Nichole Manahan blends in with the rest of us quite well. She has a regular job, goes to school and attends the occasional party. She seems ordinary, but for one noticeable exception: she skates for NEXXICE Synchronized Skating Team, one of two teams that will be representing Canada beginning April 13 at the 2012 World Synchronized Skating Championship in Goteborg, Sweden. Just last month NEXXICE secured their sixth national title in as many years, granting them the honour of representing our country overseas. They leave on April 3 and will be one of 21 teams vying for the world title.
But wait—what is synchronized skating? It’s a fast-growing discipline that builds on the technical aspects of figure skating—the difference is that there can be as many as 16 skaters on the ice at one time, with the goal of uniformity. Think synchronized swimming, but on skates at excessively high speeds.
Their programs are carefully constructed to balance the required elements with other eye-catching manoeuvres such as lifts and intersections. Teams range in skill level from beginner to senior, ensuring that athletes varying in skill or age are able to find their place. The NEXXICE Synchronized Skating organization itself has seven individually operating teams ranging in age and skill level.
It’s the senior team that is packing their bags for Sweden. Their time spent practicing—nearly 20 hours a week—has paid off yet again. Head coach Shelley Simonton-Barnett and choreographer Anne Shelter are largely responsible for the team’s prolonged dominance. The two drove NEXXICE to capture a World Title in 2009, making them the only team in all of North America to ever do so.