TORONTO- The Ryerson Rams figure skating team begins their season this Friday in Kingston, Ont., where they will take part in the Fall Invitational hosted by Queen's.
"We are definitely looking forward to getting our competitive season underway this week," said Head Coach Janean Bruhn. "The fall invitational is an essential competitive warm-up and a benchmark for fine tuning our training and programs in preparation for the (OUA) championships."
Bruhn has pleased with the training so far, even though the Rams have had to deal with a few more hurdles than in previous seasons.
"We are putting the finishing touches on our programs this week," she said. "We've suffered more set-backs this year due to illness and injury than in prior seasons, but this is a resilient group and we are all healthy leading into Friday's event. I'm pleased with where we are at and confident we won't be stunted by these setbacks for the championships."
The program is returning all four of their medal-winners at last season's conference championships in Waterloo, Ont. This includes sophomore Katherine Bilinsky (Etobicoke, Ont.), who ended a solid rookie campaign by skating to gold in the senior silver solo dance and picking up a bronze in the gold free skate.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. product Alysha Gjos is also back for her second season with Rams. The former cross-country stand-out with Fanshawe College was stellar in her return to the ice in 2010-11, winning gold in the senior silver freeskate.
"Expectations are high for our returning OUA medalists as they come into this season with the mileage and experience to defend their titles," said Bruhn. "We will be looking for them to hit podium at each event."
Bruhn also believes that standout rookies Lisa Makeeva (Toronto) and Christina Pulla (Whitby, Ont.) will be medal contenders in the gold freeskate and short program respectively, while the new creative dance duo of second-year Barbara Basar and freshman Karen Urquhart, both Toronto natives, will also look to make a splash and a podium run by the OUA championships in February.
After having success in some individual events last season, Bruhn is building this year's squad to be a well-rounded group that will challenge the top teams in the province.
"Consistency is essential for us as athletes, and a team, to win over the judges," said Bruhn. "We are building our reputation to be a threat all-around and not just a wild card entry. We will definitely be part of the shuffle at the championships and I look forward to dragging a bag full of medals back from London."
The Rams will take their first step towards OUA's with the Fall Invitational on Friday at Queen's.
The OUA championships take place at Western from February 16-17.