Sixteen to 20 girls wearing bedazzled costumes line up in formation, balancing on the two blades of their ice skates, while judges watch very intently for any mistake.
This is the start to every program for synchronized figure skating: a sport that is comprised of a group of figure skaters who move across the ice creating interesting formations and dance and incorporating the intricacies of ice skating.
Ice skating for Michaela McDonald ’13 and her fellow teammates is a rigorous sport that requires the mastery of techniques.
McDonald is a member of The Skyliners, a synchronized ice-skating team in Westchester County. She has been ice-skating since she was little and has been on teams in New Canaan and Stamford as well.
According to both McDonald and Izzy Baker ’12, a former synchronized figure skater, these teams require much preparation.
Every Saturday McDonald has a five-and-a-half hour practice with her team, and every other Sunday she has a three-and-a-half hour practice with the team. But the training does not stop there. She is also required to do an hour of ballet every Sunday and to complete at least five hours of independent skating per week.
In the practices, McDonald said the team runs through its program and tries to make it better and neater. They work hard to perfect their routine because at each competition, the team is scored in two categories: the program component, which scores the choreography and the quality of ice-skating, and the technical element, which scores based on the degree of difficulty of the routine.
Each program is about two and a half minutes to five minutes long, depending on the type of program.
Throughout each program the team is required to include certain elements of synchronized skating, such as, circles, pass throughs/intersections, spins, a variety of turns, and multiple other formations.
But Baker feels that these short programs and heavy requirements can be a downside of synchronized skating.
“It was both nerve-racking and exciting. The countless hours of training I mentioned before was all stuffed into 2 minute of skating before judges,” Baker said.
Although the competitions may be tough, they can also be a lot of fun. The rigorous skating is made festive with the glitter, sparkles, and costumes. For every competition The Skyliners have a designer custom make each of their dresses to fit the music of the program.
They also wear bold makeup that complements the colors of their dress, along with a lot of eye glitter and fake eyelashes. They all wear their hair in buns with some form of a jeweled hairpiece, and matching earrings as well.
McDonald loves dressing up and getting ready with her team. “It’s a lot of fun to see our dresses each year and to get dressed up for competition, we usually spend around two hours doing hair and makeup before we compete,” McDonald said.
Whether twirling on ice, training for hours on end, or doing each other’s makeup. McDonald and Baker both enjoy their time skating.
“My favorite thing about skating is the freedom. I feel like I can do anything on the ice. I can just go out there and express myself,” Baker said.