When stepping on the ice at a competition as a member of the Varsity Blues figure skating team, it’s cold, quiet, and all eyes are on you. Each athlete’s placement in their respective event earns points for the team overall. As we compete, we know the pressure is on and our team is counting on us. After countless hours of training, all we have is a tightly choreographed three minutes in which to perform with grace and polish.

Rather than adding extra pressure, the team environment of Varsity figure skating is incredibly supportive. Most of us grew up training as individual competitors, so representing a team and practicing in groups is a new experience. Through the weeks of practice, long bus rides, and early morning preparations, we find strength in our teammates and value our friendships as much as our gold medals.

Here’s an inside look at our journey, as the Varsity Blues figure skating team earned gold at the OUA Fall Invitational in Ottawa last week on November 23.

Not only do we support our own team, but it is a tradition to give good luck cards to the other schools at each competition. PHOTO COURTESY OF VARSITY BLUES FIGURE SKATING TEAM

Figure skating requires exceptional athleticism, as well as perfect matching hair. PHOTO COURTESY OF VARSITY BLUES FIGURE SKATING TEAM

First-year skater Felicia Bonitatibus gets some last-minute encouragement from assistant coaches Mackenzie Bent and Katia Fedyushchenko before her event. Bonitatibus was enthusiastic after a great performance, saying, “This was my first Varsity competition and the atmosphere was amazing, I couldn’t help but smile while skating.” PHOTO COURTESY OF VARSITY BLUES FIGURE SKATING TEAM

Veteran ice dancers Melissa Eratostene and Stéphanie Carroll are in their third season together. They impressed the judges with their unison in the Open Short Dance, including difficult elements like the pairs spin. PHOTO COURTESY OF VARSITY BLUES FIGURE SKATING TEAM

Meredith Busch and Gloria Gao have already hit their stride in their first year, skating together for the Intermediate Similar Pairs event. PHOTO COURTESY OF VARSITY BLUES FIGURE SKATING TEAM

Melanie Zavitski, another first year athlete, represented the team in two events in the competition. “This has been an amazing experience so far, and I am super excited to be a part of the team this season!” she said. PHOTO COURTESY OF VARSITY BLUES FIGURE SKATING TEAM

Thanks to consistent top-five placements, we collected enough points by the end of the day to finish in first place overall. Co-captain Keiko Marshall reflected, “It was a great experience to see where we stand with other schools and where we can make improvements, but as a whole everyone did so well! I think I speak for anyone in saying that I couldn’t be more proud.”

Head coach Ashley Hui was also proud of the team: “It’s not just their preparation for competition – it’s the team unity and obvious love for the sport that makes this team such a joy to coach. They have come such a long way in just a month and a half and I’m incredibly excited to see their development this season.”

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