U.S. Makes Statement at Nation’s Cup & Gold Cup

The U.S. hauled home more than half of the medals, winning eight of a possible 15 at Nation’s Cup & Gold Cup in Bordeaux, France, creating memorable experiences for the 21 teams representing the United States. 

Above: Act 1 of Boston. Photo courtesy of Frederic Bukailo. 
By Troy Schwindt

With the 15th annual National Theatre On Ice Competition just a week away in Evansville, Indiana, a buzz still fills the air following a record-breaking achievement by U.S. teams at the Nation’s Cup & Gold Cup in Bordeaux, France.

More than 500 skaters constituting 21 teams represented the United States at the four-day competition that featured teams from France, Canada, Spain, Switzerland and Germany. The teams performed two programs: a free skate and a choreographic exercise. Programs were evaluated on technical merit and presentation, with emphasis on originality, costuming, artistry and musicality.

Houston Ice Theatre all stand in a line leaning on each other wearing matching blue costumes that look like a galaxy
Houston Ice Theatre. Photo courtesy of Frederic Bukailo

The U.S. hauled home more than half of the medals, winning eight of a possible 15 at the event held at the Patinoire de Mériadeck in late April. An open division was added for the first time, with the U.S. claiming four of the top five spots in the field of 11 teams.  

This historic accomplishment certainly took a village, organizers agreed.

“Love of the incredible sport and commitment by skaters, parents and coaches is what led the effort to get those teams across the ocean,” Triniti Brown, a team manager from Houston Ice Theatre, said. “The opportunity for these skaters to represent the USA motivated the communities to rally together. Families sacrificed, teams fundraised and volunteers worked hours to give these skaters the opportunity of a lifetime. It is incredible to see the talent and the superior quality of skating that the USA brought to France with all of these teams.”

The Nation’s Cup & Gold Cup is held every other year. The host country oscillates between France and the United States, as both collectively have the largest numbers of teams.

“There was a great deal of excitement and anticipation from our athletes,” John Cole, national vice chair of Theatre On Ice, USA, said. “I am proud to say they represented our discipline, our association and our country with great respect and sportsmanship.”

For the first time, an adaptive team was invited to skate at Nation’s Cup. Virginia Ice Theatre, composed of eight skaters, showcased a program.

“They were welcomed by the French Federation in so many ways,” Cole said. “The majority of the French and USA team members were in attendance when they skated, all to a standing ovation; medals were given to each team member. A member of the French federation discussed the team with our coach to learn more of how it could include adaptive skaters into their skating community.”

Skating Club of Boston Leads U.S. With Two Golds

Encore of Boston and Act 1 of Boston, representing The Skating Club of Boston, repeated as Nation’s Cup gold medalists in the novice and junior divisions, respectively, while its senior team, Forte of Boston, secured the bronze medal.

Encore of Boston’s free skate included the added risk of throwing and catching “radioactive” balls.

The team stands in a circle wearing tattered brown and tan clothing. They throw yellow balls into a yellow barrel with the word "radioactive" on the front
Encore of Boston. Photo courtesy of Frederic Bukailo. 

“I think I may have been holding my breath the entire time,” TOI of Boston Artistic Director Adam Blake said.

Blake’s brother, Austin, and TOI of Boston Coaching Director Rebecca Stump, filled in for coach Michael Bramante. It was Encore’s third Nation’s Cup title.

Harmony Theatre Company from Hartland, Michigan, grabbed the bronze medal in the novice class. The team skated to a theme in which the imagination of a young girl takes her on an adventure with her favorite doll; the medley of music included the song “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie. 

Act 1 of Boston’s free skate, created by Adam Blake, is about the struggles and insecurities artists face when bringing a piece to life.

“It’s a universal theme that a lot of the skaters were able to relate to in their own unique way,” coach Brad Vigorito said. “The program culminates with a powerful finish to Cody Fry’s 'What If I Fly' and it was beautiful to see the team embody that message as they skate.”

Forte of Boston brought a jazzy nightclub atmosphere to life.

“The high energy in the arena helped the team rise to the occasion,” Stump said. … “I was so pleased with our three teams’ performances.”

In the Gold Cup’s open division, the Space Coast Hurricanes from the Rockledge Iceplex in Florida, and Houston Ice Theatre earned silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Coach Katie Nyman created both of Space Coast’s programs, including its free skate to a 'Jekyll and Hyde' theme.

“I’m so grateful for the parents and everyone who supported this group of skaters in their efforts,” Nyman said in local newspaper story. “This was such an incredible experience that the skaters will carry with them for years to come.”

Houston Ice Theatre’s road to the bronze medal was full of adversity as it overcame two separate injuries — both broken ankles — to finish on the podium in France.

“The coaches and team stuck together as one, encouraging and working hard to pull the programs together, which was truly was the heart of their free skate program — when they are all together they are one bright light in the sky,” Lisa Hayes, president of the SC of Houston, said.

She added, “the vibe was such high energy and excitement in the arena. There was a sea of red, white and blue. Each time one of the U.S. teams got on or off the ice, the audience cheered and chanted, ‘U.S.A.’ The chants were thundering at times.”

In the Gold Cup’s adult division, Atlanta Ice Theatre’s Unsupervised won the free skate en route to the silver medal. Harmony grabbed the bronze medal.

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