For at least six hours a week, all year long, 17 teenagers clad in pirate costumes have been training to a remix of the theme songs from the movies Pirates of Caribbean, Muppets Treasure Island and Hook at Metro Edge Figure Skating Club in Webster Groves and Hardee's Ice Plex in Chesterfield.
All the hard work paid off earlier this month for Whitfield Junior Alex Friedman, 17 and Amanda Kennedy, 18, a member of the Creve Coeur Skating Club. Their team, the St. Louis Synergy Intermediate Team, earned second place in the Midwest Sectionals Competition in Rochester, MN. The accomplishment qualified the team for the 2011 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championship, which March 3 in Ontario, CA.
“They finally got at the point to compete for a medal at the national competition,” coach Ramona Peterson said. She came from Anchorage, AK, to work with the team six years ago and became their primary coach last year. Peterson said the girls have been developing their skills for at least six years. Friedman and Kennedy have been skating since they were 5.
Skating for the Synergy Team takes a lot of dedication, hard work, and determination, she said.
“Most people think it's really cool how committed our team is. We practice at 6:30 a.m. most Saturdays, which takes dedication,” Friedman said. It's the coordination and teamwork which attracted Kennedy. “I liked that every skater did the exact same thing at the exact same time,” said Kennedy. “I liked the idea that it was a team sport and that the girls have one purpose and work toward that one goal together.”
To get ready for the nationals, the team is training the same way it had been practicing for other performances. They are working hard and trying to keep calm. “We want to treat this competition like others. We're hoping we get the same results with our skates!” Friedman said.
Peterson said the team is working to hit their full potential in time for the March 3 competition. That means work on and off the ice, for everything from speed and movement to facial expressions. “They have to get at the point where they are not doing the moves, but they are feeling,” Peterson said.
As for what happens after the competition, Friedman says she doesn't plan to pursue it at the college level, while Kennedy hopes to stay involved with it in hopes that synchronized skating becomes an Olympic sport. “My dream is to own my own ice skating rink in a place that is in need and to let all of my talent and passion shine through skaters I coach,” Kennedy said.