Lemont High School senior Ciara Athy and sophomore Maddi Gould will skate in the U.S. Figure Skating Synchronized Skating National Championship Feb. 26-March 1 in Colorado Springs, with the Downers Grove Dazzlers Intermediate Level synchronized ice skating team.
As competitors in synchronized skating, athletes like Ciara and Maddi are members of a team where 12–20 athletes skate together, performing intricate footwork while executing difficult formations. Teams spend many hours training, with the ultimate goal of winning medals at the sectional, national and international levels.
Both Ciara and Maddi began skating at 4 years old—regularly putting in three training sessions each week, some as early as 5:30 a.m. The training regimens involve solo practice, as well as time spent on the ice as a team each weekend. The practice season begins in May with our competition season running from November through February.
"Synchronized skating came into play because she was so nervous to compete as an individual," said Ciara's mom, Debby Athy. "She did not like getting out on the ice alone to compete. That was age 8 and once joining a team she was so thrilled. You have a support system when you go out to compete.
"They all 'have each other's backs.'"
Their team's performance at the Midwestern Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships in Hoffman Estates from January 23-25 earned it the right to compete at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. The top teams at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships are selected to represent the United States at international competitions around the world.
Quality Bonding TimeThe girls' parents spend many hours driving the girls to and from practice, as well as cheering them on when they take the ice.
And they wouldn't trade it for the world.
"Funny thing is everyone always used to ask, 'Won't you be glad when Ciara can drive herself to skating so early in the morning?' My answer: 'No,'" Debby said. "I always love watching her skate and learn new skills."
Maddi loves the closeness that comes with competing as part of a team.
"I've made some great friends over the years," she said. "Some of the girls I'm skating with now I have skated with over the last 10 years."
Dazzlers parents are the loudest in the arena, the moms said.
"We are all (for the most part) a nervous wreck for our daughters. When they take the ice and 'The Dazzlers' are announced I can speak for all the parents and say that our hearts swell with pride!" Jen Gould said. "We have a chant we do for the girls as soon as they step on the ice.
"It's not too quiet when the Dazzlers are skating! We just want our girls to know we are there for them."
Ciara is three-year member of our varsity poms/dance team. She is also a National Honor Society inductee, serves as a senior class officer, and is active in our Interact community service organization. She also loves art and plans to pursue an art degree in college. Maddi is a high honor roll student and a member of the marching band.
Maddi's mom has been thrilled at her growth as an athlete and an individual.
"Synchro skating has made her grown on and off the ice as an individual," Jen said.
Ciara shows work ethic beyond her years in her skating, said Debby.
"She never gives up," she said. "She is always cheerful on the team even at 5 a.m.!
When in Colorado...While in Colorado Springs the girls will have official and unofficial practices on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
They will compete the afternoon of Feb. 27. Before they step onto the ice, they'll stick to their pre-skate rituals of Ciara styling Maddi's hair and revving up the team, and "shaking out the nerves" and passing them to their coach. Scoring is done very much like at the Olympics, and the team will receive their score immediately after skating.
"We can't wait to watch the girls take the ice at the Worlds Center in Colorado Springs!" said Jen. "I'm sure we'll be a nervous and I can guarantee we'll shed some happy tears!"
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