Ice Network

Skyliners, Lexettes set to represent United States

Teams will compete for U.S. at World Junior Synchronized Championships
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After delivering solid performances, the Skyliners and Lexettes have been selected to compete at the 2017 ISU World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships. -Courtesy of Skyliners and Lexettes

The 2017 World Junior Synchronized Team Selection Competition was held in Simsbury, Connecticut, this past weekend, with the Skyliners and Lexettes selected to represent the United States at the 2017 ISU World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships.

Despite a fall in the no hold element of their hip-hop gangster short program, the Skyliners rebounded to display their strongest free skate to date. With a lead of just 0.20 points following the segment, Skyliners head coach Josh Babb knew his team had the ability to win this event for the first time since 2011.

"I'm extremely pleased the team has continued to achieve their goals this season," Babb said. "They have been training all year to achieve Team USA 1 and to have a chance to compete at the world junior championships."

The Skyliners rose to the challenge, earning a season-high 113.77 points in their free skate to win the event by nearly 23 points. Their The Last of the Mohicans free skate was nearly flawless, earning the highest technical calls for all of their elements, as well as +2 and +3s for GOEs (Grades of Execution). Their components were also superior, ranging from 8.11 for skating skills to 8.64 for both performance and composition. They finished the evening with 176.33 points overall.

Though a team from the United States has not won a world junior medal since Team Braemar won the bronze in 2011, Babb was confident his squad will be up for the challenge.

"We will be working hard for the national championships in Rockford and will continue to push our performances to the next level to achieve our ultimate goal."

The Lexettes finished the short program in second place, just .20 off the pace set by the Skyliners. The team skated a strong classical short program to "Crystallize" by Lindsey Stirling, which was highlighted by a Level 4 pivot block, circle and no hold element, as well as all positive GOEs. They finished the segment with 62.36 points.

The Massachusetts-based team stepped onto the ice for the free skate hoping to repeat the experience they recently enjoyed at the Mozart Cup in Salzburg, Austria, where they earned top honor in the junior event. The team, instead, experienced various difficulties and received deductions for five falls in four different elements. They managed to record the second highest base value for this segment, and their Titanic free skate was enough to earn third place. They finished this segment with 86.45 points, earning them 148.81 points overall.

"We are extremely humbled and grateful to compete at junior worlds," Lexettes member Cameron Feeley said. "Today was not our best skate, but we are thankful that U.S. Figure Skating has taken into consideration our past performances throughout the competition season. We are ready to get back to practice to work on our programs for nationals and junior worlds."

In her second year as head coach for the Lexettes, Maikki Merilehto is already looking toward making the necessary improvements for her team.

"For the next few weeks, up until nationals, we really want to keep working on building consistency within the programs, as well as bringing our interpretation to another level. After this weekend, we will take a look at both performances; technical aspects as well as execution, and see what things we can do differently or better. We want to really make sure the technical side is solid."

Chicago Jazz, the 2016 U.S. junior champions, were third entering the free skate after registering 56.65 points in the short program. Despite a strong and clean program to The Godfather, which was highlighted by strong intersections as well as a solid wheel and pair element, the team fell short of selection for the world junior championships. 

The Starlights, representing the Skokie Valley Skating Club, took fourth in both phases of the competition and secured a fourth-place finish for the second year in a row.

After competing at the U.S. Synchronized Championships at the end of the month in Rockford, Illinois, the Skyliners and the Lexettes will head to Mississauga, Canada, for the ISU World Junior Synchronized Skating Championships, which will be held March 10-11.

The teams will look to improve on their fourth place (Skyliners) and seventh place (Lexettes) finishes from last season.