Crystallettes win first-ever novice gold

Returning champs the Ice Mates come second

The Crystallettes won the top honors in the novice division on Saturday.
The Crystallettes won the top honors in the novice division on Saturday. (Paul Harvath)


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By Becca Staed, special to
(03/07/2009) - The Crystallettes ousted returning champions the Ice Mates with an impressive routine, but Saturday night's novice win was past due, making it extra special.

Other than the organization's back-to-back gold medal sweeps by the adult team over the past two years -- including this year -- the last time the Crystallettes coach Holly Teets saw gold was in 1992, when the junior team won.

"It's the first time I have had two gold medals at nationals," Teets said. "I am so excited I can't even describe it. "We have gotten plenty of silver, and I am not saying we don't win when we win silver, but for these guys to win is revitalization and hope."

Skating second to last, the Crystallettes posted a season's best 75.79 competition mark with an elegiac piece to music from the movies Haunted Mansion and Van Helsing. The team displayed an excellent Level 4 circle that earned the most points with 6.49. Both blocks were Level 4s, for which they earned 12.40 points combined. And their 25.24 program component score was very strong, though just .09 more than silver medalists the Ice Mates.

"We tried to think about the music and what the spirits from the movie were feeling and what type of spirits they were," Teets said.

The only thing on the mind of the Ice Mates coach, Saga Krantz, was reclaiming gold. But she knew it would be hard, mainly due to the team's large turnover leading into this season. The team's 73.08 final score just missed the mark.

"They are a very young team compared to the other novice teams," she said. "There was a lot of pressure in my mind to win again, but we are competing against very good novice teams this year - more than last year."

Still, the team had fun playing the part of its League of Their Own-themed free skate, for which they donned red and white baseball uniforms like in the movie and bonded over a variety of baseball-related activities this season.

"We went cage batting, visited baseball museums, watched the movie together, and made baseball cookies in the shape of jerseys and caps -- all kinds of things," Krantz explained. "It's been very exciting for them."

They received Level 4s for their circles, as well as their wheel and block. Yet, Krantz commended their presentation and energy the most, for which they earned a 25.15 program component score.

"I am so proud of them because they are so young, and they were so fearless at the same time," she said. "Their skating quality was very good today."

Team Braemar collected the bronze -- the organization's second at this event after its junior win -- earning 72.78 points for its French maid-themed free skate. They also placed third at Midwestern Sectionals this season, but improved their score here by more than five points.

"I did double run-throughs and tried to be consistent with them all season," said coach Pam May. "The more consistent I can be, the more consistent they can skate."

May said her teams are "just gellin'" this year, and team bonding has been a big focus especially at the novice level, which has gained a lot of new skaters - including ones who never skated synchro until this year. After last year's seventh-place finish, she was just looking to improve. Though medaling is always a bonus, she said.

"Novice is an age where the team is still building and bonding. We didn't expect a medal here at all. You are always hoping for a medal, but getting one is the biggest delight."

The team earned the most points for its traveling wheel, which received a Level 4 from the judges.

"It is very hard to keep a wheel moving in a three prong and keep their lines and correct positions," said May. "But they are extremely good at doing that. It's been a fabulous element for us."

Fourth place went to the Starlights, the 2007 champion, which brought in 64.24 points total.