Volume 93, Issue 45

Thursday, November 18, 1999


Ending the dumb jock myth

The official hockey pool update

Skating troops ready for season

Six rugby players shine bright in the OUA sky

The greatest Canadian team - ever

Skating troops ready for season

By Sean Maraj
Gazette Staff

It's like ballet, but on ice – it's figure skating.

The Western figure skating team begins their season this weekend at the Ryerson Invitational tournament and the team has high hopes of bringing back the gold.

The Mustangs were hit hard in the off-season by athletes leaving and new blood taking over, as the team of 17 has only six returning veterans. The influx of new skaters could pose problems, especially when it comes to team cohesion.

Team co-captain Laura Hadley said although the new mix could be a problem as the season goes on, things were coming along fairly well. "I feel pretty good. The team is shaping up nicely, especially with a lot of the new people. Hopefully, we'll be getting better and better," she said.

Jennifer Smeaton, the team's other co-captain, said she was also happy with the manner in which the team was coming together. She said the addition of the new skaters will eventually prove to be a strength for the team. "We could do really well this year [because] we have some good new skaters. I'm pretty optimistic," Smeaton said.

As the season progresses, Smeaton said the time the team spends together would help increase their cohesiveness, as the rookies will get the opportunity to get more experience skating at the university level.

"We haven't had a lot of time to come together," Smeaton said. "But I have a really good feeling how this will end up, as the new girls get a chance to compete at the university level."

Smeaton said her optimism stems from the fact the team's experienced Mustangs see a lot of potential in the new crop of rookies. "We have some strong skaters, the veterans can see in the new skaters that they can do really well," she said.

To finish well this year, the team will have to face tough competition from teams such as Queen's University, who won the Ontario University Athletics championship last year.

Queen's head coach, John Yap, said he was optimistic his team would have a good year and had the potential to return to the top of the OUA. "We should do very well, we have a strong team, we've been training hard and we have a very dedicated group of athletes.

"We hope to be in the top somewhere, our goal is to retain our OUA title," he said.

Yap admitted, however, his team will face much stiffer competition this year, as the competing teams have become stronger in recent years. "Guelph and teams like Brock [University] are coming up," he said. "The calibre of skating has gone up throughout the league."

Hadley, however, was still confident her team had the potential to overcome the competition the OUA poses. "We have high hopes for the team this year, we're trying to push for the finals. It's new for a lot of people." she said. "We have individual weaknesses, but overall the team is pretty strong."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999