Yukon will field a brand new gymnastics team at the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska.
All four gymnasts, selected during team trials at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on Friday, will be competing at their first Arctics in March with no returners from the 2012 Games.
Though none on the team have Games experience in gymnastics, they are still seasoned competitors. Two current Yukon champs and a runner-up from last year’s Yukon championships are included on the team.
Selected for the team are Anisa Albisser, Megan Banks, Sydney Cairns and Emily King. All four are Level 3 gymnasts from the Polarettes club.
“We have two girls who are more veteran Level 3s, who have competed at this level a little bit longer, and two girls who are kind of brand new to Level 3,” said head coach Catherine O’Donovan. “Anisa and Megan are veteran Level 3s who will be moving up a category after (the Arctic Games).”
“They’ve all been on our traveling team for the last little bit and they are the four Level 3s that we have at the gym, so we have our four strongest competitors on the team.”
Banks, who is the oldest on the team at 15, was the Level 3 runner-up at last year’s Yukon championship behind Anisa Albisser. She competed in Arctic sports at the 2012 Games in Whitehorse.
“I’d say Megan is our powerhouse and will probably be the leader on the team,” said O’Donovan. “I can see her rallying everybody and getting them motivated. I’d see her as our captain in terms of personality … If gymnastics had a captain.”
King, who O’Donovan calls the team’s “beam specialist,” is the youngest on the team at 10 years old. She was a Level 2 winner at last year’s Yukon championship.
Matisse Robertson was named the team’s first alternate. Nine gymnasts tried out for the team on Friday, which is more than usual, said O’Donovan.
“We usually have four or five trying out for the team and this year we had nine,” said O’Donovan. “It was really fun, really exciting and it was a good goal for everyone to work towards.
“I’ve been trying to build up our team and have more competitive athletes than before. We usually have 25 competitive gymnasts and this year we have 35.”
There was a little extra pressure on the gymnasts at Friday’s trials. Gymnastics is one of six sports that will not be held at the 2016 Arctic Games in Nuuk, Greenland, due to a lack of facilities. Most of the athletes at the trials will likely be above the Level 3 cutoff come the 2018 Games.
“We’re one of ones missing out,” said O’Donovan. “So it was a big try-out for these girls. That’s why we pushed to have nine girls trying out: it’s going to be the only opportunity for a lot of these girls.
“We have to make these Games count.”
Yukon gymnastics squad won bronze in the team event at the 2012 and 2010 Arctic Games.
Three Whitehorse gymnasts who either didn’t make the team or who are too high a level to compete in gymnastics are hoping to land spots on Yukon’s team for the Arctic Winter Games.
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