When Erica Bolton was at the World Arena and first saw the Haydenettes earn a bronze medal in the 2010 World Synchronized Skating Championships, she was amazed and laced up her own skates for the sport the following year.
"It was pretty unbelievable," Bolton, 19, said. "At the time, it didn't dawn on me that I could be skating for them a couple years later."
The Haydenettes returned Thursday for the first day of the U.S. Sychronized Skating Championships. The team is favored to win their 22nd national title in the event's senior division. The championships run through Saturday, and are hosted by The Broadmoor Skating Club and governed by U.S. Figure Skating.
That same year Bolton first saw the world bronze-medal team from the Boston area was also the first season Nellie Schamaun skated as a member.
This time around, Bolton and Schamaun are skating together; Bolton in her second season and Schamaun in her fifth.
The team has won four consecutive world medals and barrels toward a fifth if the Haydenettes qualify again for April's world competition in Italy. To do so, the Haydenettes must finish among the top two teams this weekend at the World Arena.
"The goal is to skate two solid programs," Schamaun said. "And if a medal happens to be, we'll take it."
Synchronized skating requires speed, accuracy and complex formations involving up to 20 athletes working a routine together. The U.S. synchronized championships are in its 30th year while the world championships have been contested since 2000. Last year's world championships took place in Boston where the Haydenettes took another bronze medal.
This year's U.S. championships are special for Schamaun and Bolton, however, since both skaters are originally from Colorado.
Schamaun hails from Westminster and began skating at 5. She started synchronized skating at 7. Bolton is from the Cherry Hills area of Denver and started skating at 4. She became a synchro skater three years ago and is now a student at Boston College.
"We never skated together in Colorado," Schamaun said. "It's always cool to have someone skating with you from your state."
"I couldn't be happier to be a part of it," she said.
Founded in 1979 by coach Lynn Benson, the Haydenettes are the only team to have won a world medal each of the last four years.
"It was the most unbelievable thing in my life," Schamaun said of the 2013 world championships. "The boards were shaking, because the crowd was so unbelievable."
Both Schamaun and Bolton said they were attracted to synchronized skating from singles competition for the same reasons.
"There are 19 other girls going through the same mindset you are," Schamaun said. "It's not all on me. You depend on each other, and it's much more fun than just being out there by myself."
Bolton said she enjoys the goal-setting aspect of competing as a team. Once on the ice, however, each girl focuses and hears nothing but the music selected to accompany their routine, they each said.
"We are well trained," Bolton said. "We don't do any more, and we don't do any less. We do it just the way we were trained."
The Haydenettes perform their first program of the championships Friday afternoon.
Live and on-demand coverage of the Friday and Saturday schedule is available to Icenetwork.com season pass subscribers. Daily event tickets can be purchased at the World Arena box office. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children 12-3, seniors over 60 and military. Admission is free for kids 2 and under. All seating is general admission.
To learn more about the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, visit 2014synchronizedchampionships.com.