Melissa Maykut, Staff Writer

Instead of competing in the Prague Cup as originally planned, the Miami University junior synchronized skating team traveled to Salzburg, Austria to skate in the first annual Mozart Cup Jan. 22 and 23. After a seventh place finish in the short program, the junior team skated to a fifth place finish in the free skate and a sixth place finish overall.

With its large tradition in winter sports and its welcoming of the year of music with a weeklong event called Mozart Week, Salzburg was the ideal place to host an international synchronized skating competition. It was the first time Salzburg has hosted such an event.

Thirteen teams from Canada, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Hungary, Croatia and the Czech Republic participated in the competition. The Lexettes, the RedHawks’ fellow competitor from the United States, also competed in the Mozart Cup.

“It was really exciting because it was new and it was a new venue for everybody,” Head Coach Carla DeGirolamo said. “The organizing committee and everybody from the Salzburg area were really helpful and were really excited to have everybody there.”

Although the RedHawks had a warm welcoming in Austria, illness and a rough travel resulted in a slow start to the junior team’s performance Saturday. In the short program, the Red and White finished in seventh with a score of 39.78. Their fellow U.S. team, the Lexettes, finished in fourth with 45.68 points.

The RedHawks bounced back Sunday, though, when they performed their Broadway-themed program in the free skate competition. The junior team skated to a fifth place finish with a score of 83.00. 

Overall, the ‘Hawks finished in sixth place with a final score of 129.44. The Lexettes had placed third in the free skate and finished third overall with a score of 141.12.

Nexxice (Canada) placed first with 168.31 points, the Musketeers (Finland) finished second with 164.86 points, Team Convivium (Sweden) placed fourth behind the Lexettes with 137.34 points and Stella Polaris (Finland) finished in fifth with 129.44 points, 6.66 points ahead of Miami.

“Their performance really picked up at this event,” DeGirolamo said. “They had a rough practice, and they came back and really skated one of their best programs so far and earned their highest score so far.”

The junior team is off for five weeks competing in the U.S National Championships March 3 to 5. With practices starting at 8 a.m. at the Goggin Ice Center, the junior team is focusing on cleaning up its program.

“We still need to clean things up a lot,” DeGirolamo said. “I think one of the big differences between us and some of the teams ahead of us is we’re still more sloppy in comparison because we’ve been working and training on technical things. We need to make sure we’re cleaning things up and getting more precise.”

The collegiate team returns to the ice Feb. 5 and 6 to skate in the Midwestern Championships, and the senior team returns to action in Milan, Italy Feb. 11 to 13 to skate in the Spring Cup.