Fears for tiers

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Ryerson figure skating made history this weekend, scoring their first gold medal in five years. And according to coach Robyn Doolittle, it couldn’t have come at a better time. In the fall, Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is remodeling the varsity system and redeveloping the tier structure. How figure skaters will be affected is still to be determined. “For example, We’re not going to be dealt with in the same way that hockey is,” Doolittle said. “We’re not going to lose our varsity status but Ryerson might look at our sport differently as a result of the OUA changes.” Ivan Joseph, Ryerson’s director of athletics, said he plans to speak with coaches on Wednesday about how the university’s varsity teams will be impacted by the restructuring. Doolittle also said this season is crucial for the figure skating team as they reach the end of their three-year strategy and lose seven members to graduation in the spring. “This is the best we’ve ever been,” she said. “And anytime anyone is making decisions about sport, you have to be at your best.” According to OUA executive director Ward Dilse, the new model will be more market-driven. One change will be the scheduling — it will be generated by the universities, instead of the OUA, which would affect fan turnout and the athletes’ schedules. At the Ryerson/Toronto invitational on Jan. 21 and 22, Ryerson’s first gold medal was collected by the duo of Alex Dabkowski and Tara Bartolini in the creative dance event. Madeleine Jullian won two silver medals in the novice short and senior silver solo dance. Ryerson won five medals in all, and placed fifth in the synchro division. The skaters are happy with their performance, but know they need more improvement before the OUA finals, held in February in Waterloo. “We were comfortable here on home ice,” says Jullian, “But we will do better at finals.”

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