Synchronized passion

University of North Dakota


Nick Nelson

Skaters move in tandem Thursday, September 14, 2017 during Team North Dakota auditions held at the Olympic Arena in The Ralph Engelstad Arena.

Stephanie Hollman, Staff writer

On Thursday, Sept. 14, nine hopeful girls spent their evening at the Olympic Arena in the Ralph Engelstad Arena, showing their moves on the ice in the hopes of securing a spot on Team North Dakota, a collegiate synchronized figure skating team. Team North Dakota was the creation of Mallory Olson, a lifelong figure skater who, upon finding out that there were no big synchronized skating team in the area, charted one herself in 2012.

Despite the fact that these girls were essentially competing for a few limited spots on the team, the atmosphere in the area was very laidback and teamwork oriented. There was a lack of the fierce competitiveness one would expect at a tryouts for the award-winning team and more of a much friendly and helpful atmosphere. This was especially evident when Olson worked with the girls for the teamwork portion of the tryouts and the skaters with more experience helped out and gave tips to those who needed it.

For Lauren Wolfe, 18, who has been figure skating since she was 3-years-old and has had about 11 years of synchronized skating experience, Team North Dakota was her obvious choice for extracurricular activities upon getting into college. Wolfe, a Nursing student at UND, was encouraged to join the club by Olson, who was the head coach at her home skating club in East Grand Forks, and  her cousin, Ellie Akerlind, who has been on the team the last four  years and who Wolfe looks up to.

The lifelong figure skater and now full-time college student has been working to master the balance of school and fun.

“I have always been super busy with skating and school,” Wolfe says, “ So I am used to planning out my studying around skating practice.”

With Team North Dakota being a collegiate team in which all members are required to be full-time college students, Olson has said that she plans the two or three nights a week practices for early mornings or late evenings in order to work with the skaters’ academic schedules.

The tryouts for the competitive team also focused on how the girls could improve their skills, rather than just showcase what they could bring to the group, giving the girls support and even an enjoyable time.

“Tryouts were a lot of fun,” Wolfe says, “For me, knowing the coach already, I knew what to expect and you can always expect fun with Mallory.”

The tryouts included drills that had the girls going up and down the ice, as well as moves that exemplified their abilities that are critical to synchronized skating in particular.

“We did element skills that showed how well we can do different turns that will be used in the routines,” Wolfe said, “Then, we did a couple of field elements that will make up the routine.”

For the skaters, Team North Dakota not only offers them a way to keep their passions for skating alive, it’s also a way to enhance their college experience.

“I am so excited to get to travel with the team and compete,” Wolfe says,  “There is nothing like skating a perfect routine with your closest friends and teammates. I’m also excited to get close and bond with the other skaters on the team.”

Stephanie Hollman is a staff writer for Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]