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Two skating teams place sixth in national matches

March 13, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University collegiate and senior women's synchronized skating teams each placed sixth in their events at the 2009 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championship March 3-7 in Portland, Maine.

WMU's collegiate women's team, composed of 22 full-time students, took sixth place out of 12 teams, a significant jump from last year's 10th place finish. The 18 members of WMU's senior team, who competed against seven other colleges and synchronized skating clubs across the country, landed fifth in the short program and sixth in the long program, winning a sixth-place overall finish. This was the same rank that the team held in the 2008 national competition.

"Everything is done by point totals, and the senior team had the highest point total to date. It's nice to see that progression--all the hard work pays off," says head coach Leslie Graham, a 2006 WMU alumna who skated for four years for the University. "We have women skaters from eight different states involved in the club. It's really important for these members to skate in a competitive program and a real draw for the University."

The competition in synchronized skating has been growing as more colleges form teams every year, adds Laura Smith, a WMU junior from Kalamazoo who has skated on the senior team for five years and collegiate team for three.

"The division is getting more and more competitive, and we were proud that we've held our own," says Smith. "More girls are realizing they don't have to stop skating when they get to college."

This is the fifth year WMU's women's synchronized skating has been a club sport at the University. The sport had been a varsity program at WMU until 2004.

Besides this year's national ranking, the WMU senior team took the top spot of three teams at the Jegvirag Cup in Miskolc, Hungary in mid-February. The team took first place in the short program and earned the International Gold Medal for both the short program and free-skate program combined.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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