Rye figure skaters look for good luck on Friday 13

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Be Jennifer Schlee

With all the jumps, spins and footwork in figure skating, it gets pretty tough telling who’s who on the ice. 

Luckily, during a competition, fans and judges can distinguish between skaters from different schools because competitors wear skating dresses in the colour of their school.

Skaters compete in various freestyle and dance events.  Freestyle refers to jumps, spins, and connecting footwork.  This is all put together in routines and skated to a chosen piece of music (like Elvis Stojko does.)

In the inter-university league, each school is allowed one entry per event.  Overall, 10 of the 16 universities across Ontario (McGill university in Quebec also competes in Ontario) participate in figure skating events.  Ryerson will compete in three separate events this year; this week at Queen’s, one at Wilfred Laurier University in January, and the OUA championships at York U in February.

At this level, skaters can skate solo, in pairs or in fours freestyle.  Since the league is entirely female, required elements for pairs or fours does not include throws and lifts like the Olympics.  Instead, skaters shadow or mirror each other throughout their routine.

Dance differs from freestyle in that skaters don’t jump or spin, but perform a series of edges and steps in time to a set piece of music.  Like in freestyle, skaters in the dance category can compete solo, in pairs or in a fours event called OSP (original set pattern).

“I think we’re stronger in some dance events than in the past,” Chapman said.  “Our goal is to aim for top five finishes in each (dance freestyle) event we’ve entered.”

Skaters can earn points for their school by placing in the top six in these events.  Points range from one point for sixth place, to 10 points for a first place finish.  At the end, the school with the most points wins.

Teams can gain more points in the team event, which all competitors must skate in.  The event, called precision, consists of up to 16 skaters creating formations such as pinwheels and kick lines on the ice.  Precision skaters usually skate to a theme song.  Ryerson’s theme music this year is “Austin Powers.

Just like Olympic-level skating, politics are involved in university figure skating.  Since skating is such a subjective sport, it’s difficult to argue with judges’ standings.

“Even if the results don’t show it this year, we’ve improved so much,” Chapman said.

If you see a member of the Ryerson varsity figure skating team this week, don’t’ tell them to break a leg at their season opener at Queen’s University.  The competition is on Friday, Nov. 13.

Ryerson is competing in only six events at Queen’s because it has six rookies on the team and needs some more time to practice.

“It’s hard to predict how we’ll place because we don’t know what else is out there this year,” Rams head coach Jennifer Chapman said.  “We have more confidence going into this first competition than we have in previous years, but we don’t know what to expect.”

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