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Introducing a family of Sancta Maria Synchro skater


Pictured from left to right: Nicola Bebelman, Courtney Wertheim, Victoria Heald, Amanda Lee, Adela Lee, Katrina Chan 

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” 

The discipline of synchronized skating, or synchro, comprises of skaters forming shapes such as circles, blocks, lines, wheels and intersections in unison. At Sancta Maria College, we have six of these synchronized figure skaters. With Nicola Bebelman, Courtney Wertheim, Victoria Heald and Katrina Chan in Black Ice and Amanda and Adela skating for the Ice Angels. 

Both teams spend their Friday afternoons doing “off-ice” and their Saturday mornings doing “on-ice” with Black Ice clocking in at a 6 am and Ice Angels training from 7:30 onwards. Off-ice is essentially a chance for the teams to practice their routines off the ice and to gain fitness. This results in more attention and time being put into the fine-tuning of each skater’s execution of the programme. Ice time is hard to get hold of and expensive. Therefore, training on the ice has to be made the most of – every minute counts and off-ice simply ensures this. From arm movements to leg extensions to posture to heads to facials to timing – on and off the ice, coaches Charlotte Van Uden and Sabrina Snoad push the skaters so that everything is perfect until the last detail. On top of this, all members of the teams are expected to practice in their own time every week. Scattered throughout the year are weekend-long skating camps with head coach Natalie Bartlett who resides in Australia but is available all year round to offer her expertise. She also coaches one of Australia’s top senior teams. 

Ice Angels is a Basic Novice Synchronized skating team, formed only at the start of this year. They have 12 team members and numerous squad skaters (squad skaters are members of the team that are yet to have sat their tests to be eligible to compete with the team). This year they were in constant neck to neck competition with Titanium from the Allegro Ice Dance Club (Auckland), coached by former Sancta Maria College student, Tracy Danbrook. At Nationals, Titanium chalked up 24.82 points while Ice Angels tallied 21.53 points. However, out of the regional and local club champs, Ice Angels took two wins and Titanium one. These teams have been supporting and encouraging each other throughout the year meaning they are healthy competition for the other. 

Below Amanda and Adela, who both started skating last year in Term 2 have a few words to say about synchro:

“I love synchro because I can train, compete and go places with the other girls from my team. Hands down, synchro has to be one of the best opportunities that I have ever had.” – Amanda

“I love synchro because it’s a great team sport and you are able to skate together with your friends. It’s also a really cool sport when you watch it. Synchro has also helped me develop new skills that I would’ve never had without it.” – Adela

Black Ice, a mixed age synchronized skating team, currently consists of 15 members (12 team members and 3 squad skaters). The history of Black Ice can be traced back to six years ago with many of the current team members starting synchro in 2013. Since then, they have been selected to skate as part of the opening show of Disney On Ice for three consecutive years; they have attended five New Zealand National Championships, placing first in four of them. In 2016, they travelled to Australia to compete in the Sydney Synchro Fest, placing amongst the top 5 teams. They have been skating to a constant flow of fresh music including an Abba Medley, Burlesque Medley and most recently a Cirque du Soleil Medley. 

Here is a little more about the skaters in Black Ice:

“I first started skating when I was 9 years old. In 2013, I joined two teams. The Juvenile Blades and the Junior Ice Statix. I’ve loved synchro ever since. Working with your best friends and travelling together make it all worth the time and effort. I’m so thankful for all the opportunities synchro has offered me.”

– Nicola Bebelman

“I’ve been skating for 7 years and started synchro in 2014. What I love about it is skating with a bunch of my best friends and being able to travel with them is amazing. We are not only a team but we are a family.” – Courtney Wertheim

“I’ve been skating for around 7 years and I started synchro with one of my friends when I was around 8. Synchro is a fantastic sport because it can give you opportunities that you would never think of happening to you. And the people you meet and skate with are just some of the most amazing people.” – Victoria Heald

“This is my 10th year skating and I joined synchro in 2013 when I was 10 years old. It is no lie that synchro is hard work and puts a lot of pressure on all team members but the perks that come with it are numerous and the bonds formed are irreplaceable. There’s nothing quite like performing with some of your best friends knowing that you’ve all worked so hard for this moment.” – Katrina Chan

Ice Angel’s next steps are to boost their performance and skating skills to come back better and stronger for the 2019 season.

Black Ice’s next target is to place at the Australian Nationals and broaden their horizons, competing in competitions outside of New Zealand and Australia.

Katrina Chan