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Miami heads to Las Vegas for the National Synchronized Skating Championship

Both teams have been training hard since August for the national championship
Both teams have been training hard since August for the national championship

The Miami University synchronized skating program will wrap up its season this weekend in the U.S. Synchronized Skating National Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Synchronized skating, which consists of a collegiate and a senior team, has consistently been one of the best programs that Miami has to offer. The collegiate team has won 21 national titles, and the senior team has made it to the World Championship 13 times. The teams will return to the national championship after a successful 2023 run, which saw the collegiate team place first and the senior team place second in their respective categories. 

For head coach Carla Degirolamo and her skaters, this competition will be the final lap for the season after months of hard work. The team returned to campus in August and worked through the season, competition after competition, until this point.

“It’s a lot of work and a lot of time,” Degirolamo said. “Our season is very long. We hit our competition season in late October, early November, and then we roll on through the national championships and hopefully the world championship with the senior team.”

The training in Oxford after all these months has prepared the skaters for this event. For Josephine Clark, a junior on the collegiate team, Miami trains like no other program.

“Our level of training is very, very disciplined here,” Clark said. “We probably train more than any other collegiate team, and we definitely don’t let that falter at any point in the season. Every single competition, we have a really big push to make another jump. I think it’s because the rigorous training and the skating skills that we get here at Miami is top tier.”

This season, the RedHawks continued their tradition of excellence by placing first in four collegiate competitions and representing the U.S. in the Budapest Cup, where they placed sixth out of 16 teams. 

Trust in the coaching staff and in the training plays a large role in the RedHawks’ success. For senior Natalie Mispagel, every practice and every day on the ice has led her to this weekend. 

“We’ve worked so hard for this moment,” Mispagel said. “Just knowing that we’ve put in the hard work to be able to be successful this weekend. I think that no matter what happens this upcoming weekend, we’re going to be proud of our effort and the commitment that it took to get us to where we get.”

As every competition passes, the teams improve more and more. The collegiate team has scored more than 100 points at every one of their competitions. At the Midwestern Championship in Wichita, Kansas, they scored the second highest collegiate score of all time at 116. 

For Mispagel, these successes don’t come without the proper training at home and intense focus. 

“Whenever we travel, we’re very focused on one goal, and that’s competing to the best of our abilities,” Mispagel said. “We don’t let outside distractions get in our way.”

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At the national championships, the RedHawks are looking to finish the job.

The collegiate team placed first in the national competition in 2022 and 2023, and they expect to add a third victory to their streak soon. In those years, the team has not only placed first, but have even set school records with 116.95 points. 

Mispagel, who was a sophomore for that season, notices a lot of similarities between then and now, which elevates her excitement for Vegas.

“That was a really cool moment for me,” Mispagel said. “Just the amount of work we put into that season. It’s very comparable to this season, which is why we’re really excited for Vegas, but it was just really cool knowing that I was part of something that elevated the sport of synchro completely.”

One of the highlights of the synchronized skating program is the support from alumni. At every competition, skaters who have already graduated show up to make a “sea of red” and make noise for the team by singing the fight song. 

This support from the alumni doesn’t go unnoticed by the team.

“It’s a huge reunion, getting to see where the student-athletes go when they leave us,” DeGirolamo said. “A lot of the time, they’re staying involved in the sport, whether they have a child that’s a skater or they’re continuing on in adult skating or they’re just there as fans in the stands.”

Mispagel and Clark have some time before they become alumni, but they are excited for the prospect of continuing to support the team once they’re done.

“[It] goes to show that Miami skating is not just about these four years,” Mispagel said. “It really goes a lifetime.”

The senior team competes on Friday, Feb. 23, and the collegiate team competes on Saturday, Feb. 24.