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What we’ve learned about Elite 12


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Les Suprêmes Senior from Canada. (Credits: Navaz Sumar Photography - 2018)

As we enter mid-summer of 2021, let’s talk about the information collected over the last few months about the new "Elite 12" category that will be launched this winter.

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First announced on Jura Synchro at the end of February, the new Elite 12 category should start this 2021-2022 season. It will allow Junior and Senior ISU-level teams to compete with 12 skaters (instead of the usual 16). 

The idea of the International Skating Union is not to replace the current championships and categories but to offer an alternative to high-level skaters and increase the number of competitive teams.

ISU's announcement

Olympics: Increase the chances
While the whole world follows the Tokyo Games, let's remember that the Elite 12 category was (and above all) launched to give synchronized skating an additional chance to join the Olympic family in the coming years.

"The International Olympic Committee asked the ISU to reduce the number of athletes. Moreover, some teams are struggling each year to find 16 skaters, even in top countries. A new category has become a necessity," Philippe Maitrot, the synchronized skating technical committee chair at the ISU, explained.

Trial in two Challenger Series events next season
The ISU announced that the Elite 12 category would be launched during the 2021-2022 season at a few selected international competitions, but we didn't know precisely when and where.

At the end of April, Skating Finland - the Finnish skating association - revealed that Elite 12 would first be tested in two Challenger Series events in France and the United States. Naturally, fans will have understood that it would probably be at the French Cup in Rouen (February 4 and 5, 2022) and at the competition in Norwood, Massachusetts (USA), held on January 28 and 29, 2022.


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Back in 2016-2017 with Team Unique from Finland. (Credits: Kirsi Laine Photography)

Fears... and hopes
Obviously, the Elite 12 big announcement made fans, skaters and even synchronized skating coaches worldwide react.

Some are happy and consider this new Elite 12 category as an opportunity. Others fear that it will be a too brutal transformation for the sport, which will be deprived of one of its main qualities: the high number of skaters on the ice, which gives the sport all its substance.

"I've already watched [synchro teams] cut in half from 32 to 16 [skaters], but the potential through the speed, the creativity and the Olympic dream... I think we all owe it to the sport and for these athletes and give it a shot to see it through," said Holly Malewski, the coach of the Crystallettes Senior (USA). Watch the full interview!

WHAT ARE THESE FINNISH COACHES THINKING?
Five coaches gave their opinion about Elite 12
Of course, every change brings its own set of questions: find out here our FAQ on Elite 12.

The ISU has already analyzed a few videos. However, it is still unclear how many teams will participate this upcoming season in Elite 12 and thus test this new division.

Everything will also depend on the situation related to the Covid 19 pandemic and the possibility for the teams to go abroad to compete.