Holy Family junoir Anika Olson skates with Minnesota’s synchronized skating team, The Northernettes Junior. The junior team traveled to Neuchatel, Switzerland, to represent Team USA in at the 2022 Neuchatel Trophy, an intertional competition. The Northernettes Junior competed against 10 other teams from Spain, Finland, Hungary, Germany, Nertherlands, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States. Anika and her team finished in second place in the competition, their first international event.
We caught up with Anika to learn more about this unique her sport and her experience competing with an elite synchronized program.
How old were you when you first started figure skating?
I was four years old when I started figure skating and I was 13 when I started synchronized skating.
Did you do any other sports? If so, how did or why did you decide to focus on synchronized skating?
I did gymnastics, softball, and ballet when I was little. Then I decided to just focus of figure skating. I chose to start synchronized skating because my sister really enjoyed it and I went to try it out at a workshop and had so much fun I decided to try out for the junior team. I was able to make the team and I was so excited to be able to have my first year synchronized skating on my sister’s last year.
When did you join The Northernettes?
I joined the Northernettes when I was 13 and in 8th grade. This is the youngest you could be to compete at the Junior level.
What do you enjoy most about synchronized skating?
I really enjoy being able to develop strong relationships with my teammates. I also enjoy the opportunities I have gotten from competing at such a high level.
While synchronized skating is a team sport, just as in dance, individual abilities contribute to team success. How do you continue to improve?
I have continued to grow in my synchronized skating skills through pushing myself more to help achieve these high goals. I have become a better at doing each element through the focus and drive at practices and continued work with my teammates. I really wouldn’t be able to do it without there support and our ability to work so well together. I think this is the best team we have ever had and we all have such a great bond, which has definitely shown in our achievements this season.
How often does the team practice?
The Northernettes Junior Team practices 8-9 hours per week on ice, over three weekly practice sessions (most practices preceded by 30 minutes of off ice practice). Every couple weeks will also do an office choreography time to go over specifications for the programs.
Your team practices at the University of Minnesota several times a week and travels frequently for competition. How do you balance being an AP and Honor student with this level of competitive skating?
I am able to balance school through talking with my teachers and coming up with a timed layout of how and when I will get each assignment, project, or exam completed after my travels. I wouldn’t be able to do it without my teacher’s support, and they are all very helpful and encouraging which makes my schoolwork a lot easier.
Your team was one of the teams selected to represent the USA as part of Team USA for international competition. I believe your original plans changed. Can you tell me more about the February competition?
We originally were assigned to compete in Milan, Italy in the middle of February, but the competition was canceled due to COVID rates in the country. We were reassigned to compete in Neuchatel, Switzerland.
What was the experience like? (waiting for response from Anika)