Introducing Hailey Rosenberg

Written by 2018-19 Starlights Junior and DREAM Program Member, Hailey Rosenberg

Hi Everyone!

My name is Hailey Rosenberg, and I am from Deerfield, Illinois. I am excited to begin my fifth season as a member of Starlights Junior and my first season as a DREAM Skater!

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My skating career began at age six, when I marched onto the ice at a local rink for my first group lesson. As I fell down and got back up time and time again, I began to feel a sense of freedom and spontaneity gliding along the ice’s surface.

My first (ISI) Synchro Nationals at Miami University.

This all changed at age eight, only two years after my first steps on the ice. As I watched synchronized skating for the first time in my rink’s annual ice show, there was something so mesmerizing about a team flying across the ice in unison. Little did I know that this single performance would bring a decade of synchronized skating into my life. A few months later I joined that very same ISI youth skating team that had captivated me, and since then I have never looked back. As gratified as I had felt gliding across the ice on my own, synchronized skating fulfilled me with a new sense of both excitement and unity. I skated on Teams Elite’s ISI teams for four years before joining Starlights Intermediate and then Junior the very next year.

As I enter my fifth season with Starlights Junior, my tenth year of skating synchro, and my senior year of high school, I have reflected on everything this sport has brought me. Beyond the physicality of synchronized skating, this sport has provided me with worldly experiences, valuable skills, and lifelong friendships. These countless opportunities as a synchronized skater have shaped my identity and taught me that no force is as strong as teamwork. As my teammates and I quite literally have each others’ backs, I feel incredibly fortunate to forever be a part of such a supportive community.

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These athletic and academic milestones have also caused me to think about the next four years of my life, as I have a very significant transition ahead of me. Although I am unsure of where college will take me, I know synchronized skating will continue to play a large role in my life!

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Inspired in part by synchro, I am interested in pursuing a career in sports medicine and physical therapy. I am fascinated by this field because it is an intersection of several passions of mine: learning about the science of the body’s motion, coaching a patient through the healing process, and the inspiration of mentoring a high potential athlete. I hope to provide injury prevention and rehabilitation practices for developing synchronized skaters, and instill in them the resilience needed for a sustained athletic career.

As we begin the 2018-2019 competition season, I want to share a saying that has inspired me throughout my skating career: “Reach for the moon, and even if you miss you will land among the stars.” By setting goals that may appear to be out of reach, even if they are not ultimately attained, you will end your journey much stronger than had you set your standards low. Believe in yourself and your abilities, and you will be capable of achieving astonishing results!

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I am looking forward to the upcoming synchro season and seeing you all at competitions!

Best of luck this year!

Love always,

Hailey

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Monitoring Readiness

Written By: 2018-19 Miami University Senior Varsity Synchronized Skating and U.S. DREAM Synchro Member, Bailey Styzinski 

As the 2018-2019 synchronized skating season begins, skaters across the country are preparing for monitoring sessions to increase competitive success.

For Junior and Senior level teams named to the International Selection Pool (ISP), October means International Monitoring. Teams nominated to the ISP are lucky to have judges and technical specialists visit their practices and give feedback to help them improve before the official start of their competitive season. Junior and Senior level teams aren’t the only levels that have access to monitoring sessions, though. Whether your coach invites a judge or technical specialist to observe your practice, or you sign up for a monitoring session offered at a competition, it is very likely your team will have a monitoring session. Here are some tips to help prepare you for monitoring sessions and help you and your team maximize your time in front of your monitors:

1.    You don’t have to be perfect.

Every team has an October (or November). One of the things I love about synchronized skating is that our programs are built for us to grow in to. You might not have every last head down, and your team might not be pushing the pattern of your program(s) all the way out to the walls, but that’s ok! Monitoring is about working through issues—not being perfect.

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2. Be 100% committed to everything you do.

