By Gabriel Rom
Between doing her schoolwork, hanging out with friends and being a member of a championshp-winning synchronized ice-skating team, Emma Estrada leads a busy life.
Emma, a ninth-grader from St. Francis Prep who lives in Bayside, and her 11 teammates were crowned National Champions at the 2016 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships last week in Kalamazoo, Mich.
“It was such a fun experience,” Emma said. “It’s exciting knowing that I was up against the rest of the nation, and winning with your friends there just feels so good.”
Emma, a member of the Skyliners Intermediate Synchronized Skating Team, traveled to the national tournament with her teammates to compete among the 12 best synchronized skating teams throughout the country in her division.
Their skating earned the Skyliners their best score of the season as well as their first national crown in the Intermediate division.
The team was established in 2001 by a group of parents who wanted to create the most competitive synchronized skating club in the tri-state area. Now in its 15th year, Skyliners has grown into one of the top synchronized skating teams in the country, with 11 squads and 190 skaters ranging in age from 5 to 26. While the bulk of kids are from the tri-state area, Emma is the only skater on the team to represent Queens
To get competition-ready, Emma and her teammates have undergone a grueling training regimen every weekend from August to February with only Christmas weekend off.
“It gets hard, it does, and it’s tough to balance it all out, but it always gets done,” she said.
She noted that since her group of friends is mostly the girls she has met through skating, socializing and work often go hand-in-hand.
“Knowing that all of the hard work paid off just feels so good,” she said. “ We worked so hard for it,. We won and we got the prize.”
There are approximately 600 synchronized teams and nearly 5,000 synchronized skaters in the United States alone, with elite competitions at both the national and international level. Although not currently an Olympic sport, there is significant movement toward including it at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
“After the win it gave me a lot more motivation that I can go even higher in the sport,” Emma said, before getting back to her homework.
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@