Synchronized skating

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For the current season, see 2014–15 synchronized skating season. For precision roller skating, see Artistic roller skating.
Marigold IceUnity

Synchronized skating or synchronised skating, is a large and fast-growing discipline of figure skating where 8–20 (the number of skaters on a team depends on the level) skaters skate on ice as a team, moving as one flowing unit at high speeds.[1] The discipline was originally called precision skating in North America because of the emphasis on maintaining precise formations and timing of the group.

Details[edit]

The Haydenettes, the 22-time US Synchronized Skating National Champions

For a synchronized team to flow in unison, individual skaters must be competent at a variety of skating skills, including speed, footwork and ice presence. The team performs a program set to music, with required formations including circles, lines, blocks, wheels, and intersections. The teams are required to perform step sequences involving a number of various turns such as twizzles, counters and rockers and simpler turns like three-turns, mohawks and 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 is longer and provides an opportunity to showcase expression, emotion and interpretation. Teams in the senior division are also permitted to perform lifts in the free skating program including pair lifts where the lifted skater may not be lifted 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, 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. Junior and Senior programs also include moves in the fields where the whole team does moves such as spirals, spread eagles or ina bauers connected.

Required elements:[2]

  • No Hold Block: The no hold block has the same qualities as a regular block. The only difference is that the skaters are not connected in a no hold block.
  • Spins: Every skater must spin in unison. Each spin rotate at the same time and have the same number of revolutions. The spin can be performed in a circle, block, or line.
  • Pairs Element: This is a free skating move where one skater holds on to another. Different types of pairs element include spins, lifts, and pivots such as death spirals.
  • Wheel: For a wheel every skater must rotate around a common center point. There are many different formations that teams an form including a two to five spoke or a parallel wheel. Each spoke (line) of the wheel should be straight and the skaters should be leaning into the center of the wheel. The difficulty of the wheel can be increased by adding footwork, changing the rotational direction of the wheel, or traveling.
  • Block: This is an element where the skaters are lined up in at least three parallel lines. Five lines is the maximum a block can have. The block should travel over the entire ice surface. The lines should be straight and evenly spaced. To increase the difficulty of the block teams can add step sequences, pivot the block, or change the configuration.
  • Circle: There are many different ways to complete this element. Teams can have one circle, multiple circles, a circle within a circle, or disconnected circle. The circle should be evenly spaced between the skaters and should form a round shape. To increase the difficulty of a circle a team can include step sequences, traveling, and changes of rotational direction.
  • Intersection: An intersection is when the skaters skate towards each other in lines and intersect. The intersection can be two lines but can have three or four lines. At the point of intersection skaters could do turns or free skating movements to increase the difficulty. The entry to the intersection can be made more difficult by intersecting from an angle or from a whip.
  • Line: There are many different types of lines. Lines can be two parallel lines, one straight line, or a diagonal line. To increase the difficulty the team may pivot the line, change configuration, or incorporate retrogression into the line.
  • Movement in Isolation: In this element some of the skaters are isolated from the rest of the team while performing free skating elements such as spins, spirals, lifts, or jumps. The free skating elements must be performed by a minimum of three skaters and a maximum of less than half of the team.
  • Moves in the Field: This element is a sequence of movements that must include free skating moves such as spirals, spread eagles, Ina Bauers, and other flowing moves with strong edges, connected with linking steps. It must include at least three different free skating moves.

History[edit]

In 1956,[3] 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.

Competitions[edit]

International[edit]

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.[4] Other longest-running and 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.

ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships[edit]

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 one 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).

Year Location Gold Silver Bronze Source
2014 Italy Courmayeur, Italy Finland Marigold Ice Unity Canada NEXXICE Finland Rockettes [5]
2013 United States Boston, United States Finland Team Unique Canada NEXXICE United States Haydenettes [6]
2012 Sweden Gothenburg, Sweden Sweden Team Surprise Canada NEXXICE United States Haydenettes [7]
2011 Finland Helsinki, Finland Finland Rockettes Finland Marigold IceUnity United States Haydenettes [8]
2010 United States Colorado Springs, United States Finland Rockettes Finland Marigold IceUnity United States Haydenettes [9]
2009 Croatia Zagreb, Croatia Canada NEXXICE Finland Team Unique Sweden Team Surprise [10]
2008 Hungary Budapest, Hungary Finland Rockettes Sweden Team Surprise Canada NEXXICE [11]
2007 Canada London, Canada Sweden Team Surprise United States Miami University Canada NEXXICE [12]
2006 Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic Finland Marigold IceUnity Sweden Team Surprise Finland Rockettes [13]
2005 Sweden Gothenburg, Sweden Sweden Team Surprise Finland Rockettes Finland Marigold IceUnity [14]
2004 Croatia Zagreb, Croatia Finland Marigold IceUnity Sweden Team Surprise Finland Rockettes [15]
2003 Canada Ottawa, Canada Sweden Team Surprise Finland Marigold IceUnity Canada Les Suprêmes
2002 France Rouen, France Finland Marigold IceUnity Sweden Team Surprise Canada black ice
2001 Finland Helsinki, Finland Sweden Team Surprise Finland Rockettes Canada black ice [16]
2000 United States Minneapolis, United States Sweden Team Surprise Canada black ice Finland Marigold IceUnity [17]

