Queen’s Varsity Figure Skating picks up three medals at OUA Winter Invitational

Gaels take silver medals in ice dance, place sixth overall

The Gaels competed in Waterloo on Monday and Tuesday.
Supplied by Keelee Gingrich

Queen’s Varsity Figure Skating sharpened their skates and glided over to Waterloo for the OUA Winter Invitational on Monday and Tuesday. They placed sixth as a team, picking up three silver medals at the tournament.

The team excelled in ice dance, with second-place finishes from Shaundra Buelow in the Gold Solo Dance event, Jade Paganelli and Buelow in the Star 10 Similar Dance event, and Colleen Tordoff and Keelee Gingrich in the Rhythm Dance event.

“We definitely are really fired up after this winter competition,” Gingrich, ArtSci ’23 and co-captain of the team, told The Journal in an interview. “Some of us are like, okay, we have a chance […] We’re kind of in the running.”

The Gaels—a co-ed men’s and women’s team—finished behind Guelph, U of T, Western, Brock, and McMaster, with Guelph clinching first overall.

“There’s so much potential to move up,” Gingrich said. “I’d love to see us come top five for OUA [Championship]s. We’re definitely capable of that.”

17 skaters from the team participated in the competition’s 14 events. The Gaels competed individually, in pairs, in trios, in groups of four, and in 16-person synchro.

Previously, Queen’s competed—and also finished sixth—at the OUA Fall Invitational hosted by Brock in November.

Gingrich said this week’s competition was a “quick turnaround” from holiday break, and the team went into the invitational “excited,” but “there were definitely some nerves.”

“In the end, I am so impressed with how the team pulled it together.”

Gingrich has been with the team since she transferred to Queen’s in 2020. She said her mom is a skating coach, so she was “born onto the ice.” She’s been taking lessons since she was three or four and has been to six Canadian National Championships—winning two of them.

“As soon as I could walk, it was like, toss a snow suit on, put on the skates, and crawl around.”

She said she left the sport injured before university, thinking it was the end of her skating career. Varsity Figure Skating, though, let her “fall back in love with skating.”

“I love to compete, so there’s still that competitive aspect. There’s training, there’s goals.”

The Gaels currently have six coaches. Head Coach Johnny Yap has been with Varsity Figure Skating for more than 40 years as a skater, mental trainer, and now, head coach. Gingrich said he’s “the spirit of being a Golden Gael.”

The team trains four days a week at Memorial Centre in Kingston from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. most days, which Gingrich said is her “favourite way to start [her] day.”

“Four days a week, you have this automatic friend group of 19 people going through very similar things to you, and love the same sport as you,” she said. “It brightens my day. I leave the rink feeling energized.” 

Next up for the Gaels is the OUA Championships hosted by Western on March 7 and 8, which Gingrich called their “most important” competition.

“That’s what we’re gearing up for,” Gingrich said. “We are taking the feedback from our first two competitions to shape how we train […] We use this to see where we compare to the other schools, maybe where we have to put more of our focus on.”

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