by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
A team of synchronized figure skaters that includes three Elk River girls repeated as national champions this past weekend.
Emily Halvorson and Allison Hansen, both 17, and Alicen Whiting, 16, were among 16 skaters performing for Team Braemar as they won the U.S. Synchronized Skating National Championships in Plymouth, Michigan.
Team Braemer, based in Edina, also won nationals in 2009, 2010 and 2012, and placed second in 2011. The local trio, who grew up skating with the Elk River Figure Skating Club in shows and competitions, joined Team Braemar last fall. Whiting also remains a competitive singles skater with the local club.
Halvorson said she had never seen “synchro” before she and her two cohorts were asked to try out, but the girls eagerly embraced it once they made the team.
This is another way to skate, and a chance to do something new. I’m glad I found synchro,” said Halvorson, who earned double-gold status from the U.S. Figure Skating Federation in 2011. “Without it, I probably wouldn’t still be skating.”
It’s a graceful, flowing, colorful activity, with unity one of the key factors.
“My grandmother came to see us,” said Halvorson, “and she said we looked like a school of fish!”
Team Baemer led after the short program Thursday, skating to music from Bonnie and Clyde, and held the lead in the free skate, to the music of Cleopatra, on Friday. Finishing second and third were Skyliners of New York, and the Chicago Jazz.
“I feel they pulled from within and really gave it their all,” head coach Pam May told the Edina Patch newspaper. “They really came through when it counted and got it done.”
The local girls also skated with Team Braemer at the French Cup in Rouen, France, in early February, where they placed sixth.
Earlier, Team Braemer failed to qualify for a world meet in Finland, finishing behind the two teams they beat at nationals last weekend.
“At the world qualifier, we had three falls in the short program,” said Halvorson, “so, that kind of set us back. At nationals, we were clean in both programs. We were a lot more confident.”
Synchronized figure skating was recognized by International Skating Union in 1994 and has about 580 teams around the world, according to Team Braemar’s web site.