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Fond du Lac Blades win silver in French Cup

Fond du Lac Blades
Posted at 6:53 PM, Feb 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-15 09:43:26-05

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — The Fond du Lac Blades synchronized skating team is turning their silver skates into silver trophies. The junior team just got back from Rouen, France, where they took home a second-place finish in the 2023 French Cup.

The Fond du Lac Blades junior team at the 2023 French Cup
The Fond du Lac Blades junior team at the 2023 French Cup

Jenny McMahon has been coaching the team for over 30 years and said the skaters have been working hard the past several months to prepare.

“You hear the announcer say representing the United States of America, and then they say the Fond du Lac Blades…It's a sense of pride and I want to cry every single time I hear it because it doesn't ever get old,” McMahon said. “And I'm just thankful that these kids have worked hard enough that they get to experience this opportunity.”

For the skaters, this sport is a way of life.

I've been doing it for the past 12 years..... I just, I can't even imagine doing anything else,” skater Annah Bhanpuri said.

The team draws skaters from across the state, said McMahon. Bhanpuri is from Waukesha and said she commutes an hour each way for team practices in Fond du Lac.

“It’s definitely worth it,” Bhanpuri said.

Because the skaters live all over, the team has only three group practices a week— on the weekends and Monday evenings. But to compete on an international level, skaters spend countless hours of their own time practicing individually.

“Each of us practices around three times a week by ourselves, you know, just to keep up the skills,” Bhanpuri said. “Obviously, that’s part of the deal.”

That hard work paid off this year in Rouen, where skaters said the competition’s energy was electric.

“There was a ton of people and even after we got off the ice, there was little kids asking us for autographs and pictures, which we've never really had before,” skater Morgan Timblin said.

But this isn’t the first time the team has competed overseas. McMahon said the team has qualified for several international competitions over the years.

“We have been to Switzerland, Croatia, Sweden, Austria twice, and then this was our first time attending the competition in France,” McMahon said.

McMahon said she’s proud of the skaters for continuing to achieve international recognition.

“We're competing against teams from very large cities from New York, from Boston, from Chicago, from Detroit,” McMahon said. “So for the state of Wisconsin to have such good talent year after year, really speaks highly to the dedication that the skaters put in on an individual level.”

Next, the blades head to Peoria, Illinois for Nationals, where they hope to continue their success.

“I'm super excited,” said skater Grace Guderski. “I'm hoping for a medal.