The St. Louis Synergy Synchronized Skating Junior Team has been named to International Selection Pool (ISP) for the 2020-2021 season.
Being part of the ISP means that the team has the potential to be chosen to skate internationally and represent the country as Team USA. Only teams in the ISP can be considered for international competition.
In order to be included, teams have to have achieve a certain score during the year. Last year, the team set ISP as their goal and worked toward it all season, hitting their highest score of the season (144.58 points) and surpassing the required score for ISP inclusion.
The team is one of only nine Junior teams in the country to receive the honor. It was last named to Team USA in 2014. During that time, the team represented the nation during competition in Salzburg, Austria.
St. Louis Synergy is part of the Metro Edge Figure Skating Club based in Webster Groves. The club is home to six teams ranging from beginner to the junior level – the second highest level in international competition.
Formed in 1956, synchronized skating offers athletes the chance to compete with a team and learn the value of teamwork. Teams of eight to 20 skaters perform challenging formations and step sequences in unison. Competitions use the same judging system as figure skating singles, pairs, and ice dancing.
Team coach Charity Hendrickson, of St. Charles, is excited about the ISP opportunity. Throughout her 16-year career at Synergy she has coached every level team and is now the coach for the highest level Junior team.
“When I got the call that we were selected for the ISP, it was such a bright light in the darkness of everything going on,” Hendrickson said. “We were facing rink closures, restrictions practicing as a team, the prospect of canceled competitions, a canceled season and who knew what else.
“The skaters were uncertain of what type of experience this season would bring. Telling them that they accomplished their goal and would be an ISP team regardless of what the season looked like helped boost the morale of the team and gave us more purpose to continue training, despite the unknown.”
The ISP includes junior and senior level teams who meet criteria approved by the U.S. Figure Skating International Committee.
“United States Figure Skating has a responsibility to put out the best teams as Team USA and it does not make those decisions lightly. Being selected is a huge honor that comes with great responsibility. As a coach, it has been so rewarding to watch these young women put the work in and accomplish the goal that they set their sights on,” Hendrickson said.
Natalie Bruno, a senior at Fort Zumwalt East, has been figure skating for 14 years. Before joining St. Louis Synergy, she skated for Synchro St. Louis at the St. Peters Rec-Plex. She has been on the Synergy Junior team for the last three years.
“Synchronized skating isn’t a well known sport, and I think all the girls on a team coming together for one goal is so unique that the world should know more about it,” Bruno said.
She said her favorite thing about skating is the friends she has made during her many years of skating.
“Last season, we all worked so hard on and off the ice, putting as much time as we could into practices and even getting extra ice time when we got the chance. We have been working just as hard this year, even through these trying times,” Bruno said. “The team is so excited and honored to be in the ISP, no matter how the season plays out.”
She plans to attend Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, next fall and hopes to skate for their senior level synchronized skating team.