Gymnastics is returning to the Arctic Winter Games following an absence in 2016. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Team Yukon gymnasts ready to put their best foot forward at Arctic Winter Games

‘I hope they go and represent well and show everybody what we’re doing here in the Yukon’

After not being a part of the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland, gymnastics is returning in 2018 and Team Yukon is ready.

The Yukon Gymnastics Association held trials at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on Jan. 14 and Tania Doyle, technical director for the YGA, said the turnout was higher than any trials in recent memory.

“The girls have to be at a certain level, and they can’t have competed at a high level, so that kind of eliminates some of the athletes from trying out,” said Doyle. “I think this was the most athletes that we’ve had since I can remember that were actually at the required level.”

For games past, Doyle said athletes who weren’t quite up to the required level participated just to fill out the team.

Seven athletes took part in the trials, but it could have been slightly higher.

“We would have had eight, but one of them was actually trying out for cross country skiing,” said Doyle.

Gymnastics, one of the original AWG sports, was scratched from the 2016 games because Nuuk lacked adequate facilities to hold the events.

Following the trials, Team Yukon is down to a training roster of five — four members and one alternate — with the final roster of four to be named on Feb. 5, the deadline for roster submissions.

Sasha Kozmen, Lily Witten, Ava Jampolsky, Anna Gishler and alternate Kalina Morrison are now focused on gelling as a team and preparing for the gymnastics portion of the games in Hay River, N.W.T.

“We’ve got some time for them to work together as a group because it’s a little different in that gymnastics is never really a team sport; it’s a very individual sport,” said Doyle. “Arctics allows them the chance to work as a team. Top three scores out of four are used, so it’s a different experience and I think it’s going to help them become better gymnasts all-around by knowing that they have to help each other.”

Gymnasts will compete in four events — vault, uneven bars, beam and floor — plus a team competition and an individual all-around competition.

For the team competition, the top three scores from each team will be used to calculate the score in each event and the event totals will be combined to find the team winner.

Team Yukon will be ready to go when competition starts, but Doyle said there is no pressure on the athletes to do anything but their best.

“I hope they go and represent well and show everybody what we’re doing here in the Yukon and have a great time.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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