HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
Yukon’s artistic gymnastics team may have been in a little over their heads at the Canada Winter Games this week in Halifax. But the experience was invaluable, said head coach Jennifer Ryan.
“I think it was a really good experience for both girls,” she said. “They kept it together mentally, which is something we’ve been talking about a lot leading up to the Games – focussing on their own gymnastics, their own performances.
“They were competing against the girl who’s doing the first double twisting double tuck (on the floor) in Canada. So the calibre of gymnasts was much higher at these Canada Games.”
Making competition stiffer was that these Games, for the first time, accepted nationally carded athletes for the first time.
Translation: many of the gymnasts in Halifax will be representing the country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“It really upped the (skill) level the girls competed against,” said Ryan.
Representing the Yukon in Tuesday’s individual event were Corey Baxter and Kelcie Henney.
“It was a good experience for us to come to a bigger competition where the stands are full and you have to wait in corrals,” said Baxter. “The whole setup of it was good. It was a good experience.”
Baxter finished in 33rd, taking 28th on the floor for her best performance. Henney finished at the bottom in 36th, but grabbed 33rd on the beam and 34th on the vault.
“My gymnastics on Tuesday were a lot better than they were on Sunday; I had more confidence and oomph in my gymnastics,” said Baxter. “I didn’t see all my scores or placings, but the scores I did see I was happy with knowing we were competing at a level higher than we should be. Knowing that our scores were acceptable was kind of cool.”
Also on the team was Foreste Martin, who only competed in Sunday’s team event.
Yukon’s gymnastics team suffered a blow before stepping onto the plane to Halifax, losing their top performer and most experienced athlete, Anna Rivard, to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
With the loss of Rivard, the Yukon couldn’t field a full team of four. However, though not in the standings, the remaining three Yukoners still performed for the experience.
“There was a lot of inspiration as to what they can be and what they can do,” said team manager Catherine O’Donovan. “The girls said they can’t wait to get back to the gym, so that was awesome.
“There were moments when we thought we might lose them, being overwhelmed by the calibre there, but they would focus again and show up.”
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