Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

December 20, 2013

Synchronized skating teams coming to TC

TRAVERSE CITY — Stirring music, flashy costumes, dazzling synchronization.

That’s what the Traverse City Figure Skating Club hopes to bring to the area when it hosts the Tri-State Synchronized Skating Team Championships Feb. 15 at Centre ICE Arena.

The competition is part of the 2013-2014 Midwestern Synchronized Skating Challenge Series and is expected to bring dozens of “synchro” teams to the region from Michigan and surrounding states. Besides Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, skaters may come from as far away as Canada, said Stephanie Miller, a coach of the local club’s synchronized skating team The Northern Lights.

“Some are going to Nationals, so they’ll want to get another competition in before they go,” she said. “Some teams won’t come because they are going to Nationals and don’t want to spend the money here. It just depends.”

Synchronized skating was born in Michigan nearly 50 years ago, when the first group of skaters was organized to perform at University of Michigan ice hockey games in Ann Arbor. It has since grown into a competitive discipline of skating with thousands of athletes participating all over the world in teams with names like Sweet Mozart (Austria) and The Sun Things (South Africa).

U.S. Figure Skating held the first U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in 1984 and hosted the first World Synchronized Skating Championships in 2000.

The sport works like this: a team of eight to 20 skaters perform a program together to music ranging from classical to film soundtracks like “Aladdin,” “The Sound of Music,” “Sherlock Holmes” and “The Great Gatsby.” It uses the same judging system as singles, pairs and dance and is characterized by teamwork, speed, intricate formations and challenging step sequences.

Elements include blocks, circles, wheels, lines, intersections, moves in the field, moves in isolation, no-hold blocks, spins and pairs moves.

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