Ice skating had a grip on Cassandra Albano’s heart but it was becoming an isolating love affair.

“I’d always skated by myself, as a freestyler, going to competitions, and there was no one to talk to,” said Albano, 17, of South Portland and a junior at Maine Coast Waldorf School. “I felt like, I love this sport so much but I don’t share this feeling with anyone else. It’s lonely. I want to join a team where we all share the common likeness of the sport.”

Albano found what she was looking for when she tried synchronized ice skating, a team sport with up to 20 skaters flashing razor-sharp blades in unison.

“Most sports you can’t say you have all these blades moving together at high speed,” Albano said. “It’s very exhilarating when you have the wind blow through your hair when you skate. It’s such a nice sport.”

Cassandra Albano, 17, of South Portland competes in synchronized skating with Team Excel Synchronized Skating. She makes the 220-mile round trip to Boston for twice-weekly team workouts.

Cassandra Albano, 17, of South Portland competes in synchronized skating with Team Excel Synchronized Skating. She makes the 220-mile round trip to Boston for twice-weekly team workouts. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Synchronized skating gave Albano a best-of-both-worlds situation uncommon for an athlete who specializes in a sport outside the school setting. She could pursue a passion that sets her apart and be part of a team.

“It’s very nice to have a different sport. I’m not just one of the millions of people who play the same school sport,” Albano said.

For the past three years she and her mother Katherine have made twice-weekly 220-mile round trips to the Skating Club of Boston, the home base of Team Excel Synchronized Skating, for team workouts.

“I’m on the intermediate division, a national qualifying team,” Albano said. “It’s the second-highest division our club has.”

Merita Mullen, the director and head coach at Team Excel, said Albano spent her first year on the club’s developmental team.

“She initiated a meeting with me,” Mullen said. “She wanted to make the jump up to a national qualifying team and she wanted to know what it would take. I was pretty clear with her and she did make the team.”

Synchronized ice skating requires strong technical skills (“jumps, spins, edge work, all that stuff,” Albano said) and plenty of conditioning.

“But it’s a balance of the athletic and artistic,” Albano said. “You have to look good while exercising.”

Injuries can happen. Albano is currently rehabilitating from a hip injury. She must stay off the ice but is still required to attend practice. Forced inactivity will make the annual challenge of being selected for Team Excel’s competition teams even more daunting.

“You have to be strong to keep your spot,” Albano said. “It’s an honor to be able to put your blades on the ice at a competition.”