Reaching for the Olympic Rings – Brooke Hennessy

After months of intense practice and aching muscles the final competition has arrived. Sixteen of us sit shoulder to shoulder in the locker room preparing to step out onto the ice. Once everyone has pulled their laces tight, applied their lipstick, and gone through their final stretches we walk out towards the rink entrance. Everyone can feel the nerves and the excitement when we head toward the rink; girls shake their legs out, calm their breathing, and go through numerous traditions that they have. As the announcer says the team’s name we step out onto the ice ready to perform to a packed audience. “Ready, and”, the team captain yells as the team hits their beginning pose. In the next thirty seconds theirs just enough time to take a breath before the music is played and the performance starts. Over the next four minutes movements are completed in unison and a story of the program is told. Shockingly the skate is over, the crowd is on their feet cheering, and the all the handwork was worth it.

Exact precision and an emotional performance are only two of the challenges that a synchronized ice skater faces when stepping out onto the ice surface. Full of nerves and thoughts concerning the required elements sixteen individuals face an audience of judgment, while performing a routine that they have been working on for several months. Just like any other sport a synchronized skater must face the same pressures of working with others, extensive practices, and stressful competition. Synchronized skating has dealt with just as many challenges as another sport, showing that its athletes deserve a chance to compete in the Olympics.

Since the first U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships was held in 1984 the sport has grown tremendously in size. Today there are over 525 synchronized skating teams registered in the United States alone. Each year the sports participation increases throughout the world. Along with the tremendous number of teams in the United States the international participation of the sport is becoming steadily larger as well. There are currently over twenty different teams from fifteen countries that participate in the World Championships.

Expectedly, there are requirements that the sport needs to meet in order to become an Olympic sport. For example the sport needs to be practiced in fifty different countries. As mentioned previously there are currently twenty different counties participating in competition. Seemingly that is the most obvious reason to which the sport should not be included within the Olympics, but this requirement should not rule synchronized skating out quite yet. The requirement simply states that fifty counties must practice the sport, not that fifty must compete the sport internationally. Widening the scope to simply practicing the sport makes it much more plausible for synchronized skating to be included in the Olympics. Also, synchronized skating is a winter sport meaning that some requirements are not as strict because there are not as many counties that can participate in winter events.

Another, few requirements to which synchronized skating fits is that the sport must have an International Federation and that there needs to be a World Championship held.  Throughout the season a number of international competitions are held in which five to twenty different counties participate and all of these competitions would not be there if they was not an International Federation to govern and organize the sport. World Championships for synchronized skating have been held since 2000 when they were hosted in Minneapolis. Since then they have been held every year traveling from country to country. The United States has hosted the competition three times, Finland has hosted twice and then ten other countries have hosted or are going to host in the upcoming years.

Overall, synchronized skating fits the requirements that are needed in order for a sport to become an Olympic event. The athletes involved in the sport now dedicate much of their lives and time to the sport. Imagine how much grander and competitive the sport would become if these young athletes could work towards something as rewarding as becoming an Olympian.

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