Figure skating comes up short

Queen’s fail to repeat gold performance from Queen’s Invitational during joint Toronto/Ryerson tournament last weekend in Toronto

The synchronized figure skating team competes at the Toronto/Ryerson Winter Invitational last weekend. Skater Jena Hall said they must improve in order to pick up medals at the provincial championships on Feb. 17 and 18 in Waterloo.
The synchronized figure skating team competes at the Toronto/Ryerson Winter Invitational last weekend. Skater Jena Hall said they must improve in order to pick up medals at the provincial championships on Feb. 17 and 18 in Waterloo.
Credit: 
Supplied photo by Rob McAuley

The figure skating team was in Toronto on Thursday and Friday competing in the University of Toronto/Ryerson Winter Invitational. The Gaels entered competition looking to repeat their first place performance at the Queen’s Invitational on Nov. 28.

The team posted six gold medals in November, but only posted one in Toronto. Jena Hall and Mélanie Graveline were the only Gaels to be at the top of a podium after the duo posted the highest scores in the junior silver similar dance category.

Hall said the team’s varying results at the past two tournaments isn’t necessarily indicative of their performance.

“We recognize that figure skating is a judge sport,” she said. “All we can do is skate our best.”

The Gaels added to bronze medals to their count with Martha Carruthers coming third in the gold freeskate and Melissa Cornthwaite and Sarah McCauley finishing behind pairs from Western and Guelph in the senior silver similar dance category.

The three medals earned Queen’s a fourth-overall finish at the tournament, with the Waterloo Warriors in the first-place spot.

The Gaels were in a tie for fifth place after the first day of competition on Thursday.

Hall said going from a first-place finish in the previous tournament to a lower ranking was discouraging.

“There were a few events where we got ranking that we weren’t expecting,” she said. “Coming out of the first day our rank was pretty low, so it was hard to come out strong on the second day.”

Hall said a team meeting after the first day of competition helped the Gaels regain focus and push ahead in the rankings.

“There wasn’t a moment in the second day where we gained momentum, it was the team meeting the night before,” she said. “We kind of pulled ourselves together.”

The Gaels’ next competition is the OUA Championships on Feb. 17-18 at Wilfred Laurier University. Queen’s finished second, six points behind the Guelph Gryphons last year. Hall said the Gaels need to improve their synchronized team dance to be successful.

“Synchro is worth more points,” she said. “We definitely had a strong skate this weekend, but we need to work on the difficulty level ... It’s going to be a huge focus going in to OUAs.”

Gaels head coach Rhonda McKnight said the synchronized portion of competition is a challenge.

“Figure skating is an individual sport, so coming together on a varsity team is a different environment for then,” she said. “The majority of the team has never experienced synchro skating before. It’s an exciting number to watch.”

McKnight said the team emphasizes mental preparation. They have weekly sessions with team psychologist Johnny Yap.

“It’s very important to their personal success,” she said. “At this level of skating its more mental than anything else.”

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