U team skating on win ice

The Synergy Synchronized Skating Team is heading to national championships.

At 7 a.m. Jan. 22, 17 ice skaters took the ice in Ridder Arena to practice their routine for one of the last times before their competition.

The skaters compete on the Synergy Synchronized Skating Team at the University and were practicing three days before leaving for the Midwestern Synchronized Sectional last week in Michigan.

The team took sixth place out of the 11 teams in the division. The team’s placement qualified it to compete at the national championships in February in Grand Rapids, Mich., team manager Tina Lambert said.

The competition was a first for several womens on the team, Lambert said.

“Everything went really well,” she said. “It was nice to have a program out on the ice and feel the exhilaration of a Midwestern competition.”

Despite skating in multiple competitions and having frequent practices, the team is a registered organization instead of a club or collegiate sport at the University.

Before becoming a University organization, Synergy was a senior division team associated with the Twin Cities Figure Skating Club and competed at the national level. Less than two years ago, the team disbanded because of a lack of funding and skaters to compete.

While the team as a whole was finished, individually the members were not ready to give up the sport. Still wanting to skate and compete, four University students, including Lambert, an elementary education senior, and chemistry senior Jen Ross put together a new synchronized skating team.

“We really just wanted to try it,” Lambert said. “Now… it’s actually taking off.”

Since its return from the competition, the group plans to begin the club sport application process because being an organization can be frustrating, Lambert said.

Sport Clubs Program manager Jessica Novotny said organizations don’t receive certain club benefits like financial support for coaches or facilities.

Lambert said cost is one of the major frustrations as a student organization.

“It’s a matter of communication,” she said. “There is no inexpensive way to advertise, and it’s hard to contact skaters at the University.” Team members spend their own money and often sell coupons for Herberger’s and Domino’s Pizza to cover expenses.

First-year student Kirsten Molde said that as part of a student organization, the members have difficulty missing class because professors don’t recognize the team as a sport.

She said that for some, the two days students missed for the competition may be unexcused.

Ross said there are some perks to not being the senior division team it originally was.

“It’s more easygoing, not quite as competitive,” Ross said.

Despite frustrations and possible financial setbacks, the team remains optimistic about the future.

“We are starting to mesh more as a team,” first-year student Emily Stickler said. “We’re getting to know each others’ style and learning to skate together.”

Freelance Editor Emily Kaiser welcomes feedback at [email protected]