Teams Elite (USA): A junior synchro team's rise to success


Teams Elite (Credits: Thomas Rhee - 2021)

Competing as a part of US Figure Skating since 2013, Teams Elite has impressed everyone by becoming vice-national champions and winning the silver medal at the Spring Cup in Italy just before the pandemic. This Junior team is now being tipped to become a strong international competitor and is hungry for more success.

The hoped-for resumption of international competitions from next season will not be possible without Teams Elite. This junior team based in Northbrook, Illinois, in the United States had distinguished itself before the health crisis and intends to pursue its dreams.

"The pandemic really helped us realize we need to be grateful for each other every single day. We are so fortunate to have our teammates and our community to help shape us into strong individuals. Skating is truly a privilege and we absolutely cannot take it for granted," said Danielle Ostrower, the Program Director and Head Coach of Teams Elite. 

Teams Elite at a private senior end of season exhibition. (Credits: Thomas Rhee - 2021)

For this Junior team who is going into its 4th season, this past year has been a whirlwind of emotions; "frustration, sadness, hope and excitement as we look toward a new beginning," explained the coach.

For the majority of the season, most of their rinks were closed or synchro teams were not allowed to connect.  "We were finally granted a special exemption from our Governor which allowed our team to train, connect and even participate in some virtual competitions. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity that was given to us and we made sure to use our time wisely and train as hard as we could," continued Danielle Ostrower. "However, we truly miss the thrill and adrenaline rush of stepping onto competition ice together."

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The secret of success
Since its creation, the Teams Elite has had a series of successes.

One of the latest is none other than the silver medal earned at the U.S. National Championships or the second place in the international Spring Cup competition in Italy in February 2020, which was the last big competition before the pandemic.

"I wish we had a secret! Or magic fairy dust that we could sprinkle to make our dreams come true! The truth is, we have a very competitive and resilient culture on our team and when our athletes decide they want to achieve something, there is no stopping them," answered the coach when we asked her what her team's secret was.

"We feel Teams Elite is unique because everyone works together as one unit throughout the entire organization.  All of the coaches help each other and all of the skaters work with the coaches rather than for them. The strong bond we all have with one another allows us to thrive!"

(Credits: Thomas Rhee - 2021)

The only change they made in the skaters' preparation was to "focus on the story" they were telling with their programs.

"We spent a lot of time off the ice working on understanding body movement and where movements originate from. This helped the skaters to be able to feel how each movement laid the foundation in the story," explained the head coach.

"We are not taking our foot off of the gas"
As they prepare for next season, they are "not taking our foot off of the gas. We have our goals set, and we are going to approach next season with hard work, determination and hope that things will return back to normal," continued Danielle Ostrower.

"Our dreams with the Junior team are to eventually earn a Gold medal at Worlds and to have a long history of rivaling the best junior teams in the world."

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Teams Elite is coached by Danielle Ostrower, who competed on behalf of Chicago Jazz for 10 years, Lauren Roman who competed individually and then as a member of Crystallettes Senior. Josh Fischel who also competed individually and won a Junior Olympic Bronze Medal. He is also a National Technical Specialist in singles. And the fourth coach is Jamie Whyte who won 13 National Gold Medals as an ice dancer, competed on behalf of Great Britain at the Junior World Championships and has worked with many successful dance teams such as Virtue and Moir, Davis and White and the Shibutanis. 

"I am proud of the resilience of our skaters on all of our teams. Every time they are faced with adversity, they rise to the challenge and overcome it, together, as one," said Danielle.

(Credits: Thomas Rhee - 2021)

A Senior team in the future
For the upcoming season (21-22), Teams Elite and the coaches are really looking forward to starting to compete again and hope to compete "in person, both domestically and internationally"!

They also have announced that they will be fielding a Senior team for the 22-23 season! 

The next few years promise to be exciting.