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I Don’t Get Synchronized Skating… Enlighten Me

sychro.jpgAs a skater I tried almost everything. I skated singles, pairs and dance (for a while). The only event I didn’t participate in was synchronized skating. In my time it was called precision team skating. I just didn’t get it. Sure, it was fun to get flung around the end of a pinwheel in skating carnival shows, but as a serious sport it seemed bizarre to me.

Clearly I missed out because synchronized skating is wildly popular. In fact, some skating federations claim it’s the sport’s fastest growing discipline. There are synchronized skating competitions for all levels, right up the World Synchronized Skating Championships, which will be held this month in Budapest, Hungary. Synchro skaters are pushing to be part of the Olympic Games.

Here’s my problem. Figure skating without jumps or spins, and only minor artistic achievement seems boring for both the skaters and the audience. What am I missing? Enlighten me.

29 Responses to “I Don’t Get Synchronized Skating… Enlighten Me”

  1. jozet at Halushki Says:

    Well, what I’ve heard from some parents is that, basically – and maybe only at the basic level – synchro is less expensive than the dollar input into solo competition. I don’t know to what extent that is true. But it’s what I’ve heard.

  2. jozet at Halushki Says:

    Which of course does not speak to its popularity or draw…to that, I’ll I can think of is “to each their own”? Not very profound of me, I know, lol.

  3. Lucy Says:

    There are still jumps and spins in synchronized skating!
    Its just as challenging as figure skating if not more! Not only do we have to learn the usual skating techniques figure skaters learn but also learn to skate in exact unison (which is alot harder then it looks.

  4. Anjirika Says:

    As someone who was a syncho skater for two years, I have to let you know that there is something almost magical about skating with 23 other girls. And in terms of watching it, the shapes on the ice, the blocks, the travelling circles etc. are what provide the entertainment and now they’ve introduced single moves with jumps and spins…that is an artistic achievement in and of itself. As an audience member I loved watching the movement and as a skater it is wonderful to help move a circle across the ice, or participate in a pinwheel. As a skater you also get the sense of being one part of a greater whole and while the competition is as fierce as the other disciplines it was a great thing for me personally while it lasted…and all in all it’s a wonderful extension to the sport and I wish that it was a part of the Olympic Games…maybe 2010…

  5. Anjirika Says:

    To Jozet- even at the most basic Juvenille level of syncho skating one pays over $8000.00 a year and it just explodes from there as you go up the levels and get more than one routine and go farther for competitions etc…

  6. Ice Mom Says:

    I’m not going to speak to the skill, the cost, etc. All I know is that it’s fascinating to watch a bunch of people skate in unison.

  7. Figure skater Says:

    I agree with your post, I don’t get syncro either. I realize that it is probably TONS of work to master, but I could never do it, for three reasons 1. I like to be in the spotlight ;) 2. As a solo, competitive skater myself (pre-preliminary) jumps are my favoraite thing, my strong area. I could not live doing without them. 3. I just…couldn’t stand it! I love picking my own music and adding my own hand movements to my programs.
    So I agree with you.

  8. Slver Says:

    I skated on synchro teams for 11 years, and have coached them for 15 years.

    Let’s face it, figure skating is a very isolating and lonely sport. Some skaters enjoy that, enjoy being the center of attention. For other skaters, that is the worst part of skating.

    Maybe I’ll send a few of the 63 skaters who have skated team with me this year to tell you why they adore it! :)

    Something else to think about: What individual skater has ever gotten a scholarship to college for their individual skating? How many colleges have incredibly strong synchro programs that offer scholarships to skaters? Think about it!

  9. MC Says:

    I’ve got two daughters. One is a jumper and spinner and the other is not. The one that is not loves skating more than the other and also loves the comraderie. It gives her an avenue to participate. At a world level, I dunno. But there is definitely a place for it.

  10. admin Says:

    Great blog!! You know, you don’t see many books written about new ways for improving figure skating jump technique. Maybe figure skating should take lessons from other sports. Read more at http://www.jumpsareking.com

  11. Mel Says:

    I skate in a synchro team for 7 years and it’s the most beautiful thing for me! The spirit, the team work … I adore it!

    “and only minor artistic achievement seems boring for both the skaters and the audience” …

    1- The synchro is all about artistic achievement. We are working all together to be perfectly in unison.

