After a disappointing end to last year’s season, the figure skating team has five new skaters, and they’re looking to dominate the podium at this year’s final event. Erica Huculak reports
Alysha Gjos’ gold medal finish at last February’s Ontario University Athletics figure skating championship final was overshadowed by her team coming in a disappointing sixth place out of eight teams.
Last year, the Ryerson figure skating team was at a crossroads: the team was brimming with a collection of talented skaters who excelled in their individual events. However they lacked the number of athletes needed to compete in several events.
Head coach Janean Bruhn admits the past several seasons of Rams skating has been a rebuilding process considering the team has consisted of skaters who are either new to figure skating or have taken time off from the sport.
Not having enough skaters for
Blades of glory
The Fall Invitational Medalists: Christina Pulla, Katie Docherty, Lisa Jensen and Lisa Makeeva. the synchronized dance portion of the event significantly hindered the Rams’ chances at finishing higher in the overall standings. Ontario University Athletics (OUA) requires each team to field a minimum of 12 skaters for the event. Bruhn had a total of 12 skaters on her team last year, thus she elected against registering her team.
“The formations are impossible to form with less than 16 skaters,” Bruhn said. “It did not seem worth the time and effort to compete in the event.”
The team has reloaded on talent, with five new skaters including Christina Pulla, a transfer from the University of Toronto team. Bruhn believes this year’s team has what it takes to compete in the synchronized dance.
In addition to the team’s fresh crop of skaters, the program is returning all four of their medal-winners at last season’s conference championship. Bruhn expects all four skaters to repeat their strong performances from last season.
Pulla, a first-year nursing student, has been a leader in the locker room for this young team. Her previous success on the ice, coupled with her experience in synchronized dance, is invaluable to the team.
“Most of the girls on the team have never done synchronized dance before, so I’m hoping that I can bring my experience to the Ryerson team this year,” Pulla said.
The new and improved Rams already achieved a personal best at the Fall Invitational in Kingston, Ont., finishing fifth out of 10 teams, a potential sign of things to come at the final competition in February.
In all, four skaters reached the podium for the Rams. The pairing of Katie Docherty and Lisa Jensen took home the silver medal in the junior silver freeskate and Lisa Makeeva skated away with a silver medal in the gold freeskate event. Pulla rounded out the Rams medal haul by winning bronze in the short program.
Although there was no synchronized dance at the Fall Invitational, the team has already established the synchronized dance routine they will be performing at next month’s championship final.
“We know the odds are against us as we are 14 [skaters] up against the best teams of 16,” said Bruhn. “But we are going to put out the best possible program and hope for the best.”