By Gloria Bacci
Last weekend, Varsity Arena was a place where camels could fly, and the Rams could double their loops.
Squads from 11 universities performed these and other moves at the Toronto arena for the Ryerson Rams Figure Skating Invitational. It was the second of three competitions that make up the Ontario University Athletics figure skating season.
Equipped with handmade, pasta-filled noisemakers, bright yellow “rock-on” signs, and their trademark “sass,” the Rams were a hard team to miss. In each event, the skaters cheered each other on and pumped up their fans. Unfortunately, the Rams’ enthusiasm did not translate into medals. The weekend was dominated by the Brock Badgers, who took first place, followed by Queen’s, and Western. Ryerson placed ninth overall for a second, consecutive tournament.
But for Rams dance and synchro coach, Lisa Boyer, scorecards are not always the best measure of a figure skating team’s success. “I just don’t think our placements reflected how our skates went. Overall, we had some great skates.” Since the last competition in Kingston, Ryerson improved in several events. Danielle Brick placed fifth in the Gold Free Skate, Alison Kennedy and Michelle Zenger placed fifth in the Senior Silver Similar Dance, and Stephanie Hodgson ranked fifth in the Senior Silver Free Skate. The top six skaters in each event earn points for their teams. In dance events, skaters must follow a specific routine that is provided prior to the competition.
In free skates, there is more creative freedom in choreographing the routine. The Rams debuted their synchronized skating routine, which was well received by fans. Sixteen Rams skated in unison to a medley of Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Ram Jam. They placed ninth in the event. Boyer thought one of her team’s biggest problems was being drawn to skate first in several events. Even if the first skater had a great performance, she said, judges may not remember the routine as well at the end. Zenger, in second-year interior design, had to skate first in the Senior Silver Solo Dance and despite her strong performance placed sixth. Last competition, she won third.
“I thought she’d medal, I had her at second or third,” said Jackie Frank, the Rams’ free skate coach. “So many people came after her, and someone who shouldn’t be higher was.” Subjective judging is something all figure skaters have to deal with, said Frank. “It’s a judge sport…you chalk it up to what it’s worth. Normally you want to please a judge, but all you can do is say, ‘I skated the best I could.'” Kennedy, in second-year photography, saw this competition as a turning point for her team.
“Last year it was all about enjoying yourself and having fun,” she said. “I think that people are realizing that in order to really make more of our performances, we need to train harder and put in that much more effort if we want to see results.”
Leading up to the competition, the Rams practiced on the ice for about eight hours a week, and off the ice for two hours, working on presentation.
The Rams now have just over two weeks to prepare for finals, which will be held at Brock University on Feb. 24 and 25.