Moscow 2010, Day 1: Spain and Russia start favourites

The FINA Synchronised Swimming World Trophy is holding its fifth edition from December 3-5, 2010 at the “Olimpiyskiy” pool in Moscow, Russia. The Russian capital already hosted the World Trophy for its inaugural edition in 2006. In today’s first session, all seven participating nations – Canada, China, Egypt, Japan, Russia, Spain and Ukraine – took to the stage to perform in two events: the Synchro Highlight Routine and the Thematic Duet. The World Trophy has an exclusive programme with scores given for Artistic Impression only (i.e. choreography, interpretation of music and manner of presentation) and events are held as direct finals.

SYNCHRO HIGHLIGHT ROUTINE

It’s a first award winning performance for Spain which bested Russia in the Synchro Highlight Routine, totalling 96.500 points. The  Spaniards set the tone from the beginning, wearing a golden swimsuit and mask, displaying perfect synchronisation – not an easy task with 12 swimmers in the water! – and excelling in creativity, especially regarding the lifts; one of them involved a swimmer in a bridge-like position over another swimmer performing the same position.



Spain in action - credit: Giorgio Scala


The squad from the host federation finished second with 96.375 points. One of the swimmers made a dramatic entrance playing a drum while another was dress up as a wolf (she covered herself with a fake wolf skin). Since time on the deck is not limited, the Russians took the opportunity to present their theme before entering the water, wholeheartedly cheered by the spectators from the stands.


The Canadian team claimed third spot with 95.250 points and was decisively the “shiniest” tonight, with lights fixed on their hands and fully sequined, multi-coloured swimsuits. Canada offered a rousing performance to the delight of the crowd – they created an impressive dragon-like figure in one of their lifts.

Asked about how they build-up their routine, Canadian coach Chen Meng offered these comments: “This is really a team work. We wanted to put something new to the judges and the audience. We really would like people to enjoy synchronised swimming more and more and do synchronised swimming.”



The Canadians made a bright entrance - credit: Giorgio Scala

The team from Ukraine, who is taking part in their first World Trophy, offered a high-level performance and ended at the podium’s door, not far behind Canada, with 94.875 points. China and Japan took fifth and sixth place respectively. A notable performance was also that of Egypt, closing the ranking of the event, which transformed the deck into a ring and used boxing gloves in the water, swimming on the famous song of the movie “Rocky”.

Theatrical skills and acrobatic mastery were decisively on display throughout the first event of the competition, the Synchro Highlight Routine, firstly introduced in 2009 in Montreal. In two minutes time, the public gets to see a fast and vibrant routine, with teams of 12 swimmers successfully putting together, in this order, a platform lift, a cadence action and a throw. Accessories and additional equipment were skillfully used either on the deck or in the water.

Many teams had their faces fully or partly painted, wearing shiny or sequined swimsuits to accent their theme, and many also did not hesitated to punctuate their routine with screams in order to add more power to their already very theatrical performance. Yet what was probably the most mind-boggling was the surprising array of lifts and throws that transformed the performance into a great show for the judges and the audience alike.

THEMATIC DUET


The Russian culture was at the heart of tonight’s second event, the Thematic Duet, which entered the World Trophy programme in 2007. Here, athletes must use accessories and swim on a music reflecting the culture of the host country.

It is the Russian duet Milena Miteva/Elena Prokofeva who climbed the highest podium, totalling 96.875 points, in front of an ecstatic crowd. They were closely followed by Spain’s Andrea Fuentes and Ona Carbonell, who tallied 96.375. The Spaniards made a remarkable entrance dressed up like astronauts – they were the only team whose theme did not refer to Russian artistic or musical culture. Even more creative was their equipment – two floating buoys which were firstly fixed by a weight on the pool's floor – and which they used perfectly throughout their routine, performing acrobatic movements and figures as if they were in space.  


The "astronauts" from Spain - credit: Giorgio Scala

The surprise came from Daria Iushko and Kseniya Sydorenko from Ukraine, who placed third, totalling 94.375 points, ahead of Canada’s Marie-Lou Morin and Camille Bowness, who placed fifth.

Commenting on their first World Trophy experience, Team leader Svitlana Saidova said: “We are very excited to be here! It’s a great opportunity for us.” And the duet partners, who've been swimming together for six years, to add: “We’re glad and upset at the same time because we wanted to win.”

As for Japan’s Risako Mitsui and Yuma Kawai, they had to settle for the fourth place. The duet accurately turned their performance into a humorous act using a hula hoop and amusing the audience with their theatrical skills inspired by the clowns from the Bolshoi Circus ("Great Circus"), the Russian National Circus, famous in Japan.    


Japanese clowns inspired by Russia's Bolshoi Circus - credit: Giorgio Scala

After Day 1, Russia and Spain, the only teams to have medalled in the two events, start favourite for the overall race for the World Trophy. Day 2 will present the Solo Exhibition and Thematic Team.