    2- The audience … even the people who don’t enjoy figure skating are fascinate by the synchro skating. It’s a real show … and they are fascinated by the speed, the unison, the artistic.

    In fact, we are skating to have fun on the ice but also to give a real show, to make feel something to the audience.

    I’m not a jumper, I’m not a spinner but I’m a dancer … and to dance with 20 other girls it’s so perfect for me. To be a good synchro skater we have to be a dancer and to be good in skills because it demand a lot of “virages”.

    Sorry for my english …I’m a french person!
    I hope I could help some of you to understand our passion! :)

  12. Tricia Says:

    Figure skating is a tough sport that requires alot of training and practice. It can also be isolating. Synchronized skating is a team sport, Everyone has to work tohether to accomplish the results. It’s also beautiful to watch! My daughter loves it. She is both a singles skater and has been on her club’s synchro team for 4 years. They practice alot but they also have alot of fun. Every year there are parties during the holidays and summer as well and they also get to travel together. It also can be expensive when they get to high level teams.

  13. Danielle Says:

    I skated singles for 10 years and then switched to synchro for 10 years, and counting. The team atmosphere is amazing and the girls I’ve skated with are my sisters for life! There is something special about bonding over a team sport with other girlie-girls who like to wear cute dresses and lots of make-up, haha! Singles was so lonely.

  14. Toni Says:

    I’m an Irish dancer. I started out Riverdance style and have moved into “Traditional” Irish. While TCRG Irish is a lot of fun personally, it’s all about individual competition and is extremely boring to watch for any length of time. Riverdance, on the other hand, became an international sensation because of the power of a team of beautiful, talented dancers moving in unison creating waves of sound (for the hard shoe) and intricate patterns of dancers weaving a tapestry on stage with their movements. I would see the same dichotomy in skating. The beauty and artistry of building a team of excellence is far more rare and precious than building individual excellence.

  15. SF Says:

    check out the team performance videos at French Cup 2009 (Internet explorer, Windows media player required)

  16. SF Says:

    2nd try….

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe videos are worth a few million:

    Don’t Stop Believing Synchro Montage

    E60 ESPN Haydenettes

    2007 Synchro Season Montage

    2007 World Synchronized Skating Championships

  17. SF Says:

    one more:

    2008 World Synchronized Skating Championships

    Defying Gravity Montage

  18. SF Says:

    2009 World Synchronized Skating Championships – Zagreb, Croatia
    Canada 1 World Champions 2009

    2009 World Championship Performance Nexxice Team Canada 1 Free Program

    2009 World Championship Performance Nexxice Team Canada 1 Short Program

  19. jen Says:

    as a syncrinized skater my self I can say that syncro in hard and fun at the same time

  20. L.dot Says:

    I agree, I don’t get the fascination either. I always thought of synchro skaters as the ones who couldn’t really make it too far on their own but still wanted to be involved with the sport so they joined a synchro team. In my skating days I was with a club that was pretty big into synchro (or precision as it was called in my day as well)…I tried it for one year and that was enough for me. Maybe it’s great for the more technical skaters but my love for skating drew from the artistic side of the sport so it just didn’t work for me.

  21. Skater Says:

    I have been skating for 12 years now. And I’m a synchro skater in a world champion team. I must say that synchronized skating is more challenging that figure skating. In figure skating it’s just you and when YOU learn to jump, for example an axel, the work is done. You know how to jump the axel and you can do it in your programme. In figure skating programme you can (as Figure skater said) add your own movements and hands if you want. If you mess up you can impro. But in synchronized skating you can’t do that. There is 16 other skaters and you have to work in unison. It is great if you can do some trick or complete your foot work clean, but if there is even one girl who can’t do it then the programme is well, doomed. And as my ballet teacher said; people allways think that the prima donna is the most talented dancer, but it isn’t so. They are the people who can’t cope with other people and they can’t perform in a group cause they are missing the talent to work with other people and also the techinique. It is the group performances that are the most talented dancer/skaters cause they have to be conscious about other people around. It takes so much more work to get 16 people do the tricks the same way and get them do the choreocraphy the same way than to get one people to do it. And if that one people still fails, she can impro and take up where ever she chooses to. In synchro you can’t do that. I’m not trying to trash figure skaters but I’m trying to get you understand how much more work and different kind of talent it needed when you are a synchro skater.

