Alana Christie: "I was told often in the early years that it wouldn't work"
Alana Christie, 27 years old, coaching one of her teams. (Credits: Liz Banfield)
No club, no rink, no skaters. That’s what Alana Christie faced back in 2017 when she started the Northernettes teams in the USA. The young and talented coach devoted endless passion and hard work into her dream of redeveloping high level synchronized skating in the Minneapolis area.
Alana Christie is the founder and director of Northernettes Synchronized Skating. She is also the head coach of the Junior, Novice and Intermediate teams.
Founded in 2017, the Northernettes train at multiple rinks across the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and the skaters come to practice from as far away as an hour and a half.
"A skating friend of mine reached out on behalf of Team Braemar's coach Pam May to see if I would be interested in skating for Team Braemar Junior. Having never tried synchro before, I was excited and inspired to take my love for skating and competing in a new direction. That first season, I totally fell in love with synchronized skating and in love with being a part of a team, and I am still a part of this incredible sport 10 years later!"
Alana Christie: After finishing my four years at Miami University, I moved back home to Minnesota having gained even more love and passion for synchronized skating. Team Braemar and Pam May had built such a high level, competitive synchro organization, but unfortunately that all changed in the years I was in college. Given that the Twin Cities has always been a great skating community, I felt there was now a big hole in the local skating marketplace without a Junior level synchronized skating team.
Being so lucky to experience high-level synchro in my own competitive career, I knew I wanted to stay closely connected to the sport and I recognized this as a challenging yet very exciting opportunity to again have high level synchronized skating in the Twin Cities skating community. From the beginning, my number one driving inspiration has been to try to help create similar competitive opportunities for area skaters and to help other skaters learn all about our amazing sport.
Historically, most synchronized skating organizations in the USA emerge from established USFSA clubs or ISI clubs or "Community Learn to Skate Programs". I had no skaters and no club affiliation. I was just determined to get the Northernettes launched.
It's fairly unusual to initially develop a competitive synchronized skating organization with a Junior level team of mostly freestyle skaters. Without the benefit of building up higher level teams from an established feeder system of young "synchro" skaters, I instead devoted all my time and energy, and endless passion into getting our organization off the ground.
I was told often in the early years that it "wouldn't work", that "there is no way to start a successful synchronized skating organization with a Junior team first", but here we are!
Yes! Especially at the higher levels from scratch without the benefit of an established culture. From the beginning, it has taken a lot of blind faith in my vision from many skaters and families. And yet each season, we have had more and more skaters want to be part of our sport and want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
By far, my greatest personal satisfaction has been helping so many skaters find or rediscover their love for skating through synchro. I am grateful to so many who have helped me provide this opportunity for so many skaters, and in return I am so thankful for all our skater's hard work, passion, and commitment to synchronized skating and to the Northernettes!
Our goals continue to change and evolve as the whole world and the whole skating community continues to navigate this terrible pandemic. Our current skater goals are to continue to develop our skating and synchro skills, while also gaining any possible meaningful competitive experience (both virtually and live). Our organization goals are to do everything we can to promote and grow our sport and to hopefully inspire other accomplished skaters to try synchronized skating!
We have been very determined to do everything we can to continue our season and our organizational growth. We feel extremely fortunate to have been on the ice a fair amount given how many teams throughout the U.S. have had limited opportunity. We were able to start skating drills in June, and then could start doing connected skating in July. We continued practicing throughout the early Fall and were able to take part in the Dr. Porter Virtual Synchronized Skating Classic. Ultimately, our rinks were closed in mid November and we have been on a six week state mandated pause from any on-ice activity. Our teams have continued their training by staying in touch via virtual exercise and dance classes.
Skating rinks reopened in Minnesota on January 4th and we feel very fortunate to have been able to resume practice on January 6th. Masks are now required on the ice for all our practices and we excitedly are training again for both virtual and hopefully one or two live events.
Because I grew up as an individual skater, I am very cognizant of all skating disciplines as well as respectful of the many individual skaters and individual coaches. However, I am steadfast in my goal to continue growing this amazing team sport of synchronized skating. Minnesota has had a rich history of high level synchronized skating and hopefully we can be a big part of this history. Perhaps the Northernettes story can also inspire others to create and develop other new synchronized skating organizations around the USA and/or world!
My dream has a couple of layers. First, I want to inspire as many skaters as I can through synchronized skating and through being a part of the Northernettes organization. Secondly, I hope the Northernettes story can inspire the creation and development of even more new high-level competitive synchro organizations around the USA and internationally.
Most importantly, I want our sport to continue to grow and flourish! I am incredibly thankful for my skating and synchro team experiences and I want as many motivated skaters as possible to have these same opportunities. Synchronized skating is a sport filled with amazing athletes creating pure magic on the ice. Our sport deserves Olympic Games inclusion and I want to do everything I can to help promote synchronized skating. I am very lucky as my passion is my work. I love this sport!