Volume 96, Issue 82
Thursday, March 6, 2003

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Purple Pipe: Skaters
Figure skaters take OUA gold

Dave Picard/Gazette
THE 2002-2003 OUA FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONS. They may look like angels on the surface, but make no bones about it, these girls (and guy) have ice water flowing through their veins.
The Purple Pipe searched long and hard for a new companion this week. Actually, it was more like 10 minutes, because all of Western's other teams got put to sleep like a three-legged dog over Reading Week.

The Pipe's most recent recipients are experts in double axles, triple salchows, toe flips, lutzes and that thing where the person spins on that little spike thing on the end of the skate. In other words, figure skaters.

Figure skating appears to be a rigorous physical activity – at least to uninformed people like us. It blends the finesse of ballet with the strength and conditioning of hockey.

Western's figure skaters won their second-straight Ontario University Athletics gold medal over Slack Week – their ninth in team history – while the rest of us were ... well ... slackin'. In total, they received medals in 11 out of 15 events, which translates into Western kicking the crap out of the competition.

What made the victory that much sweeter was that Western beat out both Queen's University and the University of Toronto. In other news, pretentiousness has hit an all-time low in the Kingston and Greater Toronto Area.

And, in what appears to be a continuing trend among varsity athletics, the figure skating team receives no funding – go figure. All skaters must pay roughly $400 out of their own pockets for various expenses. For that reason alone, The Gazette decided it was time for this team to get some love.

Another interesting fact about the figure skating team is that there is only one male to the 21 females on the team. For the non-math majors, that is a 21:1 ratio. And they say the University of Guelph has favourable ratio.

– Benjamin Mills

Kickin' it with Alma Moir

The Gazette sat down with Western figure skating coach Alma Moir and picked her brain about a variety of skating issues.

Would you care to comment on some of the stereotypes directed at figure skating? For example, some people think all male figure skaters are gay, and all female figure skaters are... well... nuts.

The male stereotype is typical. You see someone like Brian Boitano and assume all other guys in the sport are [gay], which they're not. As for the women, they face the same stresses as gymnasts. It's an image sports with tremendous emphasis on one's physical image, so sometimes women, like Tonya Harding or Oksana Baiul, crack under the pressure. That's the price they pay.

With Tara Lipinski winning the gold medal at the Nagano Olympics in 1998 at the age of 15, are figure skaters getting younger?

They are. With the development of the Junior Grand Prix system and the age limits set in place, many skaters are trying to get exposure at a younger age.

Favourite figure skater?

Kurt Browning. He has done so much for the sport through his talent and helping rid the sport of the gay male stereotype through his image.

Speaking of Kurt Browning, a known back-flipper, do you think backflips should be allowed in amateur competition?

No, that's not the way we rotate.

There has always been talk about bad-blood between Elvis Stojko and Eric Lindros, culminating with a rumoured bar fight between the two some years back, with Stojko coming out victorious. Who do you think would win in a fight?

Elvis no doubt. His martial arts training gives him an edge.


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