Chances are, everyone is not going to be completely positive on where your head is supposed to be turned on count two of your second set of eight in your pivoting line. But, if everyone does what they think the head is supposed to be with confidence, it will be a lot easier for your monitors to point differences out to your coaches. They want to see you give each element all you’ve got so they get a good sense of what your program(s) will look like when it is Nationals-ready.

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3. Don’t be nervous, they’re there to help you.

I used to be so intimidated by monitoring sessions because it was hard for me to get past the set of monitors giving my team feedback. Especially because those monitors would probably be judging us at competitions later in the season. It’s so important to remember that the monitors are really there to be as helpful as possible to your coaches and team. Take advantage of their expertise and experience! Everything they say is to help you and your team take your program to the next level.

4. Really listen to what the monitors have to say.

Between each section or full-run you perform for your monitors, the monitors will probably give either you or your coaches some feedback. When monitors are addressing your coaches, make sure you’re quiet and attentive so that the monitors and your coaches can really focus on relaying their impressions of your program(s). When monitors address you and your team directly, be sure to really listen to what the monitors have to say. The opportunity to be monitored doesn’t come around often, so you really want to make the most of all the feedback they give you.

 

5. Give all of their suggestions your best shot.

Sometimes the monitors might suggest making changes that are outside of your comfort zone. They don’t expect the things they implement to look perfect on your first try, but giving their suggestions your best shot will go a long way for their impression of your team.

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6. Give the whole session everything you’ve got.

Monitoring sessions are hard. Usually your team will start off with a full-run of your program(s). Other than the time they spend giving your coaches and team feedback, you will be running sections (or maybe even doing another full-run) of your program(s). It can be a lot of intense skating, but really give it all you’ve got. At this point in the season, you have nothing to lose. Remember that the work you put in will only make you stronger.

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7. Monitoring sessions aren’t easy, but they’re worth it.

Having an outside opinion on that tricky pivoting block or sticky three-spoke can be extremely valuable. You might have to run a certain section multiple times in order for your monitors to really understand what’s going on, so be patient. Their feedback goes a long way, so push through the tough sections!

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8.Have fun!

We don’t always have the opportunity to perform for an audience outside of competitions, so really take advantage of your audience. Have fun interacting with the monitors throughout your program(s). I’m sure it’s more enjoyable for them to watch if you’re out there really performing and having a great time doing what you love.

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Introducing Madison deBlasi

Written By: 2018-19 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM and Skyliners Junior Team Member, Madison deBlasi

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Hello, everyone! My name is Madison deBlasi and I’m from Greenwich, Connecticut.  I skate on the Skyliners Junior line and am very excited for this season to get underway!

When I was four, I fell in love with figure skating after attending Disney on Ice.  I always aspired to be just like Princess Jasmine, so I signed up for Learn-to-Skate classes at my local rink in Greenwich.  One of my teachers invited me to go to the Skyliners Pep Rally, so my mom and I decided to check it out! I was amazed with what I saw and knew right away that I wanted to become a synchro skater.  In 2008, I joined the Preliminary line for Skyliners, and since then I have felt at home with my new skating family.

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Eight years later I tried out for the Junior team; being accepted onto this team was one of the biggest accomplishments I had achieved to that point.  I was so excited to begin my journey as part of Team USA! Over the years on Skyliners Junior, I have been fortunate enough to have competed in six international competitions, including two World Championships.  My experiences have been absolutely priceless; from the moment I step on the ice, knowing that I am competing alongside my best friends… to watching the American flag raise as the National Anthem plays. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to represent our country in this sport we love.

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Synchronized skating has taught me many valuable lessons and helped me build strong traits.  Being on the team, you learn motivation, perseverance, and most of all, teamwork! Motivation comes both internally and externally.  I find that all of my teammates have a strong motivation to succeed. We also receive encouragement from our coaches, families, and people who come to watch us skate.  Together, we persevere through the challenges of learning and perfecting each new program that will be used in our competitions. On and off the ice we have a strong bond with each other, and teamwork is central to our ability to perform at high technical levels in unison.

