Junior Synchro Worlds, Helsinki, 2013: free programme

Team GB, Nottingham Icicles, drew 7th to skate in the free programme at the World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships in Helsinki, following Cool Dreams of Switzerland and Black Diam’s of France in the second group onto the ice. The closest team ahead of Icicles, Kometa of Czech Republic, skated 8th.

With the Swiss just 1.47 points behind the 15th-placed Icicles, and the Icicles just 3.40 behind the Czech Republic’s Kometa and 4.61 behind Black Diam’s of France there was plenty to play for in the lower strata of the competition.

Icicles did what they have been doing regularly when it counts: skating clean. Scoring 61.21 in the free for 91.03 overall, they not only saw off the Swiss (53.75 in the free, 82.10 overall) but also in the free placed higher than France (60.34 in the free, 94.77 overall), though not by enough points to overtake them in total. Icicles held onto their position to finish 15th, as high as Wight Jewels managed at the previous world junior event, the 2012 JWCC. The Czech Republic surged ahead of France to take 13th, with 65.96 in the free and 99.18 overall.

There was excitement right at the top as Finland 2, Musketeers, overtook Finland 1 by just two hundredths of a point to take first place overall with 183.20 against Fintastic’s 183.00. Musketeers skated cleanly, but a fall cost Fintastic not just 1 point, but the title. Nothing has changed the Finnish domination of the junior event and the recurring playing of the lovely Maamme at the podium ceremony: perhaps we should all learn the words.

The real surprise was Russia 1, Spartak Junost, which repeated an astounding short performance, with a stunning long that scored 116.45, just 2.23 behind the 118.68 of Fintastic and 5.18 behind Musketeers. Russia 1’s overall score of 171.56 for third place was well clear of Canada 1 (Nexxice) in fourth on 149.84 and Canada 2 (Les Supremes) in fifth on 145.45. Canada 1, however, suffered a real car-crash moment with three falls in the block, resulting in a GoE of -3 from all judges and minimum points for the element: their woes were compounded by two further deductions that limited their potential to score higher.

Marks are up on last year’s world event. This year the top three spots were taken with overall scores of 183.20, 183.00 and 171.56; last year 171.67, 168.76 and 146.30 were enough. The upward trend in scores, place for place if not always team for team, was repeated for every place.

The British result is fantastic. Team GB, whoever has represented the country, have held onto 15th at a junior world event for two years. The challenge will be maintaining or building on it for a third year as squads change due to age and progression to further education.

The free programmes are available at http://www.youtube.com/user/skatingisu (click on the Browse Videos tab to get to the event videos).

Official site: http://www.stll.fi/2013-junior-synchro-worlds/

Event Facebook site: http://www.facebook.com/juniorsynchroworlds2013

Results: www.isuresults.com/results/syswjc2013/index.htm

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