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Following Their Dream

Adult synchronized skating team, Ice Force One, takes home bronze at the 2007 U.S. Synchronized Team Skating Championships.

When Canada-native Marion Aube-Monaghan moved to the Washington, D.C., area with her family, she was not sure where she would fit in. Then she found the women of Ice Force One, a synchronized ice skating team based out of the Cabin John Ice Rink in Maryland.

"It is the best form of a team there is," she said. "I was so glad to have found these girls."

Aube-Monaghan, a South Riding resident, started skating at the age of 23 and then later joined a synchronized skating team in Ottawa.

Now, at the age of 37, she and her teammates represented the Washington Figure Skating Club of the United States in Colorado Spring, Colo., at the 2007 U.S. Synchronized Team Skating Championships the last week in February. Ice Force One, a team made up of women ranging in ages from 25 to 67, competed in the adult masters category, taking home the bronze medal. A month earlier, the team took home gold at the Easterns competition, where they beat out teams from Maine to Florida, to head to the nationals competition.

ICE FORCE ONE, founded in 2000, is made up of 19 women from across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., all of whom grew up ice skating and competing.

"I started skating as a child," Margo Pinc, an Annandale resident and captain of the team, said. "Being able to pursue a sport as an adult that I loved as a child is wonderful."

While most of the women are proficient skaters, Aube-Monaghan said the most important part of being a part of Ice Force One is a willingness to learn.

MaryAnn Strunk, 35, from Stafford, who has been a part of the team for five years, said not all good skaters will be able to master the skills required by a synchronized team.

"Just because you are a strong individual skater doesn't mean they will be a strong synchro skater," she said. "There are personal space limitations and other aspects that you don't see as an individual skater."

THERE ARE several requirements a synchronized skating team must execute during its three minute-long program, including a team circle formation, a kick line, a pinwheel and a spatial formation that moves across the ice. In its current program, Ice Force One created an unconnected block formation, made up of four lines of skaters.

"It is the highest degree of difficulty you can do," Aube-Monaghan said.

In addition, the team has highlighted skaters who execute individual skills. The skills are not a required part of the team, but give the women a chance to show off their athleticism.

"We have a very fit, athletic team," Aube-Monaghan said. "We have had a couple of women who have run marathons."

Pinc received her black belt in karate last June as well.

"You use your other sports to buoy the skating and the team," she said.

Pinc said fans are often surprised by the level of athleticism the team has and the difficulty of the program.

"I hear all the time, 'I knew you skated, but I didn't know you were that good,'" she said.

THE WOMEN who make up Ice Force One come from all walks of life, but find a common ground that bonds them on the ice.

"We have a lawyer, a dentist, I'm an event planner; we have stay-at-home moms," Strunk said. "We have so many different backgrounds, but we really come together as a team."

In addition to skating, the members run every fund-raiser, organize every trip and hold their own tryouts.

It is not easy to work full time and pursue a competitive sport," Stacey Sickels Heckel, 40, of Severna Park, Md., who is a coach and skater on the team, said.

"But you do it because we love it," Aube-Monaghan said.

It is the love of the sport that pushes the women to do the best that they can and connects them as a group.

"It made me realize that I can still accomplish all of my dream," Aube-Monaghan said. "Every year we get to compete again. The dream doesn't die just because you are past 30."

"I never thought I would be having this much fun as an adult," Pinc said.