Four gymnasts from the Polarettes Gymnastics Club were in Edmonton for the 2019 Gym Power International Cup at the University of Alberta’s Universiade Pavilion from Jan. 10 to 13.
It was a strong showing for the Yukoners, as all four gymnasts had at least one top 10 finish in competition.
Kimberly Jones, head coach for the Polarettes, said everything went better than expected for so early in the year.
“I think it was a great start to their season,” said Jones. “We had some podium finishes and those were just kind of bonuses for us — we weren’t expecting that. We were just going out to try our new routines.”
The competitive gymnastics season usually starts in March and runs until June, but because of the Canada Winter Games, things are moving a bit faster this year.
“Everyone was upgrading their levels and we’ve made a lot of change to their difficulties, so we just wanted to go out and try it,” said Jones.
Competing in the young — born in 2004 or later — Junior Olympic 10 category, Hailey Sherman won gold in vault, silver in floor, bronze in beam and bars, and was third in all-around competition.
Sherman also performed the first-ever Yurchenko vault by a Yukon gymnast in competition during her gold medal win.
“It’s a very advanced vault,” said Jones. “It was kind of a big moment. That was probably the major highlight of our event.”
In a typical vault, the gymnast runs at the springboard, puts their hands on the vault table and kicks their feet overhead, explained Jones. In this case, Sherman did a round-off back handspring to get onto the vault table and flipped from there. Essentially, the entry is backwards.
“People have tried in the past, but no one has ever actually got to the stage of competing it (in the Yukon),” said Jones.
In the old — born in 2003 — JO 10 competition, Bianca Berko-Malvasio finished sixth in bars and 10th all-around.
At the JO 6 level, Mackenzie Tonner was fifth in floor and 11th all-around.
Rounding out the results for the Polarettes, Sasha Kozmen competed at the JO 7 level and finished fifth in beam.
Next up for the Polarettes is the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., where two gymnasts will compete at the JO 10 level.
“The format … in gymnastics is you have to be a level 10 gymnast to compete, so it’s quite challenging,” said Jones. “There are 10 levels in our sport, so really it’s the highest-level athletes in the country. A lot of collegiate and high-performance athletes can compete in that competition.”
While teams typically have six members, the two Yukoners will compete in both individual and team competition, with the possibility of finals. All told, gymnastics will include six days of competition at the games.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com