Magazine

Two men in a high-level synchro team


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Simon and Dominic were athletes of Team Nova Senior in Quebec, Canada. (Credits: Ice Galaxy - 2019)

Dominic Barthe and Simon Proulx Sénécal take a look at Nova Senior, for which they've skated. The two Quebecers come back on what made the success of this Canadian team.

This interview follows our first article published a few weeks ago on Jura Synchro, in which these two skaters talked about their synchro journey. Discover the first part here!

With Nova Senior, you have marked the world of synchronized skating just before the pandemic. In your opinion, what are the strengths of this team?

Dominic: If we talk about Nova Senior in general, here are the values conveyed within the team that I believe make this team successful:

- Skaters understand the importance of working hard to get results.

- Skaters are passionate and know that nothing happens by magic.

As an athlete, you have to understand exactly what you are doing and not overlook the power of repetition. We advocate knowledge of the rules and intelligence of the team, and so each skater knows their role exactly. This is how the team usually secures their technical points. 


"Marie-France is, in my opinion, one of the best choreographers"
Nova Senior certainly stands out for the strength of its themes and choreographies. Marie-France is, in my opinion, one of the best choreographers in the world of synchronized skating. The choreographies are very closely related to the music. Each transition is original in its own way, whether by its shape or by the meaning that the transition takes in relation to the program's theme.

Nova Senior is also a team that shows a lot of sensitivity. Throughout the season, research work is done with the skaters so that the emotions felt and projected are real and consistent for the whole team.

As for the 2018-19 season Nova Senior team, we had a lot of maturity and experience. We had skaters with many years of synchronized skating experience and others who were excellent former athletes in singles or ice dance. Several of these athletes were very creative. Marie-France worked with some of us to choreograph the programs. It happened very naturally.


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Dominic skating with Nova Senior. (Credits: Danielle Earl Photography)

What about you Simon?

Simon: To begin with, I would say the team's chemistry. From the beginning of the year, we had big goals for the season. We were already aiming for the World Championships. Our dream was big, and we knew that we would need each other to get there. 

Adversity, despite injuries, challenging training sessions and poor performances at the beginning of the season... Our team was able to pick itself up, support each other and perform throughout the season.

Creativity, in our elements and our music: we wanted to be different from others and do things that had never been seen in synchronized skating. We knew we didn't have a uniform team, two male skaters, some very tall skaters and some very short skaters, but we used the aspect of being different in many aspects of our team to do something new and never seen before.

The experience: each of our skaters had very different backgrounds, some in ice dance, some in competitive singles and of course, some in synchronized skating. We were able to bring out the best in each other to create our team. It was also our completely different backgrounds that helped us support and help each other through the season.

"Male skaters can give a team a big advantage"
In your opinion, what are the advantages to having male skaters on a synchro team?

Simon: Male skaters can give a team a big advantage. We are different physically, so we often attract the eye unintentionally. This can be an advantage or a disadvantage for some but is used well in choreography. It can really give a "wow" effect.

Most of us have done pairs skating or dance, which means we have experience with lifts, spins or pairs elements which can help with the originality of the choreography.

I think there should be more men in synchronized skating. I think it's a pity that we are not more used to see that. Synchro is a team sport, and it is better to be different from male skaters.


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Nova Senior from Quebec, Canada. (Credits: Sean McKinnon - 2020)

Dominic: I don't think it's the fact that the skaters are males that gives an advantage. For example, a team of 16 men has no reason to be better than a team of 16 women in the creative and interpretative aspect.

It’s about what each skater can bring in particular to the team that gives a certain advantage, either technically or creatively. In the specific case of the 2018-2019 season of Nova Senior, we needed girls to lift to use the special abilities of Simon and me. So we needed some girls who were not too tall and with the courage and willingness to learn acrobatics they had never done before. At that point, the presence of these girls was as essential to the team as the guys who were lifting them up. 

Everyone on a team brings something to the team. We must bring out the qualities of each and work on the small weaknesses of everyone.

How do you see the Nova team in the coming seasons?

Dominic: Nova Senior is still a young team that continues to grow. The strengths listed above will undoubtedly remain the pillars of this team. Currently, the team is younger than it was and is ready to move into the next stages of its development. The team will continue to innovate and be creative to provide other great experiences to its skaters and offer other great performances to the public to inspire future generations and make people feel positive emotions.

Simon:
 Nova Senior continues to innovate each year with its creativity as much through its choice of music and themes for its programs as through its choreography. This is a team that is ready to go for it and change the image of synchronized skating.

Do you have any future plans in the world of synchronized skating?

Simon: I haven't made up my mind yet about what to do after my career in ice dance. One thing is sure: synchronized skating is a wonderful sport, and I will always keep good memories.

Dominic: I hope to coach synchronized skating for many more years. Currently, I coach the Novice, Junior and Senior teams at Nova. My role within these teams is mainly about skating skills. Each of these teams is coached by a different coaching staff (which can be a strength for the creativity of the programs and the skaters' experience), but they all work closely together throughout the different seasons.

My presence between the different teams facilitates the transition from a team to another and ensures a continuum in terms of the skating techniques taught. I'm still in my early days with them and I can't wait to get back to working with these teams to continue sharing my knowledge with them.