Starting this semester, the Daily Princetonian will publish a weekly feature centered on one of the University’s club sports every Wednesday. Clubs interested in a feature should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, the Princeton University Figure Skating Club hosted one of its weekly captain’s practices. Following its usual routine, the group started training with a half-hour warm up off the ice. Stepping into the rink, the club members practiced some basic stroking techniques, worked on endurance and cardio drills, and ended the session with their variation of the Princeton locomotive cheer.
Founded in 1994, the Figure Skating Club began as a way for students to find more time on the ice, get lessons, and compete. Staying true to their roots, the club continues to provide an opportunity for skaters of all levels to enjoy time on the ice.
Since then, the club has also established a synchronized skating team for more experienced skaters looking to compete. Some of the skaters have been on the ice since childhood, but many are simply returning to an old hobby or looking to improve their skating skills.
“Everyone on the team has different experience. Some people have done this since they were four, and other people have never done synchronized skating before,” senior captain Rachel Marek said.
“We try to be as inclusive as possible” sophomore captain Sophia Chen added.
During the year, the synchronized skating team competes against a variety of other club teams, leading up to the Eastern Sectional Championship at the end of January, which features many club teams from across the East Coast. “Our goal this season is basically to come up with a three-minute program that we are going to compete with at the regional and sectional level,” Chen said. “It is a sport with little time, but a lot of reward.”
Chen describes the performances as “the Rockettes, but on the ice.” In past years, the team has competed to the music of “Tango de Roxanne” from “Moulin Rouge,” “Run the World” by Beyoncé, and a Justin Timberlake medley. This year, the club will be skating to the tune of “Dog Days are Over” by Florence and the Machine.
The team has enjoyed a recent string of success at Eastern Sectional Championships.
“We have done really well at that competition. Silver, gold, and bronze has been our streak so far,” Chen said.
This includes a gold medal at Lake Placid, where the United States famously upset the U.S.S.R. in a hockey game in the 1980 Winter Olympics known as the “Miracle on Ice.”
“The award was on the Olympic oval,” Marek recalled. “It was really cool to win something there. Some of our parents drove up and the coaches were crying. There to was a lot of struggles, so to have a really powerful skate was one of my favorite memories.”
In spite of their success, the club is looking for more than just medals at these competitions.
“For us, it’s not really about how we place. But every time we compete, we try to make it the best program yet. That is our goal,” Marek said.
“It is about working together towards, and reaping the rewards of, that, rather than focusing on the placement,” Chen added.
After the competition season is over, practices shift to a more open and less structured format. Members get more opportunities to explore and practice their own individual programs. These practices also give the entire team an opportunity to meet and bond, all while enjoying some time on the ice.
In addition to its usual practices, the club also prepares an ice show each spring, nicknamed “Tigers on Ice.”
“It’s a tradition and it is usually directed by the freshmen on the [synchronized skating] team. It’s like their rite of passage” Chen said. “This is when the entire club gets involved.”
As the new school year progresses, the Princeton Figure Skating Club will be looking to repeat its past successes on the rink. Perhaps more importantly though, the club looks to welcome new members and give students the opportunity to enjoy the sport they love.ove. love.