Congratulations to O'Connell senior LaDan Nemati who returned this week from Salzburg, Austria with a bronze medal around her neck. LaDan is member of the Skyliners Synchronized Skating Team based in Stamford, Conn. Her team captured third place at the prestigious Mozart Cup, where they were one of two senior-level teams representing Team USA.
What is synchronized skating? According to U.S. Figure Skating, "It is a team sport in which 8-20 skaters perform a program together. It uses the same judging system as singles, pairs and dance and is characterized by teamwork, speed, intricate formations and challenging step sequences." Teams at the senior level, like LaDan's team, perform a short program consisting of required elements, and a longer free skate program.
Based on their performance at competitions earlier this season, the Skyliners senior team was named to Team USA for two international competitions so far: the Mozart Cup this January, and the Snowflakes Trophy in Zagreb, Croatia in March. In addition, the team is preparing for the US. Synchronized Skating Championships which take place in late February in Rockford, Illinois.
For LaDan, this medal is the culmination of years devoted to her craft--first as a young individual figure skater, and later honing her skills as a part of a synchronized skating team. She originally skated locally with Team Ashburn, but in recent years she sought out a higher level team in order to better challenge herself.
"When I auditioned for the Skyliners' team, my family and I discussed the kind of commitment it would take for me to compete on a senior team--the highest level in this sport," said LaDan. "It was a decision no one took lightly." Now most of her weekends start with a Friday afternoon train trip to Connecticut, and include team practices on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, before she returns home, sometimes very early Monday morning.
Despite the rigorous weekend schedule, LaDan is an honor roll student and a member of the National Honor Society at Bishop O'Connell. She also finds time to be a peer mentor for students receiving expanded services. She is not 100 percent sure of what will come next for her, but she is thinking about studying biology and business, and eventually pursuing a career in the medical field. For now she is soaking in the experience of representing her country on the international stage.
Skate great, LaDan!
Pictured above - LaDan (center) and her team skate their short program to "California Dreaming" by Sia.
Pictured below - The Skyliners Synchronized Skating Team receive their bronze medals at the Mozart Cup in Austria.