A member of Whitehorse’s Polarettes Gymnastics Club created a buzz at the 2017 Western Canadian Championships in Brandon, Man., April 27-29.
Emily King had people talking with a top-10 finish — the highest finish for a Yukon gymnast at the championships since Whitehorse hosted the event in 2004.
“All of the other organizations were excited for the Yukon,” said Polarettes head coach Kimberly Jones. “It’s been a while since they had someone place that high … so everyone wouldn’t stop talking about it in the gymnastics community.”
King placed ninth all-around out of 18 in Junior Olympic 8 with a score of 35.491.
The 13-year-old cracked the top 10 with fifth on the bars (8.900), ninth on vault (8.666), 10th on floor (9.000) and 12th on beam (8.925). She placed fifth all-around with a fourth-place finish on the bars at the B.C. championships last month.
“The competition were incredibly hard,” said Jones. “The kids that beat Emily were only from Alberta and B.C., which are the two strongest delegations in that level in gymnastics right now. So we felt pretty good about that.
“The Team B.C. kids that were ahead of her had a trials to go to westerns — we don’t have enough kids in the Yukon to have a trails because we’re the only club. Those four kids had to compete against — I think it was — 89 athletes for seven spots on the team.
“Alberta (gymnasts) had to compete against 64 athletes for seven spots.”
While King was producing the best finish for Yukon in over a decade, a teammate of hers was also logging a finish for the history books.
Lily Witten became the first Yukon gymnast ever to compete in the Aspire One division at the westerns.
“Aspire is the national fast-tracking program, so it’s a really high level of gymnastics for young kids,” said Jones. “Lily was born in 2006, so she’s really young, and she’s basically doing the same level of gymnastics as Emily, who was born in 2003.
“They’re really hard routines designed for young kids.”
Witten, 10, placed 19th all-around with a score of 31.700, finishing 14th on the bars and 15th on the floor.
“For her to be competitive — to even go to westerns — is amazing,” added Jones. “She is the youngest kid to be doing those routines in Yukon in a long time.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org