Skating on the edge of glory
March 17, 2016
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Unity is a key word in synchronized ice skating. Although similar to figure skating as far as judging and rules go, there can be as many as 20 skaters completing different footwork and choreography in unison. On the Chicago Jazz junior team, there are 18 skaters, three of which go to RMHS: seniors Hailey Contine and Bailey Styzinski and sophomore Emily Styzinski.
Chicago Jazz is a Chicagoland synchronized skating organization with teams for skaters of all ages and skill levels. The junior team is the highest level team. Many members have been skating with Chicago Jazz since they were toddlers.
“I really have grown up in the club,” Bailey Styzinski, who has been a member of Chicago Jazz for 13 years, said. “The coaches are like my parents, and all of the girls are like my sisters.”
Bailey Styzinski shares the ice with her real sister, Emily Styzinski, and no one else on the team can say the same.
“Skating with my sister every day is so amazing,” 11- year Chicago Jazz member, Emily Styzinski said. “We help each other on and off the ice and the support we give each other is insane.”
This year, Chicago Jazz competed at seven competitions, two of which were overseas in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and Milan, Italy. The team took first place at both.
“We were honored to take the gold at both competitions,” Styzinski said. “Every year we surprise ourselves with what we are capable [of] and by the end we realize our hard work and dedication has finally paid off.”
In addition to taking the gold at both of their overseas their short program and 100 points in their competitions, Chicago Jazz also came in first at Nationals. A major improvement from their fourth place finish in previous years.
“We were so beyond thrilled to have broken the streak with winning first place this year,” Emily Styzinski said.
At the junior level, teams compete in two programs: the short and the long program. The short program is around three minutes, while the long program is about four. Both routines are choreographed by the team’s two coaches and developed through three to five hour practices three times a week.
“Timing, speed, endurance and pure teamwork are key for a successful season,” 10-year Chicago Jazz member, Contine said.
Practices also involve off-the-ice conditioning and ballet. In addition to regular practice, most of the girls also skate on their own every day before and after school. The tedious practice hours put in by the team are necessary, as everyone has to be on the same page in order for the routines to be executed elegantly.
“The most challenging thing about synchronized skating is having to perform physically challenging elements while staying completely in synch with 15 other girls and looking pretty while doing so,” Bailey Styzinski said. “In almost every element there is serious risk to every athlete.”
For this season, the Chicago Jazz team’s motto was “One Goal,” but they actually had a couple of goals: to earn 60 points in their short program and 100 points in their long program. They surpassed both goals at Nationals, earning 64 points in their short program and 102 points in their long program.
“We wanted to show the world that the legacy of the [Chicago] Jazz is back,” Bailey Styzinski said. “We definitely did that.”