CU synchronized ice skating team faces fleeting dream of obtaining club sport status
At 6:15 a.m. on a Colorado morning, a majority of the student body is asleep. Last Thursday, however, two girls thought it was the perfect time to talk about boys. Talk about boys, and then go meet another nine girls on the ice for synchro practice.
Synchronized ice skating consists of generally 16 girls skating in unison. Although it has been gaining popularity for many years, it is only now in the process of becoming an Olympic sport. This has led to a number of newly created rules concerning age and eligibility, ultimately leaving a huge hole where college-aged skaters can compete.
Over the summer, Jenny Spencer, a freshman marketing major, weaved through a number of administrative stops to gain ice time for the newly created provisional CU synchro team. The club sports office had informed her that CU was not accepting any more teams, but after Spencer and Katie Krueger, a junior MCD biology major, presented the dilemma to the executive board, they finally got their Tuesday and Thursday 6:15 a.m. practice time.
The team is required to have a minimum of 10 girls at practice each week or they face not only losing their chance of becoming a full-fledged CU club team, but also losing their ice time as well.
Although a fair number of girls showed up the first week, the team is down to 11 now with only seven that regularly show up. Unless the full team attends for the rest of the semester, they could be in real trouble.
All the members of the team have singles skating experience, but only half have done synchro before. These girls have taken on helping Coach Krueger in teaching the remaining half, but nevertheless it can be frustrating.
“There are basic things we do that just aren’t natural to them,” Spencer said. “The hardest thing is the spread of levels. A couple of girls haven’t done synchro and haven’t skated since middle school, and other girls, as far as singles go, are really, really advanced.”
Krueger and Spencer skated together in Steamboat Springs, taking up synchro their sophomore year in high school at the request of their coach. Although it was hard to pick up at first, they both fell in love with it soon enough. Having just gone through the experience a few years ago, it is easier for them to understand what the CU beginners are going through now.
Anna Hebrank, a freshman open-option major, has been skating synchro for eight years. She has traveled to sectionals seven times, and nationals twice. Although she used to skate singles, she thoroughly enjoys the differences in synchro.
“You’re a huge family, it’s a lot of fun working together, but a hard transition,” Hebrank said.
Hebrank learned about the team in a class she had with Spencer last semester, but that is not the only way Spencer has been recruiting. Along with word-of-mouth, she has put up fliers, chalked around campus and used Facebook. There should also be an ad in the Buff Bulletin soon.
Since the team is still provisional and has so many beginners, competing is hard. They do hope to get the team synchro exposure outside of practice to help build a stronger foundation in these early stages.
“Our plan is a trip to watch synchro nationals in Colorado Springs,” Krueger said.
Seeing professional synchro, Spencer believes, will help the girls without experience grasp what it is all about.
At 6:50 a.m., the girls joined into one circle at the center of the ice. They placed their arms on each other’s shoulders as they moved clockwise, switching their left foot over right for a few counts. They tried to each spin individually before coming back to the formation, but they had drifted and now there were two large holes. They tried a few more times and finally got it right.
Before heading on to the next move, the girls gathered around Krueger, who was kneeling as she drew the formation on the ice. It looked oddly similar to crunch time in a basketball game, with a group of 7 foot men gathered around their coach. This, however, was a group of 11 petite female figure skaters.
It was not until 7:30 a.m. that the first and only girl fell, shortly before practice ended.
The team hopes to gain CU club team status before the end of the year. If not, Spencer said they would have to look to Denver. It would be a hassle that many members of the team would not be willing to put up with.
Until that happens, the girls will continue to head to the CU rec center twice a week for some early morning skating, and of course, their occasional bit of gossip.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Margot Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org.