ON DECEMBER 10, 2011, WE ARE GOING TO BE 14 YEARS OLD.
With 130 skaters who make three competitive teams: seniors (16 to 30 years of age), juniors (12 to 19 years), novices (10 to 15 years) and juveniles and synchro-school (4 to 14 years) Zagreb Snowflakes is the biggest and most popular skating club in Croatia, although in the youngest, but nevertheless the most attractive skating discipline - according to the International Skating Union - with some 500 teams in 30 countries throughout the world.
Fifteen previously competitive skaters have decided to lace up their skates again and form the Zagreb Snowflakes Adult team, bringing our total number of members to 145. For the first time in our history, age is no longer a barrier to forming a competitive team.
This is the tenth competitive season for our senior team. Three of the last year's senior skaters joined the Adult team, including Lana Orban, who has been a member of the club since its first day and performed 161 times. They have been replaced by five junior skaters: Matea Koller, Lucija Sekulić, Virna Šonje, Ana Taslak and Josipa Penić. Sandra Pavičić, who skated for the senior team last year, was named the club's head coach.
Fifteen of our skaters have performed more than one hundred times. Buga Orban is the senior team's captain, Kristina Radaš co-captain.
Our Senior team has successfully competed at nine World Championships : Rouen (France) 2002., Ottawa (Canada) 2003., Zagreb (Croatia) 2004. and 2009., Gothenburg (Sweden) 2005., Prague (Czech Republic) 2006, London (Canada) 2007, Budapest (Hungary) 2008, Colorado Springs (USA) 2010., Helsinki (FIN) 2011.
OUR SENIOR TEAM IS THE NATIONAL TEAM AND THE MEMBERS HAVE A HIGHT STATUS OF THIRD CATEGORY ACCORDING TO THE CROATIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE. For two previous years they had status of the second category which they earned with their excellent result at the World Synchronized Skating Championships in London (Canada) 2007 where they finished 16, and 11th country out of all entered and 8th out of all European countries (5 best placed countries from the previous Championships may enter two teams). We were better them the best teams from more developed countries: France, Austria, Hungary, Great Britain, Australia…and only a place behind Italy, two places behind the Czech Republic and three places behind Japan. Three years earlier the Snowflakes had their best result at the World Synchronized Skating Championships in Zagreb 2004 when they were 17th.
Year 2007 was the most successful in our history. The senior team beat teams from Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary.
In 2001 our Junior team competed at the first Junior World Challenge Cup and won 10th place. The competition in Neuchatel was the unofficial junior world championships and our young team became senior the following year.
Our senior team represents a mix of experience gained so far and desire to prove itself further in future competitions. Age does not matter - the only thing that does is the fact all the skaters are in love with their sport. Because how else would one explain the need to wake up at dawn, travel first by train, tram, bus and then walk for half an hour before reaching the venue of a three-hour practice. A practice which rarely goes by without pain and tears, and all this to one day step on the ice and before thousands of spectators show the beauties of synchronized skating. The same goes for our juniors and, slowly but surely, novice skaters.
We attract considerable media attention. In the past nearly 14 years there were some 600 newspaper articles about us as well as 150 radio and 100 TV shows and features. The 2009 World Championships was televised in prime time for both competition days when TV viewers could enjoy the beauty of this sport for 5 hours.
Our club and its work were a topic of the June issue of 2004 (a four page spread) of the only specialized synchronized skating magazine – the US “Synchronized Skating Magazine”.
We caught NBC's attention in April 2010 during our unplanned prolonged stay in New York. Half the senior team, together with coaches and a few parents got stranded in (according to many) the most attractive city in the world due to volcano eruptions in Europe. Various American and Croatian TV networks covered the story for days - the story of World Synchronized Skating Championships competitors and the wonderful Barr family who selflessly opened their home to the Snowflakes.
We are the most successful and the best organized synchronized skating club in this part of Europe. According to the competitors and visitors of our annual Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy, as well as international skating experts, we are among the best in the world when it comes to organizing synchronized skating competitions.
We had great performances in 12 countries: USA, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, The Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Great Britain and Austria.
We are proud of our accomplishments; especially of the 17th place at the World Championships in Zagreb 2004 16th place at World Synchronized Skating Championships in London and 10th place at the World Cup for Juniors in Switzerland 2001. We are also proud winning of first places as Juniors at Frost-Work Cup in Miskolc, the Hungarian Nationals and our own Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy in 2001; second place at Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy in 2002, 5th place in 2007, and when our juvenile team won gold at the Frost-Work Cup in 2003 – they continued their success as novices with the bronze medal at the 2006 Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy and silver in 2007; and the latest novice medal – silver at 2008. Jegvirag Cup in Miskolc, 3-place in Biasca 2011., first place in Budapest, 3-place on Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy.
We are proud of our skaters, all excellent high school and university students, who train 5 hours a day every August while others are enjoying their summer holidays on beaches, and who work with a top foreign coach on their new programs for the upcoming season.
All our teams, from senior to synchro school, take part in numerous skating competitions and other sports events every year. We have skated in the Gala of one of the longest-running and most famous figure skating competitions in Zagreb, the Golden Spin. In 2008 we opened the skating season in Sisak with a 50 minute show. We performed at the openings of skating rinks in Delnice, Dubrovnik and Split. At the beginning of 2008 we performed at the Opening Ceremony of the European Figure Skating Championships.
Our novice and juvenile teams are the stars of mini ice rinks all over Croatia. The “Snowflakes” are among the main attractions of the rich program in the days leading up to Christmas organized by the City Assembly and the Tourist Office of the City of Zagreb. They also performed at the mini-rinks in Rijeka, Šibenik, Krk, Slavonski Brod, Virovitica and Požega.
