On March 17, McGill’s Figure Skating Club hosted its end-of-season show at McConnell Arena in front of a lively crowd. The performance was a fitting finale to the season, with each teammate showcasing their individual and synchronized skills.
“I think we just enjoy skating with no pressure and sharing what we’ve been working on and how we’ve improved with all those who come to watch,” first-year Arts student Elisia Wong told The McGill Tribune. “[The] show definitely lived up to expectations for us and we’re hoping that everyone in the audience enjoyed it as much as we did.”
Like many other McGill teams, varsity and otherwise, the figure skating program took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic—their 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons were cancelled, leaving the team without any competition. Despite the disappointment, the club rallied for the 2022-23 season, competing in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Fall and Winter Invitationals. The team performed well for their first competitive season in two years, and won gold in the Fall Invitational women’s freeskate as well as silver in the star 10 women’s event during the Winter Invitational.
Unfortunately, the figure skating team’s lack of varsity status prevented them from competing in the OUA championships, so the skaters decided to host an exhibition performance at McGill to showcase their achievements. Although the show was not a competition, the team felt it was a fun and entertaining way to end their comeback season.
“The mood amongst the skaters was very light and fun,” said third-year biochemistry student Jessamine Mattson in an interview with the Tribune. “There was no pressure to be perfect and we were able to cheer for each other in a way that can’t be done on practice ice.”
The show got off to an energetic start with a number of synchronized and individual performances, each one more daring than the last. The low stakes allowed the skaters to fearlessly attempt their best skills and the crowd was rewarded with a number of jumps and spins, with a few axels mixed in. Each performance was met with boisterous ovations from the crowd and applause from the team, who all stayed rink-side after their performances to cheer on their teammates.
Halfway through the show, there was an emotional moment when the graduating skaters were celebrated at centre ice, marking a new era for the team.
“All the team members are different now, and after the graduating members leave, there won’t be anyone on the team who was on the last team before COVID,” Wong said. “We want to focus on building the team and showing up as strong competitors to each competition.”
The second half of the performance proceeded much like the first: The team continued to showcase their skills as individuals, pairs, and even quartets. When the show concluded, the skaters received a final thunderous round of applause from the crowd as they made their way to the stands, officially bringing the season to a close. In the aftermath, the figure skating team is already setting their sights on improving their competitive edge for next year.
“Next season, we hope to continue to foster an inclusive and fun environment where team members can continue to work and train in the sport they love,” Mattson said. “We hope that these efforts will show at competitions as we strive to work our way up the rankings.”
Wong echoed her teammate’s statement. “We want to recruit more skaters and hopefully regain varsity status from McGill,” she added. “We’re definitely looking to take home more medals and higher placements, so we’ll be working hard and doing our best to improve in the coming season.”
While the McGill community will have to wait and see if the team can live up to expectations, it is clear that a new era in McGill figure skating has arrived.