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As a senior in high school, this is a very exciting transition time for me.  I will have many decisions to make in the coming year, but I know with certainty that I want to continue skating in college! Being on a synchro team has taught me so much about myself and has enriched my life.  I truly can’t imagine my life without skating. Beyond skating, I have aspirations to become a physical therapist. I want to help injured athletes resume their sport just as mine helped me return to skating after injuries.  All of my experiences in skating have helped me develop a vision for my career choices.

I hope everyone has a great start to their seasons, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the competitions!  

Best,

Madison

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Reflective Thoughts: 2018 World Synchronized Skating Championships

Written By: 2018 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Haydenettes Member, Eri Lee

This April, one of the most exciting World Synchronized Skating Championships took place in Stockholm, Sweden. 25 teams from 20 countries came together to compete and conclude a long and intense season. Being my first senior World Championships, the atmosphere was incredibly vibrant, and Skate Sweden did such an amazing job organizing the competition. The Ericsson Globe was the perfect location for the event, with the hotel and the competition rink under the same roof. My favorite feature of this venue was that athletes and staff were able to observe practices from the dining area, adding a unique touch to the entire experience. As a whole, the competition ran seamlessly, making the event stress free and fun for all athletes.

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The opening sequence to our short program, “Run Boy Run” 

The short program competition was an exciting start to the event, showcasing the strengths of each team. After two clean skates, The Haydenettes placed 4th, and the Skyliners placed 9th.  The Haydenettes felt incredibly confident on the ice, and we skated one of the best short programs of our season. The audience was so energetic, and contributed to the dynamic beat of our “Run Boy Run” themed program. It was such an amazing experience, and a feeling that I will never forget. Skating in front of such a large and receptive audience is something that is extremely special, and makes competing so much more memorable. The competition was close, with teams 2nd through 7th being less than three points apart.

The free skate event was especially exciting since the short program had been so successful; the top 7 teams had equal chance of landing on the podium, making for an unpredictable night. Many teams had put out their strongest free skates of the season. Unfortunately, we hadn’t skated to the best of our abilities, placing us in 7th overall and 8th in the free. We were disappointed with our skate that day, but we are incredibly proud to represent Team USA and display our growth at such an esteemed event. Despite our unexpected placement, we are so impressed with the caliber of skating that was presented at this World Championships.

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In the “Kiss and Cry” after the free skate

The majority of teams put out clean, strong programs, both in the short and free, really showcasing the growth of our sport and the hard work that all the teams have put in this season. In total, there were 36 clean performances in the entire event, a huge improvement from last season’s 25. Skate Sweden did an outstanding job of bringing media attention to the event as well, with posters scattered all over the city of Stockholm and even having the opening ceremonies on live TV. The entire event was a huge step forward for synchronized skating, both in media exposure and overall performance, at an especially important time with the upcoming decisions for adding new sports and disciplines to the 2020 Winter Games. I loved seeing all the teams evolve from last season, and to be a competitor rather than a spectator made the event unforgettable. It was inspiring to see so many teams display their strongest skates, and I am hopeful for the future of our sport.

~Eri 

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The Haydenettes at the competitors dinner at Stockholm City Hall

Preparation for Stockholm

2017-18 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Skyliners Senior Team Member, Emily Kirillov 

As a team, our main goal this season was to qualify to be a part of the 2018 World Team. We worked so hard all year and were determined to accomplish our goal! The entire team is beyond thrilled and so honored that we will be competing at the World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden next week!

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We have set a new goal for ourselves and are striving to put forth our best possible performances at Worlds. Coming off Nationals, we went right back into our regular practice schedule. This season is very different from my previous experience competing at the junior level, because Junior teams leave for Worlds shortly after returning from Nationals. Since there is about a month in between Nationals and Worlds, we have time to perfect our programs before heading to our final competition.  In our recent practices, our coaches, Josh and Pam, have been working to refine the details of our programs focusing on transitions and skating quality. We loved having Gale Tanger, an international judge, attend our practice the week after Nationals! Gale gave us very helpful feedback on how we can work to improve our components and the artistic side of our programs.

