Synchronized skating
Synchronized skating or synchronised skating, a large and fast-growing discipline, consists of 8—20 (the number of skaters on a team often depends on the level) athletes skating
Ice skating
Ice skating is moving on ice by using ice skates. It can be done for a variety of reasons, including leisure, traveling, and various sports. Ice skating occurs both on specially prepared indoor and outdoor tracks, as well as on naturally occurring bodies of frozen water, such as lakes and...

 on ice at one time moving as one flowing unit at high speeds This discipline of figure skating
Figure skating
Figure skating is an Olympic sport in which individuals, pairs, or groups perform spins, jumps, footwork and other intricate and challenging moves on ice skates. Figure skaters compete at various levels from beginner up to the Olympic level , and at local, national, and international competitions...

 was originally called precision skating in North America because of the emphasis on maintaining precise formations and timing of the group.


For a synchronized team to flow in unison, individual skaters must be competent at a variety of skating skills, including speed, footwork and ice presence. The team performs a program set to music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

, with required formations including circles, lines, blocks, wheels, and intersections. The teams are required to perform step sequences involving a number of various turns such as twizzle
A twizzle is a multirotational one-foot turn in figure skating. The twizzle is most commonly seen in ice dancing, where it appears in a number of compulsory dances and is a required element of step sequences in the short dance, original dance and free dance...

s, counters and rockers and simpler turns like three-turns, mohawks and choctaws
Choctaw turn
A choctaw step is a step in figure skating that involves both a change of foot and a change of edge and lobe. Choctaws are the two-foot equivalents of rockers and counters, in the same way that mohawk turns are the two-foot equivalents of three turns and brackets. A common misconception is that a...

. In Junior and Senior divisions, teams are required to perform two different routines: a short program and a free skating
Free skating
The free skating competition of figure skating, sometimes called the "free skate" or "long program", is usually the second of two phases in major figure skating competitions in single skating and pair skating. It is the longer of the two programs, the other one being the Short Program...

 program. Generally, the short program is more technical in nature, where the free skating is longer and provides an opportunity to showcase expression, emotion and interpretation. Teams in the senior division are also permitted to perform lifts in the free skating program including pair lifts where the lifted skater may not be lifted overhead, as well as group lifts consisting of three or more skaters which can be extended overhead to full arm height in a variety of positions.

A synchronized routine may consist of straight line sequences, wheels, blocks, circle step sequences, or also moves in isolation. Moves in isolation are when one or more skaters separates from the rest of the group and performs freestyle type moves. For example, three skaters may separate and go into sit spins, while the rest of the team is in a circle formation. The three skaters will then join the group again and carry on with the routine. Junior and Senior programs also include moves in the fields where the whole team does moves such as spirals, spread eagles or ina bauers connected.

Required Elements:

-No Hold Block: The no hold block has the same qualities as a regular block. The only difference is that the skaters are not connected in a no hold block.

-Spins: Every skater must spin in unison. Each spin rotate at the same time and have the same number of revolutions. The spin can be performed in a circle, block, or line.

-Pairs Element: This is a free skating move where one skater holds on to another. Different types of pairs element include spins, lifts, and pivots such as death spirals.

-Wheel: For a wheel every skater must rotate around a common center point. There are many different formations that teams an form including a two to five spoke or a parallel wheel. Each spoke (line) of the wheel should be straight and the skaters should be leaning into the center of the wheel. The difficulty of the wheel can be increased by adding footwork, changing the rotational direction of the wheel, or traveling.

-Block: This is an element where the skaters are lined up in at least three parallel lines. Five lines is the maximum a block can have. The block should travel over the entire ice surface. The lines should be straight and evenly spaced. To increase the difficulty of the block teams can add step sequences, pivot the block, or change the configuration.

-Circle: There are many different ways to complete this element. Teams can have one circle, multiple circles, a circle within a circle, or disconnected circle. The circle should be evenly spaced between the skaters and should form a round shape. To increase the difficulty of a circle a team can include step sequences, traveling, and changes of rotational direction.

-Intersection: An intersection is when the skaters skate towards each other in lines and intersect. The intersection can be two lines but can have three or four lines. At the point of intersection skaters could do turns or free skating movements to increase the difficulty. The entry to the intersection can be made more difficult by intersecting from an angle or from a whip.

-Line: There are many different types of lines. Lines can be two parallel lines, one straight line, or a diagonal line. To increase the difficulty the team may pivot the line, change configuration, or incorporate retrogression into the line.

