Jennie Mao (USA): "Skating on two teams gets hard and tiring sometimes"
Jennie Mao, a talented young synchro skater in the Northernettes (USA).
OneTeamMVMT and Jura Synchro are working in partnership to highlight people in the synchro world who have unique stories to share in a new series called "Faces of Synchro". We are talking skaters, coaches, volunteers, officials, extraordinary parents... people who have unique stories to share that will inspire you. For this first episode, let's go to the USA with Jennie Mao!
She started her individual skating career at the age of seven. Her synchro career started at the age of nine, on Team Braemar’s Pre-Juvenile team. The following three years she skated on Braemar Panache’s Pre-Juvenile and Open-Juvenile teams. This season, it will be her third season with Northernettes Novice and second with Northernettes Junior.
I am doing well considering the situation that we are in.
I’ve been finding ways to keep myself busy and I have been able to skate at my home rink. I’ve also started safely practicing with my teammates. We’ve been able to put our programs together while following health guidelines.
Growing up I would watch my home club’s Synchro team, Team Braemar Junior at practices. As I got older my individual coach asked me if I wanted to join Team Braemar’s new Pre-Juvenile team that she’d be coaching. That day I decided to try synchro and I have stuck with it ever since.
My best synchro memory was at 2020 Midwestern and Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Championships, where my team and I qualified for our first nationals. It was only our second season in the Novice division, and our season goal was to qualify for nationals. It was such a rewarding moment to know that all our hard work had finally paid off.
The program that has affected me the most was my last year's Junior long program, Over the Rainbow. My team and I started off our competition season at the 2019 Anaheim Fall classic. It was not only our first time competing this program, but it was my first time competing at the Junior level. Before the 2019-2020 season, I only had little experience of skating at higher levels of this sport. I was extremely nervous to be skating at the Junior level.
My coaches and teammates were very supportive and helped me get through the first competition. Once I completed that program without any mistakes, I knew I had nothing to be afraid of. That first time competing that program made me notice how much more capable I was than I thought. This program made me notice that I had to be more confident in myself and trust the training I have done.
There are many fun rituals that my team does before we compete. Some of my favorites are putting a star sticker in our skate before we compete, and we each get “confidence” which is a chocolate with an encouraging message inside the wrapper.
My favorite element would have to be the moves in the field. I like how this element has a variety of moves that you can do that shows off the skater’s edge control and flexibility. I also think this element is one of the elements that people enjoy watching the most.
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✨Why Northernettes?✨ “Skating with the Northernettes has been one of the biggest highlights of my skating career. These past two seasons my love and passion for this sport has only grown. I have been taught valuable lessons thorough synchro, my teammates, and coaches that I apply to everyday life. Northernettes has always been a place to take my mind off things and enjoy skating with my teammates who love this sport just as much as I do. Synchro has not only given me a great way to challenge myself but it has given me friendships that will last a lifetime!” -Jennie, Northernettes Novice 2018-2020 & Northernettes Junior 2019-2020
I have been able to manage skating on two teams pretty well. Skating on two teams gets hard and tiring sometimes, but I know when I feel that way I can talk to my coaches about taking a break or missing a practice once. Usually, Novice and Junior practices are back to back which is nice because it was easier for me to skate with both teams on the same day. If it was a back to back practices, I usually planned ahead for what I may need to bring like a lunch or something one team requires that the other does not. On our Junior team, we skate about 8-9 hours a week, and for Novice we skate about 5-6 hours a week. Overall I enjoyed skating with both of my teams. But next season will be skating only for the junior team.
What did this sport teach you?
I have learned so many valuable lessons that I not only apply to skating but my everyday life too. One of the main things that synchro has taught me is how to push myself to be the best I can be and how to overcome my fears. Again, synchro pushes me outside of my comfort zone which has helped me grow into a more confident and stronger skater. But most importantly synchro has taught me how to work with others by learning to trust, be accountable, be open-minded, and patient.
Growing up at the rink there was not much diversity, and I was the only Asian person on my team. Because of that, competition makeup looks different on me than it would on my teammates. Instead of wearing makeup that would look good on a wide range of skin tones, I had to wear the makeup we were given.
When it comes to dresses, I usually do not have the proper mesh color for my skin tone. Similarly, I had to wear mesh that didn’t match my skin. I have seen this multiple times with skaters of different skin tones.
These are a few examples of things we should improve to make the skating community more accepting.
Organizations should require their teams to promote inclusivity and respect towards their teammates. Coaches should think about their skater’s skin tones when choosing makeup products and mesh for the dresses. It’s important to have educated and culturally-aware skaters and coaches. Overall, it would make the team more united and inclusive to all.
My advice to those starting synchro is to enjoy the process and every moment of your training and season. It goes by so fast! Also, come to practice with an open mind, a positive attitude, and the mindset to work hard.
For the future, I plan to skate with the Northernettes through my remaining high school career and continue improving myself as a skater.