Dear Skyliners,

As the 2017-18 season continues, the Skyliners have proven we are truly on top of our game! The Senior line performed at the popular competition, Skate America, among the top skaters in the world. At Boston Classic, we took six gold medals and one silver; at the Porter Classic in Michigan, three golds and one silver; and at Terry Conners in Stamford, five golds and one silver. More importantly, the skaters continue to work hard as they gear up for January's competitions including Colonials, Easterns, the Cup of Berlin in Germany and the Mozart Cup in Austria.

This issue of SkyBlast features a competition photo gallery, the December team round-up, a special diary of the Skate America event, and a fun Q&A from Pre-Juvenile Assistant Coach Celeste Cote-Estrada.

We wish you a happy and healthy holiday season! Go party! Go skating! Go Skyliners!!
Skyliners gives back! We are lucky to have so many skaters who are fortunate to skate and be a Skyliner, but as we know, there are many children right in our own area who are not as fortunate. We will again be collecting NEW PAJAMAS (girls and boys 12 months - size 14) for the Pajama Program – a wonderful organization that provides cozy, new PJ’s and great books for the kids who need them the most. It is an easy way for us to make a big difference to a child in need!

See the schedule above for collection times.

This year we will also be taking monetary donations if you wish to donate cash instead. We will then purchase PJ’s to donate! Contact Coach Sarah with questions.

Last December, we collected over 200 pairs of new PJ’s! This year, can we make it 250?
Skyliners is a parent-run organization and we rely on everyone's help to get the job done. Please fill out our volunteer form and let us know what skills and interests you can lend to the organization.


We are in need of parents who can write press releases and contact local media about Skyliners news. Please contact us if you can help. CLICK HERE
featuring Skyliners


Intro at Terry Conners - Silver!
Beginner at Terry Conners - Gold!
Pre-Preliminary at Terry Conners - Gold!
Preliminary at Terry Conners - Gold!
Pre-Juvenile at Terry Conners - Gold!
Juvenile at Terry Conners - Gold!
Intermediate at Boston Classic - Gold!
Novice at Boston Classic - Gold!
Junior at Porter - Gold!
Senior at Porter - Gold!
Here is an amazingly easy way to support your team! Shop for everyone on your gift list this holiday and Amazon donates a percentage to Skyliners! This is a year-round fundraiser, and there is no additional cost to you. So everyone wins! Please bookmark it and have fun shopping!
Central Park Intro
Central Park Intro is having lots of fun and the skaters are working on their program in anticipation of performing at Wollman Rink. Last weekend, they had a "Descendants"-themed team movie day, where everyone had fun spending time together off the ice.
Central Park Beginner 2
This past weekend, CP Beginner 2 performed at the Winter Icetravaganza Show held at the City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City. The skaters did a great job and are looking forward to the SNCY Synchro competition at Chelsea Piers NYC in January.

The Intro skaters were thrilled to perform at their first competition - Terry Conners! They had a blast getting all dolled up at Monsey, had a great practice and headed to the rink for their debut competition. After a great skate they were THRILLED with their SILVER medal finish! It's a great group of hard-working skaters. They are looking forward to learning some new skills for the program as the season rolls along.
Good luck to our Beginner,
Pre-Preliminary, Preliminary, Pre-Juvenile, Juvenile, Intermediate and Novice lines competing at the
January 5-7 in Worcester, MA!

Beginner has had a fantastic start to the competition season, winning gold medals at the Boston Classic in November and the Terry Conners Open in December. The Beginner families enjoyed some fun time off the ice at a team family dinner at Linguine's Italian Eatery in Marlborough. The skaters are excited for their holiday pajama donation party this month and can't wait to get back on the road to compete at the Colonial Classic in January. They'll also participate in Westchester Skating Academy's National Skating Month Exhibition on January 27th. Go Beginner! Go Skyliners!

Pre-Preliminary has had an amazing start to the season! They earned silver out of eight teams in both Essex and Boston, second only to their sisters on Prelim. Competing in separate divisions at Terry Conners, Pre-Pre won gold! Many tweaks have been made to the routine, and it just keeps getting stronger. The girls are having a blast practicing and traveling together. Overheard in the locker room last week: "Next time we're in a hotel, we should all stay on the same floor!" Of course, the reply was a chorus of, "Yes!!!!"

