(Story reprinted courtesy of Megan Sauer, The College World staff writer)
Adrian College's senior synchronized skating team, in their third season as Team USA, was assigned to compete in two international events this year. The first stop on their world tour was in Salzburg, Austria, where they represented both Adrian College and the United States against 13 other teams from 10 different countries. After putting out two clean skates, they finished in a solid fourth place behind teams from Canada, Finland and the United States.
"As a team, I think we felt very calm and ready to make something happen," captain Lexi Schmitt, class of 2018, said of their short program. "We still have some things to improve on, but we have really grown as a team this season, so we were able to leave it all out on the ice. It was great to stand in our ending pose and feel genuinely proud of the skate we put out at our first international showing of the year."
The team of 20 left the Monday before the competition, which kicked off with their short program Friday evening. In their downtime, the girls had plenty of time to get acclimated with their surroundings, which included gorgeous views of Swiss Alps.
"The entire country is absolutely breathtaking," Megan Ewald, also a captain in the senior class, said of the team's change of scenery. "One of the best parts of the trip was practicing in a rink that gave us a clear view of the mountains." For Stephanie Arsenault, class of 2020, it was her first time representing Team USA abroad. She, amongst her teammates, recall the best part of the trip was hearing the entire arena chant "USA! USA! USA!" when they stepped out on the ice to compete.
"The entire experience was incredible," Arsenault said. "The feeling you get when you step on the ice and realize you are not only representing your team and your school, but also your country, is absolutely unforgettable."
The senior team's international adventures don't stop in the rolling hills of Salzburg. In the next couple of weeks, the girls will again pack their bags and jet off to Scotland to compete against four different teams for the Trophy D'ecosse title. While it is a slightly smaller competition than the Mozart Cup in Austria, Schmitt believes it will serve as a test for the remainder of the season.
"For Scotland, we need to come to the competition calm and ready to work to put out two really strong skates," Schmitt said. "This is our last competition before nationals, so we really want to give it everything we have to show the international judges we are a force to be reckoned with."
To prepare for their final two competitions of the season, the 20 athletes on the senior team will stay on track with their 16 hour a week training regimen which consists of Crossfit, off ice and on ice practices. While they are forced now more than ever to balance their athletic goals and travels with their academic ambitions, the skaters feel prepared to conquer whatever is thrown their way.
"Crossfit has really helped us tremendously these past two seasons. We were told we have the strongest, most consistent lifts in the country," Schmitt said. "At the end of the day, it's doing these little things that make us stronger athletes and people. Balancing school with our crossfit training, skating, and off ice times is no easy feat, but being able to represent Team USA has meant more to us than we could ever imagine."
#AdrianBulldogs #BulldogProud (photos by Ashley Carlson)