MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - If you've never heard of synchronized skating, it's only a matter of time. It's considered the fastest-growing discipline in U.S. Figure Skating.
Minnesota is home to one of the top nine junior synchronized skating teams in the country. The Northernettes won a spot on Team USA, and they’re headed to two international competitions over the next five weeks.
Synchronized skating, or "synchro" for those in the know, is dynamic and fun to watch. Alana Christie, the head coach and founder of the Northernettes, said it’s basically a dance team but on ice.
"It's really U.S. Figure Skating's fifth discipline. So, we have ice dance, pairs, and then singles ladies’ and men's and synchro," Christie said.
Christie said the sport has flown under the radar largely because it's not an Olympic sport.
A former world champion medalist herself, Christie founded the team in 2017 knowing the Twin Cities had some incredible skaters between the ages of 14 and 18.
"When I founded it, I said, ‘We're going to start with a junior team, and we're going to see how far we can push this and see if we can get it to Team USA,’" she said.
This is their third year on Team USA and their first time earning two coveted Team USA assignments: the Mozart Cup in Salzburg, Austria (January 19-20), and the Marie Lundmark Trophy in Helsinki, Finland (February 10-11).
"Just stepping on that ice when you're overseas at an international competition, it's a very surreal feeling. You don't get that anywhere else," said skater Olivia Romo.
"Synchronized skating brought me these opportunities, such as skating for Team USA. That was … a goal that I knew I wouldn't be able to make in individual skating," said skater Ella Uhde.
Some of the skaters described feeling burned out while alone on the ice in their individual skating careers, but they said being surrounded by their teammates is a completely different experience.
"We really have to work together and figure out how we can skate close to each other and trust each other and work together as one and not like fighting each other," said skater Elsie Gilder.
Romo, Uhde and Gilder each coach younger teams of synchronized skaters in the organization and said they hope to inspire young skaters.
"Little girls have to decide if they want to go play hockey or figure skate. And so if they know there's a team sport option, maybe it's something they would be more inclined to stick with," Christie said. "If we can tap into every single skater in the Twin Cities that might not know this is an option and give them that, that's incredible."
This sport isn't going to be in the 2026 Olympic games, but it is under consideration for 2030, Christie explained. She said she’s confident it will get there one day.