Golden Horseshoe presence at OUA figure skate finals

Eight schools will compete at the Ontario University Athletics figure skating championships in hopes of winning the 2011 title. The event, hosted by the University of Waterloo, will take place at RIM Park in Waterloo on Feb. 17-18.

The defending champions Guelph Gryphons are looking to three-peat in 2011. The Western Mustangs and the Queen’s Gaels hope to upset the strong Guelph squad as these schools are traditionally strong. Since 1992, Guelph, Queen’s or Western has won the OUA title.

The events begin with the Junior Silver Similar Dance at noon on Thursday. Last year’s gold medalists were Ryerson’s Jennifer Ji and Katie Docherty (Cambridge). Although Ryerson will not be returning, Ji and Docherty will skate with newcomer to the OUA stage, Lisa Jensen (Toronto). Guelph’s Sandra McCubbin (Barrie), a multiple OUA All-Star and skating veteran, will pair up with first-year Rebecca Wong (Stoney Creek) to try to add another title to her illustrious career.

Toronto, another favourite, will enter veterans Sophie Adam (Sudbury) and Tori Prouse (Sault Ste. Marie) to test out the stronger teams. Competing in the event for Carleton will be Jessica DeChamplain (Greeley) and Kristen Wright (Fairport, NY) and all schools will enter skaters for this event.

At 12:50 p.m. the Gold Freeskate event will take place. Toronto’s Amanda Tully (Barrie) will look to uphold her title from last year’s competition. McMaster’s Diane D’Alessandro (Newmarket) will compete in the event as well as Queen’s Nicole Grenon (Calgary). Second-year Christina Morettin (Nobleton) will hope to win a medal at home for the host school, the Waterloo Warriors. Western’s Hayley Magermans (Corunna) will compete in her first of four events of the championship in the gold freeskate. All schools will enter participants for this event.

The Senior Silver Similar Dance will be next in the program for Thursday’s competition. The Guelph Gryphons are currently the defending champions of this event as veterans and heavy favourites, Laura Barbison (Brampton) and Ariel Porty (Guelph) will look to retain their title. Fourth-years from the Western Mustangs will be big competition for Guelph as Carolyn Armstrong (Oakville) and Sarah Gray (Aurora) enter the event. Katelyn Fraser (Caledonia) and Marissa MacLean (Brantford) will be entered into the equation for Waterloo. Sophia Perugini (Newmarket) and Rebecca Lowe (Markham) will compete for McMaster and all eight schools will enter competitors for this event.

Next up on the schedule for Thursday is the Short Program. Last year’s winner, Ryerson’s Madeleine Jullian, will not be returning this season but the Rams will enter first-year Melanie Yeung (North York). Toronto’s rookie skater Christina Pulla (Whitby) will try to win the title for the Blues. Martha Carruthers (Markham) will skate for the Gaels and Courtney Mori (Brantford) will compete for the Ravens and all schools will have their chance to capture the gold medal.

Waterloo’s Kevin Dawe took home the gold in the men’s freeskate but a new winner will be named this year as Dawe is replaced with Brandon Prete (Prince Albert, Sask.) for the Warriors squad. For Carleton, Matthew Hawley (Toronto) will compete, as well as Josh Belletti (Fergus) for the Gryphons, Daniel Chung (Toronto) for the Gaels and Chris Boutilier (Brantford) for the Mustangs.

The Bronze Rhythm Dance will take place 4:10 p.m. on Thursday and Guelph will be looking to defend its title. The heavy favourite return all four members of last year’s winning team, including Barbison, Porty and McCubbin as well as Rebecca Wilkes (Toronto). Looking to dethrone the Gryphons will be McMaster’s team of Kelly Britten (Dundas), Brittney Hebbourn (Fort Erie), Taylor Heffering (Port Perry) and Michelle Pearson (Newmarket). The host team will enter four ladies to compete in the event that include Rebecca Bird (Etobicoke, Ont.), Jenna McArthur (London), Katherine Brown (Markham), and Ali Greenhow (London). All teams will compete in the Bronze Rhythm Dance.

In the Senior Silver Freeskate, Waterloo’s Adrienne Corbett won the event last year but will not be returning. In her place for the Warriors will be rookie Shannon Murray (Cambridge). Ryerson will hope that first-year Alysha Gjos (Sault Ste Marie.) can get it done for the Rams and Gillian Saunders (Reston, VA) will hope to do the same for the Blues. Renee Tse (Markham) will compete for Queen’s along with all other schools.

The Open Solo Dance last took place two years ago. The final event taking place on Thursday was won in the 2008-09 season by Guelph’s Porty. Despite her return after two seasons, Wilkes will skate the event for the Gryphons. Julianna Kuhl (London) of the Western Mustangs will be favoured to win the event as well as Queens’ Emily Young (Calgary, Alta.).

Friday’s events open up with the Intermediate Similar Pairs at 9 a.m. Western’s pair to compete will be made up of Thornhill natives Carmen Wong and Alex Vaiay. Competing against them will be Toronto’s Saunders and Julie Hommik (Toronto), as well as Queen’s Tse and Charlotte MacDonald (Halifax) and McMaster’s Brennan Stollar (Caledonia), and Emily Vickery (Acton). Waterloo, Guelph, and Carleton will also enter pairs for the event.

Last year, Ryerson’s Jullian won the Senior Silver Solo Dance and will be replaced by rookie Katherine Bilinsky (Etobicoke). McCubbin will enter her third of four events for the Gryphons in hopes of winning the title and Toronto will enter Bridgette McGregor (Mississauga). Fifth-year Catherine McLean (London) will skate for Western, Melanie Graveline (Sharon) for Queen’s and Wright for Carleton.

Pairs Fours, another popular event in the OUA, was won last year by a team of returning Toronto Blues. Prouse, Adam, Tiffany Tse (Calgary, Alta.) and Lydia Schultz (Bradford) won the event last year and look to defend their title against a strong Guelph team. The Gryphons competing in the event include Christine Kucava (Guelph), Laura Stratton (Milton), Lauren Black (Peterborough), and Krista Ricciatti (Guelph). Ryerson will enter the team of Bilinsky, Yeung, Barbara Basar (Toronto), and Emily Coxworth (Uxbridge), along with Waterloo, Queen’s and McMaster.

At 11:40 a.m., the Gold Creative Dance will take place and defending gold medalists Stephanie Buono (London) and Katie Dortono (Niagara Falls) of the Western Mustangs, return in hopes of winning the event back-to-back. Skating for McMaster will be Britten and Heather Rosdobutko (Whitby) and for Carleton will be Corey DeJong (Ailsa Craig) and Chelsea Walker (Binbrook). Queens’ Young and Gwendolyn Eadie (Kingston) will skate in the event along with pairs from Guelph, Toronto and Waterloo.

Guelph’s Ricciatti and Tessa Mailling (Mississauga) hope to defend their gold medals in the Senior Similar Pairs event. Coxwroth and Katie Holmes (Pickering) will compete for Ryerson and Toronto’s Tully will skate with teammate Veronica Hall (Dryden). Waterloo will enter Laura Beecraft (Breslau) and Mercedes Grzenda (Ancaster) as competitors in the event.

The Synchro team skate takes place Friday at 1:15 p.m. and is the last event before the champions are named. Last year’s gold medalists, the Guelph Gryphons, have dominated again this year taking first place at the Toronto Invitational last month and will be the team to beat on Friday.

Carleton, Guelph, McMaster, Queen’s, Ryerson, Toronto, Waterloo and Western will all compete in the championship that begins Thursday morning and concludes Friday.

Full schedule and results can be found on the Waterloo Warriors website at

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