Editor's note: the following also appeared in the Feb. 5, 2013 print edition of The Compass.
Stepping onto the ice at the East Hants Sportsplex in Lantz, NS, the Trinity-Placentia Figure Skating Club Explosions had one skate to make a good impression.
It was Jan. 26, and the 13 females ages 13 to 18 were looking to impress the judges at the Atlantic Synchronized Championships.
Seamlessly, the group from the Trinity Bay region glided through their routine, hitting every mark, every turn of the head and every arm movement.
"It was a great skate," said team member Renee Osbourne, 18. "It was perfect."
Feeling good about themselves, the pre-novice group huddled together, waiting for their scores.
"We heard it wasn't going to be that long," added Sarah George, 16. "Usually, it takes some time for the scores."
As the seconds ticked by, the tension mounted.
When finally the judge arrived, she was swarmed by the enthusiastic teens.
"They hovered over her. They didn't even give her the space to breathe," said coach Dana Smith.
The team had scored a 23.50, good for first place and a whole point above their closest competition.
"We went nuts," said George.
"We just screamed we were so excited," added Osbourne.
Only one practice
The Explosions are three-time defending provincial synchro champs. The team arrived in Nova Scotia on the Friday prior to the one-day competition, with only enough time for one practice in their unfamiliar surroundings.
"It was a really good practice," said George.
Ordinarily, the entire skating club attends competitions. This marked the first time the synchro team set out on its own.
"It was different that what we were used to," said George.
Smith said the experience was "fantastic."
The team made a stop at the Atlantic Cirque, the school for the circus arts in Halifax, where it could participate in some circus-like apparatuses like the trampoline.
"It was a good team-building thing," said Smith.
It's one thing to be getting on a plane and going to a competition in a different province. It's a completely different thing to come back as a champion.
The trip is smoother, the airline food tastes better and it's easier to sleep on the plane.
"The plane ride back was better," said George.
Smith finds joy in how her skaters feel about winning the gold.
"I'm quite ecstatic for them," she said. "I'm more pleased with how they feel."
George said it took a couple of days for the victory to sink in.
"It feels amazing," she said.
But, how does it sound to be called Atlantic champion?
"It sounds really good," said Osbourne. "I didn't think we'd go to Atlantics and we won. It makes it more special."
Meanwhile, the synchro team will look to defend its provincial crown when it travels to Torbay Feb. 15-16.