Skating abroad and join a synchro team, these skaters did it!


Simone, Amy et Norah... Three amazing synchro skaters and travellers. (Credits: Nova Junior - 2019)

Nova Junior (CAN) experiences international exchanges. Amy, Norah and Simone travelled many hours to skate synchro, learn skills and compete with a new team. Those young skaters and their coach, Nadine Tougas shared their stories on Jura Synchro!

On the left is Simone: "Hi, my name is Simone. I’m 18 years old and am currently finishing my first semester at Concordia University, Montreal. I am originally from Calgary, Alberta, on the other side of Canada. I’ve been skating for the past 15 years and have been doing synchro for 8 years. I started out in elementary, did a few years in the open category, and now am competing in Junior with Nova."

In the middle is Amy: "My name is Amy Morency, I am 16 years old, I am the 4th of a family of 5 children. I am in Secondary V at Rosemere High School. I would like to pursue a career in marine biology and go to university overseas or at Harvard. I’ve been skating since I was 6 and I’m in my fifth year of synchro. I’m a Quebecker born in Montreal."

On the right is Norah: "Hello, my name is Norah and I am 17 years old. I’m from Bern, Switzerland where I skated on the Swiss junior team for three years."

Nova Junior started the synchro season with two victories in Canada: Invitation St-Hubert and Bill Phillips. (Credits: Nova Junior - 2019)

Tell us your story...
Simone: "I moved to Montreal because they hold two of the top junior teams in Canada. I’ve known ever since I was little that I wanted to compete at worlds, so this was my opportunity to pursue my dream. I immediately knew after auditions that Nova was the right place to be, and it has been an amazing year so far."

Amy: "For my part, I left Montreal to go skating in Sweden. In May 2018, after a disappointing audition for a Junior team, I had to question my synchro career. Since competitive teams are quite rare, my choices were very limited. A friend of mine who was already skating in Sweden threw me like this "come skate in Sweden" and my mother replied but why not."

Norah: "Since my mom is Canadian, she first gave me the idea to spend a year in Canada and go to high school there. I loved the idea, but I really wanted to continue skating on a team, so I combined skating, school and Canada and ended up in Montreal! Throughout the last season, I watched Nova Junior at competitions and really enjoyed their programs (especially the free). Skating on a Canadian team and living here sounded like a dream come true to me."

For the Short Program, Nova Junior skated to "Pulp Fiction". In this performance, the skaters interpret the transition from girl to woman, with a bit of tango. (Credits: Nova Junior - 2019)

How to integrate a synchro team abroad?
For Nova Junior, the auditions are held over a series of days. "Each time the coach Nadine would have us do exercises to showcase our skills. These included step sequences, twizzles, and move elements," explained Simone.

If skaters cannot attend the auditions, a video is requested. "Nadine sent me a list of steps and other things, I would have to be able to do so that she would consider me. So, I filmed myself on the ice and sent her the videos," added Norah from Switzerland.

Involved with Nova teams in Quebec since the club was founded 15 years ago, Nadine Tougas explains that there is a selection process every year for all skaters. "For foreign skaters, contact with me is essential and videos with specific skills are requested", said the coach.

First steps in a new team
Arrived last July or August on their new team, the skaters all remember having to face new challenges on the ice but also in terms of language.

"It was a challenge for me since this team is at a higher level than my former team. But that’s what motivated me most. I didn’t want to just be able to keep up with the team, I wanted to be the best I could," commented Norah. For Simone, the most difficult thing at the beginning was definitely the speed of the skating. "But over time I became more comfortable and learned a lot very fast," she remembered. 

"From my first practice, I had no special treatment, many hours of training were waiting for me and no exception for the language either. All practices are given in Swedish. Within a few months I was already doing very well in this language", noted Amy who spent a year abroad.

In the Nova Junior team, coach Nadine Tougas gives the training in French. "I am not perfectly bilingual so we laugh a lot," she said.

Nadine Tougas, Nova Junior head coach. (Credits: Nova Junior - 2019)

"It is a once in a lifetime opportunity"
Amy: "I would absolutely recommend that experience. It’s a great challenge on the independence side, a great maturity. What a wonderful opportunity to learn the customs of a foreign country. An incredible chance to experience a completely different style of coaching, but especially to make friends for life."

Simone: "I would 100% recommend this experience to other synchro skaters. It not only pushed me farther than I’ve ever gone in the sport but taught me that when you think you’re at your limit, you’re really only halfway there.  Within only six months, I’ve grown not only with my skating skills but also as a person. Take every criticism as a chance to improve, and love every moment on the ice. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I couldn’t be happier that I am on Nova."

Norah: "I feel so grateful to have gotten the chance to be on this Team. This year has opened my eyes to so many new things and taught me a lot about synchronized skating, friendships but also just experiencing life in a different culture. I think it’s a chance in a lifetime."

Nova Junior's goals for this season
At 41, Nadine Tougas has coached the Nova Junior team since its creation three years ago. This coach, who started synchronized skating at the age of 10, skated under the direction of Marie-France Sirois (the Nova Senior coach) for almost twenty years.

"Nova is a beautiful and growing club that welcomes several quality coaches and specialists with extraordinary expertise. The values of mutual aid and collaboration are very present between the coaches but also between skaters", the coach noted.

It is the first season that the junior team has international skaters and Nadine Tougas appreciates this experience which allows an exchange of cultures and methods. "The girls had a great integration and the team's chemistry is at its best," said Nadine, who specifies that any request to join the team must reach before the end of March in order to respect the process.

With two victories at the start of the season, the Nova Junior team can hope to see even bigger this year. "Qualifying for the Junior Worlds is for the first time realistic for us and a common goal. To give skaters the desire to surpass themselves and teach them that with work and effort, everything is possible. I have a determined gang, persevering and I admit that it is extremely motivating!" told Nadine Tougas.

Nova Junior won the Bill Philips competition a few days ago. (Credits: Nova Junior - 2019)

All eyes will, therefore, be on the qualifications for the World Juniors on January 10 and 11. Nova Junior will indeed participate in Winterfest which will take place in Mississauga, Ontario.

The Quebec team will then leave for Sweden at the Leon Lurje Trophy in late January, before appearing on February 21 and 22, 2020 at the Canadian championships in Calgary.