June 21, 2019 11:31 PM
(ABC 6 News) - The Minnesota Theatre on Ice of Rochester is off to nationals for their fourth consecutive year.
In less than a week, the team will compete in Birmingham, Alabama, at the National Theatre On Ice Competition, where they hope to showcase what they have been working on since September.
Theatre on Ice is the marriage of figure skating, theater, and dance. The sport is still fairly new around the country and in Rochester, the program is only in its 5th season.
"Our team has definitely grown," junior free skate team member Brigid Hugo said. "We started out our first two years with only one team. Then last year was our first year splitting into two groups, we had a junior team and an open team. This year we are going with a junior team and a novice team."
The team has competed at nationals three times and each year they have placed. In 2017, they won the whole event, coming home as National Champions. In 2018, though, they took home bronze medals. So, this year, they regrouped and focused on what they needed to bring to the ice this year.
"We kept the junior team for this year and we decided to move the open team to the novice level, which is also another giant challenge," Jamie Santee, one of the team's directors, coaches, and co-choreographers said. "So, we don't know what to expect going into this year, but I feel our program is moving forward."
"I know this year we've added so many more different tricks and elements that have made our program much harder," said another veteran skater, Alexarae Sackett. "I think it's just bringing in everything we can and just giving it our all."
In addition to new tricks, the team has been working on the cosmetics, such as costumes and expressions.
"Our expressions on our faces are one big part of it," Hailey Rice, another member of the team added.
Ultimately, it comes down to the team's connection and chemistry both on and off the ice.
"Bonding over the year has been super important for us and it really shows on the ice too if your team has bonded well," Hugo said. She also mentioned that another important factor for the team is to not neglect either of their teams (junior and novice).
Each year, nationals has a certain requirement for the short program and this year's theme was to have a cultural dance. The team didn't have to look too far for inspiration. They chose to focus on traditional Ukrainian dances.
"My co-choreographer is from the Ukraine, Kristina Orlova," Santee said. "[She] is very instrumental in the choreography and what we do. We team up and put these pieces together. I'm from Canada and I was thinking, 'Canadian cultural, hm' so it made sense to us that it would be really fun do something Ukrainian."
Figure skating tends to be an individual sport Santee said, but this experience and opportunity has helped break that barrier.
"My experience and my joy in doing this is pulling all these kids together," Santee expressed. "The friendship, the comradery, and pulling parents together. [The parents] have been very instrumental in making this all happen. It's been a very cool experience."
The competition is from June 26-29. Although nationals is the next stop for this team, that isn't the end goal. Santee said she hopes the team can eventually compete at the World Championships, also known as the Nations Cup.
Updated: June 21, 2019 11:31 PM
Created: June 21, 2019 11:13 PM
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