Our fabulous Preliminary girls have been very busy in the last couple of weeks. They competed at the Boston Classic and the Terry Conners Synchronized Skating Open. They did very well at both events. Those girls are so fast! On December 21st, they will do a fun exhibition at WSA in Elmsford, NY. In the meantime, they are getting ready for the upcoming competitions, working on some new features for their program. Go Skyliners!

Third time was a charm for Pre-Juvenile, as they collected gold medal #3 of the season at the Terry Conners competition! It was a busy weekend for the team as they attended both days of the competition, cheering and performing. After cheering on Beginner and Intro, the team enjoyed dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, getting a little fundraising in while they were at it: CPK offered to donate 20% of the food and drink tab back to Skyliners when the manager found out a team dinner was planned. While they dined, the girls got to know each other better by playing “Two Truths and a Lie” in small groups, rotating dining companions between courses. Everyone’s looking forward to the Colonials competition in the new year!

Our feet didn’t touch the ground all weekend!! Juvie had a blast at Terry Conners, enjoying time together to warm up with some fun dance moves and then win Gold! We will be enjoying more team activities next weekend when we get together for a pajama party with Coach Natalie. No wonder we are walking on air with all the fun we are having!

Fun times in Ann Arbor, Michigan as Intermediate took its second Gold win of the season at the Porter Classic and celebrated with a team "rigor mortis" pose! We'll be busy skating hard in December and culminating boot camp with a team bonding event at Trap't Escape Room Adventures - it's an interactive recreation place where Intermediate will solve clues to get out of different locked spaces.

The Novice line had a wonderful trip to the Boston Classic in November where they earned a gold medal! It was a Phantastic start to the season! And then it was off to the Porter Classic where the girls took home a silver medal. They had some time for a practice at the University of Michigan and team bonding with the Junior girls at a team dinner at Bravo Restaurant. And for some seasonal cheer during our first snow "event" of the season, the skaters and parents gathered for a holiday party, where the skaters exchanged Secret Santa presents and were gifted with airplane pillows for their next flight together. It's now back to working hard and gearing up for winter boot camp to prepare for the Colonial Classic. 
Good luck to our TEAM USA Junior and Senior lines competing at
January 5-6 in Berlin, Germany!

Skyliners Junior's season is in full swing with competitions and exhibitions. The line always enjoys heading to Porter where they capped off the weekend with a gold medal! Next on the calendar is a performance at Holiday on the Hudson at Chelsea Piers NYC on Dec 15th. The team loves the opportunity to perform in front of a crowd at this annual event. The international season begins on January 1st with the line heading to Germany with Senior to compete at the Cup of Berlin. They are excited to be able to support and cheer each other on at their first Team USA event together.
Performing at Skate America
Ciana (on the left) and fellow Senior skaters with Nathan Chen (above) and the whole line with Alex Shibutani (left)
Skate America Diary by Ciana Cerruti

I am Ciana Cerruti of the Senior line and this is my first year as a member of Skyliners. On November 4, 2017, I heard the familiar ding from my phone signaling a message from the Senior group chat. As I read through the message, I realized the team had been invited to perform at the Skate America Gala in my hometown of Lake Placid. The team constantly texted back and forth about how excited, thrilled, and honored they were to be able to skate at one of the biggest and most legendary figure skating events to take place during the year. The team thought our season couldn’t start off any better, especially after our successful performances at Anaheim the weekend before. During our time in Lake Placid, we got to meet many of the skaters competing at Skate America, including Nathan Chen and the Shibutani siblings. On Sunday, before the Gala, we had the opportunity to cheer and support the skaters competing in the free dance event. When the time arrived for us to perform, the team skated onto the ice and I could feel we were focused and determined to skate as one. We couldn’t be more privileged and thankful for the amazing opportunity to be able to show our skills and love for our free skate "Cleopatra" program to the world. Go Skyliners!
CELESTE COTE-ESTRADA is the assistant coach of the Skyliners Pre-Juvenile line. She joined Skyliners in 2011, and has been bringing her spirit and fun to the team ever since!
When did you start skating?

