By Robyn Doolittle
EIC and former Rye figure skater
If nothing else, the Queen’s invitational figure skating competition is always a good time because it’s a chance to see the school’s Stepford-wife like team in their natural habitat.
Kingston students bedecked in sweater-vest sets and leather tote bags were getting an early start to the day as the Ryerson figure skating team pulled up to the rink at 7 a.m.
Inside, the soothing pop-opera beats of Il Divo echoed around the arena and there was a thick smell of pretension in the air.
Rest assured that my obvious Queen’s resentment has nothing to do with the four years I spent on Ryerson’s skating team. Four years of watching those perfect little bitches win every competition, place in every event and then walk off with a better degree than me at the end of the year.
But not this year. This is Ryerson’s year. Ryerson’s time to shine.
We may not have the funding, the facilities or the coaching staff, but we have more heart than any of the 11 university skating teams entered in the competition.
A fire at Moss Park arena earlier this year has left the 17-member squad’s practice schedule in shambles for the last two months, but the girl’s plugged on without complaint and added a host of off-ice training sessions instead.
Veterans spent the bus ride down teaching a slew of rookies some of the team cheers, which they enthusiastically picked up in minutes, as well as planning an upcoming fundraiser. (School-wide talent show to come in January! The Eyeopener will be entering, you should too.)
The Queen’s rink is epically cold, as usual, so many of the girls wore extra leggings. One girl brought a pair of shiny gold tights to match the team’s flashy gold dresses. Courtesy of athletic therapist Lynn Kaak, each girl had a kazoo. A gold-pants wearing, kazoo blowing, varsity athlete may seem ridiculous, but often so is the judging.
Politics aside, varsity figure skating is a totally different ball game than the traditional sport. For one, most skaters hit their peak around 17, so by the time they take to Ryerson ice, the realistic goal is to maintain ability, not improve. So in this sense, unlike other varsity sports, the rookies are often the most talented.
This was the case for rookie Alex Dabkowski, who easily skated away with a silver in the women’s gold freeskate — that’s the highest level of competition. Her incredible speed, jump consistency and classic artistry were her weapons for domination. With another month of practice, a first place finish is well within her reach.
Assistant captain Michelle Zenger fell just short of the medals in her dance event but after bringing home hardware the last two seasons — earning her team MVP in the 2005-2006 season — she’s already set her sights on the podium next competition.
Solid performances from Tabitha Copping and Clara Lee also earned the team points, but they too will be looking for top 3 placings in January. So suck on that, Queen’s.