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Local dancers went for the gold – and got it

United States National Junior Pom Team members, including some from Waterford’s Foursis Dance and Gymnastics, celebrate after they learned that they won a gold medal at the International Cheer Union World Championships at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando (Submitted Photo/Southern Lakes Newspapers)

Foursis athletes claim world title

By Jason Arndt

Waterford representatives from the United States National Junior Pom Team couldn’t believe they captured a gold medal at the International Cheer Union World Championships in Orlando.

The United States National Junior Pom Team, composed of representatives from Foursis Dance and Gymnastics and Hartford-based Energizers Dance Team, entered the final competition in second place on April 25 before producing an energetic performance to claim the world title a day later.

Deanna Schicker, owner of Foursis Dance and Gymnastics with three of her sisters, said the dancers took what they learned from judges’ notes in the semifinal round and had a better routine the following day.

“Anything that they saw that we needed to work on, we were going to make sure that when we went on stage, that we were going to have a better performance,” Schicker said. “On the second day, they had just an outstanding and energetic performance. They ended up winning, and they are world champions.”

Trailing Japan after the first day, Schicker and team representatives acknowledged they might have had the needed score, but had to wait until final confirmation from judges at the competition.

“Nothing is ever solidified until you hear your name called,” Schicker said. “After they announced the second-place medal going to Japan, I think everyone just let out so many screams and cries and joy that they had done it.”

But that wasn’t all for the partnership between Foursis and Energizers, with representatives from both programs joining together to win a silver medal as members of the United States National Youth Pom Team, which equaled the performance from last year’s world championship.

According to Schicker, the Youth Pom team finished a close second behind Japan, which presented a challenge for both teams.

Audrey Schoenfeld, 18, a member of the gold-medal winning team, said Japan was loaded with talent.

“They are incredible dancers and are a great team across the board,” Schoenfeld said.

Dancing with confidence
Kendall Schicker, 17, daughter of Deanna, didn’t exhibit any anxiety on the second day of competition.

In fact, she used the audience as motivation, noting the crowd brought needed energy to the team.

“We were very confident and excited to get out there and show them that we wanted to win,” Kendall said. “Everyone cheering for you is very exciting. It motivates you to put out your best performance and make everyone proud watching at home.”

Schoenfeld concurred, adding she used the semifinals as fuel to exceed expectations during the final competition.

“Knowing we were in second place on that second day automatically lit a fire underneath our team and pushed even harder,” Schoenfeld said.

Braylin Saglin, 14, who represented both teams, recalled disbelief when she heard the announcement that one of her squads had captured the gold.

“I couldn’t believe it. My heart like stopped. Did we really just get called as first place?” said Saglin, whose mother, Becky, co-owns Foursis with Deanna and their two other sisters, Alicia Padilla, and Christina Gaudynski.

“Coming from second from the day before, it was shocking knowing that we went up so far to know that we just won. It was crazy to me.”

Saglin, unlike Schoenfeld and Kendall Schicker, had the daunting task of balancing responsibilities for the Youth Pom and Junior Pom teams.

But Saglin said she worked diligently on endurance, practicing with team members, to put forth an equal effort on both squads.

“It was definitely challenging,” Saglin said. “You had to make sure you had the effort for both teams. Practicing with everyone made us stronger. Everything got easier as time went on to make sure you were giving your best effort.”

Schoenfeld couldn’t quite put the squad’s accomplishments into words.

However, she felt fortunate to earn a selection to represent the United States and small-town Waterford.

“I am just super grateful for the opportunity to compete for (the U.S. National Junior Youth Pom team), getting to win and bring that title home to small town Waterford,” Schoenfeld said.

Foursis Dance Gymnastics had a total of 28 dancers on both teams.

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