Why Not Synchro? The Quest for Olympic Recognition
Synchronized figure skaters perform together as a unit to a four and a half minute choreographed program to set music. I had the pleasure of meeting this weekend, The Esprit De Corps, a talented group of adult level female skaters who train out of Marlborough, Mass. They each represent a deep force of character yet skate in a unified and fluid formation akin to a symphony playing music on ice.
These spirited athletes are no longer skating in circles but rather,in a block formation towards one common goal – for Synchronized Skating to be recognized as an Olympic sport. This tenacious and talented team boast collectively 238 years of Synchronized Skating experience amongst them. They have won 10 U.S. National titles and 25 Eastern sectional titles. Yet, the one bit of hardware that is missing from their resumes is an Olympic medal.
Will their well orchestrated skates and achievements finally be recognized as an Olympic sport?
The sport of Synchronized Skating has been reviewed for its eligibility status yet the recognition is not yet there. There seems to be various spins as to why the skaters are not deemed competent for Olympic status. The sport on both the male and female side saw a tremendous uptick in growth yet the process of Olympic recognition did not begin until 1996. The sport once known as ” precision skating” has come to incorporate innovative maneuvers and streamlined transitions in a bid to incorporate stronger skating skills. In 2000, the first Worlds Synchronized Skating Championships were held and the sport has evolved rapidly ever since.
One of the leaders of this movement is Deirdre Driscoll , a woman with a low key confidence yet she possesses a gritty attitude inherent in an athlete. Her passion is palpable, and she spoke of the endless hours of training, off-ice conditioning and commute time. In addition to their skating, this group of well educated twenty- something athletes each have their respective careers off of the ice.
The team spoke of the lack of media coverage and the fact that skating events are broadcast post competition. Why the black eye?
The logistics of housing and the costs incurred during competition were pointed out as possible issues to why they have not received their well earned status under the Olympic rings. The sport once deemed a demonstration sport, has over twenty countries in the throes of international competition.
According to Bridgette Berg, “The United States currently has nine senior level teams with 525 U.S. skating teams in total that are currently registered at various levels. Internationally, there were thirty-three teams representing eighteen different countries at the 2014 World Championships.” Berg, formerly skated for the UMass Minuteman Synchro Team and strongly feels that the time is “ripe for change”.
The 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi had a team figure skating event yet there was no synchronized event. Their next moment of opportunity is for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“The time has come to add this incredible event to the pinnacle of the sport of figure skating,” is quoted in a petition that is found on change.org and is an outright appeal to the IOC.
A popular skating move in synchro skating is the wheel, which is when the ” team moves in lines around a center point similar to the spokes on a bicycle’s wheel. The Esprit De Corps skating team are the cog that has the ability to turn the wheel known as “the Olympic International Committee” to being a step closer to Olympic competition. The rotational direction of the wheel needs to change course. Change.org is one such venue which boasts an online petition for Olympic status to be attained.
“Why Not Synchro 2018” is a search engine designed to educate the masses and help achieve Olympic stature.
I am looking forward to watching the future United States Synchro skating team contend for a medal at the next Winter Olympics.
For more information: https://www.change.org/petitions/international-olympic-committee-make-synchronized-figure-skating-an-olympic-event