Team Surprise, the oldest and most successful synchronized skating team in Sweden, will end their more than 35-year history in the sport. Their final competition was the 2018 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, where they won the silver medal. The legacy of Team Surprise will include a new way of educating coaches in Synchronized Skating. Their founder and head coach, Andrea Dohány will shift her focus from every day coaching to building a stronger foundation for Synchronized Skating in Sweden.
“From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank Team Surprise and Andrea Dohány for these many years and an unforgettable legacy. Team Surprise, with Andrea and her team of coaches, were an essential part of Swedish Figure Skating and Synchronized Skating internationally. It is in many aspects, a great loss to the sport of Synchronized Skating in the world, but for Sweden it is a new dawn. Together, we are looking forward to exploring new avenues for the sport in Sweden” – Katarina Henriksson, President of the Swedish Figure Skating Association.
Since September 2018, Sweden has a new Sports Director, Scott Rachuk from Canada. His first week on the job began with the news regarding Team Surprise and has been a part of the discussion on the new initiative for developing Synchronized Skating in Sweden.
“Our goals in Sweden are to compete on an international level in all disciplines. To accomplish this, we need to inform the athletes that there are multiple disciplines in the sport. We need to educate and expose the athletes to these disciplines, plus make all the disciplines attractive to the coaches. This is long-term work that needs to begin now. The success and legacy of Team Surprise will help drive this long-term plan forward” – Scott Rachuk, Sports Director, Swedish Figure Skating Association.
Andrea Dohány has coached all disciplines throughout her career. Andrea has also been a major figure in the world of synchronized skating development internationally.
“In order to compete in the world of elite sports, you have to raise the bar year over year. This was the core value and work ethic of Team Surprise throughout their history. You must push the limits to grow and develop a sport that began as a recreational activity and became a true international figure skating discipline. The world of Synchronized Skating has taken us in many different directions, with the international organizations and various systems of rules. We are at a breaking point and need to step up our plan to make Synchronized Skating count for real. For my part, I will focus on that here in Sweden, and in the forums that I can internationally, for the development of Synchronized Skating” – Andrea Dohány.
The rules on how to do certain technical elements has changed numerous times over the years, as has the level of difficulty that has been premiered in competitions. Different explanations on how to become an Olympic sport has also made it hard to build a sustainable foundation for Team Surprise, and encourage the athletes to continue in the sport.
“There are key factors in how to make Synchro a great sport, that is suitable for television, other media and live audiences. We have struggled with consistency of the rules for many years, which has affected our product on and off the ice. The international judging system needs to create a plan that will last for multiple years without changing the direction. This will help the product and attract more skaters to the discipline. We also need our coaches to embrace all disciplines, Synchro, Pairs and Ice Dance, in the same manner as Single Figure Skating. The key to that is education, both national and internationally” – Andrea Dohány.
The decision on the new direction for Team Surprise, has been a long journey with input and conversations with the athletes.
“I will start to work together with some of the Team Surprise athletes, to train coaches and athletes on techniques used over our many years. We need to combine theory, with practical education and strong training examples. We will create a sustainable development pathway for Synchronized Skating and the athletes in Sweden. I want to continue to work with the athletes of Team Surprise, the best team I know” – Andrea Dohány.
No new team has been appointed Swedish National Team as the predecessor to Team Surprise. The Swedish National Camp for Synchro is set for November 2018 and the direction the Federation will pursue for senior competitions in 2018-19 will be decided following that camp.