Teams
Directory of USFS Synchro Teams
Canadian Skating Clubs and Synchro Teams
Canadian Synchronized Skating
Synchronized Skating Programs
Synchronized Skating Competitions
Nonqualifying Synchro Competitions Outside USA
Ethical Statement & Guidelines
ISU Synchronized Skating Communications

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