Vikes cheer finish fourth at university world championships
January 22, 2024
VICTORIA - In a sport where the margin for error is sky-high, and points are deducted for even the slightest imperfection, taking big risks is a high-stakes gamble, but that's precisely what the University of Victoria cheer team did at this year's ICU University World Cheer Championship in Orlando, Fl. Performing their most difficult and technical routine in the program's history, the Vikes pushed themselves to the limit, taking significant risks that, in the end, fell just shy of a podium finish.
Undefeated in B.C. since 2017 and defending ICU world champions in the premier all-girl team division, the Vikes finished in fourth place at this year's championship, coming in third place of all Canadian teams.
"Last year, we didn't expect to win, but our routine was very clean, which resulted in high scores. This year, we wanted to step it up and really push ourselves. We performed the most difficult routine we've ever done and while we set our expectations high, we feel like we won because of the skills we were able to execute," said co-head coach Kate Bell.
"We were really happy with our difficulty scores, but we made a couple of tiny mistakes, which happens in our sport, that's just part of it. We stepped off the mat feeling proud of what we have accomplished in a short time," she continued.
Kicking off their season in September, the team has limited time to prepare for worlds. Losing six senior athletes from last year's squad, two of whom were flyers, there are a lot of moving parts that need to come together.
Bell says several young athletes stepped up to help bridge the gap left by the missing seniors, and the talent level this season is higher than ever.
Some of the major highlights of their routine include extremely technical dismounts and basket tosses that no other team in their division performed.
"Last year, we weren't able to execute as difficult baskets until later in the season, so it felt amazing to be doing such technical skills so early in the year," said senior cheerleader Mia Butcher.
"Although we didn't come home with the win, we are raising the bar for all-girl collegiate cheerleading in Canada. Our volunteer coaches, Kate and Mishan, dedicate countless hours to the development of the program solely because they love it and want the program to thrive."
The ICU World Cheerleading Championship takes place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, and while the Vikes compete in the women's premier division, one of the highlights is getting the opportunity to share a training space and practice alongside some of the top American co-ed teams in the world.
While the Vikes may not have repeated as world champs, they managed to turn heads and put on a show garnering compliments from some of the best to do it in the sport.
Check it out as the Vikes show off some of their tricks:
About Vikes Cheer
The Vikes cheer team is part of the university competitive clubs program open to all eligible UVic students. Each year, upwards of 100 student-athletes try out for the team, and while the team's primary goal is competition, there is no cheer history or previous experience required. While the program welcomes anyone interested in competitive cheer to try out for the team, the dedicated group of athletes practice early mornings and late nights three days a week for 2.5 hours and attend varsity home games as well. They also fundraise year-round to help pay their way to larger competitions like the University World Cup Cheerleading Championship in Orlando.