It was a long road to the Jurassic Classic for the Whitehorse Polarettes Gymnastics Club—literally.
After competing at Edmonton’s Mardis Gras Salto International in the second week of March, 10 girls and two coaches from the Polarettes drove south to the bigger event, the Jurassic Classic in Calgary.
“We got to train at two different clubs and compete at two different meets so it was a really good experience for all the girls,” said Polarettes coach Jenn Ryan. “The level-twos, the younger kids, it was the first time competing out of the territory for some of them.
“They got to see and play on other gymnastics equipment. One thing that both clubs had that we don’t have is a long trampoline called a tumble-track … about 40 feet long.
“They really enjoyed that.”
The Polarettes’ youngest competitor, Fayne O’Donovan, 10, competed in both the Mardis Gras and Jurassic and finished with fourth and seventh respectively.
O’Donovan’s strongest event was the bars, taking gold in both meets. At the Mardis Gras, she also had a fourth-place finish on the beam.
“Fayne did really well at both meets,” said Ryan. “She handled the pressure and she placed well at both meets … She had quite a good experience down there.
“She’s really picked up skills this year. It really started clicking in her head.”
For the level two tyro division, Lilyanne Gale had the best results, finishing 12th at the Mardis Gras and 30th at the Jurassic.
“Lilyanne (Gale) came home with a fourth on beam, so we’re really pleased with that,” said Ryan. “The other kids were in the top half, so that was good.”
At the same events in the same division, the Polarettes’ Caitlyn Venasse finished 12th and 30th, Alana LaCoste finished 24th and 31st and Mackenzie Davy, competing only at the Mardis Gras, finished 21st.
Moving up to the level-three novice, Kelcie Henney took a fifth on the bars en route to a 12 place finish and then grabbed fifths on the vault and bars at the Jurassic for 10th overall. Foreste Martin went 13th and 21st at the events.
The Polarettes’ lone level-three open competitor, Emily Oettli, won a silver on the bars in Edmonton, eventually finishing eighth.
In level-four novice, Corey Baxter went silver in all events for a second at Mardis Gras before finishing 17th at the Jurassic.
Anna Rivard, the Polarattes’ only level-five athlete, took second overall at Mardis Gras in the level-five open. She then finished ninth at the Jurassic.
“Anna was in the open five category, so she’s our top athlete here in the Yukon,” said Ryan.
Rivard will be the lone gymnast out of the club going to the 2009 Western Canada Cup at the end of the month in Winnipeg.
The boys weren’t without a trip of their own, going to Surrey, BC at the end of February for the Surrey Classic.
Competing in the level three men’s 13-and-up, the Polarettes’ Benoit Latour finished fifth overall, taking a bronze on the high bar and a pair of fourth place finishes on the floor and parallel bars and a pair of fifths on the rings and the pommels.
Teammate Andrew Crist, in the level three men’s 13-and-under, ended up in 12th place, with his best results being a silver on the floor and a fourth place finish on the high bars.
“I was surprised he got so high because when we were practising he had a sore heel,” said Polarettes coach Shaun Porter. “But he pushed past that and had a really clean routine.
“I wasn’t sure how they’d do when we went down there, but they had very competitive routines and they knew what to do.”
“They’re both level three for the first time, so they’re really excited about that,” said Ryan.
“They competed in level two last year, so they did do a level jump this year. That means they went from doing compulsory routines to optional routines, which means they have a little more choice in what they want to do.”
Before the competition, the boys got to watch the 2009 Elite Canada competition, a qualifying meet for the national team, which perhaps inspired Latour and Crist.
“It’s the top male gymnasts in the country,” said Ryan. “They were very excited to see that.”
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