In a close battle between the University of Toronto and Western University that came down to the results of the final events, the Varsity Blues figure skating team won their third consecutive Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Championship on Wednesday.
The Blues earned 88 points, four above the host Western Mustangs. Toronto’s consistency led to their success; the Blues finished on the podium in 12 out of 14 events.
Blues captain Lila Asher explained how the team managed to pull out the victory. “We were sitting behind Western for the majority of the time until the very end. They had a 10 point lead going into the last three events and then we had a second place and two first places that were enough
In her final year with the team, Asher won gold in the second last event, women’s pairs fours, alongside teammates Christina Liao, Melanie Zavitski, and Felicia Bonitatibus.
“The whole audience was silent while we were skating [and then] the whole crowd cheered, which is something that usually doesn’t happen,” said Asher.
Bonitatibus attributes the strong performance to the close bond and trust the group has developed in training sessions and competitions throughout the year. As a rookie, she’s been able to compete in every competition this year and said that “the team became a family as the season progressed.”
“All four of us skated clean and it was easy to smile throughout the program,” said Bonitatibus. “At the end, it sounded like everyone in the stands were cheering for us and we all hugged each other because we knew that we left everything out on the ice and could not have skated the program better.”
Fourth-year skater Melissa Eratostene won her first OUA open solo dance title following a well-executed Viennese Waltz and an Argentine Tango routine. She entered the event with additional motivation after placing a close second in the event at last year’s OUA Championships.
“Winning the gold medal in the open solo dance event was one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my varsity skating career,” said Eratostene. “Finally winning the event just proved how all the hard work I’ve put in the past four years paid off, and taught me that patience, perseverance and dedication is key to achieving your goals.”
“To me, winning the championship symbolizes all the hard work and dedication everyone on our team has demonstrated these past few years, and represents the resilience and perseverance through some of the challenges we have faced this year,” she added.
Blues head coach Ashley Hui enjoyed seeing how her team came together and supported each other “unconditionally.”
“Up until the very last individual event [pairs four], it was so tight, so just seeing them skate the program of their lives and bring the choreography to life was such an inspiring and re-energizing moment for the team,” said Hui. “No words can describe the amount of effort this team has put in.”
The third-season head coach also won OUA Coach of the Year honours following the event. The championship also marks the first three-peat in Blues figure
“The way this team has grown so much with each other over the course of the last three seasons — the initiative, support, and bonds they’ve made — speak louder than any banner,” she said.