BY RENATA KHUZINA
On Saturday Jan. 14, synchronized junior figure skating team Nexxice upset the current World Champions Les Suprêmes, taking their place as Team Canada 1 heading to represent the country at the ISU Junior World Synchronized Skating Championships.
Mississauga welcomed more than 100 teams from across Canada and the U.S. to the annual three-day Winterfest competition and the Junior World Synchronized Skating Championship Trials Jan. 13-15.
Thousands of spectators attended the event at the Hershey Centre. On Friday and Saturday evening, three of the best Canadian junior teams competed for two spots at the World Championship event, which will also take place at the Hershey Centre from March 10-11.
On Saturday evening, the arena was tense. The level of difficulty and the skill of the teams blew the audience away. It’s not just one or two skaters, but 16 skaters doing such difficult elements together. Canadian team Nexxice, representing Burlington, finished the competition with 164.05 points after performing to the Mary Poppins soundtrack. They left the crowd on their feet. Nexxice Junior had taken the lead by 4.24 points, earning a trip to the Junior Worlds as Team Canada 1.
Québec’s junior team, Les Suprêmes, from Saint Leonardo, won the short program but placed second with 159.81 points overall. Les Pirouettes, from Laval, Québec, performed with an Egyptian theme program and earned 91.02 points in the free and 141.75 overall to take bronze.
“Being together as one, working as a team, feeling our edges, feeling the people around and really just being in the moment in your bubble together as one. That’s our big thing, to be as one big family out there,” said Nexxice’s team captain Aly Giro.
They typically start their tryouts in April and train throughout the summer. The training becomes really intense in September, as they do about 12 hours a week on the ice and five hours a week of off-ice training as well.
“We are always putting in a 100 per cent of our effort and making a very big change every time we come to practice,” said Gyro. “Our team just feels like a family. You come to practice, see everyone and you just so happy to be there. It’s so passionate and so much fun to be around everyone.”
When you are a single skater, you’re all by yourself and don’t have anyone to depend on. Whereas when you are on a team, there is a lot more to step up to in terms of not letting other people down and everybody just aims to do their best.
“Our short program is very interactive with the audience. We skate to a to a mix of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and J. Cole’s “I’m Coming Home”. We really wanted to involve the audience to make them feel like they can enjoy, clap along with our program. It really expresses the personality of every member of our team,” said Gyro. “In our free program we have a lot of variety to show different emotions and layers of it as well.”
They’ve been practicing their programs since September and the girls came on for warm-up oozing with confidence and grace.
“When the music picked up from the classic Mary Poppins score, that confidence spread to the audience and everyone joined in cheering for them until the final note saw them in their ending positions,” said former Nexxice senior skater and 2015 synchronized figure skating World Champion Becky Tyler. “They had a flawless skate and it was rewarded with an even more meaningful victory.”
“It’s hard to describe what I feel at this exact moment but I know this gold medal is well-deserved because we’ve worked almost every day for the last months to get to this position,” said a member of the Nexxice Isabella Del Villar. “I feel like we just had the skate of our lives.”
They will be Team Canada 1 for the upcoming World Championships. Everyone in the audience was jumping up and down and roaring with excitement.
“I remember the experience myself of going into a hometown World Championship as the top Canadian team, and it makes me so happy to think they will get to feel all those wonderful emotions as well,” said Tyler.
Nexxice will get to show their programs again next weekend at Mozart Cup in Austria on Jan. 19-22.