Nexxice First CA World Champion since 2009

By Ben Hamill - May 19 2015

The International Skating Union (ISU) has been active this month and Canada has been well represented. Nexxice, the top Canadian synchronized skating team, captured the World Synchronized Skating Championship last week. This year’s tournament was held in Hamilton, Ontario, near Nexxice’s home base of Burlington, Ontario. It was the first time a Canadian team had won this competition since 2009 when Nexxice last won.

Canada Often Wins a Medal in Synchronized Skating

The World Synchronized Skating Tournament has been held for 16 years. Canada has won a medal 11 times. This was the first year that the tournament was hosted in a Canadian city. “It was just a surreal experience with the crowd. In the end they really lifted us”, explained team member Lee Chandler expressing the team’s appreciation of the encouragement it received from the hometown crowd.

The other team members are Gillian Tyler, Ellicia Beaudoin, Courtney Broadhurst, Alessia Chiovitti, Carla Coveart, Samantha Defino, Courtney Gray, Yu Hanamoto, Kelly Britten, Renata Khuzina, Victoria Kwan, Kristen Loritz, Nichole Manahan, Kerrin Caitlin McKinnon, Maria Albanese, Victoria Smith, Kiersten Tietz, Emma Bonafiglia, and Shannon Aikman-Jones.

One other Canadian team competed. Called Les Supremes, they hail from Ste.-Leonard, Quebec. Les Supremes also did themselves proud, finishing fourth in the free program and sixth overall. So we can hold our heads high Canada! Our two teams came in first and sixth in a competition of 25 teams all skating at a very high level!

About the Tournament

The tournament itself bears mention. It was a roaring success, featuring 25 teams from 20 countries. That there is a place for synchronized skating in the prestigious international competitions such as the Olympics, was borne out by the size of the crowds, consistently 7000 to 8000 for a sport not yet considered ready for prime time!

Nexxice was favored to win the tournament going in, recognition of the excellence of the team. Nexxice performed so well that only the team from Finland came close to them. The difference between Nexxice and Finland was a mere 0.67 points while the Bronze Medal winners from Russia were a full 11 points behind.

About Synchronized Skating

Synchronized skating is still simply a fun activity for most of the people who enjoy it. Nexxice has teams for people who can’t or don’t wish to compete internationally.

Nexxice has been involved in synchronized skating for many years. They now have seven different teams from senior down to beginner. The idea of getting skaters started as young as possible is an aspect of one of the basic concepts in the world of synchronized skating: teamwork.

In international competitions there may be as many as 20 skaters from a team performing complex maneuvers in sync with their teammates. As skating becomes more intricate generally, the synchronized movements in this type of competition become ever more complex.

How Synchronized Skating is Judged

Figure skating is one of the most difficult sports to judge. In international competitions it is not unusual for judges to be wide apart in their judgments of a single performance. We all can recall events where one judge scored a skater especially high and another judge scored the same performance especially low.

As difficult as judging skating is when there is only one skater, the difficulty grows dramatically when there are two. How then do judges evaluate a performance in synchronized skating when there are so many skaters performing at once?

Judges look for excellence in four main areas which, by a fluke of English spelling, all begin with “s” so they are called the four S’s: strength, spacing, speed, and finally, but not least important, synchronization.

As in all figure skating, it takes hours upon hours of practice to get the maneuvers synchronized and excellent to the level of international competition. Nerves always have the potential to interfere with any performance. In the case of synchronized skating, each team member must be at the top of his or her game, with nerves of steel. One simple misstep can be disastrous for the team.

Spacing is basically two elements. First, that the skaters are an equal distance apart from each other. It is much more difficult to maintain short spacing than wide spacing. However, equally important for scoring, is ice coverage. The larger the amount of ice covered in complicated maneuvers, the higher the score. The team, then, will have to maintain synchronization while skating almost the entire length and breadth of the ice.

Speed and strength are intimately related. They refer to the apparent confidence of the skaters as a unit. This is not a practice session in which the skaters move slowly to learn the changes and align with each other. If a team can perform with obvious strength at high speed, it will be rewarded with a higher score.

Looking Forward

Synchronized skating has been around in international competition for more than 30 years but has not yet received the recognition afforded other on-ice disciplines such as individual figure skating, ice dance, pairs, and speed skating. Canadian synchronized skating teams have been competing for some time and have brought awareness of the sport to the Canadian public. There is still much work to be done before synchronized skating will become an Olympic sport.