I grew up in Southington, Connecticut and my dad used to take us to Ice Capades all the time. I would pester my mom non-stop to skate. She signed me up for group lessons when I was 8 and I realized I liked this whole skating thing. It was the coolest thing ever. I really liked the performing part – it was me and I got to skate to this music and people would clap.
Then, Dorothy Hamill appeared. I always had short hair, and she was my idol. One year she was in Ice Capades and I was able to run up and shake her hand. My dad was in the same business as her father, manufacturing metal parts. Her dad was a client. He would send home autographed pictures of Dorothy; I have a scrapbook. My dad is now a skating judge, Leo Cote. 

How did your skating career develop? 

I trained in Lake Placid for three years, from when I was 11 to 13. I went to school at the big high school in front of the oval. They were building the Olympic arena then. We would go to the old arena, the 1932 rink. Then they built the USA rink in the back, and then they built the 1980 rink, where we skated for a long time. I was a big competitor. I did regionals, I competed individually a lot. I went up to senior ladies.
They had a boarding house for the skaters. My mom would come up. My coach had a son and my mom would babysit her son to pay for lessons.
Lake Placid was such a safe place to be. The kids that I hung around with, we wore snowsuits and walked up that hill every day. Every Friday night, we went to see “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” I was 11, I didn’t know what it was about. We did the Time Warp. I just couldn’t understand why this man was in fishnets and a corset. My mom was like, “What are you going to see?” And she said, “I don’t understand it.” I said, “Mom, I don’t either.” 

What was your first synchro experience? 

I was part of a precision skating number in the opening ceremonies for the World Figure Skating competition in Hartford (Scott Hamilton won that year). We practiced it for many weeks. I was about 13. That was really fun, but I invested so much time in individual skating that I kept that going for a while. 
Celeste partying with 2015-16 Pre-Juvenile "Shrek" skaters
Celeste as Competitor
At some point, you stopped competing individually?
When I was 17, I didn’t want to compete anymore. It really burns you out. It’s such a subjective sport, too. There were a couple of times I competed at regionals, and people would say, ‘Oh congratulations, you’re going to Easterns,’ and then it would be, ‘Oh, you got fourth.’ And after a while you skate so so much, and I was getting ready to think about college, and it wasn’t as fun as it used to be. 
This was about the time you were graduating high school.
Yes. After high school, I did a year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. It was actually a lot harder than I could have imagined. I think if I went to college first and did a theater major in college, that might have been better. You have to have a little bit more life experience. But it was good– it made me more comfortable with public speaking. I did it for a year, and I realized, “Okay, I don’t think this is for me. I’m not sure what I want to do.”
My dad said, “You need a degree so you can always take care of yourself.” So I went to Pace University and did a Business Management degree. I got an administrative job at a real estate development company and they paid my tuition. I did classes at night and I worked during the day. I figured if my parents paid for it, they would say you have to stay at home, but if I take care of myself, then I can stay on my own. 

What did you do after college?
I went into human resource management and that’s what I did for 13 years. I worked for an insurance brokerage firm and a capital investment firm. Then I worked for a construction management firm. I taught skating a little bit, dabbled a little bit at Sky Rink in the city. About once a week I would go skate by myself. For a while in my 20’s, I would still jump and spin.
I was living in Manhattan when I got married to Orlando. Then I got pregnant with Emma when I was with the construction management firm and I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. Orlando said, “Why don’t you go back and teach skating?” I thought, “Wow, I didn’t think of that!”
So, returning to skating made sense at that point.
Yes. Skating is just a part of your life, teaching you skills that you’ll always have, that nobody can ever take away from you. That experience of being in an arena at a national championship – nobody can take that away from you. But it’s not the end all, be all. You have to take that for the experience it is. You need to leave the bubble and go experience life, and then you can come back and decide skating is going to still be a part of your life. 
I literally went through the rinks to see if there was anybody I knew. I started once a week at WSA. I would get on the ice and I found my happy place again, I found the love of skating again. 
With Skyliners Juvenile "Sister Act" team in 2011-12
How did you start coaching synchro?
I taught some of the kids on Team Image. One of the moms told me that one of the coaches was having a baby so I joined then. I started in 2005-6 and was with them for five years. The first year, I just helped with Juvenile. I watched and figured out what all the elements were. Then the second year, Stacey Orfini and I did Preliminary together. We were pretty successful. We were on the podium almost every time. We won Easterns one year. 

