MARTIN BAZYL COURTESY OF THE VARSITY

The Varsity Blues figure skating team won their second consecutive OUA championship on February 15, handily defending their title. The two-day event took place at Gale Centre Arena in Niagara Falls and was hosted by the Brock University Badgers, who placed second in the competition.

The Blues racked up 83 points and won five gold medals over the course of the two-day competition. While their points totalled less than last year’s total of 92, they once again routed the competition: in both 2016 and 2017 the second-place finishers were well behind the Blues’ in points. A gold medal in Synchro, the last event of the competitions, vaulted the Blues ahead of their counterparts in the final points tally.

“It was thrilling because we weren’t really expecting to win that event,” noted head coach Ashley Hui. “Most of the team had never done Synchro before… [but] they really buckled down, they really came together as a team to do it.”

The synchronized skating event involves the entire team, or a large contingent, in a performance of difficult footwork and coordinated movements that must be flawlessly uniform. The Blues were the last team to perform the event, and despite the ice being rough from the previous skaters, they pulled off a gold medal win that capped a masterful performance from the Toronto skaters at the competition.

“We were really pushing to excel at that event, so it was really rewarding to come first,” said team co-captain Katrina de Liberato.

Fellow captain Kaitlyn Liu echoed A. Hui’s point that the Synchro event, regarded as the most difficult of the competition, highlighted the cooperation and hard work required to obtain a good result. “[Synchro] really kind of reflects the team itself, and how well you work together, not just individual talent,” said Liu.

“You can’t bank on one athlete carrying the team,” added A. Hui. “That’s not teamwork.”

Second-year skater Chyna Hui had a standout performance at the competition, winning gold medals in both the Women’s Senior Silver Solo Dance event and Women’s Junior Silver Similar Dance event, the latter with her partner Cladia Choi.

Gold medals were also captured by Liu in the Women’s Starskate 10 event and by skaters Christina Liao, Carol Yeung, Lila Asher, and rookie Keiko Marshall in the Women’s 4 Pairs group.

In staging a repeat of last year’s championship win, coach A. Hui highlighted the need for consistency and timeliness in achieving podium results at this level. “Being strong one year is one thing,” she said. “This season was more about showing consistency, rather than beginner’s luck.”

Liu observed that the skills demonstrated by the team’s younger skaters foreshadows a promising future for the Blues figure skaters — perhaps a three-peat next year. “I think a lot of them now, who are now not rookies, who are considered vets, they will kind of take on the new leadership role,” she said. “I think [the team] is in a good spot.”

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