"Giving up is not an option"


The presenters were Jörn Lucas (international judge for ice dance, roller skating and synchronized skating), Lydia Paul (trainer and former synchro skater) as well as the professional sports TV host Petra Bindl. (Credits: Jan Rieger - 2021)

The virtual event "Together Once", put on by the Cup of Dresden's organizers, was broadcast last weekend. A moment of sharing and connection between more than 100 synchro teams around the world.

Like virtually all events this winter, the Cup of Dresden could not be hosted due to the pandemic. In September 2020, when the organizers of this third edition cancelled the international competition, they wanted to offer something different.

Since December 2020, several virtual events have emerged worldwide, such as the Porter Classic in the USA, the Christmas Event in Poland or recently the Nacka Synchro Skate in Sweden. "These organizers have done an impressive job of giving the teams a motivating perspective and the opportunity to show their programs on a rating basis during this difficult season," said Suse Schöne of the organizing committee.

The result of "Together Once" was an eight-hour event that was broadcasted worldwide for free. (Credits: Jan Rieger - 2021)

What the organizers wanted most with "Together Once" was "to create the feeling of togetherness that is so characteristic of our synchro community, which sometimes seems to be lost bit by bit due to the lack of live competitions.

In addition, not all teams and nations were able to participate in virtual competitions. In Germany, Great Britain and France, among others, training has been stopped to such an extent that the teams cannot achieve a respectable form for a competition."

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For this reason, the organizers of the Cup of Dresden decided to try an experiment and started the "Together Once" project. They invited teams from all age groups around the world to submit video contributions, with which they could introduce themselves and describe their current situation in times of Covid-19. "The overwhelming response shows that the right nerve has been hit here. Within 1,5 months, 104 teams from beginner level to master class from 17 countries and three continents registered," Suse Schöne said.

The result was an eight-hour event that was broadcasted worldwide (live)streamed the past weekend, on Saturday, March 20. All present moderators, technicians and supporters were tested negative for the coronavirus before the event. 

The "Together Once" highlights
"Capturing some of the best moments or the most creative videos is quite difficult because each one was so unique and made with love and dedication," said Suse Schöne.

The contribution by the Italian teams of the Olimpia Club Como was particularly memorable. "They shared the world about how they achieved a very tough lockdown in Italy with a lot of fun and how they felt when they were finally back on the ice."

The video from the Skating Graces family from Chemnitz was also impressive. "With a drone flight through their empty ice rink, they managed to capture surreal images of deserted corridors and dressing rooms that we all hope the athletes there will soon be able to put on their skates again."

The clip of the only men's team from RiverBulls from Finland was, of course, out of line. "There were fewer men on the ice than in the sweat lodge, bathing ice or mentally preparing for a time after Covid-19. We think they had a lot of fun creating the video."

"It touched our hearts when we saw that the Mixed Age girls from the brand new Synchro Caerdydd synchro club from Cardiff / Whales were doing their best while training outdoors on a sunset beach, and the Swedish Advanced Novice Team Harmony came up with a similar solution with ice exercises on the frozen lakes of Kungälv. Because it shows how close all teams are when it comes to fighting and doing their best in these difficult times, regardless of the nation and skating level."

The highlights among the participants were of course the reigning Junior world champions Team Fintastic and the vice World Champions 2019 team Marigold IceUnity from Finland.

And of course, Les Suprêmes from Canada won first prize for the most innovative techniques in synchronized skating in times of Covid 19 to use fly swatters for their holding elements, added Suse Schöne. 

"This boost in motivation gives strength"
"Each clip of the over 100 participants was unique, elaborate and lovingly produced. In addition to the current freestyle programs, we've got not only an impression of the daily Zoom training routine and how the teams strive to maintain their performance in this "lost season" and even to improve them," explained Suse Schöne.

However, the video contributions also made it clear how different the training conditions have been since the beginning of the pandemic. "While some teams rightly proudly presented their new programs, others have not yet been able to set foot on the ice this season."

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"It remains to be seen whether the young athletes, in particular, can make up for the deficits that have arisen in this way or whether we will see a shift in the international ranking in the following seasons. Regardless, all teams reaffirmed to each other that giving up is not an option. This boost in motivation gives strength in these uncertain times," said Suse Schöne.

A face-to-face competition in 2022
The organizers of "Together Once" hope to be able to organize an on-site competition next year. (Credits: Jan Rieger - 2021)

The positive feedback showed the organizers that they had succeeded in bringing back the fun to the synchro community in addition to the sporting highlights. The event was prepared and carried out exclusively on a voluntary basis. A participation fee was not charged, and the worldwide stream was also accessible free of charge. With the help of municipal funding and an appeal for donations, the Dresden Skating Club is trying to refinance the event.

As the name suggests, "Together Once" was developed as a one-time event. For the year 2022, the organizers are planning and hoping for a face-to-face competition for the 3rd Cup of Dresden and are looking forward to welcoming some of these teams again in Germany.

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