When she isn’t pursuing her degree in business management, sophomore Cayton Fitzgerald can be found on the ice.
In synchronized skating — the fastest growing discipline in U.S. Figure Skating — teams take to the ice to complete a series of maneuvers in unison. We caught up with Fitzgerald during the Winter Olympics to talk about all things figure skating.
What is synchronized skating?
As synchronized figure skaters, a team of 16 is expected to move entirely as one unit, completing intricate footwork and transitions as we fly down the ice within an arm’s reach of each other.
What kinds of moves do you do as compared with what we’re watching in the Olympics?
We complete similar lifts, spins and even jumps that you would see in singles, pairs and ice dance. What we do requires extreme precision and unconditional trust in the person next to you; something that may be easily said but is extremely difficult to do.
How long have you been skating?
I started skating when I was 8-years-old. I first passionately trained as a singles skater, as most do. I did not start competing as a synchronized skater until I was 10.
Who should we be watching for at the Olympics in PyeongChang?
One of my team’s favorite skaters is Nathan Chen, a.k.a. the Quad King, who at only 17-years-old has become the first and only skater in history to be competing with five different quadruple jumps. He is an undeniable force on the ice, and a favorite to win the men’s singles event for the U.S. This would only be the second gold medal the U.S. has won in this event since 1988 (Evan Lysacek won in 2010). Needless to say, he is a pretty big deal.
What are the physical demands of figure skating?
Women’s figure skating requires us to be extremely athletic and strong, while conveying effortless beauty and grace. The ability to pick someone up in a lift above your head and back-flip them out is one thing: doing it in an airbrushed, beaded dress, with a full face of makeup and a smile on your face is another.
If your team wins the U.S. Championship, what’s next?
The Haydenettes are the 25-time National Champions, and we hope to once again defend our title. The top two teams from this competition will then go on to represent the United States at the 2018 World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden in April.