IW synchronized skating teams Wight Jewels and Wight Crystals set off today for the British Figure Skating & Synchro Championships in Sheffield. Weather permitting that is, as forecasts of high winds may yet make the Solent crossing a challenge.
The teams head for Basingstoke tonight for midnight practice on a large ice pad, and head for Sheffield proper on Sunday, ready for the synchronized skating events on Monday 26 November.
Competition at junior level is bound to be intense, with the Jewels having the unenviable task of defending the title they have won four times in succession. At stake is not so much the title, but a key score used to determine which team will ultimately go on the represent Great Britain at the first proper ISU junior world championships in Helsinki in 2013.
This year sees Dumfries team Solway Stars enter the juniors event for the first time, as well as Nottingham Icicles. Icicles and the Jewels were very close in the 2011-12 season, and the battle is certain to continue: Icicles have already shown their colours internationally this season in Compiègne, but the Jewels’ programmes this year have been kept under wraps. In short, the current champions haven’t been giving anything away.
Such competition is good for this discipline: if British teams can inspire each other to get better and better, then eventually they may well make inroads into the established hierarchy of international synchronized skating teams. But with the next target team, Black Diam’s of France, still well clear of Nottingham at Compiègne, there is still a way to go. It has, after all, taken the Jewels three years to earn as high as 15th place at the Junior World Challenge Cup.
Wight Crystals are in an advanced novice group that includes Altrincham’s Twizzles, Dumfries’ Solway Eclipse, and Nottingham’s Shadows. Shadows were clear winners at Lee Valley in October with 38.15, with Eclipse second on 31.51 and Twizzles third on 24.22. Like the Jewels, the Crystals have yet to compete this season.
Online ticket sales: www.arenaticketshop.co.uk
NISA link: http://iceskating.org.uk/node/4059
Skate order and results: www.johnds.org/British_12_13/