Chicago Jazz entertain way to juvenile gold

Showbiz-themed program pays off

The Chicago Jazz juvenile team earned the gold at U.S. Synchro Championships.
The Chicago Jazz juvenile team earned the gold at U.S. Synchro Championships. (Paul Harvath )


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By Rebecca Staed, special to
(02/22/2008) - The Chicago Jazz juvenile team pulled out another unstoppable performance at the .

The 2008 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. Both their stylish, showbiz-themed program and their hot pink costumes commanded the arena's attention.

The 2008 Midwestern Sectional champs claimed their fifth gold in six consecutive nationals. With six overall first-place national finishes, the Ice Cubes are the only juvenile team to have more.

Head coach Kristi Frank attributes their steady success to teamwork.

"We all work together as an organization and show teamwork and try to show the skaters how to work together and show teamwork also," she said.

Though half the team is brand new to the juvenile level, having moved up from preliminaries, they immediately connected to the theme of the routine. According to Frank, that connection made it easier not only to accomplish their goals, but also to have fun while doing it.

"We knew the girls would love being movie stars and entertaining the crowd," Frank said. "Lately, the focus has been so much on the technical side of skating. We focused on that leading into the new judging system, but we also wanted to put out something that the audience would enjoy watching."

In its debut performance at championships, Evolution, a brand new team that combined Gems on Ice and Team Elan, beat out the rest of the field to take the silver medal. Their rhythmic program was set to a medley of "We Got the Beat," "The Beat Goes On" and "Turn the Beat Around."

"We are really proud of the way they have come together this year," said coach Jennifer DeSimone. "Their performance today was a great end to their season."

Coaches DeSimone and Sarah Feldt saw an opportunity to cash in on the division's 6.0 judging system, which allowed them to put together a more creative routine without sacrificing quality.

"We also try to push the difficulty a little bit and challenge the girls to show off some of their strengths," Feldt said. "We have a nice, strong team this year."

Another coach who clinched onto the creative custom of the old 6.0 system was the Colonials' Merita Mullen, who was back for round two today after watching both her junior and senior teams skate their short program Thursday night.

"They are our most consistently performing team," said Mullen, who coaches all the Colonials teams and Boston College. "This juvenile team has gone all out almost every single time this year. They skated beautifully."

They earned bronze with their performance, skated to a medley of Hannah Montana's "Nobody's Perfect," "Bad Day" and "Walking on Sunshine."

Miller said the skaters immediately responded to the good day/bad day theme of the routine.

Even at the tender ages of eight (the youngest of the team), and 12 (the oldest), "everyone has [bad days], and nobody's perfect," she said.

But it wasn't a bad day for the Colonials, a team which has consistently medaled at synchro championships since 1993.

"Our Colonial philosophy is not to think about expectations in terms of results because that is out of our control," Miller said. "You can't count on much but your own performance. So we start telling them when they are little, 'It's in your hands whether you feel successful or not.'

"Successful to us means successfully performing what you've learned. They are thrilled with how they skated, and they are smart enough to know that that is more valuable than a point system."