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To stay in shape and conditioned, we have fitness along with our on-ice practices each weekend. Our trainer, Sandra Shakalov, gives us strengthening exercises that correspond to elements and moves we have to perform on the ice, such as lifts, spirals, and death spirals. Also, we workout on our own by attending fitness classes, going to the gym, and skating individually throughout the week.

On the Skyliners Senior line, we have skaters from 10 different states although, we all share a unique bond that carries into our skating. One of my favorite memories of our team bonding before Nationals was talking about why we started skating and what brought each of us to where we are now. The stories we share inspire everyone on the team and get us ready to skate not only just for ourselves but also for our teammates.

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I am so incredibly excited to have the opportunity to compete alongside all of the teams that I have looked up to for so many years. Skyliners Senior all can’t wait to make our debut at the 2018 ISU World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden soon!

Good luck to all the teams at Worlds and GO USA!!

-Emily

Overcoming Adversity

Written By: 2017-18 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Crystallettes Senior Team Member, Rachel Teets 

Coming off of the World Championships, we jumped into this season and immediately set new goals to help us further achieve our dreams; we took chances on a new choreographer and an abstract theme. We were excited about the possibilities the new season held for us, the opportunity to retain our spot on the World Team and to make a move for USA 1. We began to work to make our dreams a reality; then came one unexpected obstacle after another.

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Detroit Tree lighting ceremony at Campus Martius in December 2017

As our summer training came to a close, we had four skaters who chose not to fulfill their obligation, a few months later we had two more skaters who could no longer skate due to medical reasons, we experienced broken bones overseas, and lost luggage with skates in them (never to be returned and only one week between Switzerland and France to break in new skates)… I could go on and on.

These unfortunate circumstances could be seen in many ways; they could be seen as a threat, an opportunity or even a puzzle to solve. Our coach, my mom, Holly Malewski, has told us time and time again “mistakes and obstacles do not define us, how we choose to react is what defines us”.

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Free Program at the 2018 French Cup

If we had accepted these obstacles as defeat, we would have been overwhelmed with irrecoverable thoughts and emotions, pressure that surely would have made us crumble. It would have been easy, but Crystallettes are fighters. As a team we reached out to help each other prepare for a new spot or to work on something we were struggling with. Our coaches came in early and stayed late. We faced each challenge and adversity head on, together as the “Beautiful” team we are.

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Receiving Free Program Scores at the 2018 French Cup

The ending result of the season may not be what we wanted, but reflecting back on each challenge we overcame, I cannot deny our success. We never gave up. We never turned on one another; instead we turned to one another. We accepted those things that were out of our control and moved forward. We accepted mistakes as a normal part of the process. We did not let our obstacles define us, instead we let our determination define us.

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Awards ceremony at the 2018 French Cup

As synchronized skaters, we are so lucky to each be apart of a team, in the truest sense of the word. I promise you that matter what obstacle you face, no matter the mountain you feel you simply cannot conquer, you, and your team, are unstoppable.

-Rachel

 

Junior Worlds…here we come!

Written By: 2018 U.S. Dream Program and Skyliners Junior Team Member, Kylie Saloma

This past month has been very busy for us. After coming off of a great Nationals in Portland and capturing the Junior title, it was back to work at home in New York. With only two weeks between the end of Nationals and the beginning of the Junior World Championships, it was important for my team and I to stay focused and use our practice time efficiently.

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We were fortunate as a team to have the opportunity to work with international skating judge, Gale Tanger following Nationals. She gave us feedback on our programs and provided us with motivation going into Junior Worlds.

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Our practices have remained challenging because our coaches, Josh Babb and Pam May, believe in us and want us to show the audience our full potential. Along with doing run throughs of both our short and long programs, we have also been spending time breaking down sections of the programs to focus on specific details.

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This is a very exciting point in our season. My team and I are so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to represent the United States as Team USA 1 this coming week in Zagreb, Croatia. We can’t wait to show the audience what we are capable of as a team and represent our country well. GO USA!!

