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Spread the 'Newsies!' Crystallettes win juveniles

Skyliners ride 'Beauty and the Beast' into second; Spooky Mini Mates take bronze

The Crystallettes topped the juvenile field, thanks to their decade-in-the-making rendition of the Disney musical <i>Newsies</i>.
The Crystallettes topped the juvenile field, thanks to their decade-in-the-making rendition of the Disney musical Newsies. (Jay Adeff)

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By Josh Ellis, special to icenetwork.com
(02/28/2013) - Seize the day.

The Crystallettes did just that as they were crowned the first U.S. champions of the 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships on Thursday in Plymouth, Mich. Six of the nine judges thought the team representing the Dearborn FSC had the best skate in the juvenile event, one of two being judged by the 6.0 judging system this week.

Among the lyrics booming from the speakers at Compuware Arena in the team's Newsies program were "seize the day," words that rang true for the newly crowned champions

"They skated awesome," coach Stacy Holland said. "They skated with their hearts and did the best they could. It was amazing."

Dressed in blue and white, the Crystallettes juvenile team skated a superb program to the 1992 Disney hit musical, and the music selection was a decade in the making.

"The Newsies is something I have wanted to do for 10 years," Holland said. "I always thought for this team I should go with something cute and pink, but finally I just went with my gut, chose it this year, and it paid off."

Skating to music from a film that hit the screens more than 20 years ago, it was important for the members of the Crystallettes to understand what they were skating to, and a viewing party did just that.

"It was a lot of fun to be together as a team," third-year skater Paige Spitznagel said of the viewing party they had. "It made the music more real to see who we were playing."

In second place were the Skyliners, and they were the Belles of the ball. Buoyed by the sight of a team mom dressed in a full Mrs. Potts outfit in the stands, the yellow-dressed Skyliners skated beautifully to a selection of music from another Disney hit, Beauty and the Beast. The second-place finish represents their second straight silver medal at this level.

"For us, this was the best skate of the season for most all of our elements, so we're really excited," coach Natalie Martello said. "They did a beautiful job, and I'm very proud of them."

Martello felt that playing a character, Belle, would go a long way toward helping the skaters portray the music on the ice.

"Watching the movie so many times, it helped give me an idea of the expressions I should be using throughout the program," said Athena Tejada, a fifth-year skater. "It was amazing, since Beauty and the Beast is one of my personal favorites."

An opportunity 13 years in the making, the Mini Mates of the Hayden Recreation Center finished in third. In 2000, coach Kendra Flanagan skated to her first gold medal as a member of the Mini Mates; in the same city to host these championships, 13 years later, she coached her team onto the podium.

"This year has been really special, and the girls have worked really hard so they could come and see where I won my first national championship," Flanagan said. "They did a really good job today, and I was very happy with their skate."

Skating a Frankenstein-themed program, second-year skater Emily Stankard enjoyed performing to something a little bit different.

"You wouldn't ever think to skate to Halloween-themed music; it was creative," Stankard said. "I thought we skated really well."

In fourth place, earning the pewter medal, were the defending champions, Chicago Jazz.