Three-year winning streak comes to an end

Figure skaters take provincial bronze; seven athletes to graduate at the end of the season

For the first time in four years, the Queen’s figure skating team didn’t bring home the provincial championship banner. The Gaels placed third overall, behind Western and Brock at the OUA championships Feb. 16 and 17 at Ryerson University in Toronto.

“I think this year a lot of the teams were more competitive and there was more talent in the competition,” co-captain Katie Hunt said. She added that the top four teams were all close in the standings, and the outcome of the championships was determined by the final event.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll have the OUA banner back again next year.” Queen’s took first place in the senior silver similar dance, the open men’s free skate, the pairs fours free skate, the junior silver free
skate and the bronze rhythm fours.

“We had some people put on personal best skates, and that’s all we can ask of them,” co-captain Rachel Coens said. Coens and Hunt placed second in the senior similar pairs, an event they won at last
year’s provincial championship. “The calibre of interuniversity skating has definitely been increasing over the past couple of years,” Coens said.

The Gaels finished only two points behind Brock for second place and six points back of the champions from Western. For seven skaters, this will be their final season with the team. Andrea Buzinski, Rachel Coens, Mona Hoy, Katie Hunt, Laura Keating, Heather McCaw and Jamie Stuckless will all graduate this year, leaving a significant gap in Queen’s roster. Of the seven graduating athletes, Keating, Coens and Hunt have all spent four years with the team, with Coens and Hunt acting as co-captains for this season.

“There’s going to be strong skaters representing the team next year and they’ll find leaders amongst them,” Coens said. “Every year we’ve seen a number of turnovers and have been able to pull together a strong team, so it’s in the hands of the vets and oaches to put together a strong team.”

Hunt was also optimistic about the team’s chances next year. “There are a good group of girls—and
one boy—who will be good role models for whoever the rookies are next year,” she said. “They all have a good work ethic and they want the banner back.” For the three skaters who won three
straight provincial championships, this season may seem like a disappointment, but Hunt said it was anything but. “I have to say that this past year, even though we didn’t win, was one of the most rewarding for me,” she said. “We had a lot of minor setbacks throughout the season. But everyone was still able to skate, and it made you appreciate the fact that you got to skate even more.”

Coens added that participating in varsity figure skating made her undergraduate career a more positive experience. “I wouldn’t have been the same student if I wasn’t participating in athletics,” she said. “It grounds you. It gives you another thing to excel at and to put your focus on.”

Both Coens and Hunt said the team atmosphere helped build confidence and provided a more enriching environment for all the skaters. For Hunt, it was the support of the team that kept her from walking away from the sport after high school. “At the end of high school, I quit skating, but [my floormate] convinced me to try out for the team,” she said. “It really made me love the sport again. As a skater, you have the support of your coaches, but it’s not the same as a team. You have 20 other skaters who support you and know exactly what you’re going through and are behind you no matter what.” What are you doing this summer? If you’re a student who returns home to Mississauga in the summer, get another credit under your belt. Take a summer course (or two) atU of T Mississauga.

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