Yukon’s four diminutive gymnasts, Corey Baxter, Emily Oettli, Brianne Levia and Anna Rivard, managed to finish on the podium with bronze ulus in the team gymnastics competition at Kenai Middle School on Tuesday.
Northern Alberta took the gold, and Alaska took the silver.
“The girls came together as a team, and did an outstanding job, I’m very proud of them,” said Yukon coach Kelly Mock. “It was nice to see them hit in competition what they’ve done in the gym.”
The top three results from each event (vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor) count towards the total team score.
“I think we did really well,” said Levia. “Considering Corey hurt her arm, I think we pulled through in floor,” she added.
Baxter opted not to compete in the floor exercise after falling hard on the balance beam and injuring her wrist.
“Beam is her favourite event,” said Mock. “It’s one that she usually sticks … but she ended up slipping on her dismount, and kind of jarred her wrist on landing.”
Baxter is still a question mark for Thursday’s individual apparatus competition.
“We’ll see how she is tomorrow,” said Mock. “If her wrist is up to snuff, she could have a good chance of doing something great on beam.”
Anna Rivard may also have a chance for medals if she can continue with strong performances.
Last-minute US rule clarifications have opened up some options for the team as well.
“We just found out we can add more skills to our routines, to get our start scores higher,” said Levia. “We’ll try those out in training.”
A fledgling Yukon squad took its lumps on the mat, finishing fifth out of five teams in the team-duels wrestling competition, which wrapped up Tuesday at the Kenai Recreation Centre. They had a 0-4 record.
Alaska took the gold easily, with Northern Alberta getting silver and Nunavut taking bronze.
Yukon had a few wins to be proud of in the match against NWT, winning two out of three bouts; the team still lost with a score of 30-20 due to all the forfeits.
“The guys are getting a real eye-opener about what it takes to be an elite athlete,” said Yukon coach Don Mirran.
“We thought we were pretty good,” said wrestler Alexander Chisholme. “Then we got here and got slaughtered.
This is definitely a rebuilding period for Yukon wrestling. In the past, athletes like Erica Sharp were part of a territorial wrestling powerhouse that dominated the Arctic Games.
“It all depends on coaches,” said Mirran. “If they move on or retire, there’s often no one there to keep it going.”
The team managed to score a single point against the Alaska team, which is one of the highlights thus far.
“We’re just here for fun, really,” said Kyle Karman, who won his match against Northern Alberta’s Daniel Sanchez.
The territory sent a skeleton crew of five wrestlers; a full team would have had 12 (seven boys, five girls). This means it really had no chance to win a team medal. With no females and an incomplete roster, it was forced into forfeiting most of its points.
The team was looking a little banged up by the last match, against Northern Alberta.
Thorin Lokes decided to forfeit because of a neck strain, and Chisholme injured his neck about 30 seconds into his bout.
It was a scary scene with paramedics strapping Chisholme onto the stretcher and taking him to the hospital for examination.
Mirran said all indications with Chisholme were good, however. “It was, in my mind, mostly precautionary.”
It remains to be seen whether Chisholme will continue into individual competition, which starts today.