Getting in synch with a national powerhouse

Kenn Oliver
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Local skater Nicole Burt joins reigning six-time Canadian champs

Following a successful tryout last month, figure skater Nicole Burt, 19, was asked to join Nexxice, the country’s leading synchronized figure skating team. The St. John’s native will move to Burlington, Ont., to skate with the reigning six-time national champs. — Submitted photo

When Nicole Burt and her synchronized figure skating teammates had their first introduction to the national championships three years ago, they were blown away by what they witnessed from Nexxice, a senior team from the Burlington Skating Centre in Ontario.

“All of our jaws dropped,” says Burt, who skated with the Prince of Wales Skating Club’s intermediate synchro team, Synergy. “We’d never seen anything like it.”

At that time, Nexxice were coming off a stellar 2008-2009 season during which they claimed their third straight national championship and became the first Canadian team to win the world championships. Since that time, the team has won three more Canadian titles, including a dominant showing this year in Windsor, Ont.

“Their points overall this year were like 206, and the team in second place scored something 180. That is a huge difference in figure skating because a lot of the time it’s only one-tenth of a mark you beat someone by.

“They are the Cynthia Phaneufs and Joannie Rochettes of synchronized skating in Canada. They’ve always blown everyone else out of the water.”

And following a quick tryout in late April, Burt now counts herself among them.

“It’s hard to believe,” says the 19-year-old from St. John’s. “I won’t believe it until I’m there.”

After reaching gold status in all her levels locally last spring, Burt and her mother, Donna, and synchro coach Shirley Thistle joked that the time had come to apply to Nexxice. In Burt’s mind, however, it was a real possibily so she contacted Nexxice coach Shelley Barnett inquiring about tryouts.

Burt sent her some sample skating videos and Barnett’s interest was obviously piqued.

“Last fall, she asked me to come up and skate with the junior team because there was still some space, but I was in MUN then and I had committed to Synergy. I couldn’t just up and leave, but I said I would like to go to the tryouts (in the spring).”

A couple of days worth of skating later — much of it alongside experienced members of the team — Burt was offered the chance to join Nexxice for the upcoming season.

“I was so nervous at the tryouts. I was keeping up with them and I didn’t fall or anything, but inside I was freaking out completely, and I’m still freaking out completely.”

Admittedly, Burt is still worked up over as joining the team requires her to leave the family nest and move to Burlington on her own.

“I think that’s part of the reason I feel so overwhelmed about it, not only am I representing the country but I’ve got to move out on my own.”

Burt will stay with Barnett for the first month or so, and has already been in contact with some other Nexxice skaters looking to share accommodations.

koliver@thetelegram.com

Twitter@telykenn

Organizations: Burlington Skating Centre, Prince of Wales Skating Club

Geographic location: Ontario, Windsor, Canada MUN Burlington

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