When and how did you start coaching with Skyliners?
My daughter Emma said to me, “I want to be on Skyliners” because the Skyliners were getting better and better. Things were starting to change at Team Image, and I called Josh and said, “Do you need help?” and he said, “Yeah, we’d love to have you.”
I started working with Sarah on Pre-Juv. That was the “Newsies” year. So Emma came with me. That’s always fun, coaching your own kid. You’re harder on your own kid because you don’t want anybody to think you play favorites. There’s always a little bit of pressure because you feel like you’re in a fishbowl. 
How would you describe your coaching style?
I think you learn from the coaches who had the biggest effect on you. You emulate what works for you. I have to visualize everything; I have to feel it. So I’m very handsy that way. I put kids in the position where they can feel it. 
I’m not a yeller. I’ll get annoyed and my tone will change, so they’ll know, “Oh you’re not listening.“ I try to have a sense of humor. I try to be detail-oriented to the point where you know you’re losing them if their eyes glaze over. They’re very honest with me because they trust that I’m not going to demoralize them. All I want you to do is try. I don’t expect it to be perfect right away, but as long as you try, I can teach it to you. 

Do you have specific ways of explaining skills to skaters?
Usually as coaches, we have 10-15 things that work. Sometimes my 15 things don’t work. If you’re not understanding it, then I’m not explaining it to you in the right way and that’s my job. I want you to say, “Show me, tell me again,” and then I have to become creative to find a way to explain it.
Celeste and her daughter, Emma
I think I do nurture. I think I do give them confidence. And I think they know there’s an expectation that I have of them: You try, you work hard, you’re respectful. There’s manners on the ice. If I’m talking to you, I want you to look at me. You’re teaching them skating, but you’re teaching them so much more. 
Kids come to me and they talk to me about all these things: problems at school, the mean girl, the good things. The mom will say to me, “She needs a haircut--can you tell her she needs a haircut?” Sometimes they’ve just had a bad day and they want to talk about that. Or a mom will say, “She’s stressed out. Can you just talk to her this lesson? Can this be a therapy lesson?”

What are the biggest challenges in coaching for you?
The hard thing is when children and parents are disappointed. When the skater goes out and does really well, and they don’t pass the test or get the goal that they wanted, it kills you. Your heart breaks for them at that moment. And that’s the hardest thing to get the children to grasp, that they did the best they could at that time. The hardest challenges are to build these kids back up again and not be demoralized. And sometimes the parents get demoralized.
Then I go into my thing: It’s skating, this is part of life, this is a good life lesson, we cannot win all the time. They might not get into the college they wanted. They might not get the job they wanted. This will prepare them for that. We can’t have perfection all the time.
For synchro, everybody wants a full spot, but somebody has to share. You have to say, “This might not be your time, but you’re still a Skyliner.” Everybody has a different path to get to where they want to be, and as a coach your job is to keep them on that path. 

What is the most rewarding thing about coaching? 
When they’re successful at what they do. Whatever their goal is, when they obtain it, that’s my reward. It’s nice when they’re on the podium at Easterns. I feel good when my kids passed a test and they skated well. And when they go off to college, you know they’re going to miss you and they tell you how great skating was because of you. 
At Windham with husband Orlando and Emma
Celeste, Emma and Orlando at Disney World
Describe your life outside of Skyliners. Work? Hobbies?
We have two dogs, both rescues. One looks like Toto, a poodly-schnauzer-cairn terrier mix named Pepper. The other is a shih tzu-yorkie-poodle named Sanabel.
I’m a snowboarder. I’ve done it for 24 years. We go to Windham all the time now. Before Emma, we went everywhere: Austria, Switzerland and the Canadian Rockies. I find similarities between skating and snowboarding, but I can carve edges much deeper, I can go toe to heel; I find it more flowy for me. And once I put the snowboard on, I think, I’m not going to back to skating--that’s it! And the boots are more comfortable. 

