Last month athletes from Whitehorse’s Polarettes Gymnastics Club traveled to Juneau for a meet and won all-around titles in three out of four divisions.
On Saturday, 15 athletes from Juneau’s Southeast Alaska Gymnastics Academy repaid the visit and competed at the Yukon Gymnastics Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club in Riverdale.
Again, Whitehorse gymnasts topped the podium in three divisions.
Because of a road closure on the South Klondike Highway, the Juneau athletes almost didn’t make it to the meet and arrived four hours late.
“I’m really happy with our results. I’m really happy we had a competition – I thought Juneau would be stuck in Skagway,” said Polarettes head coach Cat O’Donovan. “I’m really proud how everyone did.
Everyone had fun and we had a great meet.”
For the third consecutive year, Polarettes’ Fayne O’Donovan won all-around in Level 3, the highest level at the championships. Fayne captured golds in the vault, bars and beam, and snatched bronze on
Winning silver was teammate Reena Coyne, last year’s Level 2 champ, with silvers on the vault and beam, and a bronze on the bars. Whitehorse’s Caitlyn Venasse snagged the bronze for all-around, with a bronze on the vault and three fourth-place finishes.
Polarettes Megan Banks and Anisa Albisser competed in Level 3 for the first time on Saturday. Banks won bronze on the beam and gold on the floor en route to finishing fourth overall. Albisser was fifth on the floor on her way to placing eighth out of nine competitors.
“They did so well at the Juneau meet; they both got gold in their Level 2 categories,” said Cat of Banks and Albisser. “They’ve really been itching to move up to Level 3.”
“I knew she had it in her, so it wasn’t surprising to me,” she added of Banks’ gold.
Kendra Peters, also of Polarettes, posted two fifth-place finishes to take sixth in Level 3.
Whitehorse’s Robyn Poulter was wrapping up her first season of competing on Saturday, but you wouldn’t guess it from her results in Level 2 (11 and over). Poulter nabbed golds on the bars and beam, silvers on the vault and floor, for gold all-around.
“She really shone,” said Cat. “She looked really great and really confident. It was nice to see her grow and see it pay off with good results.”
Teammate Sydney Cairns collected two silvers and a gold for the second spot all-around in Level 2. Maya Oakley, who played in net for Yukon’s female hockey team at the 2011 Canada Winter Games, picked up two bronzes to place fourth out of five competitors in Level 2.
“At the year-end award ceremony, we called her our comeback kid,” said Cat of Oakley. “She left us to play hockey for a while but came back this year and has been doing both. It’s the first time in gymnastics history in the Yukon that we have a girl playing hockey and gymnastics. They are not usually two sports that go together.”
Level 1’s Matisse Robertson had some lopsided results with two golds (on vault and floor) and two fifth place finishes, but it was enough to earn her the all-around gold in the division that included three Whitehorse gymnasts and six from Juneau.
“She had a really great meet,” said Cat. “She was in Level 1 this year and we hope this gives her the confidence to go up to the next level.
“We’ve always told her what a great vaulter she is; she’s tight and powerful. So we’re hoping, now she has a gold medal to prove it, she’ll believe us.”
Polarettes teammate Emily King won silver on the vault and gold on the bars to place fifth all-around in Level 1. Alexis Benson, also of Whitehorse, seized seventh with sixth on the floor for her best placement.
The one level won by a Juneau athlete was Level 2 for 10 and under. In fact, Juneau captured all three podium spots. However, Polarette’s Jasmine Bergeron and Maggie Fekete took fourth and fifth all-around ahead of a Juneau competitor. Though in fourth, Bergeron did win gold on the floor, silver on the vault and bronze on the bars.
“Juneau had some really strong competitors and is a really great team,” said Cat.
Following the championships, Polarettes closed out the season by giving out a series of awards.
Unsurprisingly, Fayne was given the Athlete of the Year award.
“That’s the all-around athlete who had the best year and exemplified great gymnastics, whether it was results or a great attitude,” said Cat. “Fayne had a year filled with a lot of golds and a lot of medals.”
Peters and King both took in the Most Improved award and Coyne was named the club’s Hardest Working athlete.
Fayne, Venasse, Coyne and Peters all competed at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in March, winning the Yukon a bronze in the team event. Fayne won a total of four medals at the Games, including a gold on the vault.
In April, Fayne won gold on the vault at the B.C. Artistic Gymnastics Championships in North Vancouver, B.C. Also at the B.C. championships, Venasse won a fourth-place ribbon for the beam and placed eighth all-around.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org