Rockettes earn first world synchro championship
Finnish champs propel to win with superb free skate
(03/29/2008) - One year ago, the Rockettes were sitting
at home while two other teams competed at the 2007 World
Synchronized Skating Championships on behalf of Finland.
This year, they are sitting on top of the world. The team
pulled ahead of Team Surprise to win its first world
championship, garnering 137.93 points in the free skate
for a gold medal-winning overall total of 210.48 at the
2008 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships.
"The feeling is just overwhelming," said team captain
Taija Romppznen. "It is hard to believe, and it doesn't
quite feel real yet. Four weeks ago, when we won the
Finnish national championship, I thought I was living a
dream, and this is so much bigger.
"Last year, it was such a disappointment when we didn't
qualify for worlds, but we got to work. We worked really
hard, and we believed in ourselves, and now we're
standing here with a gold medal. I am so proud of our
team for bouncing back and for this accomplishment."
The team chose to skate to a *** theme, with music
from the *** soundtrack, mixed with Pink Floyd. The
team performed as well as it could, showcasing its
signature unison, flow, extension and high-quality
skating. It also excelled in the technical elements,
earning level 4s for all five step sequences in the
"The whole program felt good," said Romppznen.
"Everything was done well, but tonight I felt like the
circle was the best element."
The technical panel agreed with Romppznen that that
element was a highlight of the program, earning a level 4
for the step sequence and a +2 Grade of Execution (GOE)
from nearly every judge.
The title was the highlight of an incredibly successful
year for coach Kaisa Nieminen. Nieminen, who has been
with this club for eleven years, is also the coach of
Team Fintastic, which won a decisive victory at the
junior level at the World Challenge Cup for Juniors three
"I have a great club to work with in all levels," said
Nieminen, "I have great skaters at the novice, junior and
senior level, and I love that I can work with all of them
for many years. What the senior team's 'little sisters'
did at junior worlds a few weeks ago really inspired
them, and that helped them here. There is definitely a
synergy between all of the teams."
Team Surprise was not quite as thrilled with its
placement. After last night's victory in the short
program, its members seemed almost certain that they
would walk away with their second straight title.
The team skated a relatively strong program to a mix of
Bonnie Tyler music, finishing with "Holding out for a
Hero," which really matched their aggressive, strong and
exciting skating style that seemed to build throughout
the program. The team received positive GOE's for every
element in the program.
However, several technical errors and element deductions,
including a level 4 step sequence in their block being
downgraded all the way to level 1, earned them a
technical elements score of just 62.20, only the
fifth-highest of the evening. But their program
components score of 68.79 held them solidly in second
"Yes, of course, we are disappointed," said team captain
Magdalena Sivertsson. "But we felt really happy with our
performance and with the audience reaction. We just
didn't get all the levels we were going for. But we
really enjoyed being here, and we love skating, and we
love our team. We are happy together, and we struggle
together. Being around each other makes the sport."
Coach Andrea Dohany was obviously disappointed with her
team's result. "We lost so many levels; it just can't be
correct. I haven't watched the video yet to review it,
but I cannot see how it is correct."
While the silver medalists were dealing with their
disappointment, the bronze medalists were thrilled with
how the results turned out. Despite finishing fourth in
both the short program and the free skate, Nexxice of
Canada earned enough points to take home their second
consecutive bronze medal.
"We are just really thrilled to be in third place," said
the team's captain. "All you can control in a competition
is your own performance, and we did it as best we could.
We tried hard to work within the rules, and we relied on
developing our skating skills within the rules, and it
worked for us."
She continued, "It is just a great feeling to have this
experience with your teammates. It is what every little
skater dreams about."
It turned out to be a good night for Team USA as well.
While the Haydenettes didn't win that coveted world
medal, they came very close and got a small taste of it.
After a sixth-place finish in the short program, they
needed a really great skate to pull up. They did just
that, and with the exception of one fall in the line, the
team pulled out everything they had and achieved a
perfect base mark in the technical elements score --
58.50. With their sheet of positive GOE's added in, they
earned a total technical score of 69.43, the
second-highest of the evening.
The team finished third in the free skate, but it wasn't
enough for the podium, and they would settle for fifth
overall. Still, it was a victory, and the "small medal"
that they earned was enough to show they are on the right
path, that they will be a force to be reckoned with.
"The free skate was very nice," said coach Saga Krantz.
"They had nice flow, and even with the fall, it was
everything I would like it to be. I loved the slow
section. We have worked really *** the line and the
beautiful moves-in-the-field section. They did that part
really well, as well as the circle."
"For us, winning the 'small medal' in the free skate was
really big! It was a small achievement, but it is just a
step to something bigger, and it was something real and
tangible for us."
Miami University did not fare as well, and their
technical element score suffered. The Redhawks received
downgrades on six elements, including four of their five
step sequences. They finished in ninth place overall.