ISU World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships[edit]

Year Location Gold Silver Bronze Source
2013 Finland Helsinki, Finland Finland Musketeers Finland Team Fintastic Russia Spartak Junost' [18]

ISU Junior World Challenge Cup[edit]

Year Location Gold Silver Bronze Source(s)
2014 Sweden Neuchâtel, Switzerland Finland Team Fintastic Canada Les Suprêmes Finland Musketeers [19]
2012 Sweden Gothenburg, Sweden Finland Team Fintastic Finland Musketeers Canada Les Suprêmes [20]
2011 Switzerland Neuchâtel, Switzerland Finland Team Fintastic Finland Musketeers United States Team Braemar [21]
2010 Sweden Gothenburg, Sweden Finland Team Fintastic Canada NEXXICE Finland Musketeers [21][22]
2009 Switzerland Neuchâtel, Switzerland Finland Team Fintastic Canada NEXXICE Finland Musketeers [21]
2008 France Rouen, France Finland Team Fintastic Canada Gold Ice Finland Musketeers [21]
2007 United Kingdom Nottingham, Great Britain Finland Team Fintastic Canada Les Suprêmes United States Chicago Jazz [23]
2006 Finland Helsinki, Finland Finland Musketeers Finland Team Fintastic United States Chicago Jazz [21]
2005 Switzerland Neuchâtel, Switzerland Finland Musketeers Finland Team Mystique Canada Gold Ice [21]
2004 Italy Milan, Italy Finland Musketeers Finland Team Mystique Canada Gold Ice [21]
2003 Sweden Kungsbacka, Sweden Finland Musketeers Canada Burlington Ice Image Canada Les Suprêmes [21]
2002 Croatia Zagreb, Croatia Canada Ice Image Russia Spartak-Leader Finland Musketeers [21]
2001 Switzerland Neuchâtel, Switzerland Finland Team Fintastic Canada Les Suprêmes United States Superettes [21]

Finland[edit]

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 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.

Finnish Senior Championships medalists[edit]

Year Location Gold Silver Bronze Source
2014 Helsinki Marigold IceUnity Rockettes Team Unique [24]
2013 Turku Team Unique Marigold IceUnity Rockettes [25]
2012 Espoo Rockettes Marigold IceUnity Team Unique [26]
2011 Espoo Rockettes Marigold IceUnity Team Unique [27]
2010 Espoo Rockettes Marigold IceUnity Team Unique [28]
2009 Helsinki Marigold IceUnity Team Unique Rockettes [29]
2008 Helsinki Rockettes Marigold IceUnity Team Unique [30]
2007 Helsinki Marigold IceUnity Team Unique Rockettes [31]
2006 Helsinki Marigold IceUnity Rockettes Team Unique [32]

Finnish qualifications for the ISU WSSC[edit]

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.[33]

United States[edit]

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.[34]

While most skaters participating in synchronized skating are female, the rules allow mixed-gender teams.

USFSA Senior Championship[edit]

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.

