A Successful Synchronized Skating Workshop


Rules and Regulations with Senior, Junior and Mixed Age skaters. (Credits: Team Ladybirds 2023)

The past weekend in Trento, the Italian Skating Federation (FISG) organized the first Synchronized Skating Workshop, open to both coaches and teams regardless of the category.

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In Italy, the very first synchronized skating workshop was organized. 110 participants between athletes and coaches attended the two-day seminar; it was a clear success for the first edition.

The lessons were held both on and off the ice, and the teams were divided into two groups: young skaters (up to Novice division) and more experienced skaters (Junior, Senior and Mixed Age). While attending the same type of lessons, the contents were more tailored to the skills of the two classes.

Work with high-level international coaches
On-ice sections were led by internationally renowned coaches Milja Sarkkinen (Team Fintastic’s coach from 2017 to 2022 and former Helsinki Rockettes athlete) and Gabriele Minchio (4th-level singles and synchronized skating coach).

Coach Miljia explains SyS Elements to Juvenile and Novice skaters. (Credits: Team Ladybirds 2023)

Coach Gabriele focused on Synchronized Spins, particularly basic sit, sit forward and camel positions. She showed the technique and preparatory exercises, emphasizing how most of them could and should be done on ice and off-ice before attempting the spins. Some time was also dedicated to the change of foot, highlighting the common errors and working on the quickness of the change.

Coach Milja focused firstly on the importance of developing skating skills and blade control through some progression exercises, including crossovers, change of edges and weight. She also underlined the importance of including various exercises for each skill and different rhythms of execution, as they will help both skaters and coaches understand where they need to work for a particular skill.

Juvenile and Novice skaters learning about Program Components Scores. (Credits: Team Ladybirds 2023)

In the second part of the workshop, some Move Elements, the Travelling Wheel, and the Pivoting Block were analyzed and worked on: the explanations were focused on the direction of the blades for the Pivoting Block and shoulders and hips positions for Moves. For the Travelling Wheel, the work was to avoid continuous changes of distance between the wheel spokes during travelling as it could cost the travel identification by the technical panel (and receive a bad GOE from the judges).

The off-ice sections of the workshop included analysis of videos to understand the Technical Panel work, explanations about the judging system and the international and Italian regulations, and a very interesting presentation about coach Milja’s experience in Synchronized Skating, both from the athlete and coach perspective. This presentation focused on the unity of intent and mental connection that make Teams perform at their best and how, even with solid physical preparation and skating skills, the performance does not achieve the desired result if those go missing.

End of the workshop picture on ice (Credits: Team Ladybirds 2023)

End of the workshop: athletes’ feedbacks and perspectives
At the end of the workshop, the athletes were asked to work in groups. After mixing the teams, the idea was to give some feedback on the activities, ideas for the following sessions and thoughts about what they think would be important to develop to help Synchronized Skating grow in Italy.

Even if the athletes were from different parts of the nation, categories and ages, the points were common:

- More interaction between teams and coaches to learn from other’s ways ;
- Mentoring from experienced teams to new ones ;
- Help to create new teams.

Overall, it was an exciting experience. The skaters had the opportunity to interact with each other without the pressure and tension that builds up during competition, and it was a chance to learn how other teams work and how they handle team bonding activities and some pre-competition rituals.

Most of the participants would like to be involved in more workshops like this one in the future, and they also give some ideas on arguments they would love to work on both on ice and off the ice. Hopefully, this will start a tradition in Italy to help develop our beautiful sport even more.