Buses… Buses… and more buses. That’s the scene outside the Prospera Centre and around town in Chilliwack, BC, population hovering around 70,000. With all the buses around this agricultural driven city, one would think the Spice Girls were holding their final reunion performance. But look closely at these buses and you will realize Posh, Scary, Ginger, Baby or Sporty are nowhere to be found. These buses are filled with athletic women. They are singing, chanting, having a blast and their enthusiastic energy is infectious, similar to Spice Girl fans.
There are 1,287 skaters on sixty-nine teams at the 2008 BMO Skate Canada Synchronized Figure Skating Championships competing in Chillwack this weekend. From Coast to Coast, 930 skaters have traveled to Chilliwack to compete in the Festival division and 357 skaters will compete in the Competitive division.
This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships. The top competitive teams from across Canada are competing for national titles in the senior, junior, novice and adult categories. The top two senior teams will represent Canada at the 2008 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Budapest, Hungary, at the end of March.
The Festival SynchroSkate Program gives skaters the opportunity to compete at a national level competition. Festival teams will compete in the Festival Open, Festival Novice, Festival Junior and Festival Adult categories.
The event kicks off later this evening the Festival Novice, Adult and Junior Free skate programs. On Friday, the event continues with additional skates from the Festival Novice, Adult and Junior teams followed by the Junior and Senior Competitive short programs. On Saturday, the Festival Open short program kicks off the day followed by Competitive Novice, Adult, Junior and Senior Free programs. The competition wraps up on Sunday with the Festival Open Free Skate program followed by the Novice and Adult Competitive Free skates.
If you have never seen a Synchronized Skating Competition before, hop on the Trans Canada Hwy and head to the farmlands of Chilliwack, BC and check out this great event. From watching a few early practices, you can tell these teams are the best in the country. They have military style training, but on skates every move, every hold, every formation, is crisp, clean, sharp, controlled and in sync. But somehow, these teams have maintained the beauty, elegance and grace of figure skating. When these teams are skating, you quickly forget there is no Jeff Buttle or Joannie Rochette vying for a national title and landing triple jumps. The number of skaters and the accuracy of their synchronization will wow you. When watching the skaters, you realize the importance of unison because one slipup can have a major domino effect. Prior to taking to the ice, each team erupts in song or chant and from the moment you see them, you realize skating is a team sport regardless what hockey and football fans think.
The event practices officially kicked off this morning and it is clear these skaters have passion and spirit and truly represent skating in Canada.
Tickets are still available for the Championships. Day passes are $10 for Adults and Children 12 and under are only $3. Seating is general admission. Tickets available on line at www.ticketmaster.ca, by phone 1-800-663-9311 or in person at the Canlan Ice Sports Prospera Centre Box Office located at 45323 Hodgins Road.
Watch for more coverage by Skate Today. Photos will be available at www.skatecanada.ca and www.skatetoday.com during the event.