With Skate Canada’s Winterfest (4 to 6 January) out of the way, the Finnish results known in December, and Sweden and the USA’s qualifiers decided on 11 and 12 January, it’s perhaps time to look at what has been happening to overall scores in junior domestic competitions since last season.
Winterfest is important because it decides which Canadian junior teams head off to the world championships in Helsinki: this year it is Nexxice and Les Supremes. Nexxice scored 133.64, up from 114.01 last year making a rise of 19.63, and Les Supremes 127.32, up from 118.82 last year for a rise of 8.5 (www.skatecanada-centralontario.com, archive: winterfest2013_juniors). If they follow last year’s trend, scores will no doubt improve further by the time of the Skate Canada synchronized skating competition in February.
In Finland, December’s results saw top teams Fintastic achieve 160.18, a rise of 11.58 from 148.60 in the 2011-12 season, and Musketeers score 157.83, up 17.06 from 140.77.
These results may ultimately be low compared with what will be achieved internationally. Finnish team Fire Blades, consistently 11th in Finland’s junior synchro hierarchy for three seasons, scored 91.47 (up 3.4): the team went on to score 105.64 at the Mozart Cup this month. The subdued Finnish domestic results, compared with scores achieved internationally by the teams, may be because the judging benchmark in Finland, with 14 junior teams competing, is just tougher than in countries with only two, three or four teams. Fintastic and Musketeers are already announced as Finland’s entries for the worlds.
As another example of what is possible, the number 13 team in the Finnish competitions, Chrystal Dreams, this season scored 83.18 in December: at the Neuchâtel Trophy a month later, it won the juniors event with a score of 105.92, some 22.74 higher than its domestic result. UK teams will therefore be all too aware that a 20 or so point gap for, say, a qualification target can be closed and overtaken with a month or more of practice.
Sweden’s second round of qualifying competitions took place at the Vättern Cup 2013 (12-13 January), and it’s interesting to see that results from the top Swedish junior teams also show an upward trend (results: http://www.skatesweden.wehost.se). Team Convivium scored 156.72 at the Vätterncup, up from 135.28 at the Kungsbackatrophy, which took place at the equivalent time of year (14-15 January 2012). Team Spirit scored 138.02, as against 124.49 for the same events. Sweden appears to cycle its events, so they may take place at different times of the year – the Vätterncup was in March in 2012. It’s important to compare domestic events at the same time in the season because teams can improve so much during a season: choosing an equivalent time of year in theory catches a team at the same stage in its development.
The fly in the statistical ointment is the results (www.icenetwork.com) achieved on 11 and 12 January for the US teams. The junior world team selection event saw Lexettes and Skyliners chosen as US representatives at the junior worlds, with Braemar missing out in third. Lexettes scored 146.04, down from 151.29 in 2012; Skyliners scored 143.39, down from 162.44 in 2012; and Braemar scored 135.35, down from 161.24 in 2012.
However, with Skyliners scoring 139.97 at the 2012 JWCC and Braemar scoring 145.08, last season’s US qualification results looked decidedly over-optimistic, and a dose of realism may have hit the domestic decider this season. A number of teams have set high scores in previous years’ domestic competitions and championships, only to come away from the junior world event with a more realistic expectation of their scores.
The trend therefore still appears to be generally upward among some of the top junior teams qualifying for the worlds, confirming that the required elements this year are contributing to higher scores.
The 2013 Junior World Synchronized Skating Championships is in Helsinki, Finland, on 7 to 9 March 2013. Official website: www.jsynchroworlds2013.com Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/152884378191785/