For the Yukon’s top gymnasts, last weekend’s Exelta Cup in Red Deer was a perfect dress rehearsal for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games.
Not only does the event bring together hundreds of gymnasts, it is a perfect opportunity to gain experience and confidence, head coach Catherine O’Donovan said.
And that is exactly what the Yukon competitors did.
Only four athletes from the Polarettes Gymnastic Club will carry on to compete in the Arctic Games next month, but eight athletes in total travelled down to the Alberta meet.
Caitlyn Venasse, who is on the Arctic Winter Games’ team, brought home the best results for the club and some of her personal best from an Outside competition. She competed in the level three category and placed eighth on vault, sixth on bars, seventh on beam, ninth on floor and seventh overall.
Fayne O’Donovan was forced to miss the tryouts for the Games’ team back in January because of a torn ligament in her ankle.
But because of her standing in the gym, she was given an exemption, said coach O’Donovan. The deal was that if Fayne’s score in Red Deer beat out the fourth-place score at the tryouts, she would take the place on the team. With a bronze on vault, 10th on bars, ninth on beam, 10th on floor and 12th all around, she qualified by two points.
Reena Coyne, who is also on the Games’ team, competed for the first time in the level three category in Red Deer. She placed 12th on vault, 11th on bars, 17th on beam, 15th on floor, and 19th overall.
For the five girls competing in the level two category, this Exelta Cup made up their first ever Outside meet.
Megan Banks had the best result for level two, coming in fourth on vault, eighth on bars, 18th on beam, 13th on floor and 15th all around. Robyn Poulter placed 16th on vault, 15th on bars, 17th on beam and 15th on floor placing 19th overall.
Kendra Peters, who is the fourth member to make the Arctic Winter Games’ team, was not only competing in her first Outside meet, but it was also the first time she competed in the level two category.
The same is true for Anisa Albisser and Maggie Fekete. Peters ended up taking 10th on vault, 11th on bars, 29th on beam, 11th on floor and 19th overall. Albisser got 12th on vault, 24th on bars, 12th on beam, 21th on floor and 24th overall, while Fekete took 19th on vault, 27th on bars, 32nd on beam, 24th on floor and 34th all around.
The Arctic Winter Games is a really big deal, said head coach O’Donovan. And thanks to the Exelta Cup, the four gymnasts will be walking into that competition with more confidence than ever before.
“I feel like we’re going in a lot more confident than we did last time – and I think my team did amazing last time,” said coach O’Donovan. “But now I feel like we have a little more know-how. It’s my second Games too. Everyone’s coming in with a little bit more experience.”
It also helps that the Games will be running the competition by combining the level two and three categories. This means the Polarettes’ team, which is made up of three level three competitors and an experienced level two, can be considered to have a strong advantage.
The Arctic Winter Games begin in Whitehorse on March 4.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at