When Anna Rivard vaults, people notice, says Whitehorse Polarettes Gymnastics Club head coach Jenn Ryan.
“She always gets a lot of positive feedback on her vault whenever she competes away because she’s very impressive on that event,” she said.
Competing at the Western Canadian Championship over the weekend in Regina, Saskatchewan, Rivard received the best feedback of all: a gold medal.
“I’ve been having problems with it in practice, but with the adrenaline rush from the competition I got pumped up and was able to do it,” said Rivard. “I thought it was good. I could have placed on floor, but I did all my events better than I usually do in practice, so I did personal bests.”
Rivard, who won a gold in the event at last year’s Westerns and a silver the year before, arrived in the vault finals ranked second with a score of 13.95 and then took first with a front handspring, front tuck - or “front-front”- scoring 14.15.
“It was her nicest vault of the year, for sure,” said Ryan.
The Polarettes’ only other Level 5 athlete, Corey Baxter, 14, also went to the Westerns to compete there for the first time.
“I feel good about it, considering it’s my first Westerns - I’m happy about it,” said Baxter. “It was a good experience seeing what the other girls could do and with the higher level of competition, it was just about experience this year.”
Although usually strongest on the beam, Baxter ran into troubles in that event and took her highest placement on the floor, finishing 14th with a score of 12.2, completing a one-and-half twist, a front layout and a whip to a tuck full.
“Her floor routine was quite nice,” said Ryan. “She just started recently doing a full floor routine again because she was coming off her injury.”
“I fell four times on beam - I was just having an off day,” said Baxter. “It was my first event (of the day) too.”
Baxter’s injury was sustained while competing at the Arctic Winter Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta, in March. Prevented from participating in the Arctic Games gymnastics competition because of their Level 5 status, both Baxter and Rivard put their skills to Arctic sports or “traditional sports.”
Taking in more hardware than any other Yukon athlete at the Games, Rivard won seven medals in the Arctic sports competition and was awarded the all-around gold medal for her combined results. Baxter took gold in the sledge jump event.
Rivard’s gold from the weekend, although not her first from Westerns, is also not her first in the last month.
Again topping the list on the vault, Rivard won gold three weeks ago at the BC Gymnastics Championships in Langley.
However, Polarettes’ Benoit Latour, 15, had the greatest success in Langley. Competing in Level 3 (13-and-older), Latour won bronze on floor, gold on vault, bronze on parallel bars, silver on high bar, accumulating in a bronze finish overall.
“He has been working extremely hard this year,” said Ryan. “He trains 16 hours a week and he very rarely misses a practice.
“His strong point is his strength - he’s actually quite strong - and that’s something you need in men’s gymnastics.”
Also medaling in Langley was Polarettes’ Andrew Christ, taking bronze on the vault.
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