Polarette gives ‘solid’ performance for gold in Kelowna

Emily King was queen of the beam at the Ogopogo Invitational in Kelowna, B.C. over the weekend.

Emily King was queen of the beam at the Ogopogo Invitational in Kelowna, B.C. over the weekend.

The nine-year-old member of Whitehorse’s Polarettes Gymnastics Club was steady as a rock on the beam, winning gold in the event at the meet hosted by the Okanagan Gymnastics Centre.

“The term everyone uses to describe a good beam routine is ‘solid,’” said Polarettes head coach Catherine O’Donovan. “She was solid. It looked effortless. I said to her, ‘The beam could have been 10 feet wide, that’s how solid you looked.’

“She had no wobbles and had enough difficulty.”

King also placed fifth on the floor, seventh on the vault and the uneven bars, to place fourth all around in Level 3 tyro. The Ogopogo was King’s first big meet since moving up to Level 3.

“She didn’t really want to move to Level 3, but I felt she was ready,” said O’Donovan. “She was excited to feel she belonged (in the division).”

At April’s Yukon championship King was the only gymnast at the event to place first in all four events while still competing at Level 2.

The invitational marked the first time Level 1s from Polarettes flew to a big competition, which saw around 300 gymnasts compete.

It was the first big outside meet for Anna Gishler, Alexis Benson and Ali Russell.

“We don’t generally fly out of the territory with Level 1s. This was the first time we’ve tried this,” said O’Donovan. “We’re working on making our kids more competitive by giving them more competition experience. This was our first time bringing Level 1s outside and it went pretty well.

“They were definitely a little awestruck when they first got there, but they did great.”

Benson, who was competing in the younger Argo A group, took sixth on the vault, ninth on the bars and beam, and 12th on the floor for eighth place out of 17 gymnasts.

Gishler, who was in the same division, came 12th on the bars, 13th on the beam and 15th on the vault and floor for 15th all around.

Russell, who was in the older Argo 1 group, sprung to fourth on the vault, was fifth on the beam, eighth on the bars and 13th on the floor to finish eighth overall.

“It was really exciting to get the results for Ali and Alexis because they’re very new athletes,” said O’Donovan. “It was unexpected because they were just going to try out competing at Level 1.

“They both stayed solid throughout the meet despite both being clearly nervous. I spent more time coaching their nerves than their gymnastics.”

Polarettes’ Fayne O’Donovan, Yukon’s Level 4 champ, prevailed with top-eight placements despite a lingering ankle injury. Fayne placed sixth in the vault, bars and floor and eighth on the beam for eighth all around out of 12 in Level 4.

The Yukon championship was Fayne’s first time competing in all four events since the Arctic Winter Games in March of 2012 because of her injury, which resulted in nerve damage.

Whitehorse’s Sydney Cairns was another competing in her first big, Outside meet. She snagged 11th all around with 10th on the bars, 11th on the floor, 12th on the beam and 13th on the vault in Level 2 novice.

“She’s been in gymnastics a long time but has never made it Outside because her family always seems to be gone when we go away in March,” said Catherine.

Teammate Maggie Fekete placed between 12th and 18th in all four events but came away with 23rd all around in Level 2 tyro.

“That’s just the way it works sometimes,” said Catherine. “She seemed fine with it. Maggie just loves to get out there and compete.”

Fekete placed 12th on the vault, 17th on the bars and 18th on the beam and floor.

The Ogopogo Invitational marked the end of the competitive season for the Polarettes. There were plenty of highlights.

Fayne vaulted to gold on the vault and teammate Anisa Albisser tied for third on the vault at the Kyle Shewfelt Festival of Gymnastics at the University of Calgary in March.

The previous weekend the Polarettes won five medals in the vault at the On the Edge Invite in Airdrie, Alta.

Fayne and teammate Caitlyn Venasse took in top-10 placings at the western championships last month.

Two weeks ago at the Gold Rush Invitational in Juneau, three Polarettes won all around medals at the event, including Benson and Russell.

Contact Tom Patrick at


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