  22. jo Says:

    Synchro is another aspect of the figure skating sport. To say that it is less difficult or only performed by underachievers is spoken from ignorance. Synchro skaters train with individual coaches in all arenas of figure skating such as free style, dance, and moves in the field, then come together as a group to perform as one unit. Synchronized skating cost is as with any sport based on the amount of training each club requires and as with individual or pairs skating requires on and off ice training. I would suggest if anyone doubts the ability of a team of 16-20 athletes to execute flawless movement on the ice to watch the upcoming World Synchronized Skating Championships http://www.2010synchroworlds.com/ being held in Colorado in April. Better yet go and listen to the sound that a world class team makes (or does not make) as they silently move together. IT ISN’T EASY. We are heading to Wolds in April and only wish we could have gone to see it as an Olympic Sport.

  23. ice skater 101 Says:

    synchro is the best sport ever. I was on Pre-juv for 2 years Juvinil for 1 year and Novice for 4 year. the higher the level the more drama with the team and the more money. i dont do synchronied skatng now becasue of all teh drama that went down. dont join a team! INDIVIUAL IS BETTER

  24. Me Says:

    If anyone in the Vancouver area is interested in watching local teams perform so that you can see first hand the dedication and skill level of Synchronized Skaters, come out to the South Surrey arena on December 11, 2010 from 1:30 – 4:30 pm for the Pacific Ice Annual Christmas Gala, hosted by the Pacific Ice Synchronized Skating Club. Admission is by donation to the food bank.

  25. Katie Says:

    Synchronized skating is an incredible sport that includes moves in the field, ice dance, precise edge work, power,synchronization, some moves in isolation (jumps and spins), and most importantly, teamwork. It is always an amazing sight to see how well a team of 8 to 20 completely different skaters come together to perform in just one year. Usually, a team stays together as the skaters get older and more advanced, but there are always new skaters joining, staying back a level, or leaving. As a synchro skater, I prefer it to solo skating because when you win, you get to share it with all of your teammates who become like sisters to you. When you lose, you know that your team is there to help you get through it. There are so many different complex elements and choreography to synchro, but the reason I love it so much is because of the true friendship it brings within your team.

  26. Cynthia Says:

    I don’t understand why some people do not get it. “Synchronized skating connects people literally!”

  27. synchrostar21 Says:

    I have been a synchro skater for about 8 years and I have found that though it doesn’t have jumps, there are other things that exite both the crowd and the audience, like 20 girls intersecting through each other doing difficult backwards turns, or lifts, or wheels, or lines, and lots of other things. I too have participated in all disciplines of skating and have found that synchro is the hardest. Some people don’t appreciate it and think that it is easy, but it is quite difficult to keep 20 people on the same foot whle doing the same thing at the same time. I want synchro to become and Olympic sport because it has all of the qualifications to be one as well as the fact that it is the fastest growing discipline in all of figure skating. Synchro is hard because it requires dance, freestyle, and moves tests to be successful.

  28. synchrostar21 Says:

    Also, synchronized skating is the most expensive in all disciplines of figure skating because you have to practice with the team and just as much as solo skaters on your own. I personally have 5 coachs and I skate at rinks in 3 different states. I drive 2 and a half hours to practice every weekend and skate at least 15 hours a week on my own as well as teaching and working at my home rink.

  29. Tara Says:

    I have skated synchro for over 15 years. To say that synchronized skaters are for those who could not “make it” in individual figure skating is ridiculous and actually quite funny. Most of the best skaters I know are synchronized skaters who excelled in solo figure skating but chose to do synchronized skating. Most skaters at the senior level on strong teams are atleast double gold medalists some even triple gold medalists.For those who think synchro is easy, throw yourself in a line with synchro skaters…good luck. These girls/guys build a ridiculous amount of speed while holding perfect body positions to keep within their own space.. matching each and every detail down to foot positions on each turn, push and extension. The amount of work that is put in to match every single movement even facial expressions is crazy and takes great talent, discipline, and coaching. “Minor artistic achievement” is just tad bit innacurate. The stories these teams show through their choreography is magical to watch and far from boring. If you think synchro is boring I highly suggest you watch a senior level competition live and hopefully you will see what is about for yourself. Synchro skaters are incredibly strong, artistic, disciplined and awesome!!!!…a little quote my old synchro team used …athletes lift weights but synchro skaters lift athletes ;) (in the senior division atleast) GO SYNCHRO!!!

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