Figure skating program in jeopardy

The future appears to be bleak for the figure skaters of Wilfrid Laurier University. Over the course of the past year, they have lost both their funding from the university and their head coach and now it looks as though there will not be a team at all for the 2010-11 season.

“[The figure skating program] has very low numbers and it’s a very high-cost sport, both on the coaching side as well as on the facility side,” said Laurier’s athletics director Peter Baxter. “So it looks as though we won’t have a figure skating program this year.”

Although the decision is not yet official, in the eyes of the athletes there seems to be little chance of their being a team this year.

“I don’t see there being a team next year,” said Brittany Maksymyk, a third-year figure skater.

“And it’s really come a surprise because at our end of the year meeting, [the athletics department] seemed optimistic that we were going to have a team next year, and it wasn’t until the summer that I began to consider that I wasn’t going to be able to skate next year.”

Problems started for the figure skating program last summer when they were among the eight varsity teams who lost their funding provided by the university as a result of school-wide budget cuts. This meant that the team had to pay for their own ice time, coaching and equipment, which added up to a fee of approximately $1400 per athlete.

Following last season, the program was dealt another blow when head coach Carolyn McEwen stepped down from her position. According to Maksymyk, the athletes were willing to help in the search for a new coach. However, they had little co-operation from the athletics department.

“Everyone is really frustrated because we were prepared to do a lot of work this summer and try and get a coach ourselves,” she said.

“And now we’re just at a standstill because we haven’t been told anything, so there’s really nothing we can do at this point. There’s nothing we can even try to do because [the athletics department] hasn’t told us anything.”

As for the future of the program beyond this year, it isn’t out of the question that the team could return, although it does seem unlikely.

“Once you cut a team, there’s a big loss of interest and it’s hard to get people to come back,” said Maksymyk. “I still hope there’ll be a team sometime in the future, I just don’t know how likely it is.”