The Woman Of The Week
"Their professionalism, routines and dresses made a real impression on me"
Welcome to Australia! It is in Brisbane that we find this week's "Woman of the Week". Her name is Beth Howarth, she is 22 years old, she has been skating synchro for 11 years. Originally from Newport, a city on the Isle of Wight in the UK, this sports enthusiast also gives fitness classes to children, and coaches a team in her club. Meet this British girl who decided to live in Australia.
You & Synchro
How did you discover synchro?
Skating at my local rink in the UK my coach at that time Terri Smith asked me to try out synchro where I first joined the Juvenile category at age 11.
What is your background in the world of synchro?
I started in the Juvenile category with the Wight Crystals from the Isle of Wight and quickly moved up to the Junior team called Wight Jewels. We became 4 times British Junior Champions and represented GB 3 times at Junior Worlds. Having taken a one year break from synchro whilst at Brunel University London, the Wight Jewels became a senior team and I competed with them at senior level for two seasons before joining Nova in August 2017. For the past two seasons I have skated with Nova at National level and as a team we have represented Australia at International competitions.
What is your best "synchro" memory and why?
My best synchro memory would have to be Trophy D'Ecosse in 2016, this was my first international competition at Senior level. At this competition Nova were also competing, this is when I first said to my parents that I wanted to skate with Nova. Their professionalism, routines and dresses made a real impression on me.
If you had to remember a program that affected you, what would it be and why?
The program which affected me most would have to be the "Lion King" Free Program I skated with the Wight Jewels in 2016/17. At the start of that season I suffered an injury the day before our first competition and was unable to compete. Later that season at the British Championships I was able to compete with the team, it was such a special performance for me. I knew this would be my last British Championships before joining Nova. I was upset I was leaving my old team but excited about what was ahead.
Describe the costume you were most proud to wear…
The costume I have been most proud wearing is from our short program this season. We skated to Love Runs Out by One Republic, our dresses were black with detailed crystal work. All our dresses are designed by Natalie Bartlett our coach.
What did this sport teach you?
The most important things this sport has taught me is discipline, team work and dedication. This sport is much harder than those watching probably believe. The team has to have so much trust in each other especially within elements such as Death Spirals and Group Lifts. It has taught me that no matter what the outcome is, the team and coach is there for you in success but also disappointment.
Which advice(s) would you give to young people who want to start synchro?
I would tell them to go for it, this sport can bring you so many amazing opportunities but be prepared to work very hard and be totally committed. I have experienced and learnt so much throughout my time skating synchro. Your team mates becoming your family, it is so much fun travelling and competing with them all around the world.
Do you have any rituals before a competition?
Yes I have a few, I always put my left skate on before my right. Once I’m ready I have to hug two of my team members Sabrina and Eliza. Just before we are about to leave the changing room the team huddle in a circle and scream out our negative energy.
By entering the ice, when you hear your team's name being announced at a competition, what are you thinking of?
I feel proud to be representing Team Nova and Australia and I want to make everybody who watches to enjoy the performance and everybody who supports me to be proud. I’m then focused and ready to do my part for the team on the ice.
What’s your favorite element and why?
My favourite element would have to be the Moves Element, I love the different moves that the team are all doing at one time and how impressive it can be. In the Short Program this season each group within the moves had their own moment towards the judges it was powerful and looked impressive. This was at the start of our program where I did a 135.
You travel a lot with your team, which country do you particularly love and why?
I love to travel with the team it’s always fun, we have visited several countries during the two seasons I have skated with Nova. I would say my favourite country is when we compete at Mozart Cup in Salzburg, Austria. The city is amazing and this year was even more stunning with all the snow. We were also lucky enough to be able to do some sightseeing in Vienna, Austria when we first arrived along with some training too.
The Nova Senior
Can you tell us a bit about this team?
The team is coached by Natalie Bartlett, it’s based in Brisbane Queensland, Australia. Nova are three time Senior Synchronized National Champions and have represented Australia at World Championships on all these occasions. Nova were the 2016 Bronze Medallists at the ISU Trophy d'Ecosse in Scotland. Currently the team have two international skaters, myself from the UK and Sabrina who’s from New Zealand.
May you describe both your programs this season?
Our short program was to "Love Runs Out" by One Republic, it was a fast, upbeat routine which I loved skating to. The free program theme was Cops and Robbers, we had 4 girls in different coloured dresses who were the robber gang and the other 12 of us were the cops. The program told the story of the robbers getting out of jail and the cops trying to hunt them down, the final part was the cops finally catching them.
What is your particularity in your synchro team?
That’s a difficult one to answer, there’s so many great skaters in Nova and we all try and bring the best out in ourselves and each other. I would say the main thing I bring to the team is that I always try and motivate them. I also like to think I’m one member of the team that people can come to if they need help with anything.
How is the season organized in Australia?
Our season starts much earlier than other countries, we start competing in September and then our State Championships is in October. Our Nationals is at the start of December with teams are then nominated for overseas competitions at our Nationals banquet after the competition.
What are you goals?
The teams main goal each season is to improve on last season, making sure we push ourselves for harder levels. We also set goals throughout the season and for each competition so we have something to aim for. Recently at our international competitions in Austria and Sweden we met our goals set by our coach Nat and the whole team. Future goals will be to continue to raise the level of senior Synchronized Skating in Australia.
Australia and Synchro
When people think about Australia, they imagine the beaches and the desert and not at all skating. How is synchro skating perceived in your country?
Australia is a very sporting nation and synchronised skating is probably not the first sport you think of. However there are 21 ice rinks across the country and Synchronised Skating is a growing sport in Australia. This year at Nationals we had over 40 teams competing and the event was very well supported. Within this there are currently four junior teams and three senior teams.
To make synchro competitions and face the top of the world teams, you have to travel a lot, how do you find the financing? Does the government help you?
We are very lucky within the state of Queensland that ISQ (Ice Skating Queensland) fund a big part of our trips overseas, also covering some of the fees at Nationals. We are so thankful to them for supporting us as without this it would be very difficult for the team to travel and to compete against top level countries especially considering the huge distance we have to travel. Other costs we try to help reduce with fundraising throughout the season.
In your country, how is the development of sport going? What is made to promote this discipline of skating?
Each state within Australia is very active in helping to develop and support the sport. This includes Aussie Skate with several levels at grass-roots aimed at bringing all age ranges into the sport. From there it develops into Basic Novice through to Junior and Senior, these skaters are essential to help develop synchro within Australia.
In your opinion, how can this sport evolve in the Australia?
I think that because Australia is a very sporting nation and that Synchronised Skating has very good support from the state organisations the sport is going from strength to strength. I believe it can only continue to grow and develop nationally and internationally with the hope as with many other nations for Synchronised Skating to become part of the Olympics.
Thanks to Beth Howarth for taking the time to answer our questions. Next week, we will return to Europe. We will have an interview with the woman who brought synchro to France!
Article by Remo De Tomi
Photography by Beth Howarth & Nova (AUS)
Editing by Catherine Ruta