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By Grant McDonald

Two Ryerson athletes are taking similar steps to compete on the world scale. In fact, they are taking the exact same steps since they are synchronized skaters who represented Canada in Torino, Italy over the weekend.

Both Melissa Koch and Erin Weinkauf skate for Black Ice, a top-level synchronized skating team made up of 19 student athletes from 10 different universities. The team was chosen to represent Canada in The World University Games, also known as the Winter Universiade.

There are over 1,400 studentathletes from 38 countries that compete. While this was a competition, it was also an opportunity for synchronized skating to show the world that it was worthy of being an Olympic sport.

Weinkauf, a 23-year-old from Richmond Hill, is in her third year of radio and television arts. “Representing Canada in Torino this year, at this kind of competition, was a little bit different because we were representing Canada as a whole team,” Weinkauf said.

For Weinkauf, this competition meant not only representing her country, but also representing her sport. Now that the Games are finished, Weinkauf is ready to get back to training with Black Ice. Melissa Koch, the 20-year-old from Unionville, is in her second year at Ryerson studying food and nutrition.

“Just to step on the ice and you hear ‘Team Canada’, it’s an amazing experience,” Koch said.

Eight of the top countries in the world competed at the event, with Canada finishing sixth. “We were a bit disappointed with the result,” said coach Cathy Dalton in an e-mail.

Dalton said both Weinkauf and Koch were integral parts of the team’s success at the event. “It was amazing the amount of people cheering, I think that’s something I will always remember because it’s like you’re high on life,” Koch said.

Being able to see what kind of teams are out there on the world scale was also beneficial for the team because it allowed them to see what they will face if they qualify for the world championships.

David Dubois, Ryerson’s director of sports and recreation, thinks the competition raises awareness about sports at Ryerson, but in a unique way. “I think it helps us within the university community. I think that seeing that we have athletes that can compete at that level shows that we have a commitment to sports,” said Dubois.

He thinks that events such as the Winter Universiade help to promote sport to everyone, not just to the universities involved. “It’s fantastic when we can have two Ryerson athletes representing our university on a world stage,” he said.

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