-Kylie

For an inside look at the 2018 Junior World Synchronized Skating Championships, follow us on Instagram at @usdreamsynchro

Being An Alternate

Written By: 2017-18 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Crystallettes Team Member, Emily Fitzgerald 

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DonAe and I at the Eiffel Tower this year before competing at the 2018 French Cup
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Our entire team at Worlds after Holly and Shannon told us who would be competing.
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DonAe came off the ice and immediately hugged me after we competed our short program at the 2017 French Cup. I had injured my hamstring and could not get dressed to take the ice.

Honestly, I have never thought much of anything about the “alternate” title, until I was an alternate.

At any time last season there were at least 17 skaters that could execute both of our programs, including lifts, in almost any position. And as we all know, only 16 skaters are able to compete. As we finalized our preparation for the 2017 Cup of Berlin, I was suddenly thrown into a position I never thought I would be in. Shannon walked up to me during an ice make and told me I would be competing for a spot in the top sixteen.

On the Crystallettes, we refer to those competing as “the top sixteen”. However Shannon and Holly are very clear, those that compete may not be the best technical skaters… the 16 skaters who compete will be the best combination of skaters possible. Synchro, in my opinion, is the one true team sport, one skater can not shine enough for 16. Holly and Shannon never hesitate to do what is best for the team.

For those of you who do not know DonAe Poe, she is a senior veteran since 2010, an International Champion, and a three-time World Team member; not only is she a great technical skater, she is a phenomenal performer. Not to mention, she is one of my absolute best friends.

The love and respect we have for each other goes far beyond skating, but I was well aware that this would not be an easy fight. And honestly competing with her for a spot pushed me far and beyond what I thought I was capable of. (There are still days when I think “okay what would DonAe do… get deeper, use your eyes more, be bigger”)

I began to realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in “the top sixteen”; if I wasn’t competing, what was I doing? This is an extremely unhealthy mindset, and if you find yourself relating to it, please call me. Who you are is so much more than how many starting poses you have struck in competition. Skating is an undeniable passion we all have, but you have to be someone without it; you cannot rely on it to validate yourself. You must be happy completely independent of it, which I discovered, for me, was way easier said than done.

Our top sixteen continuously evolved throughout our season last year, there were people in new spots, and new alternates, almost every competition. Being apart of a team that was so deeply talented and passionate was extremely humbling.

The experience of being an alternate completely changed my mindset. Not only did it push me to becoming a better skater and teammate, it showed me what I needed to do to become a better person.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an alternate. Whether you are standing on the ice waiting for the music to start, or standing by the boards, you are an equal member of your team. Never stop pushing yourself, use everything as fuel to become the best person.

-Emily

What Does It Take to Be a Part of Team USA?

Written By 2017-18 DREAM Program and Miami University Senior Varsity Synchronized Skating Team Member, Lindsey Maynard

Every athlete in the sport of synchronized skating dreams of representing our country and becoming a member of Team USA. There is no better feeling than knowing you represent something so much bigger than yourself; especially representing a country as incredible as the United States. Being a member of Team USA has been the biggest honor of my life and I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunities it has given me.

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So what does it take to be a part of Team USA?

Commitment.

To be committed is key to success in the sport of synchronized skating. To me, this means doing everything you can be to be the best version of yourself. It means sacrificing other things, things that maybe a normal kid your age gets to do, to be better at your sport. It means putting your team first. To be 100% dedicated to your teammates is so important as a member of Team USA.

Driven.

A member of Team USA has the drive to push past their comfort zone. A driven person finds the motivation within themselves to push even harder at the end of a tough practice or a double run through of the program. A driven person does what it is necessary to reach their goals. I truly believe that having this drive is what sets a part an excellent athlete from the ordinary.

Resilient.

