Volume 92, Issue 89
Wednesday, March 17, 1999
More Ontario gold for Mustangs
©Photo courtesy of Western Ski Team
WELL AT LEAST THE DRIVE WAS WORTH IT! After another three hour drive to Collingwood on the weekend, the Mustang ski team returned with gold medals around their necks.
By Paul Leeking
The Western ski team may not be recognized by intercollegiate athletics but on Saturday they basked in the golden spotlight at the Southern Ontario University Racing Circuit Championships.
When the Western ski team was stripped of their official varsity status seven years ago, changes were made. The team no longer receives funding from the athletic department at Western and Ontario University Athletics no longer organizes or endorses ski events or championships.
According to co-captain Andrew Von Teichman, even getting people out for the team was becoming a challenge. Problems were mounting and suddenly skiing at Western was beginning to fade from memory.
Seven years later, the determined skiers have continued to overcome obstacles and prove they are a team worthy of recognition.
The jubilant squad returned home this weekend after capturing gold at the championships, held at the Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood. It is the team's 14th championship in the last 16 years a stretch which includes an incredible 13 consecutive victories.
"There is a great tradition of skiing here at Western," Von Teichman said. "With this performance, I think we are back on track."
Competing against top international competition, Western's MacLean Wood turned in the most notable performance, achieving a third place finish in the men's overall final.
Wood returned this season from the World University Games and led the highly skilled Western club with a third place finish. The individual effort was impressive considering the number of skiers present who compete internationally, Von Teichman said.
He added every Thursday since January the team has been forced to endure a grueling three hour long trek to Collingwood just for the opportunity to compete. Once in Collingwood, the team would cram into chalets and prepare for the Friday competition.
Western co-captain Mike Wellman was impressed by the team's ability to gel together, considering the team boasts the largest roster in history. "We've still become pretty close."
The 50 member Western squad was the envy of the rest of the teams, said McMaster captain Melissa Austin.
"The Western team has really built itself up. The captains work really hard on getting started early in the fall and it shows," Austin said, adding Western was by far the most organized and focused club there.
Without the assistance of the OUA in funding and organizing the events, the teams have made alternative arrangements to stay afloat. The two and a half month season is organized by Alpine Ontario South, in conjunction with the rest of the captains of the other participating schools. Due to the lack of financial backing from the respective universities, fund-raising becomes another major challenge the teams must meet.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999