Hockettes travel to Europe for Cup of Berlin
Merin McDivitt – Feature Editor
The Hockettes, a synchronized skating group based at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube and featuring several Pioneer students, traveled to Berlin, Germany, last month to compete in a prestigious skating competition. While the team did not receive top honors this time around, they were champions in 2005 and have won several other competitions since.
But once the trip began to draw near, the girls got excited about traveling to foreign countries. However, there were some stresses before they departed. They received an official packing list only a day or two before they left, so packing and costume preparation were a little rushed. The packing list was created by their manager, so “the only issue was fitting everything we needed to bring as well as everything I wanted to bring for days that we could choose what to wear,” Pioneer Hockette Abbey Maxbauer, a senior, says.
Luckily, a performance only a week before the trip ensured that packing up wasn’t too much of a hassle. “We had another competition the weekend before,” says junior Susanna Wang, another skater from Pioneer, “so all my skating gear was already packed.”
Practice and competition were, of course, a big part of the trip. The Hockettes had high expectations. “The actual ‘Cup of Berlin’ trophy is still on display at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube,” says Coach Donovan. They performed well this time around, placing sixth overall.
Each synchronized skating team performs two numbers: a short and long program. “This year, our short program is to ‘Together Again’ by Janet Jackson,” Wang says. “Our long program is a collection of songs by Queen.”
The Hockettes were happy with their performance, although they felt the long program hurt their excellent short program. “We did really well,” Maxbauer says. “We had one of our best skates ever in short program with a new personal best score.” The team enjoyed both of their programs, but for Maxbauer, their Janet Jackson number was more than just a performance. “The song has a light and fun beat,” she says, “but some really beautiful lyrics that are meaningful to the team and represent our strong bond.”
But the trip wasn’t all work for these Ann Arbor teenagers. In addition to competing, the girls visited a number of famous landmarks and museums in Germany and the Czech Republic. “The skaters visited many historical sights while in Berlin including the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and the historical city center,” Coach Donovan says. They went to Prague, considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, as well. “We took a few tours and visited one museum,” Pioneer ice skater Samantha Howland, a junior, recalls. “My favorite part was walking around Prague at night and seeing how pretty the city is.”
Prague was a great experience for the other skaters, too. Maxbauer was able to connect what she learned this year in school with what she saw in the historic city. “One of the museums we went to called the Pergamon Museum had a lot of art and architecture that I learned about in Humanities,” she says, “so seeing it in person was a cool experience.” Her teammate Megan Reynolds, also a senior, adored Prague, and it made her see some United States architecture differently. “America is so ugly,” she jokes. “I want to move to Prague!”
But the sights weren’t all the team got to see. They also met fellow skaters from all over the world. “A few of us took a picture with some skaters from the Finnish team,” Wang says. The Hockettes also met girls from other parts of Europe. “We met lots of girls at the Competitors Party from places like Finland, Sweden, Italy, and Germany,” Maxbauer says. “It was so great meeting girls from other places who share my passion for skating.”
The girls aren’t the only ones who are proud of their work. Coach Donovan is impressed by her team’s work ethic, talent, and drive. “The team has worked very hard to prepare for this event,” she says, “and takes a lot of responsibility for their duty to represent the United States abroad.”
While the trip was lots of fun, the coach knew the girls took it seriously. “They [were] fully prepared to expand their understanding of the world, improve their athletic experience, and represent our country,” she said.