We get up. No matter how many times we fall or fail, we get up. When it feels like you just can’t skate any longer, you keep going anyways. When your legs are burning, and you don’t know if you can finish that last element of the freeskate, you remember why you started. To me, being resilient means fighting for everything. It means fighting to keep your line up in the no hold. It’s fighting to stretch your leg even higher on that spiral. It’s fighting to keep your teammate above your head in the group lift. It’s giving a full performance even if its 6:00 AM and the stands are empty. Being resilient is what makes us synchronized skaters; it’s what makes us our best selves.

Passionate.

You must love what you do. I believe the love for the sport is what carries Team USA athletes through the ups and the downs. This doesn’t mean you have to love every second of training; there are times when I question why we do what we do as synchronized skaters. But when you hit your ending pose after an incredible skate, you remember that everything is worth it. When you are surrounded by your teammates and feel as though you have found your 19 best friends, you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be. To be a part of Team USA, you must love the sport and your teammates through every failure, every setback, and every hardship. A great athlete’s purpose is the love of their sport. This passion is what drives Team USA athletes to be better every single day.

Resourceful.

A successful athlete capitalizes on the opportunities they’re given. As Team USA athletes at Miami University, it is so important that we take advantage of our resources. Meaning, we go to our athletic trainer if our spread eagle isn’t where it needs to be to work on hip flexibility. We see a sports psychologist to up our mental toughness. It means we spend an extra hour with a student-athlete tutor to ensure we make up for what we missed when we traveled. Having the ability to ask for help from coaches, teammates, trainers, etc. is critical to success as a Team USA athlete. Using the resources provided is how elite athletes can overcome adversity. Team USA athletes are never afraid to ask for help!

Undoubtedly, there are countless other attributes that Team USA athletes possess; but I believe these characteristics are at the core of any elite athlete. Representing Team USA has exceeded all my expectations and means more to me than I could ever put into words. The opportunities I’ve had as a Team USA athlete have shaped me into who I am today.

To any skater that someday wants to be a part of Team USA, dream big and never give up. Chase after your dreams and don’t stop until you get there. Hard work and dedication always pay off in the end.

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“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” -Tom Hanks

Best of luck to every team at the 2018 National Championships this upcoming week! Love each and every moment! Don’t be afraid to stop by and say hi to all the DREAM skaters.

Keep Dreamin’

Lindsey Maynard

 

Embrace the Experience

Written By: 2017-18 U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Program and Crystallettes Team Member, Emily Fitzgerald 

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I would never be able to live this dream if it was not for my unbelievably supportive parents.
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My sister and I after she won the Intermediate National Championship Title with DC Edge
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Skating our 2015 long program alongside my best friend and DREAM alumni Katilyn Peterson
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My team (Crystallettes Senior) after we were officially named to the 2017 World Team

I come from a very, very small organization in Frederick, MD that, until I was a senior in high school, did not have any Nationally-qualifying teams. In 2014, our inaugural Novice team did not make the cut for Nationals, which resulted in me actually competing internationally as a member of Team USA before I had ever touched National ice.

As a first-year senior skater, I kept hearing about “Nationals week”, having absolutely no relatable antidote or even a basic conceptual idea of what that week was like.

Everyone knows that Nationals is all about the peak; how you finally get to sit back and enjoy the moment you have worked so hard to create. Plus, you get to watch hundreds of other skaters experience their peak. The week we have all been talking about and working for since we started training, is finally here.

The moment we took the ice to compete our short program (Dare by Shakira, still a favorite to this day) I was struck with the overwhelming realization of where I was and what I had accomplished.

Competing is what drives all of us, the adrenaline rush is almost euphoric. But, for me, the rush I get at Nationals is almost in a class of its own. There is something about being on that ice, that gives me a newfound energy, performing takes on a new meaning. It takes me back to the days when this was all just a dream, and allows me to fully appreciate everything I have been through.

If this is your first Nationals, or your third, or your fifteenth, I beg you to enjoy every minute of it. Celebrate all of your hard work, the failures and the successes that have brought you here. Bask in the cheers that erupt all around you, soak in the adrenaline that pumps through your body; do not take any of it for granted. I promise you there is a skater somewhere dreaming of the day they get to be there.

-Emily