With 22 Yukon sports squads heading to the Arctic Winter Games in March, the last couple months have been busy with Yukon athletes vying for spots on teams.
However, the very last trials for the Games took place with five athletes competing for four spots on Team Yukon’s gymnastics squad at Polarettes and Polar Tumblers Club on Sunday.
It was the first time all the applicant gymnasts had competed at Level 3, but Team Yukon’s gymnastics coach sees great promise.
“(I’m) thrilled – they are definitely on the right path,” said head coach Cat O’Donovan. “Up to today they were all in Level 2, so today was their graduation into the next level of gymnastics.
“These girls have all been training with me for four years, so it’s nice because I know them all really well and we all work really well together. I’ve coached here for 16 years and it’s my first time going as the Arctic
Games coach, so I’m pretty excited. We’re all having our first together.”
Making the team was Whitehorse’s Fayne O’Donovan, 10, who had the highest all around score of 43.7, with the highest marks in all events except the vault.
“I’ve heard a lot about Arctic (Games) because my mom’s the coach, so I’m very excited to go to it,” said Fayne. “I’m really happy.
“I stuck my whole beam routine, which I don’t usually do. I’m happy with that because I just added a back spring.
“On the bars I got my cast to handstand without falling.”
Mackenzie Davy, 11, who finished first on the vault for the second highest overall score of 41.35 was also invited onto the team.
“I’m excited because I was really nervous about messing up,” said Davy. “But I was really excited when I found out I made the team. After I was finished I thought I did a pretty good job.”
In the trials, gymnasts performed on the vault, bars, beam and floor, with the overall points determining who made the cut.
“It went from the least nervous event for me (the vault) to the most, so (nerves) stayed at the same level for me,” said Davy. “The beam I was pretty nervous about because in that one I’ll get nervous and all
Ending third in points was Lilyanne Gale with 41.15 points, earning her a spot on the team. Caitlyn Venasse was invited onto the team with a 38.7 points performance. Alyssa Bunce narrowly missed the cut with
37.8 points, despite taking third on the vault.
Although time is winding down, some of the new Team Yukon athletes have a few skills they hope to hammer out for the Arctic Games.
“I want a flyaway on the bars really bad and I’m hoping to get a lay-out half on floor or a lay-out with a front-tuck step out,” said Fayne. “On vault I’m hoping to get a front stand full.”
“I’m hoping to get a back, layout full (twist) on the floor and a back walk into a fish flop,” said Davy.
Team Yukon has had plenty of individual success at the Arctic Games in the past, but a top team finish would be something new, said the team’s coach.
“We definitely won some golds on the individual scale,” said O’Donovan. “They do the team competition first and then they do the individual competition. Most years in the team competition we’re third because
there’s BC, Alberta and Alaska – we battle it out with all of those.
“We’ve had athletes medal in every event, so we’ve definitely done well in the individual competition in the past.”
The trials doubled as a mock meet for two other gymnasts who took advantage of the officiating.
Performing in Provincial Level 2, Reena Coyne scored an 11.6 on the vault on her way to an all around score of 40.55.
Alone in the Provincial Level 4, one up from the maximum of the Arctic Games, Kelcie Henney finished with a score of 40.6.
“She’s already been to the Arctic Games before,” said O’Donovan. “She could have stayed at Level 3 and tried again, but she wanted to give the new group a chance to try and compete at it.”
The Polarettes club will be sending the newly formed team and a few other gymnasts for Polarettes to Red Deer on Valentine’s Day weekend for the Exelta Cup, where they will compete as Level 2.
“We’re taking them so they can get a meet under their belts before they go to the Arctic Games, so they can tryout their routines on an Outside audience and get them prepped for competition,” said O’Donovan.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org