The Park City Icing synchronized skating team traveled to Chicago from Jan. 22-25 to compete in the 2014 Midwestern and Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships.
The Park City group, in its second year of existence, competed in the Pacific Coast Preliminary group, coming away with a first-place finish.
For a team that hasn't had much competition experience, the trip was a great learning opportunity.
"It was a blast doing an actual competition," 11-year-old Karina Barker said. "I liked that we got a 10-minute practice [before competing] that was really nice."
Though Park City only competed against one other squad, the San Diego Shining Blades, in the Pacific Coast Preliminary group (teams that are made up of mostly under-12 skaters), the girls still had a fantastic time competing and watching some of the other 2,700 skaters and 171 teams perform.
"It was a great experience," 11-year-old Sophia Domonoske said. "It was a lot of fun."
From juvenile groups to collegiate groups to adult skaters, the competition featured many of the country's best synchronized skating clubs, some of which will now compete at nationals.
"We wanted to take them to a synchronized skating competition so they could kind of see what it's all about and what the bigger, more advanced, more elite teams can do," program coach and founder Erika Roberts said. "The Midwest has far more teams than the Pacific Coast. They got the opportunity to see them all and it was a really cool experience for them.
The team, made up of Barker, Domonske, Madeleine Darling, Annika Futch, Julia Hetrick, Madie Ho, Kelly Hooper, Andee Lyons, Ellie Mitchell, Hattye Margaret Plemmons, Katya Pushka, Brynn Roberts and Ava Sandoval, had a great time learning to skate together.
"It was a very cool experience for them, a very cool experience for us as well, to let them experience skating on a team and sharing the competition atmosphere with a team, rather than where they all come from in individual competition," Roberts said. "The weaker skaters have to really push themselves to keep up with the stronger skaters and the stronger skaters have to utilize different skills to help bring the whole team together. They're learning some different traits they wouldn't learn in the singles skating program."
But, perhaps the best part for the girls was getting to go to a big city and spend time with their friends.
"It was awesome, especially in the hotel," Barker said. "My grandma was with us, too, and she always scolded us when we were running in the hallways it was really fun."
"We just got to hang out and watch movies and stuff," Domonoske added.
The trip was capped off by a Saturday trip to the American Girl Doll store, where the girls had lunch. That was fun, Barker said, as was one more thing.
"I really liked the opportunity to miss school, too," Barker laughed.