Covid & Synchro Skating: Overview by country (part 2)
By Jura Synchro
JUN 18, 2021
Haydenettes - USA (Credits: Ice Galaxy - 2019)
Here is an overview of the current situation for synchro teams related to the Covid pandemic, country by country.
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In Canada, the situation is different depending on the province.
Rinks are still closed. The prediction is that rinks may reopen at the end of July (with distancing), but contact may not be allowed until September or later for most teams, explained one synchro skater from Ontario.
Ontario has a three stages reopening plan. "We are currently in stage 1. It looks like stage 3 is when skating can begin again. We are not sure what restrictions will be put in place though," added another skater. Right now, synchro teams in Ontario are doing virtual training with fitness, flexibility and skating skill off ice classes through Zoom. Some of them, like Gold Ice teams in Brampton, haven't been able to have on ice practices since the end of November.
Gold Ice Junior - CAN (Credits: Sean McKinnon - 2019)
In the province of Quebec, the situation is a bit different. For now, Montreal is in the yellow zone, which means synchro teams can be up to 12 skaters on the ice with no contact. If the situation remains under control, Montreal will become a green zone at the end of the month. This means that full teams and coaches can be on the ice together.
"In the green zone, we still have to wear masks and can only have brief close contacts per session. So far this season, we haven't been able to train as a team on the ice, but we've been training together on Zoom!" explains a skater from Les Suprêmes. Synchronized skating wasn't allowed in Montreal before June 14, but athletes were allowed to take private lessons with a coach or go to free skating.
Most British teams are finally back on the ice after a long forced break due to Covid. "For the first time in over a year, we are allowed to hold for 15 minutes per 1 hour session. It has meant we've recently been able to practice elements which we have not done in over a year!" explained Team Ice Diamonds in Nottingham. Wearing masks once skaters are on the ice is not part of the government guidelines in England. Teams only have to wear them while getting their skates on and off while inside the building.
In the Netherlands, the practices are quite normal. "We can skate inside without masks and we can hold on each other! We only have to wear masks before and after the ice in the dressing rooms. Competitions are not allowed but that is the only thing!" explained a synchro skater.
Like in Australia, synchro teams in New Zealand have no restrictions.
Sunrise - RUS (Credits: Mihail Lefler - 2019)
Synchro skaters in Poland returned to a quite normal situation. According to a skater from team Ice Fire, teams don't have to wear masks, can attach and are allowed to practice with the whole team.
After being hit hard by the pandemic, Spanish synchro teams can skate and hold on but have to wear masks on the ice. Some teams have already started to work on their new programs.
"We train together but we are not allowed to hold on to each other," said Team Spirit (SWE) this week.
The country is relaxing its Covid-19 restrictions as infection rates stabilize and the vaccination rollout accelerates across the country. For synchro skating, the situation is getting better. Starlight teams in Zürich, for example, can practice normally and wear masks even if it's not an obligation, explained one of the team manager. In addition, when teams go to training camps, they do Covid tests to make sure no one is infected.
In Russia, synchro teams can skate normally without masks and they are also allowed to hold on the ice. The only restriction for the teams was the complete national lockdown last year which brought the teams to a standstill for a few weeks. Since the end of summer 2020, training has resumed normally.
Cool Dreams Junior - SUI (Credits: Ville Varinen - 2019)
The restrictions differ from region to region in the United States.
A skater from Illinois, USA, explained that her team has to wear masks at all times and use hand sanitizer frequently. They are also able to hold each other on the ice. "The majority of the people on my team have received the COVID vaccine, so we are practicing with no restrictions other than masks on and off the ice!"
Vaccination rates in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York are pretty high, so the state of emergency is no longer in place in those areas, added another synchro skater. Most U.S. teams are now back on the ice, with masks, contact tracing, and many skaters vaccinated. Synchro teams are also able to hold.