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updated: 3/21/2012 9:15 AM

Northwest suburban skaters bring home the gold

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  • The Chicago Jazz juvenile team performs the "Mary Poppins" program that won them another national championship.

      The Chicago Jazz juvenile team performs the "Mary Poppins" program that won them another national championship.
    Courtesy of Debbie Angulo

  • The Chicago Jazz juvenile team poses with their medals.

      The Chicago Jazz juvenile team poses with their medals.
    Courtesy of Debbie Angulo

  • Video: Watch the performance

 
By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent

For the seventh time in the last 10 years, the Juvenile Team from the Chicago Jazz Synchronized Skating Club has won a national championship.

The squad of 21 girls from throughout the Northwest suburbs, who train in Rolling Meadows and Park Ridge, won their title earlier this month at the U.S. Figure Skating Synchronized Skating Championships in Worcester, Mass.

"Everyone has loved this routine throughout the entire season," said Coach Kristi Frank of Mount Prospect. "It was familiar to the audience; they sang along and tapped their feet. And the girls loved it."

Their three-minute routine featured clips from the beloved classic, "Mary Poppins," and the girls wore her "Jolly Holiday" white lacy dress with its bright red sash.

The routine opened their with a series of formations, filled with jumps and spins, to "Spoonful of Sugar," before the team displayed some of their fast-paced footwork to "Step in Time."

They ended with, what else, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!"

The audience got into the act, with parents waving umbrellas from the stands, and one girl's brother, dressed as a chimney sweep, came out and dusted off the ice for them. Fans held up a banner, that read: "Supercalifragilistic!"

"The emphasis in synchronized skating is on speed and unison," said Frank, who coaches the team with Tammy Cervone of Rolling Meadows, "but the entertainment factor, at this age level, is even bigger."

Girls on the team are 10-12 and mostly are in fifth and sixth grade, but their training is as serious as any aspiring figure skater.

They practice two to three times a week, with both off ice training and agility exercises, as well as on-ice rehearsals and a ballet class. Team members also are responsible to train on their own in freestyle skating and ice dancing.

With the amount of practicing and traveling -- they qualified for nationals in January in Plymouth, Mich. -- these young skaters sometimes have to sacrifice other activities, but apparently they wouldn't have it any other way.

Across the country, synchronized skating is the fastest growing segment of figure skating, with an estimated 10,000 athletes participating. A total of 525 teams are registered with the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

Synchronized skating is under consideration as a potential Olympic sport, but in the meantime, training at the local levels continues.

Chicago Jazz coaches are conducting a free, new skater clinic on Wednesday, March 21, at the West Meadows Ice Arena in Rolling Meadows. They invite skaters 11 and younger to come from 5-6 p.m., with skaters 12 and older invited 6-7:40 p.m. Team auditions begin in April.

Fans of the sport can see the Juvenile Team perform their national championship routine at area ice shows. On April 21, they will perform in the show at the Oakton Ice Arena in Park Ridge, and on May 4, 5 and 6 they will be one of the featured acts in the Rolling Meadows Ice Arena Show.

After that, they earn some well deserved time off, before starting training for next year's competitive season, in July. For more information, visit chicagojazz.org.

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