Less than two weeks before the Winter Olympics, one of the fastest growing disciplines of competitive figure skating will be on display in the Northwest suburbs: synchronized skating.
The 2014 Midwestern & Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships are being held Friday and Saturday at both the Sears Centre Arena and the Triphahn Community Center & Ice Arena in Hoffman Estates.
What: 2014 Midwestern & Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectionals.
When: 2 p.m. Friday through 10 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Sears Centre Arena in and Triphahn Community Center & Ice Arena, both in Hoffman Estates.
Cost: $30 single day ticket or $60 two-day pass; under 5 admitted free.
In all, approximately 2,700 skaters, representing more than 170 teams from the Midwest and Pacific Coast, will take the ice.
They range from preliminary teams, of 7- and 8-year olds, through novice, intermediate, junior and senior teams, as well as masters' teams and collegiate squads.
"The oldest skater is 71," says Patty Donato, treasurer of the Starlights.
The local teams represented will include the Chicago Jazz, whose teams practice in Rolling Meadows; the Dazzlers from the DuPage Skating Club, based in Downers Grove; and the Starlights, based in Buffalo Grove, which is hosting the event.
Non-qualifying events will be held at the Triphahn Center, while the qualifying rounds for junior and senior teams competing to advance to the U.S. Figure Skating Association's national championships, will take place at the Sears Centre.
Just as with the Olympics, these junior and senior level teams will compete with short programs beginning Friday afternoon, and come back with their free skate programs on Saturday. The top four teams from each division will punch their ticket to the national championships, which open Feb. 26 in Colorado Springs.
"This is what we've worked for all season," says Laura Kaplan, one of the Starlight coaches. "This is our chance to go to nationals."
Mike Nardella, president of the Chicago Jazz synchronized skating team, agreed, adding it is rare when his skaters don't have to travel to compete.
"Most of our competitions take us out of state," Nardella said. "This will be a chance for families and skating fans to see them not just perform, but compete when the stakes are at their highest."
Synchronized skating features teams of up to 20 skaters performing themed routines, lasting less than five minutes and set to music that ranges from Disney classics and Broadway tunes, to jazz, hip-hop and classical.
"Synchronized skating features the all the tight formations of a precision flying team," said Kristin Adamczyk, a coach with the Joliet-based Radiance on Ice adult team, "with all the grace and power of figure skating."
For a complete schedule of competitions at both ice arenas, visit 2014midpacsynchrosectionals.org/schedule.