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BELLE IN CROATIA

Belle Ostermann of Beaver Dam recently competed in an international skating compeition in Zagreb, Croatia. She is shown here skating with her team to the Beyonce song, "End of Time."

The name Isabelle “Belle” Ostermann is familiar to many in synchronized skating — both locally and beyond — even more so now that she and her team placed third in the 2019 Zagreb Snowflakes Trophy Competition held Feb. 8 to 10 in Croatia’s capital city.

Ostermann began skating in Beaver Dam at the age of 3, inspired by her hockey-playing brother, Nick. Skating was — and is — a family affair, with older sister Tessa also joining in the fun.

She started taking lessons at age 5 and began pursuing all the opportunities offered through the Beaver Dam Family Center. Ostermann also competed with the SwanSyncSation team in Beaver Dam (and will solo in its program in April).

Ken and Mary Ostermann encouraged their children in all of their endeavors and each has become accomplished in their pursuits with strong family support and involvement.

Belle is now a senior at Beaver Dam High School and has been skating with the Blades Syncro Junior Synchronized Skating Team, based in Fond du Lac, for the past five years. This is Belle’s third year of international competition in the past four years.

Ostermann and other members of Team USA traveled to Zagreb the week before the competition and spent the first day touring the city’s many landmarks. Zagreb has about 1 million people and all of Croatia has about 3 million residents.

“We left the Sunday before the competition and flew out with our team,” she said. “We saw the castle and other tourist attractions to keep ourselves awake (to prevent jet lag after a roughly 10-hour flight). We arrived Monday and started to practice on Tuesday.”

Competition began Friday and continued through the following weekend. Ten teams from around the world competed in the junior level. In the final round Belle’s team performed to Beyonce’s “End of Time,” taking third place. A Russian team took first and a Chicago-based team (participating with Team USA) took second.

Competing is a huge challenge, according to Mary Ostermann.

“It’s a very interesting sport,” Mary said. “It’s got dance and ballet and expression. It’s like a sprint. It’s a very athletic sport but they have to look graceful and composed the whole time.”

She said, “Just being chosen as members of Team USA is quite an achievement. It was very special that both of may daughters (Belle and Tessa) were both part of the same competition — both part of Team USA.”

Judging is precise, with all aspects of a performance considered in the score. According to Mary there is amazing pressure, but amazing support as well. A team of professionals accompany the teams, making sure that everything is conducted properly and looking out for any issues that might arise.

The best part for Belle: “Being with my teammates when they won the trophy and bringing it home. It’s so exciting to hear fans chanting U.S.A., U.S.A!”

“There’s screaming with cowbells and flags,” said Mary Ostermann. “When the winners are announced the team members all kiss and cry. It’s very emotional.”

Tessa also competed and her team took a second in the senior level. She now attends Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, and is her third year in the nursing program.

Parents Ken and Mary had separate accommodation, but both enjoyed cheering for their daughters in all their events. They also enjoyed Zagreb, and recommend it to those who might travel there.

“The people are so friendly, and the food is wonderful,” Mary said. “It’s a popular vacation destination with lots of coastline, so there is lots to see and do — especially in the summer. It’s also very affordable.”

“It was warmer,” said Belle. “It was about 45 degrees when we were there.”

She plans to continue to skate while attending college, although those plans have not yet been finalized.

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