Western’s figure skating team claimed bronze in Kingston this past weekend in the first Ontario University Athletics figure skating competition of the season. Overall, the team claimed five medals over the course of the weekend: two bronze and three gold.

“I was really proud of how the team did, we've been working really hard leading up to the first competition,” said Jessica Chow, a fourth-year captain. “I think it's a great start to the season and we hope to build on this momentum and recapture our gold at OUAs.”

Denis Margalik captured gold in the Open Men’s Event, and Emily Bird and Nicole Lawson earned gold medals in the Junior Silver Similar Dance events. Jazz Smyl Joly and Sarah Hill claimed gold as well in the Senior Silver Similar Dance. Smyl Joly also earned a bronze in the Gold Solo Dance event and Michelle Kitsis claimed bronze as well in Senior Silver Freeskate.

“It was a good start to our season, we don’t wanna peak too early,” said Sarah Hill, a fourth-year on the team. “Some people had some really clean skates, but some places need tweaking and we got some good feedback.”

In a group competition like this, every individual performance counts towards the overall score. It’s 10 points for a first-place finish, seven for second, five for third, and no points if a skater finished below fifth place. The scores accumulate over the course of the competition and the overall scores are how the teams are ranked. It’s crucial that the team have overall depth and that everyone performs their best if a team wants to get a medal.

“It basically accumulates throughout the day and we get an overall score," said Hill. “So you could have won your event but your team could finish lower.”

The team has a long history of success and has won OUAs four times in the last six years. They’ll be looking to recapture gold this February at the championships, and anticipate that Toronto, the defending champions, and Brock will provide some of the toughest competition this season.

“Right now U of T has some really good freeskates and they’ve been doing really well the last year or two,” said Hill. “Brock has been building a good program, I know especially their creative is strong and so we’re anticipating some good competition.”

After a shaky start to this season, the Mustangs will have to improve their freeskate events if they hope to reclaim gold in February. The Kingston competition was a good test to see at what level the Mustangs, as well as their competition, are at.

“We know what events, what to work on and what to improve on for the upcoming competitions,” said Chow. “I think we are pretty hopeful that we'll be gold medal contenders.”

The team is hoping that their cohesiveness will help them develop into the team to beat this year. The support that the teammates have for each other this season is one of the Mustangs' biggest assets, and has helped bring everyone together.

“I think our biggest strength this year is that our team is really meshing quite well,” said Hill. “I think we have one of the best atmospheres on the team in a while.”

The OUA championships are scheduled for Feb. 14 and 15 and will be hosted at Brock University.

Claire is a third year Media, Information and Technoculture student. She is a first year sports editor at the Gazette. Have a question? Email her at claire.palmer@westerngazette.ca

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