What are some things that people might be surprised to learn about you? 
When I was in acting school, I drove a horse and carriage in Central Park. I learned how to back up a horse and carriage to park it. You explained the whole history of all the things in the park: the fountain, the Plaza Hotel, the carousels. My horse was named Hazel.
I have an obsession with Disney. I’ve been to Disney World more than 20 times and Emma shares my obsession as well. My husband Orlando is a retired Marine so we are able to benefit from the military discounts. It feeds my obsession, usually on a yearly basis. The joke is that Orlando loves to go to Orlando (FL). Emma shares the same birthday as Walt Disney. They are exactly 100 years apart: 12/5/1901 and she’s 12/05/2001. And my wedding anniversary date is the opening day of the Magic Kingdom. 
Celeste with her mother, Emma and Orlando
You also have a wonderful story about being adopted, which seems like an appropriately heartwarming note to end on, especially during the holiday season.
I was adopted as a baby, when I was two months old. Back then, unwed mothers did not keep their babies, and I was adopted from one of the Catholic homes for unwed mothers. My (adoptive) mother said to me your (biological) mother loved you enough that she knew she couldn’t take care of you. And she said if I ever wanted to find out who my biological mother is, she was okay with it. She said, “I would like if you had your medical history.”
After I had Emma, I said to Orlando, “I think I want to find my mother just for medical history.” I’d never felt a void. I called Catholic Services and within a week, they said, “We found your birth mother.” And your heart kind of stops. And they said, “And she wants to be in touch with you.” I said to Orlando: “You call her, because I don’t know what to say.” And then it turned out that the day I called her and spoke to her was her birthday.
She was in Ansonia, Connecticut, living with her mom. (She was getting divorced at the time.) I met her when I was 37. She was like 20 when she had me; she was in college. She told me, “I was so naïve and didn’t have any experience and kind of fell for this guy, and he turned out obviously not to be so nice and so forth, so the best thing for me was to give you to somebody that could take care of you.” 
And the day my (adoptive) parents came to get me (from Catholic Services), she bought me this gold bracelet with a charm. It had my birthdate on it. She forgot it at home and for 37 years she had it. Her mother would hide it in the pots and pans in case someone broke into the house because, my birth mother said, “We wanted to meet you someday. I remembered your birthday every year. February 3 rd . And I would go to church and light a candle because I wanted to meet you.”
After I met her, I called my dad and said, “I met my birth mother.” He got a little insecure about it. He said, “I don’t know how your mom’s going to take this.” But my mom said, “I’m so glad, I really want to meet her too. I want to thank her for giving me my daughter because without her, I wouldn’t have you.” My mother said we should invite my birth mother to Emma’s baby shower. And we did. 
Coach Nina showing true spirit with Beginner line in 2010
Skyliners sleigh! With some time off at Lake Placid Easterns 2015
Dig up your SkyBlast from the Past pics and send them here for the next edition...
Skyliners was established in 2001 by a group of parents who wanted to create the most competitive synchronized skating club in the tri-state area. In that first year, the team had three lines - Preliminary, Juvenile and Intermediate. Sixteen years later, Skyliners has grown into one of the top synchronized skating teams in the country, now 12 lines and 200+ skaters strong. While the majority of the skaters reside in the tri-state area, we also have skaters from Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Our resume of achievements includes 21 Eastern championships, 10 National championships, 6 International gold medals...and 10 years designated TEAM USA. 
Dream Skater Blog
To follow our three Skyliners DREAM skaters throughout the 2017-18 season, visit the official U.S. Figure Skating DREAM Blog, Facebook page and Instagram account where Emily Kirillov, Kelsey Bialo and Kylie Saloma will give updates throughout the season.

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