-Movement in Isolation: In this element some of the skaters are isolated from the rest of the team while performing free skating elements such as spins, spirals, lifts, or jumps. The free skating elements must be performed by a minimum of three skaters and a maximum of less than half of the team.

-Moves in the Field: This element is a sequence of movements that must include free skating moves such as spirals, spread eagles, Ina Bauers, and other flowing moves with strong edges, connected with linking steps. It must include at least three different free skating moves.


There are international synchronized skating competitions at the novice, junior, and senior levels (with senior being the most elite). The International Skating Union
International Skating Union
The International Skating Union is the international governing body for competitive ice skating disciplines, including figure skating, synchronized skating, speed skating, and short track speed skating. It was founded in Scheveningen, Netherlands in 1892, making it one of the oldest international...

 held the first official World Synchronized Skating Championships
World Synchronized Skating Championships
The World Synchronized Skating Championships are the world championships for the sport of synchronized skating. Held since 2000, the World Synchronized Skating Championships is an annual event organized by the International Skating Union and attracts the most elite synchronized skating teams from...

 in 2000 in Minneapolis, MN, USA, in which the strongest senior teams from across the globe gather to determine which is the world's best. Although in 1996 the first "World Challenge Cup" was held in Boston, MA, USA, it was unofficially the first competition to crown the world champion of synchronized skating (Team Surprise of Sweden). The top junior teams from around the world compete against one another in the World Challenge Cup for Juniors (WCCJ), held in a different location every year. Recently the top novice teams in the world have had an opportunity to compete against one another with the Leon Lurje Trophy which was held for the first time in the 2006-2007 season.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, there are several other recognized age and skill levels. In the US, the divisions include Beginner, Pre-Juvenile, Preliminary, Open Juvenile, Open Collegiate, and Open Adult (the non-qualifying divisions/ the divisions that cannot go to nationals) and Juvenile, Intermediate, Novice, Junior, Senior, Collegiate, Adult, and Masters (qualifying levels).

ISI (Ice Skating Institute) is another division that focuses on a more recreational form of competition. Teams can compete in the Tot, Youth, Jr. Youth, Teen, or Adult divisions as either synchro or formation teams, formation being the easier of the two since skaters are not allowed to pick up their feet while going backwards.

While most skaters participating in "synchro" are female, the rules allow mixed-gender teams.


The first synchronized skating team was formed by Dr. Richard Porter, who became known as the 'father of synchronized skating'. The 'Hockettes' skated out of Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. The 2010 census places the population at 113,934, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan. The Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 344,791 as of 2010...

 and entertained spectators during the intermissions of the University of Michigan Men’s Hockey Team. In the early days, precision skating (as it was then called) resembled a drill team
Drill team
A drill team can be one of four different entities:# A Military Drill Team is marching unit that performs routines based on military drill. Military drill teams perform either armed or unarmed....

 routine, or a precision dance company such as The Rockettes
The Rockettes
The Rockettes are a precision dance company performing out of the Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, New York City. During the Christmas season, the Rockettes have performed five shows a day, seven days a week, for 77 years...


During the 1970’s, the interest for this new sport spawned tremendous growth and development. As each season passed, more and more teams were developing more creative and innovative routines incorporating stronger basic skating skills, new maneuvers and more sophisticated transitions with greater speed, style and agility. Due to the enormous interest in the sport in North America, the first official international competition was held between Canadian and American teams in Michigan in March 1976. With the internationalization of the sport, it has evolved rapidly, with increasing emphasis on speed and skating skills, and "highlight" elements such as jumps, spirals, spins, and lifts that originally were not permitted in competition.

Present day

At the senior level, the top positions at the World Championships
World Synchronized Skating Championships
The World Synchronized Skating Championships are the world championships for the sport of synchronized skating. Held since 2000, the World Synchronized Skating Championships is an annual event organized by the International Skating Union and attracts the most elite synchronized skating teams from...

 have been overwhelmingly dominated by Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 — as of 2000, the Swedish Team Surprise
Team Surprise
Team Surprise is a synchronized skating team from Sweden. Established in 1985, they are five-time World Champions and medaled every year from 2000 to 2009.-Competitive highlights:- External links :*...

 has won the competition five times (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007) placing in the top three every year except 2010 and 2011, the Finnish Marigold IceUnity
Marigold IceUnity
Marigold IceUnity is a synchronized skating team from Finland. They are three-time World Champions.Their coaches are Anu Oksanen and Katariina Rundberg.-Competitive highlights:-External links:*...

