What could be more exciting than watching a pair of skaters in close proximity dazzling us with dramatic, creative and high-risk programs like we see in ice dance and pairs events?
Try 16 skaters doing the same thing. That's what we saw from each of the 21 teams competing at this year's ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Gothenberg, Sweden, where the goal for Canada was to return to the top of the podium for the first time since 2009.
Since the creation of the synchro worlds in 2000, only four countries (including Canada) have won medals. In fact, Canada 1, the six-time national champion team also known as Nexxice, is the only non-Scandinavian team to have won the world title. The sport is dominated by Swedish and Finnish teams who, between them, have taken the title the other 11 times.
At the end of the day, Team Surprise from Sweden took their sixth world title. Nexxice earned a silver medal, adding to the gold and two bronzes from their other trips to worlds. By a miniscule margin of .03 points, the American team called the Haydenettes held on for their third consecutive world bronze.
This competition was not by any means a walk in the park. In the final tally, there were only 2.62 points between first and fifth place, and an even smaller 0.53 between third and fifth. In other words, there was little room for error.
Take, for instance, Team Paradise from Russia. After a glorious short program where they took the lead, they had a disastrous fall in their free program, which meant the difference between a medal and a fifth-place finish.
Synchro insiders have been saying that the Russians are outstanding technically and often have great success with their short programs. These same insiders have also said that if Russia were to ever show the same quality of choreography with their free programs, the rest of the world had better watch out.
The reverse placement problem could be said for the two-time and defending world champions from Finland, the Rockettes. The team did not skate to their full potential in the short, leaving them to try and climb out of sixth place. With the skate of the night, they won the free program but were only able to climb to fourth place, just behind the Haydenettes.
Both Nexxice and the other Canadian team, Les Supremes, are experienced and solid contenders in the world of synchronized skating. As is the case in the other disciplines of figure skating, slow and steady can win the race (or in this case, the silver medal).
Nexxice sat in third after the short program and had to do enough to stay ahead of the competition for a medal. We have seen it all before, where wonderful results from the short program can sneak up and bite a competitor in the free, as was the case with Team Paradise. Nexxice stayed the course and skated a solid enough free program. What counts in skating are the total points, so despite a fourth-place free program, Nexxice had enough points to take the silver.
Les Supremes finished in seventh place in both the short and free program results and overall.
In advance of the competition, Andrea Dohany, the coach of Team Surprise, was clear about wanting to re-claim the world title not only for Sweden but for Team Surprise. Although Finland has won six titles, with three each for the Rockettes and Marigold Ice Unity, it is Sweden's Team Surprise alone who has won the five titles for Sweden, making them the most successful synchronized skating team.
The now six-time world champions had not been on the podium since 2009, when they won bronze. Team Surprise's path to the top of the podium in Gothenberg included a second-place in the short, a third in the free and enough combined points to give them the edge and a gold medal.
The last time Sweden and Team Surprise had won the world title was in 2007, so winning it again in front of their hometown crowd in Gothenberg was especially sweet.Pj Kwong will be chatting live with fans during CBC's broadcast of the 2012 World Synchronized Figure Skating Championships on Saturday, April 21 at 2 p.m. ET. Click here to access the live chat page, where you can also stream the show.
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