Alana Christie: "I was told often in the early years that it wouldn't work"


Alana Christie, 27 years old, coaching one of her teams. (Credits: Liz Banfield)

No club, no rink, no skaters. That’s what Alana Christie faced back in 2017 when she started the Northernettes teams in the USA. The young and talented coach devoted endless passion and hard work into her dream of redeveloping high level synchronized skating in the Minneapolis area.

It's rare to find a growing competitive synchronized skating organization that started with a Junior level team of mostly freestyle skaters.

Alana Christie is the founder and director of Northernettes Synchronized Skating. She is also the head coach of the Junior, Novice and Intermediate teams.

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Alana Christie skated for Team Braemar Junior from 2010-2012, and Miami University Senior from 2012-2016. "I was fortunate to represent Team USA for six seasons and competed at two Junior World Challenge Cups (winning a World Bronze Medal with Team Braemar) and three Senior World Championships. I am also a Moves and Freestyle gold medalist," explains Alana.

Founded in 2017, the Northernettes train at multiple rinks across the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and the skaters come to practice from as far away as an hour and a half. 

Alana managed to put a Junior team on the ice for the 2017-2018 competition season.

She grew up as a freestyle skater and had never really been exposed to synchronized skating until she was a junior in high school.

"A skating friend of mine reached out on behalf of Team Braemar's coach Pam May to see if I would be interested in skating for Team Braemar Junior. Having never tried synchro before, I was excited and inspired to take my love for skating and competing in a new direction. That first season, I totally fell in love with synchronized skating and in love with being a part of a team, and I am still a part of this incredible sport 10 years later!"

The Northernettes and Alana Christie are featured in the Jura Synchro "Express" video. Watch it now!

Why did you start to create the Northernettes? 

Alana Christie: After finishing my four years at Miami University, I moved back home to Minnesota having gained even more love and passion for synchronized skating. Team Braemar and Pam May had built such a high level, competitive synchro organization, but unfortunately that all changed in the years I was in college. Given that the Twin Cities has always been a great skating community, I felt there was now a big hole in the local skating marketplace without a Junior level synchronized skating team.

Being so lucky to experience high-level synchro in my own competitive career, I knew I wanted to stay closely connected to the sport and I recognized this as a challenging yet very exciting opportunity to again have high level synchronized skating in the Twin Cities skating community. From the beginning, my number one driving inspiration has been to try to help create similar competitive opportunities for area skaters and to help other skaters learn all about our amazing sport. 

This is our fourth year as an organization and the fourth season for our Junior team, third season for our Novice team and second season for our Intermediate team. We currently have 48 skaters in our organization and our skaters come from all over the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, as well as from neighboring state Wisconsin, too!

What was the most difficult in this project?

Historically, most synchronized skating organizations in the USA emerge from established USFSA clubs or ISI clubs or "Community Learn to Skate Programs". I had no skaters and no club affiliation. I was just determined to get the Northernettes launched.

It's fairly unusual to initially develop a competitive synchronized skating organization with a Junior level team of mostly freestyle skaters. Without the benefit of building up higher level teams from an established feeder system of young "synchro" skaters, I instead devoted all my time and energy, and endless passion into getting our organization off the ground. 


It was difficult to convince one skater at a time to follow my passion and try synchronized skating (most were brand new to synchro), but I was so fortunate and very grateful to have numerous incredible families that helped me put our first Junior team on the ice for the 2017-2018 competition season. It's definitely taken a lot of blind faith and hard work from many accomplished skaters (and their parents) new to the synchro discipline, but fast forward to 2021, and Northernettes Synchronized Skating has 48 skaters and competitive teams at the Intermediate, Novice and Junior levels.

I was told often in the early years that it "wouldn't work", that "there is no way to start a successful synchronized skating organization with a Junior team first", but here we are! 

Following your experience, is it hard to enter a new team in the synchronized skating world?

Yes! Especially at the higher levels from scratch without the benefit of an established culture. From the beginning, it has taken a lot of blind faith in my vision from many skaters and families. And yet each season, we have had more and more skaters want to be part of our sport and want to be part of something bigger than themselves. 

Your teams were created in 2017. What is your greatest satisfaction since the start of this adventure?

By far, my greatest personal satisfaction has been helping so many skaters find or rediscover their love for skating through synchro. I am grateful to so many who have helped me provide this opportunity for so many skaters, and in return I am so thankful for all our skater's hard work, passion, and commitment to synchronized skating and to the Northernettes!

(Credits: Liz Banfield)

For this season, what are your team goals?

Our goals continue to change and evolve as the whole world and the whole skating community continues to navigate this terrible pandemic. Our current skater goals are to continue to develop our skating and synchro skills, while also gaining any possible meaningful competitive experience (both virtually and live). Our organization goals are to do everything we can to promote and grow our sport and to hopefully inspire other accomplished skaters to try synchronized skating!


How is your team going with the pandemic?

We have been very determined to do everything we can to continue our season and our organizational growth. We feel extremely fortunate to have been on the ice a fair amount given how many teams throughout the U.S. have had limited opportunity. We were able to start skating drills in June, and then could start doing connected skating in July. We continued practicing throughout the early Fall and were able to take part in the Dr. Porter Virtual Synchronized Skating Classic. Ultimately, our rinks were closed in mid November and we have been on a six week state mandated pause from any on-ice activity. Our teams have continued their training by staying in touch via virtual exercise and dance classes.

Are you back on the ice? 

Skating rinks reopened in Minnesota on January 4th and we feel very fortunate to have been able to resume practice on January 6th. Masks are now required on the ice for all our practices and we excitedly are training again for both virtual and hopefully one or two live events.

How is synchronized skating developing in your area?

Because I grew up as an individual skater, I am very cognizant of all skating disciplines as well as respectful of the many individual skaters and individual coaches. However, I am steadfast in my goal to continue growing this amazing team sport of synchronized skating. Minnesota has had a rich history of high level synchronized skating and hopefully we can be a big part of this history. Perhaps the Northernettes story can also inspire others to create and develop other new synchronized skating organizations around the USA and/or world!

The Northernettes Junior

What is your dream in synchronized skating?

My dream has a couple of layers. First, I want to inspire as many skaters as I can through synchronized skating and through being a part of the Northernettes organization. Secondly, I hope the Northernettes story can inspire the creation and development of even more new high-level competitive synchro organizations around the USA and internationally.

Most importantly, I want our sport to continue to grow and flourish! I am incredibly thankful for my skating and synchro team experiences and I want as many motivated skaters as possible to have these same opportunities. Synchronized skating is a sport filled with amazing athletes creating pure magic on the ice. Our sport deserves Olympic Games inclusion and I want to do everything I can to help promote synchronized skating. I am very lucky as my passion is my work. I love this sport!