Kalamazoo, Michigan – The Intercollegiate Figure Skating Team made a splash at their debut while participating in the first collegiate figure skating competition in school history over the weekend. Nine out of the 11 events entered at Bronco Challenge Cup saw podium finishes by Thunder athletes, with all skaters finishing in the top five.
"I am ecstatic about the results from our first competition!" beamed Head Coach Rachel Franchock, "Producing a strong skate and placing well at competition always feels great but it's even more impressive considering this is all of our athlete's collegiate debut. Their early success boils down to the dedication and focus our skaters have and I couldn't be more proud of them."
Elizabeth Walker (Sterling, Va.) was the first Trine skater to take the ice on Saturday and performed a technically sound 14-Step pattern dance placing fifth in a competitive Novice Pattern Dance flight. She was quickly followed by Hannah Carter (Garden City, Mich.) and Nicole Matlock (Saint Peters, Mo.) who both skated strong Preliminary free skate programs earning them the first ever medals for Trine by placing first and second respectively.
The team used the positive energy to produce even more stunning performances in the afternoon. Kaitlyn Lee (San Diego, Calif.) and Walker tied for third place in their free skate event, Nicole Matlock performed the Rhythm Blues to earn second place and Nathan Luong (San Diego, Calif.) won gold in the Men's Novice Short Program.
Day one closed out with the difficult Team Maneuver event where each skater demonstrates a various figure skating element (i.e., jump, spin or edge element). Thunder's Low team was made up of Julia Wilkinson (Danville, Calif.), Jamie Vartoogian (Howell, Mich.), Lee, Carter, Matlock and Walker. They were first to skate and battled their way through a tough flight of 13 teams. Each skater rose to the challenge and performed their assigned element(s) with confidence and grace and with only a couple of slight inaccuracies, the team earned an outstanding fifth place.
Trine's Intermediate Team, made up of Luong, Alexandra Lung (Rockford, Ill.) and Christina Zaitsev (Fishers, Ind.), was next to take the ice and put forth a powerful performance for all elements. Their clean technical execution and strength in each element did not go unnoticed by the judges and earned them the gold with all first place ordinals.
Day two saw even more success from the Thunder. Walker performed a robust and upbeat Intermediate free dance earning third place and Luong skated a technically strong Men's Novice Excel Program earning him second. Overall, Trine University brought home nine medals (three gold, three silver and three bronze) and are eager to get back to work perfecting their programs and team elements.
"We still have a lot of work to do reach our goals but it was a very successful weekend for Trine Skating," said Franchock, "Our skaters are extremely driven and were already focused on what they could add or improve before we even left the competition. We are all excited to get back to work and keep growing our figure skating program at Trine."
The Intercollegiate Figure Skating Team will next compete at the Golden Gopher Challenge in Minneapolis, Minn. February 8 and 9, 2019.