Three athletes from Whitehorse’s Polarettes Gymnastics Club were feeling the pressure from the very first event when they competed at the 2013 Western Canadian Gymnastics Championships at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg on May 2.
“They all had a case of the western jitters,” said Polarettes head coach Catherine O’Donovan.
The championship was the highest-level competition any of the three had competed at and just their second in Level 4.
It didn’t help that the first event was the nerve-racking beam.
“They all kind of bombed beam a bit,” said O’Donovan. “Beam was our first event and beam is always a make-or-break (event), even in terms of nerves because you have to balance.”
Despite all that, the Polarettes achieved their goal of securing top-10 results.
Representing the club were Fayne O’Donovan and Reena Coyne in Level 4 novice and teammate Caitlyn Venasse in Level 4 open.
“They did a little bit as expected,” said Catherine. “Unfortunately (beam) was our first event and they were a little bit awestruck because it is quite a large competition, bigger than they had been to before … there were tons of people there.
“They were a little bit nervous and I think it showed in beam. They had a little bit of wobbles. But after beam we had a pep talk and regrouped and they came back and were much stronger on the final three events.”
Fayne placed 13th overall out of 16 competitors in her category. She was 10th on vault, tied for 10th on the floor, 11th on the beam and 14th on the bars.
“She was a little disappointed because she’s a little used to placing on vault,” said Catherine. “The vault that she does – the handspring with the 360 called a handspring full – is not valued as high in Level 4 as it is in Level 3.”
Fayne won gold in vault at the Kyle Shewfelt Festival of Gymnastics and at On the Edge Invite in Airdrie, Alta., in March. She also won a gold on the vault at last year’s B.C. Artistic Gymnastics Championships.
“We’re still quite happy with a 10th place finish. But her ankle – her nerve injury – was definitely aggravating her,” said Catherine. “So she didn’t compete at her best.”
Last month’s Yukon championship was the first time in over a year Fayne competed in all four events because of her ankle injury. Her previous was at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in which she captured four medals, including a gold on the vault.
Coyne snagged 15th overall out of 16 in Winnipeg. She was 12th on the bars and the floor, 15th on the beam and 16th on the vault.
“Reena did the best floor routine she’s ever done,” said Catherine. “She was really excited about it.
“She hit all her skills … She did a beautiful routine. Floor was definitely her highlight.”
Venasse placed last at 16th in her category, but had two strong events. She came 10th on the vault and the uneven bars and tied for 15th on the beam and took 16th on the floor.
“That was exciting for her because beam has always been her strongest event,” said Catherine.
Fayne, who won Level 3 the last three years, won Level 4 at the Yukon championships with Venasse in second and Coyne in third.
All three competed at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games, winning Yukon a bronze in the team event.
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