Skaters bring home national championship
March 8, 2004
SAN DIEGO--In its final competition as a varsity sport at Western Michigan University, the synchronized skating team won the collegiate division national championship at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships March 6 in San Diego.
Under the direction of coach Jill Janik, the Broncos placed first out of 18 teams for their first national title in the U.S. Figure Skating Association-sponsored championships. The WMU collegiate team finished second in 2003 and among the nation's top three teams in each of Janik's four seasons as coach. The national champion each of the previous three seasons was Miami University, which this year finished second behind WMU, followed by the University of Delaware, Michigan State University and the University of Illinois.
"The collegiate team skated a solid strong performance," said Janik. "It was an emotional win for the Broncos and a great way to end the year."
In the more competitive senior division, which includes top teams from both colleges and private skating clubs, WMU's senior team placed fifth at this year's national championships. The top six teams in the senior division are automatically eligible for international competition. Under Janik, the senior team has gone from not even qualifying for the nationals to an eighth-place finish in 2002, sixth in 2003 and this year's fifth-place performance.
WMU's synchronized skating program is losing varsity status and funding at the end of this season. Elimination of varsity status for skating, as well as for men's track and cross country, was approved by the WMU Board of Trustees in December in a move designed to trim more than $535,000 annually from the athletic budget.
Prior to gaining varsity status in 1999, synchronized skating was a club sport at WMU, as it is at nearly all other colleges and universities. Miami has the nation's only other team with varsity status.
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