A new team created during the pandemic


In Switzerland at the end of April, the French synchro expert Alain-Daniel Hostache gave Team Emerald a few skating skills exercises to work on.

Training in Basel, Switzerland, Team Emerald will make their first appearance in world synchronized skating next season, meaning that something good happened for our sport during the pandemic.

A new jewel has arrived in Switzerland. Team Emerald was created in Basel, in the North-West of the country during the pandemic and they'll be competing next season as a Junior B team, hoping to rise to Junior ISU the following season.

"The pandemic helped to make the decision to train more seriously because the Novice skaters realized how they loved skating together and that they wanted to train more often," commented Carmen Bühler, member of the Basel skating club's board.

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Team Emerald was created because the Novice Advanced team was able to train during almost the entire Covid pandemic. "We had many young and talented skaters who wanted to aim for a higher level," explained Annekäthi Lutz, head coach.

Given a choice of several jewels to choose from, Team Emerald skaters then voted for their name. Now in Basel, there are Team Pearls (Juvenile), Team Ruby (Novice), Team Emerald (Junior B), Team Onyx (Mixed Age), Team Saphire (Senior B) and Team IceLiners (Adults).

Off-ice training in Basel

The club in Basel (EC Beider Basel) has never had a junior team. "For a long time we never had a team which trained with competitive goals," said Carmen Bühler.

The last one was probably the Senior ISU Team Dancers, in which Annekäthi Lutz skated until moving to Burgdorf to join the Cool Dreams. "When I went back to Basel in 2007, I took over most of the teams there and officially became coach of the club. I currently have five teams working together with my assistants."

Team Dancers represented Switzerland at the World Championships in Helsinki in 2011 and in Gothenburg in 2012.

Moving up to Junior ISU in a year
At the moment, Team Emerald has twenty skaters. "Although for two of them, it is not sure if they will make the team (skating level and health). For sure we have eighteen skaters," said Carmen Bühler. Most of the skaters live in Basel city and Basel countryside and two new skaters have come from Delémont. The skaters are between 14 and 18 years old.

The team has off-ice and posture training, and skating school and element training on the ice once a week. They still haven't started working on the program because things were uncertain because of the Corona pandemic. "We had planned to begin in August," added Annekäthi Lutz. Her goal with this new team is to get the best out of the skaters so that they can move up to Junior ISU in a year.

Carmen Bühler and Annekäthi Lutz are ready for a new challenge.

"We are currently able to train without any restrictions. But as a team, we decided to train with our masks on to reduce the chances of anyone getting ill. The hardest thing about this is breathing. It is almost as if we are training on top of a mountain," said Jenny Duffy, skater in Team Emerald.

The new team is really looking forward to going to the competitions because they can be together and show how hard they have worked and improved. "We feel inspired and we are ready to take on the challenge," the team continued.

Team Emerald and the new staff have not planned any overseas competitions yet. "We will definitely participate in the Swiss competitions. If we are able to do it, we would like to compete in one event abroad," Annekäthi Lutz explained. 

"My dream is that the team will develop so well that in the future it will be included in the SIS squad and allowed to compete internationally," she concluded. The team hopes to develop enough to compete against the best teams in Switzerland and then abroad.

Note that before the pandemic, Switzerland only had two Juniors ISU teams: Cool Dreams (Burgdorf) and Starlight Team from Zürich.