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Cornell Figure Skating Club Glides to Gold

By Avalon Singer and Maddison Murnane


Despite only being able to secure three hours of practice time a week and being completely self-run, the Cornell Figure Skating Club was able to place 11th out of 26 teams at an intercollegiate competition over the weekend of Feb. 4th-5th hosted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Johnson Ice Rink in Boston, Mass.

Leading the team to this feat were Justin Cheng ‘17, who secured 1st place in the pre-preliminary men’s free skate group, Christine Lin ‘19, who placed 3rd in preliminary women’s dance group and team co-captain Bethany Buck ‘17 who won 1st place in the women’s gold dance group.

Buck said that she was excited and surprised to place 1st in the gold dance category because leading up to the competition she had been practicing the wrong routine. However, due to her 15 years of figure skating experience, she knew the combination that she had to perform and was able to do well, she said. One reason that she was able to place 1st was because of the support from her team, she said.

“Normally everyone tries to sit in the stands and watch each other compete,” Buck said.  “We try to foster that supportiveness within the club.”

Co-captain Clara Liao ‘17 also participated at the competition, however, she did not place. Liao said that of the 30 members on the team, only 13 decided to attend the competition over the weekend. Because the team is almost completely self-funded, members have to pay in order to compete and this deterred people from attending, she said. The club has to fundraise for every competition and activity that they participate in, aside from their rink time at Lynah Rink at Cornell, which is paid for by the University. The team competes three times a year in various types of solo skating, as members help each other with their individual combinations rather than focus on team synchronization skating.

Due to the fact that Cornell boasts Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs, it is very difficult for the club to secure sufficient time for  practice during the year. Liao said the only practice time that they are allotted is one hour on Wednesdays, Mondays and Sundays during the fall semester and half of the spring semester. The only other available ice time, which is open to the public, is a one hour time slot in the middle of the day while the members are in class.

“Our rink time is cut short in the spring because when hockey season ends right before spring break in March they melt the ice, even though we still have competitions,” Liao said. “We just can’t skate anymore.”

Although the club is not allotted a significant amount of practice time, that does not stop them from doing well in competitions and bonding as a team. Public Relations Chair Shreya Nayar ‘19 said even though the team places at each competition they attend, most of the members are in the club for the team aspect rather than for the competitiveness of the sport.

“We don’t take it super seriously,” Nayar said.  “It’s more fun and it’s about being together as a team, which is not something that everyone got out of skating growing up.”

Team bonding is an important aspect of the club and they usually bond through car rides to competitions and team dinners, Buck said.

In high school figure skating for most members was taken as an intense and serious sport, Liao said. However, continuing skating in college has allowed them to use skate time to relax and destress on the ice.

“In high school it was more of a stressor, but here school is the main concern and skating is for taking your mind off of job hunting and classes,” Liao said.

The club does not hold tryouts, as anyone at any level can participate. The only qualifications members must meet for safety reasons is to have taken the physical education ice skating course that Cornell offers or to have tested with the US Figure Skating Organization.  Members must also have their own skates.

Currently, the Cornell Figure Skating Team is practicing for its next intercollegiate competition, taking place on March 18th-19th and hosted by Delaware University.

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