GREENWICH, Conn. – Greenwich High School seniors Brooke Abbott and Alexandra Scarpulla finished fifth in the world last winter as part of the Skyliners Junior synchronized skating team in the Junior World Challenge Cup.
The girls are hoping to soar even higher in next month’s event, now named the World Junior Synchronized Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Abbott, Scarpulla and the rest of the 20-member Skyliners team will get a a trial run this week at the U.S. Championships in Plymouth, Mich.
“The focus is definitely on worlds,’’ Scarpulla said, who has been with Skyliners for three years. “I think this year we have a great chance to get on that podium. It’s an amazing team this year.”
Abbott, a team captain, has been part of three teams that have qualified for world competition. She believes the chemistry on this year’s squad will help it climb even higher.
“I think it’s so much more exciting this time around,’’ said Abbott, in her eighth year with Skyliners. “We’ve had good chemistry with our teams in the past. It feels like we’re more connected this year.”
Skyliners earned their trip to the Junior World Championships at the Junior Team Selection Competition in January, finishing second to the Lexettes of Massachusetts. They were first after the short program but fell to third in the long. Skyliners held off Team Braemer by a thin margin to finish second.
Earlier this month, the Junior team finished fourth at the French Cup in Rouen, France. The competition included 14 of the best Junior teams in the world, including many the Skyliners expect to see at the world championships.
“I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,’’ Abbott said. “There is so much more room for improvement. In the past year, I think it was a little different. We were happy with how we were skating. Now we’re happy with it, but we’re also trying to perfect it.”
Abbott and Scarpulla have been figure skating since they were little. The global travel, demanding training and juggling of academic and athletic responsibilities has not worn them down.
“The best part is the competition,’’ Scarpulla said. “Whether it’s one person watching or a big crowd, I still get butterflies before every performance. That’s the best part, showing off.”
“I think I’m even more passionate about it now than I ever was,’’ Abbott said. “It has become such an important part of my life.”
Though many skaters move on when they head to college, Abbott and Scarpulla plan to remain with Skyliners next winter. Abbott will attend Barnard College at Columbia University in New York, and Scarpulla plans to attend college nearby. Skyliners train in Stamford, Elmsford, N.Y., and New Jersey.
For now, the focus is to put together a solid show for nationals and fix any flaws before worlds.
“As one of the captains, I’ve been telling the younger girls what they can expect,’’ Abbott said. “It’s nice to be a high-level team, but there are a lot of good teams out there. We’re excited to have the chance to show what we can do. We work all season just to get there.”