In four straight lines, 16 women stand arm in arm on the ice. The music starts, and in one fluid motion, everyone begins to skate. The team moves across the ice creating shapes, formations and weaving in between one another. For five minutes, 16 women move as one. This is synchronized ice skating.
Synchronized ice skating, originally known as precision skating, is a team sport of 16 skaters moving at high speeds as a single flowing unit. Teams spend months perfecting a short program and a long program for competition.
“Four days a week, we practice as a team from 4:30 a.m. to 6:15 a.m.,” says Lydia Wang ’16. “The other days, we skate individually; but right after practice, I go straight to school.”
For the last six skating seasons, Wang has balanced her rigorous training schedule with school and work. She’s currently majoring in accounting and finance at Mihaylo College, where she also serves as vice president of the Business Inter-Club Council, which meets Tuesdays and Thursdays to discuss student projects and upcoming events.
“As the VP of finance, I am in charge of $50,000, so it’s a lot of responsibility keeping track of all the spending and making sure every cent is accounted for,” says Wang. “It’s a lot of paperwork.”
Despite her academic and extracurricular commitments at school, Wang continues to dedicate the time necessary to compete in her chosen sport; she has been figure skating for more than 14 years.
“I started skating singles when I was little. Six years ago, my mom turned me to synchronized skating. She said because of my competitive nature I needed to be in a team sport,” jokes Wang.
Although it has been around since the 1950s, synchronized ice skating has gained most of its popularity over the last 15 years. In 2000, the International Skating Union held its first World Synchronized Skating Championship.
While this sport has yet to earn its place at the Olympics, teams from all over the world compete in tournaments.
Last season, Wang and her team, the ICE’Kateers, placed in the top five at the United States National Championships. This gave the team the opportunity to travel to Gotenborg, Sweden, to represent the United States and compete for the Leon Lurje Trophy.
The team spent four days in Sweden practicing and competing. The ICE’Kateers finished sixth in the competition.
“We were very happy with our performances and proud to represent the United States at the competition,” says Wang.
Currently the team is preparing for this year’s United States National Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo., where participants compete to be ranked among the top six teams in the nation and represent the United States in international competitions.
While balancing skating and school, Wang wants to find a way to blend the two after college.
“I’ll always love skating, and I know I will want to be involved in the sport somehow – maybe through my career in accounting and finance or even coaching,” says Wang.
But for now, Wang’s sights are set on grades and winning gold at nationals.