Gymnast Anna Rivard was the only Yukoner tumbling and flipping at the Western Canadian Gymnastics Championships in Prince George last weekend — facing 21 of the best athletes from Manitoba to BC.
In the all-around competition on the first day, Rivard scored in the top eight in three of the four events —8th in floor, 4th on uneven bars and 2nd in vault.
She had trouble on the balance beam, however, and jitters may have had something to do with it.
Rivard was the first athlete to compete, and beam was the first event — so all eyes were on her.
“When everyone’s watching, that makes it a lot harder,” said Rivard during a practice at the Polaretttes gym on Thursday.
“She was a little out of her comfort zone,” said coach Kelly Mock.
“Without those mistakes on the beam, she would have been fifth in the all around — she finished 10th.”
Her top-eight results in the other three events advanced her to the second day’s individual event competition finals. That ties a Yukon record set by Katie Warner in 1999.
Rivard was surprised by her results in the floor.
“I thought I did pretty well, considering floor is not my best event,” she said.
Vault is Rivard’s strongest event, and she was pretty confident going into the final. She messed up her first vault, over-rotated, which meant that she had to stick her second attempt.
“I wasn’t really worried about it,” said Rivard. “I knew I could stick it.”
She did, but a half step cost her the gold, according to Mock.
“Her vault is really dynamite, she’s already at a national level,” said Mock. “She was a half-step away from being Westerns champ.”
After the second day’s events, Rivard finished in 8th on bars, 7th on floor and took the silver medal in the vault.
Rivard is happy with the silver, and is glad she made it to the Westerns after a season with some injury trouble. “I didn’t know if I was going to go until a month before,” she said.
Rivard is the only gymnast at the Polarettes club competing at the Level 5 open division — the highest level at the Westerns.
She says it’s tough to stay motivated when there’s no one to compete against.
“I don’t like to compete against myself — that’s boring.”
But that won’t change anytime soon. The next step for Rivard is to compete nationally, and that means more training, more travelling to competitions and more stress.
She’s still on the fence about continuing with the sport, especially now that Kelly Mock is leaving the Polarettes to pursue new opportunities after leading the club for a decade.
“I really depends on the new coach, whether I stay or not,” said Rivard.
Only four Yukon gymnasts have competed at the national level since Mock took over the club in 1998, the last one in 2003.