By Tracey Tong
Ryerson’s women’s figure skating team may soon be spinning axels and landing lutzes with the boys.
At the OUA’s annual coaches meeting on Feb. 24 Ryerson voted in favour of adding two men’s events—singles dance and freestyle—to the women’s team.
Although Ryerson voted at the meeting in Guelph to add the events to next year’s sports schedule, the OUA must still get the approval of the 10 voting universities. The final decision will be announced in May.
“Ryerson is in favour of having these events,” says Chuck Mathies, Ryerson’s athletic director. “But of course, nothing is final until we get enough support.”
If the plan is approved men’s figure skating will be an exhibition event, meaning it’s only a trial run. The men won’t compete in OUA finals.
“We’re trying to provide an opportunity for male figure skaters,” says Mathies.
The men would share ice time with the women’s team at Moss Park Arena at 140 Sherbourne St., where they would be coached by the current women’s team coach Richard O’Neill, assistant coach Matt Solarski, and team manager Lisa Brousseau.
Brousseau and several members of the women’s team will be putting posters up around campus at the beginning of April, to recruit male figure skaters for the events and to give exposure to the women’s team.
“Many people don’t know that Ryerson has a figure skating team,” Brousseau says. “We don’t know if there’s going to be interest in a men’s team, but that’s what we’re going to find out during the recruitment drive. At least the opportunity will be there.”
The women’s team finished ninth overall in OUA competition this season, which stretches from November to February. Men will not have the chance to show off as many skills as the 17-member women’s team, which competes in dance, pairs, freestyle and precision competitions.
The men’s dance event is similar to the pairs dance program—an on-ice version of typical dance steps such as the tango and waltz. The freestyle gives them a chance to show off their jumps and spins. Ryerson can only enter one male competitor for each event.
Although they are already looking for next year’s stars on ice, tryouts for both the men’s and women’s spots on the team are planned for September.
As long as the skater is part of the Canadian Figure Skating Association, all levels of skill are welcome to join. Brousseau is looking forward to having the men join practice next fall.
“I really think we will see it happen,” she says. “Just the fact that men will soon be able to join varsity figure skating shows how much the sport has advanced.