PORTLAND – The 2009 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships will take place March 4-7 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The North Atlantic Figure Skating Club of Falmouth is the host club of this year’s event.

Competition begins Thursday, March 5, with the juvenile free skate. The event will conclude Saturday, March 7, with the senior championship free skate.

The event, sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating, features 92 teams and more than 1,800 skaters competing in eight divisions: juvenile, intermediate, novice, junior, senior, collegiate, adult and masters. Teams qualified for the event through placements at their respective sectional championships or through a bye due to international competition. The top two senior-level finishers will qualify for the World Synchronized Skating Championships, April 3-4 in Zagreb, Croatia. Last year’s senior champions, the Haydenettes, placed fifth out of 22 teams at the World Synchronized Skating Championships.

Synchronized skating is the fastest-growing figure skating discipline, characterized by speed, accuracy and intricate formations and transitions performed by teams of eight to 20 athletes. It started nearly 50 years ago when a group of skaters was organized to perform at University of Michigan ice hockey games in Ann Arbor, Mich. It has since grown into a competitive discipline, with thousands of athletes participating all over the world.

Tickets may be purchased at www.theciviccenter.com or at the box office the days of the event. Individual tickets are $25 per day. All-event passes are available for $60. (Discounted tickets are available for seniors, children under 10 and active military personnel). All seats are general admission.

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