Traverse City Figure Skating Club generally has 1 or 2 synchronized skating teams for teen skaters or younger and an adult team for skaters over age 18. Each team is made up of skaters of similar skating abilities. These teams participate in 1 to 4 competitions per year. TCFSC’s teams are known as the “Northern Lights”.
Synchronized skating began nearly 50 years ago, when the first group of skaters was organized to perform at University of Michigan ice hockey games in Ann Arbor, Mich. It has since grown into a competitive discipline of skating with thousands of athletes participating all over the world. U.S. Figure Skating held the first U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in 1984 and also hosted the first World Synchronized Skating Championships in 2000. There are approximately 525 synchronized teams registered with U.S. Figure Skating, and nearly 5,000 athletes participate annually in the synchronized skating sectional championships.
Synchronized skating is a team sport in which 8-20 skaters perform a program together. It uses the same judging system as singles, pairs and dance and is characterized by teamwork, speed, intricate formations and challenging step sequences. As with the other disciplines, all teams perform a free skate with required well-balanced program elements. In addition, teams at the junior and senior level perform a short program consisting of required elements.
Elements in synchronized skating include blocks, circles, wheels, lines, intersections, moves in the field, moves in isolation, no-hold blocks, spins and pairs moves. The variety and difficulty of elements require that each team member is a highly skilled individual skater. The typical senior-level athlete has passed a senior or gold test in at least two disciplines.
Synchronized teams in the U.S. can compete in 15 different levels according to the age and skill level of the team members.
Teams competing at the Basic Skills (beginner) level may compete at any U.S. Figure Skating synchronized skating non-qualifying competition or U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills competition.
Teams competing at the developmental levels of preliminary, pre-juvenile, open juvenile, open junior, open collegiate or open adult may also compete at the Eastern, Midwestern or Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships, held annually at the end of January.
Teams at the competitive levels of juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior, senior, collegiate, adult or masters compete first at their respective sectional championships. A placement in the top four at sectionals earns them a spot at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. Top-performing teams at the junior and senior levels at have the opportunity to earn a berth to the U.S. Synchronized Skating Team, with the top two senior teams going on to represent the United States at the World Synchronized Skating Championships.
There are so many benefits to participating in a team sport, and synchronized skating is a great way for figure skaters to compete in a sport they love while enjoying all of the aspects of working with others in a team-oriented sport.
Synchronized Skating History/Timeline
USFS Synchro Skating Fact Sheet (PDF)
Synchronized Skating Primer by Janet Swan Hill
Basic holds in synchronized skating
Basic Formations in synchronized skating
Coaches: Stephanie Miller and Heidi Masse