We are the only club in the history of this sport to have organized two World Synchronized Skating Championships: 2004 and 2009. In both Championships skaters from 23 teams from 18 countries from all continents competed and had a great time. Before Zagreb only the cities in the most powerful countries of the sport organized this championships: Minneapolis and Colorado Springs (USA), Helsinki (Finland), Rouen (France), Ottawa and London (Canada), Gothenburg (Sweden), Prague (the Czech Republic) and Budapest (Hungary).
Both the 2004 and 2009 World Championships was one of the biggest and most attractive sport events ever to have been held in our country. The number of competitors, 1500 guests from all over the world, 10000 delighted spectators in the stands of the Dom Sportova arena, fantastic media coverage… It was a complete success thanks to the enthusiasm of the organizing team with only one professional and over 200 volunteers gathered in our club. The honorary patron was the President of Republic of Croatia at the time, Stjepan Mesić, and the patron was Vlasta Pavić, the Mayor of the City of Zagreb (2004) and Milan Bandić the Mayor of the City of Zagreb (2009)…
Several times the Zagreb Snowflakes met with the (now former) president Stipe Mesić, who fell in love with the sport watching the 2004 World Championships.
We did a great job organizing eightZagreb Snowflakes Trophies. A record-breaking 23 teams (novices, juniors and seniors) with 550 skaters from 10 different countries competed at the Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy held in March 2003. On eight Zagreb Snowflakes Trophies a total of 59 different teams from 15 countries from Europe, America and Australia competed. We successfully organized an ISU judging and coaches seminar in 1999 and in 2004 and 2007 we organized, and moderated, a regional coaches and organizational seminar.
There were ten major Synchronized Skating Competitions held in Zagreb from 2001. – 2010. A total of 107 different teams from all continents performed and over 65 000 spectators watched.
Zagreb was an excellent host of the 10th World Synchronized Skating Championships in 2009. Five years after we made history after being the first city ever to host the World Synchronized Skating Championships (2004) and the World Challenge Cup for juniors (2002) and as the city where synchronized skating celebrated its 50th anniversary – Zagreb became the first city to host the World Championships twice. It is the greatest tribute to the highly organized team with over 150 volunteers gathered in the club which has been organizing events since 2001 and enjoys hosting big competitions to the delight of skaters ane ISU officials from around the world.
Long-term strategic planning, expert policy and leadership continuity are key for achieving success and satisfaction: After twelve years as club's president, Zoran Kovačević - a sports journalist and sports official - was named honorary president in June 2010. His successor is Arnold Čada, a municipal court judge and sports enthusiast who decided to dedicate the next four years worth of free time to the club. Davorin Orban, a former skater and coach, successful president of the “Golden Spin” and "Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy" Organizing Committees and a renowned ISU judge, still helps us with his expert advice. We have to mention Darko Mahnić, the club's first secretary, from whom Arnold Čada took over four years ago.
We invest a great deal into the work and advancement of our Croatian coaches. We enable them to attend seminars abroad, and during summer camps in Zagreb they and the skaters work with top foreign coaches. For the first 7 seasons the head coach was Kristina Blat. She was succeeded by her assistant coach Danka Đurašević from 2004 to 2008 and again during the 2009/2010 season. Long time junior and 2008/2009 senior coach Sara Perl decided to relocate to Norway this year and use her knowledge and experience to help develop synchronized skating there.
The position of the head coach was given to Sandra Pavičić, last year's junior team coach. The youngest skaters are coached by former national team members Ozana Miljković and Azra Delić. Former skater Ivana Gagro has been the teams' dance coach since 1998. Vanja Maoduš recently left the coaching staff and went on maternity leave to welcome her baby Patrik.
We had a chance to work with the world’s best coach. Finnish Anu Oksanen, coach of the 2002, 2004 & 2006 world senior champions, and the 2003, 2004 &2006 world junior champions, declined some inviting offers from Canada and the US to come to Zagreb to work with us in summer 2002&2003. In the summer of 2004 our guest was Anu’s first assistant - Janna Hautamaki. Our coaches and skaters learned a lot and improved significantly working with the best. Anu is always with us though – as a supervisor, advisor and friend.
Organizationally, we are a role model for many clubs, even outside of skating. We wouldn't be so successful without the best doctor in the world Josip Feldbauer and amazing conditioning trainer Marinko Petričević. Until three years ago we worked with the psychologist Amir Zulić. They have greatly contributed to our results and atmosphere. We are proud of them as they are of us for our effort, enthusiasm and togetherness of skaters, parents and club management.
Our serious work, progress and results helped «create» the first Croatian ISU Championships Judge. Josip «Joško» Cerovac judged the World Synchronized Skating Championships in London and made history as the first Croatian judge to judge a World Synchronized Skating Championships. He was on the judges panel during the 2009 and 2010 World Synchronized Skating Championships in Zagreb, Colorado Springs, Helsinki, Finland 2011.
We have our club pin, calendar and booklet. We can be recognized by all the important “little things” that make our members happy and delight their skating friends all over the world. Our pin and annual booklets have reached many skaters and officials on all continents.
We are known for our enthusiasm and serious work. Our goal is to make sport a way of life for our skaters and their parents, and to help them realize both on and off the ice that sport builds personality, leads onto the right path and helps create working habits and healthy people.
Many have acknowledged the fruits of our labour, many offer their help, many are with us, sponsors and even the most prominent city and government institutions: Zagreb Sport Federation, City Office for Education, Culture and Sports, Croatian Olympic Committee and Ministry of Science, Education and Sports. We haven’t let anyone down. We are convinced that those, and many others, will support us in the second decade of our club. We appreciate it all and continuously strive to show the beauty of synchronized skating.