(Starlight’s intermediate team, representing the Goulbourn Skating Club at the Skate Canada national championships in Calgary, Alberta, brought home a silver medal with their routine ‘Shipwreck’. Photos: Heidi Pinsent)
On February 21-22, 2023, Starlight’s Novice and Intermediate synchronized skating teams travelled to Calgary to compete in Skate Canada’s national competition. In Calgary, the intermediate team competed in a division of 10 teams and the novice in a division of 12 from across the country.
At the competition, Starlight’s intermediate team, representing the Goulbourn Skating Club brought home a silver medal with their routine “Shipwreck”. The novice team, U16 representing the March-Kanata Skating Club, unfortunately didn’t medal, winning 10th place, at the competition but still proved their excellence just by being there! Starlight was incredibly grateful and honoured to even have two teams compete at such a high level of competition.
The intermediate’s medal-winning routine titled “Shipwreck” was inspired by “the experiences of the past few years of being isolated and alone through the pandemic and telling that story through the journey of being shipwrecked,” Heidi Pinsent, who travelled with the team to Calgary, shares. In the routine skaters “start off alone and must learn to cope with being shipwrecked. They reflect on their lives and learn that there was beauty before, and they must find it again. Working together as the constraints around them are removed, they discover that they are stronger together. They find peace and happiness, not only in the journey they have taken but with each other,” Pinsent explains.
When asked about what the theme meant to her, skater on the intermediate synchro team, Emma Miranda said, “the theme shipwreck is a representation of the journey our team has taken over the past couple of years. Throughout the pandemic, we have persevered and continued to train our hearts out, even when there weren’t any real competitions.”
Having a theme to a routine isn’t necessarily a requirement for a synchronized skating routine, but Heidi says that, “it’s a bonus if the judges understand the theme/concept as the team can be rewarded if skated well.” The main thing judges look for in a routine is evidence that the skaters are connected to the music and each other. Often, a theme helps provide the glue to make that connection strong. So while it is not a requirement, a strong theme that is as relatable as that of Starlight’s “Shipwrecked” was, can be extremely beneficial for skaters.
Starlight’s success at the national level is impressive no matter how you look at it. However, it is even more impressive as Heidi explains that, “Ottawa only gets about 5 hours of ice together each week. We throw in extra Saturdays during the crunch time to qualify, but that’s not consistent. Bringing home a medal was so amazing since the team was up against teams who practice 10+ hours a week.” between all the on-ice sports in our city, ice time in Ottawa is hard to come by and in an already expensive city, factoring the cost of practice time into synchronized skating, the sport can become expensive. To combat this as much as possible, Pinsent says, “We try to keep the sport affordable [but] the skaters are expected to still skate singles to keep up skills needed.”
Despite not training as often as other skating clubs, Starlight still made the most of all the time they had on the ice. After winning, Emma Miranda commented, “It felt like all of our hard work, countless hours of practice and time together was all worth it. At first, we were completely in shock. Beyond placing second, we also had two personal best scores and clean skates.”
Unfortunately, because of the timing of their trip to the competition, there wasn’t a ton of time for visiting or exploring Calgary. Only being in Alberta for two days meant a compact schedule for the skaters. In a competition, each team gets a 10-minute practice run in front of the judges the morning they perform, but Starlight usually tries to book additional ice time to practice in the city they are competing in just to polish the routines and make sure all the skaters feel well prepared and on the same page. This details and dedication are certainly a factor in Starlight’s great success.
On the topic of dedication, the sport of synchronized skating extends outside the actual skaters on the ice and into each of their dedicated families. A lot of other competitive teams that travel to such competitions travel as a team supervised by coaches and a few chaperones. However, Heidi shares that “we still travel as families. We are very lucky that the parents/families are really invested in the skaters.” Such a close group of people that bond like a family is important in any team sport, but especially a team sport where athletes are judged on their connection and ability to work as one unit.
When performing as a team there are many different approaches skaters can take. Emma Miranda says, “when we perform together I focus on the team energy. We are a very connected team and we feed off each other’s energy. Whenever anyone starts to slow down we can just look at each other and instantly feel revitalized.” Through their performance at Skate Canada and their success as a team, it is clear that the family aspect of this tight-knit group of skaters was a key contributor to their success. Emma Miranda shares this sentiment as she explains, “We felt that the placement was a long time coming and there is no better place to show up big than at nationals. I’m extremely proud of this team and how far we’ve come. I can’t imagine my life without them.”
This year was the first year Skate Canada separated the Junior/Senior teams into different events. The sport of synchronized skating is gradually growing and Heidi says, “the hope is that Synchro will get as much exposure as singles/pairs so that one day it can be added to the Olympics.” Synchronized skating is such a beautiful sport to watch and deserves to be appreciated at a level as high as the Olympics.
Until then, it can be said that Starlight’s competitiveness at these national competitions is reflective of their dedication to both working hard and working together as one.
Congratulations to the intermediate team on their Silver medal and the novice team on reaching the national competition.