 three times (2002, 2004, 2006), the Finnish Rockettes three times (2008, 2010, 2011) and the Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

NEXXICE is a synchronized skating team from Canada. They are the 2007-2011 Canadian national champions, the 2009 World champions and 2007-2008 World bronze medalists. Domestically, they represent the Burlington Skating Centre...

 once in 2009. Other top teams include the United States' Haydenettes
The Haydenettes are a Synchronized skating team that won the bronze medal at the 2010 and 2011 World Synchronized Skating Championships. Formed in 1979 by Lynn Benson, the Haydenettes are the most successful synchronized skating team in U.S. history, with 19 U.S...

Miami University
Miami University Synchronized Skating Team
The Miami University Synchronized Skating Team is a senior-level synchronized skating team from the United States. Their homeclub is Miami University. They are the 1999, 2006 and 2009 U.S. national champions. They became the first American team to medal at the World Synchronized Skating...

, the Finnish Team Unique
Team Unique
Team Unique is a synchronized skating team from Finland, established in 1993 and competing at the senior level since 1996. They are one-time silver medalists in the World Synchronized Skating Championships....

, and Canadian teams black ice and Les Suprêmes.

Although not currently an Olympic sport, fans and participants of this fast-growing discipline have begun to strive for recognition by the rest of the skating and athletic world. In 2007 synchronized skating took one step closer to Olympic
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 contention when it was selected to be part of the Universiade
The Universiade is an International multi-sport event, organized for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation . The name is a combination of the words "University" and "olympiad"...

 or World University Games as a demonstration sport. Countries from around the world competed in Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 with Sweden, Finland, and Russia coming out on top.

Synchronized skating has been covered by Skating magazine since the sport's inception. It is a varsity sport at several colleges such as Miami University
Miami University
Miami University is a coeducational public research university located in Oxford, Ohio, United States. Founded in 1809, it is the 10th oldest public university in the United States and the second oldest university in Ohio, founded four years after Ohio University. In its 2012 edition, U.S...

 (and many more are developing club-level collegiate teams without varsity status such as the team at UMass Amherst), and has already been reviewed for Olympic eligibility. Miami University has been a trailblazer in collegiate synchronized skating, fielding the first completely funded varsity synchronized skating program in the United States, as well as their coach Vicki Korn working towards gaining "synchro" NCAA status in the United States.


The competitive levels of synchronized skating, like those in other disciplines of figure skating, are now judged using the ISU Judging System
ISU Judging System
The ISU Judging System , is the scoring system on the event and on the level of competition. At the senior international level, single and pairs short programs contain eight technical elements. The actual eight elements are detailed for single skaters in ISU rule 310...

that was introduced in 2004. Each element is assigned a difficulty level by the technical panel made-up of a technical specialist, assistant technical specialist and a technical controller. Each level of difficulty for a particular element corresponds to a pre-determined base value. The base value is the amount of points that are awarded for an executed element before the grade of execution or any deductions are applied. The base value for every element can be found on the ISU website under ISU Communication 1532, Appendix D. Judges assign a grade of execution from -3 to +3 to each of the elements. Each grade of execution, or GOE, corresponds to a point value. For each element, the highest and lowest GOE values are dropped and the rest are averaged then added to the base value. The sum of all the scores of the elements comprises the Technical Elements score.

A series of five categories comprises the Program Components score. The Program Component score includes the following categories: skating skills, transitions, performance/execution, choreography, and interpretation. Each judge gives a mark for each component. Then a trimmed mean is calculated by dropping the highest and lowest score. The remaining scores are then averaged. The panel’s points for each program component are multiplied by the factors: .8 for the short program, 1.6 for the junior, senior and collegiate free skate and 1.0 for intermediate, novice and adult. The factored results are rounded to two decimal places and added. The sum is the Program Components Score.

The Technical Elements and Program Components scores are then added to form the total segment score. The team with the highest total segment wins the competition. For junior and senior teams that have two programs, the scores of both programs are added together. The added scores that are the highest are the winners.

In the event of a tie, the team with the highest free program score will win the competition.

In the United States, the introductory levels of Preliminary, Pre-Juvenile, Open Juvenile, Open Junior, Open Collegiate, and Open Adult are still judged under the 6.0 judging system. These levels can compete at the regional level but cannot qualify for the national championships.

External links

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