Team Unity and Infusion won the first competition in Australia
Team Unity won the competition in the Senior ISU category. / Credits: Steve Aird
As the first NSW competition of the season, the Sydney Synchronised Festival is an important event that helps teams gauge their developing programs against competition prior to the State and National Championships. It took place over the weekend of the 15th and 16th of September at Penrith Ice Palace in Sydney. While a majority of the participating teams are based in NSW, there were a number of interstate teams present, most notably Adelaide Ice Magic from South Australia and Infusion from Western Australia.
The first Short Program of the competition was skated next by the Junior division. Southern Sky took to the ice first, transitioning from their innovative opening choreographic sequence into a smooth pivoting block complete with a double three-turn. A few minor errors and falls in the twizzle and no-hold elements held the team back, but the skaters pushed through to the end of the program and finished strongly, ending in third place.
Infusion was next to skate, with their finely tuned opening choreography strengthening the program right from the beginning. They attempted a pivoting block with a series of three turns (rocker, bracket, three-turn) which is very difficult, and completed it without a single fall. Their whip intersection was smooth and quick, with all skaters intersecting at the same time to make for a very clean element. All this earned them a gold small medal for the Short Program.
MajesticIce was the final junior team to skate, performing their program to the bright and energetic music of Hollywood Wiz. From the first beat of the music, the team had a commanding presence on the ice, flying across the ice with beautiful leg extensions and presentation. The pivoting block smoothly transitioned the pivot point from one side to the other as the team made their way across the ice, leading straight into a difficult waltz-jump entry into the twizzle series. MajesticIce left the crowd cheering with an immaculate pyramid configuration for the ending pose of a very strong program. Some minor errors of timing in the no hold ultimately resulted in a second-place finish in the short program for the reigning national junior champions.
Long-time rival teams: Revolution and Dominoes, faced off next in the Adult division (formerly Adult Basic). Dominoes pulled ahead with a higher technical score and a crowd-pleasing creative element, highlighting an impressive backspin from the team’s coach and skater. Revolution had a very creative and interpretive opening choreographic sequence that fit well with a very creepy soundtrack but were unfortunately held back by a lower technical score and a fall in the line, resulting in a point gap of 6.58 points.
In Advanced Adult (formerly Adult), however competition was limited as there was only one team participating. Revolution gave the audience a travelling wheel that fit spectacularly with the music, scoring an impressive 32.31 points. It is always great to watch skaters of all ages enjoying the sport that we all love.
The Senior Short Programs were up next, and easily attracted the loudest applause from the crowds. Team Unity, as the reigning national champions, greeted the audience first with their program to the recent hit song Call Out My Name by The Weeknd. They proved that youth doesn’t affect a team’s ability to perform, as the team is only in its second year of competition, having formed at the start of 2017. The music choice was evocative and powerful, complimented excellently by strong extensions and quality skating skills. The irregular waltz timing of the piece seemed of little consequence to the team as their synchronicity in the no-hold was exquisite, outdone only by the intense emotional portrayals and interpretation on the skaters’ faces. This stunning program gave Team Unity a comfortable 7.82 point lead over the second team, securing their small gold medal.
Ice Storm from Queensland skated next, portraying Dami Im’s sensational Eurovision song Sound of Silence. They showed remarkable flow across the ice and attempted a difficult extended-leg twizzle, which unfortunately resulted in a minor fall. Their dresses were lovely, but the interpretation of them to the music was not so obvious, however, they made up for this with their choreography.
The second day of competition featured the Junior and Senior Free Programs.
Based on the placements from the previous day, Southern Sky Junior skated first. Their lively ‘Wings’ program by artist Little Mix ran into some hurdles early on with two falls in the first element: an angled intersection, which unfortunately cause complications in the Upright Extension 135 pivots of the pair element as well. However, the team refused to give up and delivered a strong finish, despite one more fall towards the end of the program. They presented a very strong artistic wheel, complete with the first Group Spin of the season! Unfortunately, Southern Sky couldn’t quite overcome the point difference from the short program and finished with a bronze medal around their necks.
MajesticIce skated next and started out their Greatest Showman program very strong, with intense facial expressions and long leg extensions, however suffered a fall in the opening artistic line element. They rallied back together for the death spirals, which were exquisite and saw almost every pair come up synchronised and on one foot, ready for the transition into a travelling wheel. The twizzle element was strong and in clear lines, demonstrating the team’s significant control and skating skills. Four beautiful pair spins in the centre of the ice aided the transition into the creative intersection of two lines intersecting through a rotating circle, which was executed flawlessly. An unfortunately timed fall in the approach to the angled intersection created technical issues with the element but the team managed to still get through their correct holes and stay on their feet. A quick vault followed by a well-timed unsustained split-lift were greeted with loud applause by the crowd and the final synchronised split jumps in the artistic block rounded out a rollercoaster of a program. Unfortunately, the technical errors were to numerous to close the point gap and MajesticIce were awarded the overall silver medal.
In the Junior division, Infusion skated last and had beautiful choreography that matched excellently with their James Bond music, showcasing their extraordinary dual vaults. Their strong skating skills and technical advantage ultimately secured their lead and ensured they received the overall gold medal.
The tension was palpable as the Seniors took the ice, each team wanting to win more than the other. Ice Storm skated first and delivered a very different interpretation of The Greatest Showman than the junior team, showcasing their technical prowess to the crowds. Their final creative element was stunning, with Ice Dance rotating lifts and group lifts which proved a strong way to end a free program. Team Unity’s Free Skate had a very contrasting mood, with dark and dramatic music derived from the soundtrack of Romeo and Juliet. However, after an impressive artistic wheel and group lift, the music shifted to a modern rock beat that highlighted the wide emotional spectrum of expression Team Unity could portray. This led into perfectly synchronised death spirals that unfortunately was diminished by the fall of one pair. The music changed two more times throughout the program, before culminating in a dramatic and highly interpretive final creative lift and exquisite choreography to finish the program. Despite some minor falls, Team Unity maintained their lead and won the overall gold medal.