Meraki — Origin: Greek
(v.) To do something with soul, creativity, or love; to put something of yourself into your work
It’s not all about hockey at Leaside Arena. Stop by any Tuesday, and you’ll see a large group of super-athletic young women skating in perfect unison. Like synchronized swimming, synchro skating has taken off as a respected and challenging sport, and we now have some national champions in our midst. This last February the Meraki Intermediate Synchronized Skating team skated to a personal best at the Canadian nationals in Oshawa and earned their place in the world of synchronized skating.
On Friday, February 23rd, the 19 skaters, aged 13-18, performed their free program with a personal best score for the season against 13 other teams. The field was competitive with teams from across the country positioning for the podium. On the Saturday, the team skated their second performance and finished the event with a gold medal and a total score of 111.32. Their routine is skated to Cuban music and based on the movie The Mask with Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz.
According to Coach M.K. MacDougall, “Meraki Intermediate was ranked 11th last year at their first Canadian Championship which makes this an incredible accomplishment and a testament to all their hard work and determination.”
Asked about the win, Leasider and Meraki skater Leah Aspden said, “It felt really great. We put in so much effort. It’s also a huge time commitment since we practise several times a week from the end of August until February. This year, it really paid off and we were all so happy. It was one of the best feelings ever.”
The team also won third at the Ontario Regionals, hovering near the top until their big national win.
What’s next for the Intermediate team? Leah says, “As of Nationals, we are finished for this season, but we do have auditions for next year starting soon. Our current team has several skaters going off to university next year, so we will have some new faces. Practice begins right after auditions, we break for the summer and start up again at the end of August.” Not much rest for these accomplished young champions.
Although Meraki skate out of Leaside Arena, the skaters come from all over the greater Toronto area. There are varying levels; next season will include beginner, elementary, pre-juvenile, novice and intermediate. Overall, there are close to 80 skaters who take part.
If you know an avid synchro skater, auditions for 2018-2019 are coming up! See merakisynchro.ca.