Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Wauwatosa East and West Student News

The Tosa Compass

Synchronized Skating

Twenty-four blades slice through the ice in near perfect synchronization as the Wisconsin Edge Open Juvenile team practices their routine at the Pettit National Ice Center. Twelve girls link arms and arrange themselves to resemble three spokes of a wheel, rotating in time to the music.

Sophomore Ruth Gebremedhin is a member of a synchronized skating team run by Wisconsin Edge. This organization has eight teams total, with participants ranging in age from seven to the seventy-two year old member of the Open Adult team. Ruth is on the Open Juvenile team.

In December of 2007, Gebremedhin attended a competition in Minnesota with a friend who was a synchronized skater. Of the experience, Ruth says, “I thought the whole competition looked really fun. You had an entire team of friends you competed and traveled with.” By January, armed with a pair of old skates from her friend, Ruth began taking group lessons and preparing for the tryouts to be held in May.

When the time came, Ruth went to tryouts. “Basically, I was the worst one there,” she said laughingly. “We had camps over the summer though, and that really helped me.”

By the end of 2008, with the assistance of a private teacher, Gebremedhin had risen to the level of those around her, and landed a spot on the Open Juvenile team the following May. She started participating in competitions soon after.

“We train and learn our program over the summer,” Ruth said, “and then the competitions start in November.” Competitions are scheduled in September, and usually last about one or two nights each, depending on when each of the Wisconsin Edge teams skate. “We stay and cheer for everyone,” said Gebremedhin.

For each competition, all the Wisconsin Edge teams meet at the Pettit Center (sometimes as early as five in the morning). After picking up the six or seven girls that live in Illinois, the girls head to wherever it is they are competing.

“When we go to a competition, we all pack the same exact clothing,” Gebremedhin said. “Wherever we go, we have a really tight schedule… it says where we are going and what to wear for every hour of the day. Everything we do, we do as a team.” In fact, each of the team members is even required to wear their hair in a tight bun.

As far as the actual competing, the team usually only gets about fifteen minutes on the ice to practice once they have reached the location of the competition. Oftentimes, this takes place the day before, and the girls only do an “off-ice” version of their program the day they actually compete.

Before going on the ice for their performance, Ruth and her teammates get ready in a locker room reserved for Wisconsin Edge competitors. “We actually use fishing line to sew in every clip, flower, and hair tie- even our bun form,” she explained. “If anything falls on the ice while you’re performing, your team is disqualified.”

Despite all the work that goes into each of these competitions, every team’s program lasts only about two-and-a-half minutes. Ruth said, “A lot of people may not consider skating a sport, but it is. Even though it is ‘pretty’ it requires a lot of work and strength.”

Gebremedhin plans on continuing with her skating in the future, and hopes to compete at the collegiate level. The sport remains in her heart, and she seems to love every minute of it…even if it does require the use of fishing line hair accessories.

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