Faces of Synchro
Ieva and Kristine, twins and synchro skaters who share the same passion
Let's meet today Kristine and Ieva!
Have you ever imagined skating on the same team as your twin sister? This is what Ieva and Kristine experienced in the Team Amber team in Latvia. The interview with these two young women, now coaches, was carried out in August when they organized a skating training camp and planned a second camp in Denmark.
Thank you! At the moment we feel a little bit tired after three long weeks of coaching young figure skaters at the summer camp. But at the same time, we are very excited and overwhelmed to finally be back on the ice after the strict limitations due to pandemic are lifted. We feel that the passion for our work and our sport has doubled now!
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We discovered synchro back in 2010 when our skating coach decided to try something completely new for us. At that time, such a sport did not exist in Latvia and, we knew nothing about it either. We were competitive single skaters since the age of five and never before thought about trying other disciplines.
We remember the first synchro elements we tried were just for fun. Together with our coach, we started to believe that the inclusion of synchro elements in the training process improves our skating skills, such as speed, edges, step quality, etc.
As we practiced it more often and with more girls involved, it started to look like something we should pay more attention to. Also, we discovered that synchro skating is a great choice for those skaters who do not want to mainly focus on multi-rotation jumps but still want to perform in front of the audience and stay in the competitive sport.
A couple of months later, we were already participating in our first competition as a synchro team. Back then, we were only eight girls on the team. It was more like an exhibition program, but obviously, it caught the attention of others. Around the same time, another team began to form in another city in Latvia. Both teams, ours and theirs, didn’t have enough skaters to meet the minimum number of athletes for each team to be complete. Therefore, in the 2011/2012 season, we decided to combine both teams into one. At the end of the same season, we were already taking part in World Synchronized Skating Championships for the first time in the history of Latvia. No matter how challenging it was and how many struggles we went through along the way, we are proud of such an achievement. We believe that this marks the beginning of synchronized skating in Latvia.
We both have been in Latvian synchro skating since day one, but it always has been a periodical journey due to ongoing single skating practices and competitions. There were even times when we competed in both categories – synchro and singles – at the same competition. All of our synchro years, we have skated in the only Senior level team in Latvia called «Amber». Together with the team, we have participated in three World Synchronized Skating Championships in 2012, 2016, and 2018.
Our best synchro memory is our first WSCC back in 2012. That was the first time we got to know the world of synchro skating. It was amazing to meet other skaters from all over the world and experience how supportive and friendly everyone was. Compared to the single skating events we felt a difference in the atmosphere. Although both sports are equally serious, at the synchro events we felt big support from other teams and less competition between skaters.
We get more affected by the programs, we have a chance to see in real life. That is why we remember vividly programs from our last WSSC in 2018. We both loved the Swedish Team Surprise' free program «Mother Nature» and the story behind it.
As they wrote on their Facebook page: “Our free program is the celebration of Mother Nature, of her beauty, her diversity and her wealth, who have been taken advantage of by humankind during millenniums. We have decided to use our art to spread our message and advocate for environment preservation”. With this performance, they invited everyone to participate in “WWF” fundraising.
In general, the performances of Swedish and Finnish skaters always seem special to us. We are very impressed by their gentle and soft yet powerful movements across the ice.
As a team, we always shouted loudly our team slogan before stepping on the ice. As the single skaters, we preferred visualizing the whole program into our heads before performing it.
In single skating, I always preferred jumps, especially Loop and Axel (Ieva), but Kristine enjoyed spins more, her favourites are Layback and Biellmann spins. Now we both are obsessed with doing choreography, all kinds of spirals, and spins.
In synchronized skating we both love Intersection - it looks so cool from the stands, especially when it is done at high speed. It always takes the breath away. It is also exciting and a bit scary to execute it on the ice by ourselves.
Sports, and being part of a team, taught us lessons that we will carry along with us forever. Daily practices since childhood have made us disciplined and patient. From an early age, it made us realize that the outcome depends on how we work daily and that no one else in our place will achieve the goals we have set.
Later, when we started to skate in a synchro team, we felt many more qualities we needed to learn. At first, it was difficult to get used to the fact that this is no longer an individual sport and the result no longer depends solely on us. We gradually learned to work together as a team, trust each other, support, and understand other team members' feelings. Now we can only be thankful that we have learned these lessons through the sport.
Having a twin in the same sport has its positive and negative sides, but most of all, we are grateful to have each other and that we can experience such an unusual way of training and competing. A sister is like an incentive to always strive for more because whether we like it or not, people tend to compare twins.
The biggest challenge was always to manage the competition between both of us and support each other simultaneously. It is emotionally hard to «fight» against your sister, but you have to do your job. The competition has always been like a rollercoaster of emotions for this very reason. Although we are the greatest support for each other.
In that sense, in synchronized skating, everything was the opposite - we were able to step on the ice together and fight for one result and feel the same emotions afterward. This is the aspect that we, as twins, have enjoyed most in the synchro skating compared with singles.
Getting involved in a new sport may seem daunting at first, the benefits and the result are worth the try. By being on a team, skaters learn to use their individual skills as well as how to work together to create successful teamwork and achieve goals. Also, this is a great way to combine technically complex sport with lots of exciting emotions. It's great to be aware that there will always be teammates around who will help and support you no matter what.
We strongly encourage everyone to dare to follow their dreams. Although sometimes it may seem impossible or scary, it is worth every second. We have experienced many great and unforgettable moments together with our synchro team participating at the international level. We will be grateful for these moments forever.
It is very important for us to create a safe and positive training environment - one where the child wants to return. In our opinion, we as coaches have a responsibility to make the involvement in the sport as enjoyable as possible, rather than incite dislike. When working with young athletes, we are patient and understanding. In comparison, we are demanding towards athletes who are already learning more complex elements because accuracy and technically correct execution are important.
We have a lot of ideas and projects related to skating. At the moment, coaching is still relatively new for us. We are currently gaining experience and enthusiastically learning. We really like what we do and are happy to pass on our knowledge to the new generation. In the future, we want to continue what we have started and also develop in other directions that are skating-related.
These times really are challenging for everyone. A lot is happening in the world at the same time. This situation teaches us to react quickly and adapt to new conditions so that the training process continues, and progress does not stop.
We organize practices for a smaller group or individually. That allows us to follow the precautionary rules and, of course, we follow all the government's instructions. Now that we are coming back to some sort of “normal” our training process is complemented by the online classes, which is a real example of how the training process has improved due to pandemic.
Since this summer, we can happily say that there are already three teams in Latvia. The Senior level team "Amber" and the Basic Novice level team "Amberlight" continue to train successfully.
Recently they have been joined by the new "Ambershine" team for skaters at a younger age. This finally gives the opportunity to engage in synchronized skating in Latvia from an early age. However, it should be mentioned that the problem of the small population of Latvia still remains relevant. For this reason, it is difficult to develop this sport as fast as we would like.
The season for all of us turned out differently than expected due to the pandemic. For this reason, it was not possible to reach all the goals set, such as participation in World Championships, etc. However, despite the difficulties, the team maintains a clear vision for the future and continues to move forward productively using various new ways.
As the main achievement of the year, coach Eva proudly highlights the youngest age synchro team “Ambershine” formed this summer.
It should also be mentioned that despite still existing uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the Latvian synchronized skating club "Amber" is committed to organizing the “Riga Amber Cup” at the end of this year, which will be held for the third time. We are very happy and proud that ISU synchronized skating competitions are being organized in the Baltic States as well.
Find out more about Ieva and Kristine this Sunday on OneTeamMVMT's Instagram account with their "Take Over"!