Ice Network

Skyliners grab massive junior lead in Portland

Teams Elite picks up intermediate title; Mini Mates take juvenile crown
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Seeking their second junior title in as many years, the Skyliners jumped out to a sizable lead Thursday night in Portland, and with a score of 71.10 points, the Skating Club of New York representatives own the top spot. -Jay Adeff

The first day of competition at the 2018 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships saw the Skyliners take a double-digit lead into the junior free skate, while Teams Elite and Mini Mates picked up intermediate and juvenile titles, respectively.

Junior short program

The Skyliners (SC of New York) delivered a flawless performance during the junior short program to glide into first place Thursday night in Portland, Oregon, providing themselves with more than a 10-point lead in the process.

"I was really happy with the way they skated tonight," said coach Josh Babb, after his team registered 71.10 points in the segment. "National championships is always a big deal, so I wanted them to go out and have a solid skate, and I feel like they did that tonight."

The highlights of the Skyliners' performance included a Level 4 wheel traveling element, block pivoting element and no hold element.

"We've been working a lot on the interpretation," Babb added. "I am looking forward to seeing how that projects to the judging panel."

The Lexettes hold second place with a score of 60.86, with the Starlights (57.23 points) and Chicago Jazz (52.29) rounding out the top four.

Intermediate free skate

Skating a boxing-themed program with inventive choreography, Teams Elite skated their way to the intermediate crown. The independent member captured the title with an outstanding score of 69.75, surpassing the field by nearly 10 points.

"They have been preparing so hard," coach Danielle Ostrower said. "You earn your medals at home and pick them up at competition. If you've prepared, then we're proud."

Skating a flawless program that included Level 4 circle and line elements, their hard work paid off, and their high-energy theme and expressive facials helped bring the performance home.

"All of our practices, blood, sweat and tears all came together," team member Talia Bendov said. "We all have the best time, which really shows on our faces and our movements."

Skating to the theme from The Addams Family, the Skyliners picked up the silver medal as their program components score of 31.34 helped produce a final tally of 60.28. Their Level 3 intersection and Level 4 line also aided in the New York-based squad separating from the Capital Ice Chips, who won bronze with 58.71 points.

Team Del Sol placed a close fourth with a score of 58.43.

Juvenile free skate

In the juvenile division, the Mini Mates took home the gold with their creative Beetlejuice program. The Hayden Recreation Centre FSC affiliates were able to edge out the defending U.S. champion Skyliners by 0.18 points.

"I was so proud of them, it's been a long season of perfecting our elements," said coach Kendra Meller, whose team earned the Special Achievement Award earlier this season at the Eastern Synchronized Skating Sectionals. "I was happy we were able to have this level of a performance here at nationals."

The Mini Mates scored a season's-best 48.25 points, with only eight returning skaters from last year's silver medal-winning team still on the roster.

"It's been a lot of learning for so many of our girls who are new to this world and the world of IJS is new to them," Meller said.

Slotting second to take silver were the Skyliners, who earned 48.07 points for their Hello Dolly! program.

"We always make sure technically we are on point, while also giving a good performance," coach Natalie Martello said shortly after the performance.

Taking the bronze medal with 44.14 points was Teams Elite, while the Starlights finished fourth with a mark of 42.13.