Figure skaters take gold at Boston
By Sharon Dauson, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The Dartmouth figure skating team, the defending National Champion, started its competitive season off on the right skate at Boston University this weekend, besting 16 teams to emerge victorious after 17 hours of competition.
The competition was the first of two contests that will determine which three Eastern teams will qualify for the Figure Skating National Championships, which will take place in Ann Arbor, Mich., in early April.
Though Dartmouth took the ice with just 12 skaters, the Big Green took a decisive victory of 103.5 points. Dartmouth's strong win was followed by Cornell with 72 points, Boston University with 68.5 points and Delaware with 66 points. The victory extends the Big Green's winning streak into its fifth season.
Dartmouth took the lead early with five first-place finishes in the first five events of the weekend. Co-captain Nicole Newman '08, Hallie Damon '08, Cynthia Chen GR, Rachel Feder '09 and Jenny Friedman '11 took the gold medals.
Rory Grant '11, Tenley Brownwright '10 and co-captain Dan Dittrick '08 followed suit, securing gold medals for Dartmouth. Kate Schmidt '09, Natalie Falsgraf '10, Vanessa Szalapski '10 and Alex Mahler-Haug '11 also saw solid performances that contributed to Dartmouth's first win of the year.
Mahler-Haug is a member of the Dartmouth staff.
Newman praised the depth and improvement in the team's competition.
"For the first competition of the season the team did an amazing job and showed strong improvement over last year," Newman said. "Every skater scored points for the overall team score, and the freshmen skated very well for their first collegiate skating competition. The team far exceeded our goals for this competition."
This Saturday was their first time that Friedman and Grant took the ice to represent the Big Green.
"It's great to come onto a team that is so established," Friedman said about her experience skating at Dartmouth. "Obviously it's a little intimidating at first and as a freshman you want to prove yourself but I think this weekend really made me a part of the team and I plan to help bring this team another four national championships."
Grant echoed Friedman's sentiments and explained how different collegiate figure skating is from the skating he did when in high school.
"I definitely want to prove myself. Figure skating in college is definitely a huge change," he said. "The way you choose to approach your training is definitely up to you, and that's something that before was dictated mainly by coaches and parents."
Friedman and Grant are both enjoy the Big Green's team dynamic.
"I really enjoyed the team bonding. In high school, I didn't really get any of that before because I figured skating is an individual sport," Grant said. "It's really nice to have such a cohesive group of people rooting for you."
Friedman added that she had not been sure of what to expect when she started skating with a team.
"Figure skating has always been an individual sport and I had never experienced the team structure, but now that I'm a part of it I love it," Friedman said. "It's great to be able to have a team to support you and compete with you. It's a lot more fun than just skating for yourself. Now I get to skate with my friends and I get to skate for my school."
Dittrick, who has three National Championships under his belt, also expressed enthusiasm about traveling as a team.
"Since we only have three or four competitions for our entire season, the team has very few chances to bond together in the spirit of contest," Dittrick said. "So my favorite part of traveling is the growth and unity we build between ourselves. Until our first competition it's hard to really think of ourselves as a team, but afterwards we definitely come together to support each other through the rest of the season."
Several of the Big Green skaters were disappointed to have to miss Dartmouth's Winter Carnival weekend, but the gold medals Dartmouth took back to campus made up for the loss.
"Spending a weekend away from Dartmouth together has made us closer as a team," Newman said. "At first, I think some of the skaters were a little sad they were missing Winter Carnival, but after our success at BU everyone on the team was excited and happy to have spent the weekend skating."
The team hopes to secure its bid to the National Championships at its next competition, which will take place at the University of Delaware on Sun., March 2.