Nick Bonaventura

Miami’s senior synchronized skating team heads to the Winter World University Games after a strong showing in Prague last weekend.

While Oxford, Ohio suffered through ice and snow over the weekend, the Miami University synchronized skating team traveled to the Czech Republic for the 2009 Prague Cup where both the junior and senior teams finished in fifth place.

“The teams performed really, really well,” head coach Vicki Korn said. “Needless to say, both teams felt very good about their skates. Every time we enter competition, starting in December, we just keep moving up a step, so this is exactly where we want to be at this point.”

They were not, however, able to completely avoid the effects of the harsh winter weather before reaching Prague.

“The trip itself was a little bit precarious on the way out because of the cancellations of our flights,” Korn said. “Delta (Airlines) was not willing to work with us to rebook. They wanted to get us out Friday and in Saturday morning, which would have been the day of competition. Finally, after about ten phone calls, we were able to fly out of Cincinnati. We got in a little bit later than planned, about three o’clock when we had to skate at six, so it was a tough beginning for us. But the team did a great job of persevering through all those obstacles.”

This was the first international trip of the season for the RedHawks. The trip was different than past trips because this was the first time that both the junior and senior teams traveled to an international competition.

“We’ve never had quite this large of a group,” Korn said. “We usually just have one team go over, this time we had a traveling party of 49 people. Trying to keep tabs on all them and making sure everyone gets to their correct places is tough.”

Having both teams in Prague did not seem to slow down the team too much, and both worked hard to put in strong performances.

“It went really well,” sophomore skater Amanda Zanotelli said. “We skated two really strong programs and we were able to pull it together in the long (program), so it went very well.”

Despite some wintery weather, the teams were still able to see some sights during their trip.

“On Friday we had the whole day to sightsee,” Zanotelli said. “We went on tours, we got to spend some time with our families, so that was really nice. Last year we went to Croatia and we didn’t get to do much sightseeing there, so I think we had a lot more fun in Prague since we had more opportunities to go out and see it.”

The team has traveled to Prague before, and coach Korn said it was worth the second trip.

“Prague is a beautiful city,” Korn said. “It’s one of those cities that wasn’t really touched by World War II. We’ve been in Rouen, France and gone to Normandy since it’s so close to Normandy Beach. You could still see the ravages of war there. It’s interesting because Prague has only been under Democratic rule for 20 or 30 years, and you can still kind of feel that atmosphere.”

Marigold Ice Unity of Finland came out on top in both levels of competition. The RedHawks do not have much contact with their competitors away from the ice.

“We really don’t see each other off the ice,” Zanotelli said. “We wish each other good luck and everything, but we really don’t have much more contact.”

The RedHawks have two months to go before the ISU World Synchronized Championships, and according to coach Korn, this competition was a good warm-up for the teams.

“The senior group definitely is at the level of being medal worthy at the world championship,” Korn said. “We are hoping that our junior team can better their (U.S. Championship) record of last year, which was fourth, into third or possibly into the top two spots.”

Next up for the ‘Hawks are two exhibition performances at the intermissions of the men’s hockey games vs. Northern Michigan University February 20 and 21. Following those performances, the RedHawks will be heading to Harbin, China for the Winter World University Games Feb. 22-24.