Wight Jewels’ competitive season on the continent starts in earnest today with the official practice for the Leon Lurje Trophy in Gothenburg (26-27 January).
The Jewels face the almost impossible task of closing a gap of about 20 points on Nottingham Icicles in order to qualify as NISA’s entry for the junior world championships in Helsinki in March. To do that they need to score about 115 points either here in Sweden or next week in Rouen, France – a score that no British junior team has attained either this season or last. And with marks at European internationals usually lower than those set at the British Championships, it really is an uphill task.
The Jewels, however, have been polishing their long programme, which had only been put together in detail three weeks before the British in November. And pointers from top synchronized skating coach Andrea Dohany – coach of senior champions Team Surprise – have been invaluable in pushing the skaters beyond what they could achieve with the limited facilities and backing available to them back home. A two-thirds size ice rink is a severe hindrance to anyone’s potential.
Confidence is high because the Jewels are at a familiar rink, the Frolundaborg arena, where they have competed before at two junior world challenge cups. And the team is staying at the familiar Slottsskogens hostel, their base for the last JWCC, just 25 minutes’ bracing walk from the arena – temperatures were -14C when the Jewels arrived.
The team out in Gothenburg is the barest minimum, with one skater only flying out late last night, but at least there is a team. The Jewels travel to Rouen next week at full strength.
On the ice this mornings the Jewels looked polished and faster than at the British. And hopefully they have the falls out of their system ready for the competition.
Other teams competing at junior level are Festa Aboensia of Finland, Convivium and Teams Spirit, Rhapsody and Moonlights of Sweden, and Synchroettes from the USA.
The senior competition will also see world number ones Team Surprise in action – must see, inspirational viewing for any fan of synchronized skating. Judging from today’s official practice Team Surprise will not only steal your heart but take your breath away into the bargain.
The event is being streamed live with access costing SEK50 for two days.