Triple axels oiled and ready
By John Intini
Members of the Western Mustang figure skating team sharpened their blades and skills on Friday in Guelph in preparation for the Ontario championships to be held next month in Toronto.
The team competed in the Guelph Gryphon Invitational, the second of two competitions in the figure skating season and like their first performance at Queen's, recorded a fifth-place finish. The two showings are even more remarkable in lieu of the fact that this season has witnessed both a great deal of turnover and turmoil.
"The team has been through a lot this year with the youth movement," captain Jennifer Lippingwell said. "We didn't start until later in the year since we lost our coach from last year, which obviously put us behind in training. However, with all things considered we have done really well."
The fifth-place finishes are even more incredible considering the team didn't compete in the precision skate, the event with the greatest number of points rewarded for placing.
"We can definitely improve on fifth place in the OUA finals," Mustang Kelly Dekeers said. "By February our precision skate will be ready and since only a few points separated us from third place in the last meet we are in great shape."
Lippingwell also feels the team has a good chance of improving, but concedes that it will be tough beating the Toronto Blues, who finished third in the first two events and will have the crowd behind them.
"It's not impossible to beat Toronto at home, but having home-ice advantage will certainly make it tough to win as many events as we did at Guelph," she said.
Dekeers also said that in the three years she has been a part of the team, the Mustangs have never had as solid a club that can compete with almost anyone in the province on any given day.
"There is no doubt this is the best team Western has put out in a number of years," she said. "Queen's and Guelph are huge, but we will be right near the top if we compete like we have at the first two competitions."
The 12 women that make up the team, including seven rookies, practice four times a week early in the morning a time-slot that does impress the team's captain.
"We definitely get crappy ice time," Lippingwell said. "We're a recognized varsity sport, but it seems we don't get the highest priority. Even intramurals get priority over us."
The provincial finals will be held on Feb. 20 and 21.