Recently attaining club varsity status, the Michigan synchronized skating team has been hard at work in preparation for their upcoming competitive season.

Although it now has club varsity status, the majority of team expenses are still paid by the skaters themselves, which is sure to leave a hole in the pockets of the team members this season.

The team has become a part of the U.S. Figure Skating Association’s international lineup by joining “Team USA.” As a part of Team USA, Michigan has been selected to represent the United States at the Prague Cup in the Czech Republic this coming January.

The financial costs of the trip are immense, but a minor obstacle in the eyes of the team.

“It’s definitely a big financial expense, but the exposure to international judges and experience gained from our trip to Prague will be well worth it,” vice president Stefanie Glasgow said.

At the cup, the team will potentially have the opportunity to compete against teams from Canada, Finland, Sweden, France and Germany.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to represent our country and the University at this prestigious international competition,” said Meghan Hughes, a sophomore on the team.

In addition to the four regular on-ice practices per week, the team has been receiving help from a variety of outside sources in preparation of the upcoming International competition.

“We have a lot of special and key people coming in to work with our team,” coach Anne Copp said. “We are training for our season by a lot of off-ice things, in terms of working with a hip-hop teacher, working with exercise physiologists and getting nutrition information from U of M nutrition specialists.”

On the ice, the team has been working hard on their choreography and skills.

“We are doing on-ice choreography with two Canadian coaches that are top world coaches, and we are working with a pairs coach, and we are also going to be working with a dance coach,” Copp said.

This past weekend the team had the honor to work with the one of the best synchro coaches in the world.

The team members are hoping that all the extra work will pay off during their trip to San Diego in March for the 2004 Nationals, where last year they placed fifth. Until then, the team hopes to receive support from the student body at their ice shows offs and local competitions, including performing in front of the University community at Michigan hockey games.

“We love performing to a crowd,” Glasgow said.

The team’s first competition will be held Nov. 15 in Bowling Green at the Bowling Green Intercollegiate competition.

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