KC Illusion brings home Kansas City’s first national medal in synchronized skating

KC Illusion brought home the pewter medal in the 2023 U.S. National Synchronized Skating Championship. // Photo by Sam Atagana

The Kansas City Illusion synchronized skating team brought home Kansas City’s first National medal last weekend at the 2023 U.S. National Synchronized Skating Championship.

The Kansas City Illusion is an elite synchronized skating program in Kansas City, and within the program there are nine teams split up by age group.

The Masters team is the oldest age group, and the only team from KC Illusion that qualified for the 2023 National Championship. There are 15 skaters that took the ice for the competition ranging from 28 to 57 years old.

The team was shocked to see they scored over 50 points. // Photo by Sam Atagana

Synchronized skating is a unique type of ice skating competition because it is the only time large teams compete together. For most ice skating competitions, you only see a soloist or duet on the ice. 

Since synchronized skating requires larger teams, sometimes it is difficult to recruit enough skaters for a program. This was the first year enough adult skaters tried out for KC Illusion and they could form a Masters team. Little did they know they’d be going all the way to nationals in only their first year.

The Masters team brought a Vegas themed show to the competition in Peoria, Illinois this year, a concept that head coach Kameryn Furman says veteran skaters have been begging to do for years. It featured songs like “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley, “Luck Be A Lady” by Frank Sinatra, and “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga.

The Masters team has been working on their Vegas program since August. They underwent a two-day, intensive bootcamp after the team members were selected, and have been perfecting the show throughout the season. 

In addition to competitions, the team met every Sunday to work through the show. This is the best way to work around jobs and family, while also prioritizing the team.

To qualify for the National Championship, KC Illusion had to place in the top four in the 2023 Midwest Synchronized Sectional Championships, Jan. 26-28. However, going into sectionals, they knew that their program was scoring well enough to make it into the competition.

Furman explained that the team was consistently scoring in the 40s. With this score, they had no expectations of a medal. They were actually expecting to get sixth place out of the 12 competing teams.

KC Illusion competing at the national champioship. // Photo by Sam Atagana

“Going into the competition you can see how your score stacks up next to teams that are coming from other sectionals,” Furman says. “We didn’t have the expectation of getting a medal.”

Their expectations only plummeted further the morning of the competition when one of the skaters woke up with food poisoning. 

“We were like ‘okay it looks like we’re just going out on the ice and to have fun,’’’ Furman says. “We were really just hoping that we could rally and help her make it through the show.”

The sick teammate was able to take the ice, but the rest of the team knew they had to be absolutely dialed in to make sure the program was clean. 

Many of the shapes that are made during a synchronized skating performance depend on skaters grabbing onto each other and passing through narrow spaces. With a skater on the ice that wasn’t feeling well, a trip or misstep could take the entire team down to the ice. 

After the show, the team stood to see their scores and almost couldn’t believe that they had gotten a 50.54, putting them into medal position, and making them the first adult level in KC Illusion to score over 50 points.

Furman, is a member of the team as well as the head coach. So, she was able to build this year’s program completely from scratch, then stand arm-and-arm with her teammates as they eagerly awaited to see their score.

“Viva Peoria!” // Photo by Sam Atagana

“It was a special moment that we didn’t expect to have,” Furman says. “We were in shock. It meant that we had beaten multiple really really good teams in order to be in that place.”

While KC Illusion has been an elite skating club in KC for many years, their adult team was not a serious competitor until Furman took the reins. 

“They had built a really strong program with alot of youth teams and not so much on the adult side,” Furman says. “So, I said ‘hey can I help with these adult teams?’”

Last weekend Furman got to see her, her assistant coach, and all of her teammates’ years of hard work payoff. Getting this medal after only one year with a Masters team tells her that there are no limits to where this team and program can go.

“There’s always something more that you can do in skating,” Furman says. “No one on the team besides myself has ever had a national medal in synchronized skating. This has been a goal for them since they were on their first synchronized skating team, and to be able to accomplish that goal is so special.”

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