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Esprit de Corps skates like stars in adult triumph

Crystallettes bat into second place; Defending champ DC EDGE takes third

Esprit de Corps improved on their silver-medal finish last year to win gold.
Esprit de Corps improved on their silver-medal finish last year to win gold. (Jay Adeff)

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By Renee Felton, special to icenetwork.com
(03/02/2013) - They haven't taken Hollywood by storm. Yet. But they definitely took Plymouth, Mich., by storm as Esprit de Corps won the adult title at the 2013 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships.

Skating to selections from the musical drama Smash, the skaters, several former Haydenettes among them, played the part of "stars going for the big role in Hollywood," according to team member Christine Costa.

"It went really well today," she continued. "We were calm but still performed our flair well."

In return, the 2012 silver medalists clinched the title with a score of 67.23 points.

Throughout the season, the team worked hard to improve the second mark, adjusting choreography and developing the story.

"We have added a lot in terms of our program components," Costa said. "The technical has been there. It's obviously improved, but it's really been about bumping out the performance."

Indeed, their technical mark, at 29.56 points, was the best of the competition, and they added 37.67 points on the second mark.

"We wanted to improve all around this season, so it was good that we did that," concluded Elise Larsson, a former member of the club's senior team.

Good game, Crystallettes! The silver medalists accomplished their goals and had fun doing it to music from the classic film, A League of the Own.

"It felt great. We wanted to peak at nationals, and we did that. It was our best performance of the year," team member Denise Dobert said. "We have a hard-working team. All of us work together, and we are all really good friends."

The team credits its coaches with delivering a fun and quirky program to showcase this season.

"We wanted something fun; we wanted to make people smile," Dobert said. "We wanted to finish and have the crowd say, 'That was so fun.' It felt fun."

The program was certainly fun and extremely expressive as it earned the highest program components of the competition. More than 39 of the 66.01 total points came on the second mark.

As for their goals? The Crystallettes wanted to improve on their fourth-place showing at this event last year.

"This team has been really united this year," coach Stacy Holland explained. "They had one goal, and that was to improve on nationals from last year. They worked their butts off. They did an awesome job, and we are very proud of them."

DC EDGE, with 63.16 points, won the bronze medal for its second podium finish in as many years. The 2012 champions also presented a fun and historical theme, skating to music from the silent film era.

The nature of the program forced the skaters to be truly expressive.

"One of our big focuses was being able to tell the story using faces and movement since the music has no words," coach Jenny DeSimone said. "Their actions needed to convey the story of the program."

As returning champs, DC EDGE wasn't so much focused on a placement outcome but more on having fun with the program.

"The goal was to focus on program and have fun with it," DeSimone said. "We enjoyed skating last year's program, and they always felt that when they got off the ice. This year, that was our priority. I wanted them to enjoy this and relate with the audience and the judges."

Like many skaters this week, Libby Rhoads noted the feeling of camaraderie between skaters and the energy of the crowd at Compuware Arena.

"This arena has such tight seating to the ice that it was nice to be able to connect with the audience and the judges a lot and to sell the program," she said. "It's inspiring to be at nationals and see everyone skating at such a high caliber. We are honored to be part of that group and to be skating here."

Western Michigan University won the pewter medal.