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The ABC's of Ice Crew Auditions

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
Excited. Anxious. Nervous. Happy. Eager. Yes, it must be audition season! These adjectives seem to describe the feelings of the contestants while trying out for the 2012-2013 Ice Crew, and certainly represent how I felt while performing for my opportunity to be a member of the Crew for a second year.

As always, I am here to provide you with some behind-the-scenes insight, so lets take a look at the ABC’S of Ice Crew tryouts:

A: Acceleration. Skating skills are crucial for each Ice Crew member to possess; throughout the trial we were told repeatedly that speed on the ice is vital due to the nature of the job. It is absolutely critical for the Crew to be on and off the ice in less than two minutes during stoppages of play, so quick and efficient cleaning of the ice is imperative. To assess whether or not those auditioning had the speed necessary for the job, the first round of auditions consisted of on-ice drills at CONSOL Energy Center. We attacked many exercises including sprints, jumps and backward skating, while ending each maneuver with a crisp stop. Personally, one of my favorite parts of the audition is when we are asked to perform tricks using the entire ice surface. I chose to do a Chinese Spiral (a figure skating move that requires balancing on one leg, while the free leg is lifted into the air and held by the blade), backward crossovers and a lunge (a skating move where one leg is bent in a kneeling position while the other is turned out straight with the boot gliding on the ice). Other tricks performed by contestants included spins and shoot the duck (gliding on one leg in a kneeling position with the other leg extended in front).

The candidates encouraged each other by cheering, especially during the difficult "suicide" drill; I know the supportive claps certainly helped me to skate faster and finish strong during difficult tasks on the ice! Those who showed potential to skate at the level needed to be on the Ice Crew received a call back to attend round two of auditions.

B: Bonding. One of the best perks about being on the Ice Crew is that you now are part of a team that is like family. During day two of tryouts, while waiting for our individual interviews, we were able to spend a lot of time getting to know one another, which helps us to bond and communicate better while skating. While practicing, we often break up into groups for mini team races or teaching sessions. The friendships that we have established certainly make our team stronger.

C: Communication. Verbal and nonverbal communication were also a part of the audition process. During the second day at CONSOL, we each had an individual interview with the judges. A question that seemed to be popular for the returning members was, “Why would you like to be on the Crew again this year?” There was consensus among veterans as most of us gave answers stating that we love everything about the job and have become like a family. Following the interview was another cut and the remaining individuals were asked to be at the arena at 8:30 the next morning.

S: Surprises. During the final day of auditions, our coach executed a great surprise that surely put a smile on all of the Ice Crew hopefuls’ faces. After warming up on the ice that Saturday morning, we were asked to all come to center ice and each put a hand in and shout “Ice Crew!” on the count of three (this is a ritual we do as a team before each game). Immediately after, we were all congratulated on being chosen for the Ice Crew for the new season. Everyone’s reaction was similar: what?! I made it?! Originally, we had thought that Saturday would hold more cuts, and that the team wouldn’t be revealed until much later that day. A celebration commenced at center ice that included high-fives and kind words amongst the newly crowned Crew. After taking a moment to grasp the good news, we continued with our on-ice workout and did not waste any time getting to work in order to prepare for the new season. The session was used to learn new positions and patterns that will be implemented this season during the TV timeouts to clean a larger surface of the ice. Additionally, the new members learned many of the positions and even took the snowplows and shovels out to begin practicing.

The eighteen members of the 2012-2013 Ice Crew have a combined total of over 275 years of skating including experience in ice hockey, figure skating, recreational skating, speed skating, roller hockey, and coaching. We are all overjoyed to be a part of this team and are looking forward to practices and of course the new Pittsburgh Penguins hockey season!

Pretty Ecstatic for the New Start!
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