Exhausted and elated, the BU figure skating team landed at Logan Airport at 7:30 a.m. on April 3 and walked off the plane with a glide in their step. The previous day, in San Jose, Calif., in the biggest success in the 32-year history of the club sport at the University, the skaters had placed second in the U.S. Intercollegiate Team Skating Championships.
“We thought we were going to finish third,” says coach Barbara Pinch. “But when they announced Delaware as the third-place winner, my team started jumping up and down and screaming because we knew then that we had second place.” When BU’s runner-up status was broadcast throughout the Logitech Ice Arena, Pinch could barely hear the result over the roar of her skaters. It was no belated April Fool’s joke: BU had squeaked by third-place Delaware by half a point.
With San Jose University Ice Skating Club hosting, 108 of the nation’s top collegiate skaters competed in 31 events — including solo dance and freestyle — over two days. For the third year in a row, Dartmouth took the title with 96 points. BU finished with 59 points. Delaware, which took second place last year, accumulated 58.5 points. Rounding out the top nine schools were Indiana, 40.5, UC-Berkeley, 39, Miami, 27, Denver, 22, San Jose State, 18, and Michigan State, 7.
Last fall, when freshman Josephine Wong (SHA’09) joined the 19-member team, she was impressed when she heard that BU had placed fifth at the 2005 national championships in Oxford, Ohio. “Little did I know at the time that the club’s expectations would be higher this year,” she says.
Pinch credits her skaters’ improvement to hard work during practices at Walter Brown Arena. “They really pushed themselves,” she says. The team, says Christy Foley (COM’06), “had three hours of ice a day, five days a week, and most of the girls made good use of this time. I think we did so well this year because we have a lot of new skaters who are very strong and because we all tried our best.”
The figure skating club has had its ups and downs since Pinch founded it in 1974, but early on she could tell that this year’s unit was special. “They have a camaraderie,” she says, “and I think the prospect of going to California excited them and made them even more determined to better last year’s finish.”
Wong says she was shocked when it became clear that BU had beaten Delaware, which, after all, “has a nationally known skating program” and had placed second in 2005 with 59 points. BU, with 34 points, was topped last year by Miami (58.5) and UC-Berkley (40) as well. But not this year, with a surging BU making a name for itself in the college figure skating world.
“Having to take a red-eye flight and arrive back in Boston at 7:30 a.m., then go to class, was beyond tough,” Wong says. “The team as a whole still hadn’t caught up with sleep from the early morning flight on Friday. I admired those girls who went to class to take exams. I was extremely tired, but I was still excited about the competition.”