Synchro skaters

A group of skaters take to the ice during a practice session. Carolina Ice Synchro and Triangle Formation have joined forces to create Carolina Formation.

Synchronized ice-skating teams Carolina Ice Synchro (CIS) and Triangle Formation (TF) will lace up their skates together this season. The newly merged Carolina Formation brings together two of North Carolina’s most accomplished synchro groups. “Both CIS and TF have earned trips to Nationals over the years, but combining forces will now give us depth,” explained Carolina Formation’s co-director, Jamye Gaster. “We anticipate six teams for 2021-2022 and hope to have 100 skaters in our organization by the start of the competitive season in August. That’s just crazy exciting!” The new group is also working on fielding the first Junior team of North Carolina in 2022. “We hope to offer a team for all interested, from the recreational skater to the elite,” said Gaster

Carolina Formation has a deep bench of powerhouse coaches. Along with Paula McKinley, Gaster established CIS in 2001, with many alumni skating at the collegiate and professional levels. World-champion skater and fashion designer Jannika Lilja serves alongside Gaster as co-director for Carolina Formation. Head coach and choregrapher for the TF synchro team since 2016, Lilja brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. 

“Jannika grew up skating in Finland and won her first gold medal at Worlds in 2006,” said Gaster. “She is a guest coach to teams around the world, giving her extensive connections in the synchro world, both nationally and internationally. She is also an amazing designer, creating dresses for not only our teams but teams around the globe.” 

It’s the team’s superfans, the parents, who might be most excited for the merger. The wig-wearing dads of TF will now cheer for their athletes with CIS’s skating moms. 

“We have big camaraderie,” said Analia Lehmann, whose daughter is joining Carolina Formation from TF. “[CIS] has been very welcoming, so it’s been really great. At the end of the day, it’s for the kids, so we want to make sure that we have a great team.” 

Parents, coaches, and skaters are also hoping to bring more awareness to the sport. “Many people have not heard of synchronized ice skating, but I promise you, it is one of the most exciting disciplines of skating to watch,” said Gaster. Lehman adds, “For kids who love skating and love team sports, this is a great combination of both.  Skating as a whole is challenging, but this provides them an opportunity to have a team.”

While the competition season does not begin until August, skaters work on perfecting the fundamentals. The athletes practice Saturday mornings at Hillsborough’s Orange County Sportsplex and meet virtually for sports conditioning once a week. For more information on the Carolina Formation, visit www.carolinaformationsynchro.com.