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Teams gear up for synchro championships

Event takes place Feb. 20 - 23 in Providence, R.I.

Haydenettes
Haydenettes (Paul Harvath)

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(02/19/2008) - The 2008 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships will take place Feb. 20-23 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. The Colonial Figure Skating Club of West Acton, Mass., with support from Warwick Figure Skaters, will host this year's event.

Competition begins Thursday, Feb. 21 with the junior short program at 4:25 p.m., followed by the senior short program at 7:15 p.m. The event will conclude Saturday, Feb. 23 with the junior and senior free skates.

Icenetwork.com, U.S. Figure Skating and MLB Advanced Media's partnership, will provide live and on-demand video coverage of the event for "Season Pass" subscribers. The site will also feature near-live results, event recaps, practice video and photo galleries for subscribers and nonsubscribers. Video coverage on Thursday will be available on-demand only. Live broadcasts begin Friday, with streaming video starting at 10:30 a.m. and going until 7:35 p.m. (ET). Saturday's live coverage will go from 11:00 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (ET). In addition to online coverage, CN8 [The Comcast Network], will broadcast each day of the event over three consecutive Saturdays next month: March 1, 8 and 15 at 9:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., respectively.

The event, sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating, features 92 teams and nearly 1,800 skaters competing in eight divisions: juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior, senior, collegiate, adult and masters. Teams qualified for the event through placements at their respective sectional championships or through a bye due to international competition. The top two senior-level finishers will qualify for the World Synchronized Skating Championships, March 28-30 in Budapest, Hungary.

This year's top contenders in the senior division include 2007 U.S. silver medalists Miami University, which also claimed the silver at the 2007 World Championships, the U.S.'s first medal of any kind at the event. The Haydenettes, who took fourth at last year's World Championships, will try to retain the gold medal they won at this event a year ago. Also battling for the top spot are the reigning three-time U.S. bronze medalists, the Crystallettes.

In the junior division, the favorites are last year's U.S. bronze medalists, Chicago Jazz, and second-place finishers, the Colonials. Both teams have already clinched a berth at the World Challenge Cup for Juniors, a result of their one-two finish last month at the World Junior Qualifying Competition. They will have an eye out for Team Braemar, which came in third at last year's U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships.

Tickets for the 2008 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships are now on sale and may be purchased at Ticketmaster, or at the arena box office the days of the event. Individual event tickets are $23.50 for Thursday and Friday's events, and $25 for Saturday's events. All-event passes are available for $60. (Discounted tickets are available for elders, children under 6 and active military personnel).