Londoner at home with mates

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

Synchronized skating is all about sticking together and right now, the Canadian champion Nexxice team is one tight-knit crew.

Just ask Londoner Allison Proudfoot, who won't be bunking at home, sweet home in preparation for the world championships slated for a jam-packed John Labatt Centre this weekend.

"It's a little weird because I'm staying in a hotel 10 minutes from my house," the 19-year-old York University theatre student said. "But I'd rather be at the hotel because it's important to be together with the team this week."

A former member of London-based 2001 national champion, Synchronicity, Proudfoot joined the world-class Nexxice squad last year and made the daily commutes to the team's two training bases in Burlington and Waterloo.

"When I'm in Toronto, I go with a couple of girls from Barrie and there's also a London car pool, too," she said.

The London and area contingent on Nexxice includes Proudfoot and Ilderton's Sheri and Cara Moir while Abby Bryan-Pulham hails from Woodstock. Victoria Vlasic's family just moved to the Forest City, although she attends the University of Waterloo.

There's pressure on the home skaters to help produce Canada's first medal since it managed a bronze medal the last time the event was held on domestic ice -- at Ottawa in 2003. Growing world powers Finland and Sweden have combined to win all the medals at the past three championships, which were held in Europe.

"When we got back from France (a fifth-place finish at the French Cup in Rouen in late January) this year, we knew we were going to have to work harder and we did put in the work," Proudfoot said. "When you get to competition, you never know what can happen but we're going to give it our best shot and hopefully, it's enough."

Synchro skating, formerly called precision skating around these parts, has a committed following in Canada and that will be evident in London this week. One thing both Canadian teams -- Nexxice and Les Supremes from Quebec -- know is they will have to have their routines down to deal with the expected excitement from the crowd.

"We've been told it'll be so loud, we won't even be able to hear our music," Proudfoot said. "The Labatt Centre is a little bigger (than the Civic Centre in Ottawa) but it's still going to be crazy. For me, I'm excited to be skating in front of my family and friends.

"Synchro has changed a lot the past few years. There's a lot more emphasis on edges and turns but the showy stuff is still there."

Nexxice will skate to the Righteous Brothers' Unchained Melody in its short program on Friday and then break out a medley from the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack for the Saturday free skate.

"The Scissorhands music is from the musical that's playing in England," Proudfoot said. "It's coming to Toronto soon and we are all interested in seeing it."

Synchronized skating events, which involve 20 competitors on the ice at one time, are generally hard on an ice surface. Organizers will keep the JLC ice three to four-degrees C colder than the usual figure skating temperature, almost the same as for a hockey game.

"Logistically, synchro is about the same as a national figure skating championship," said Jackie Stell-Buckingham, Skate Canada's chief skating programs and events officer. "Fans will follow their favourite synchro teams around the world to watch them compete."

The event will be re-broadcast on CBC television on April 14 (2 p.m.) and April 21 (2 p.m.). Live coverage will air on CBC Country Canada at 6 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday.

2007 CHAMPIONSHIPS

Practices: Today and tomorrow, 8:30 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. at Western Fair Sports Centre

Competition: Short program: Friday, 6:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre; Free skate: Saturday, 3 p.m. at the JLC

WORLD STANDINGS

Year City

Gold Silver Bronze

2006 Prague, Czech Republic

Finland Sweden Finland

2005 Goteborg, Sweden

Sweden Finland Finland

2004 Zagreb, Croatia

Finland Sweden Finland

2003 Ottawa

Sweden Finland Canada

2002 Rouen, France

Finland Sweden Canada

2001 Helsinki, Finland

Sweden Finland Canada

2000 Minneapolis, Minn.

Sweden Canada Finland


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