Year Location Gold Score Silver Score Bronze Score Pewter Score Source
2015 Providence, Rhode Island
2014 Colorado Springs, Colorado
2013 Plymouth, Michigan Haydenettes 206.33 Miami University 191.28 Crystallettes 176.96 Skyliners 151.56 [35]
2012 Worcester, Massachusetts Haydenettes 202.92 Crystallettes 185.54 Miami University 182.64 ICE'Kateers 145.15 [36]
2011 Ontario, California Haydenettes 217.41 Miami University 195.50 Crystallettes 179.85 California Gold [37]
2010 Minneapolis, Minnesota Haydenettes 231.14 Crystallettes 210.35 Miami University 202.68 Starlights 167.80 [38]
2009 Portland, Maine Miami University 204.72 Haydenettes 203.97 Crystallettes 184.10 California Gold [39]
2008 Providence, Rhode Island Haydenettes 213.37 Miami University 201.26 Crystallettes 184.10 California Gold [3]
2007 Colorado Springs, Colorado Haydenettes 201.04 Miami University 199.56 Crystallettes 159.65 California Gold 158.06 [40]
2006 Grand Rapids, Michigan Miami University 179.72 Haydenettes 161.28 Crystallettes 155.12 Team Elan 126.96 [41]
2005 Lowell, Massachusetts Haydenettes * Miami University * Crystallettes * Team Elan * [42]
2004 San Diego, California Haydenettes * Crystallettes * Team Elan * Miami University * [43]
2003 Huntsville, Alabama Haydenettes * Miami University * Team Elan * Crystallettes * [44]
2002 Lake Placid, New York Haydenettes * Miami University * Crystallettes * [3]
2001 Colorado Springs, Colorado Haydenettes * Miami University * Crystallettes * [3]
2000 Plymouth, Michigan Haydenettes * Team Elan * Miami University * [3]
1999 Tampa, Florida Miami University * Haydenettes * Starlets [3]
1998 San Diego, California Haydenettes Miami University Team Elan * [3]
1997 Syracuse, New York Haydenettes * Team Elan * Miami University * [3]
1996 Chicago, Illinois Haydenettes * Miami University * Team Elan * [3]
1995 San Diego, California Team Elan * Haydenettes * Miami University * [3]
1994 Providence, Rhode Island Haydenettes * Team Elan * Miami University * [3]
1993 Detroit, Michigan Haydenettes * Team Elan * Crystallettes * [3]
1992 Portland, Maine Haydenettes * Team Elan * Goldenettes * [3]
1991 Anchorage, Alaska Haydenettes * Goldenettes * Fraserettes * [3]
1990 Houston, Texas Goldenettes * Haydenettes * Fraserettes * [3]
1989 Providence, Rhode Island Haydenettes * Goldenettes * Detroit Capets * [3]
1988 Reno, Nevada Haydenettes * Fraserettes * Detroit Capets * [3]
1987 Tulsa, Oklahoma Fraserettes * Haydenettes * Figurettes * [3]
1986 Boston, Massachusetts Hot Fudge Sundaes * Haydenettes * Detroit Capets * [3]
1985 Lakewood, Ohio Fraserettes * Ice Crystallettes * Minneapplettes * [3]
1984 Bowling Green, Ohio Fraserettes * Ice Crystallettes * Ann Arbor Hockettes * [3]

USFSA Collegiate Championship[edit]

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.

Year Location Gold Score Silver Score Bronze Score Source
2015 Providence, RI
2014 Colorado Springs, CO Miami University 96.80 Excel 78.77 Michigan State 78.60
2013 Plymouth, MI Miami University 92.26 Univ of Delaware 84.11 Univ of Michigan 77.98 [35]
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

Present day[edit]

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 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:

  • Cost and logistics at the Games. Teams of twenty skaters require more money spent on accommodations.
  • Mixed gender sport. There are no requirements or regulations surrounding the gender of skaters on a team.
  • Not easy to televise. The sport does not convey the same power or speed when it is viewed through the TV.
  • Lack of interested audience. The sport is relatively low profile in many parts of the world, and may not draw a significant audience.
  • Scandal of judged sport. Figure skating already comes under criticism for judging scandals.
  • Lack of diversity among contending countries. The sport is dominated by four main countries (Finland, Sweden, USA, and Canada).
  • Lack of countries with teams. At the senior level, there are approximately twenty countries who have teams.

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 on change.org calling for 15,000 signatures and asking the IOC to make "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.".[45]

News Coverage[edit]

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.

Judging[edit]

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 amount 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.

Highest scores at ISU competitions[edit]

Short program[edit]

Rank Team Score Event Source
1 Sweden Team Surprise 87.84 2004 Neuchâtel Trophy [46]
2 Finland Rockettes 83.46 2010 Cup of Berlin [47]
3 Finland Team Unique 82.36 2009 Worlds [48]
4 Canada NEXXICE 80.12 2009 Worlds [48]
5 Finland Marigold IceUnity 78.68 2009 Worlds [48]

Free skating[edit]

Rank Team Score Event Source
1 Sweden Team Surprise 159.60 2004 Neuchâtel Trophy [49]
2 Finland Marigold IceUnity 147.31 2014 Worlds [50]
3 Canada NEXXICE 146.03 2014 Worlds [50]
4 Russia Paradise 145.84 2014 Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy [51]
5 Finland Rockettes 145.68 2014 Worlds [50]

Combined total[edit]

Rank Team Score Event Source
1 Sweden Team Surprise 247.44 2004 Neuchâtel Trophy [52]
2 Finland Rockettes 223.90 2010 Worlds [53]
3 Canada NEXXICE 223.58 2009 Worlds [54]
4 Finland Marigold IceUnity 223.45 2014 Worlds [55]
5 Russia Paradise 220.54 2014 Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy [56]

References[edit]

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