Gymnasts vaulting into Fort Mac
Okotoks: Five athletes from Mountain Shadows qualify for Alberta Winter Games
Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018 06:00 am
Fort McMurray may not seem like the hot spot to be for a winter break.
However, five Okotoks-area gymnasts from the Mountain Shadows Club are practically doing cartwheels for joy to be going to the Oilsands City for the Alberta Winter Games, Feb. 16-19.
“I’m excited — I have never been to the Winter Games before,” said Rhyan Plaza.
She qualified in the JO 7 division by finishing third among Zone 2 athletes at the qualifying trials in Tawatinaw in December.
She got off to a quick start by finishing fourth on the floor but was slightly disappointed when she followed that up with her vault, which resulted in an eighth-place finish.
Disappointed, but it was quickly forgotten.
“I just didn’t pay any attention to the vault — didn’t think about it,” Plaza said.
She instead focused on the bars. Her third place-place finish put her in good position to make the Zone 2 team.
Especially with beam — her favourite — the final event.
She didn’t disappoint.
Despite a minor tumble, her routine on the four-inch wide bar impressed the judges’ enough to place her third in the bars, good for third overall — earning a trip to Fort Mac.
Plaza is practicing for the Games and beyond, said Mountain Shadows coach Jim McLuskey.
“Rhyan is working on her next level — we are training for Level 7 and 8,” said McLuskey, who added that will help her at the Games.
“She should be in the mix.”
Some sibling rivalry is motivating Okotoks gymnast Mia Dionne as she makes her first trip to the Games.
“I kind of want to do better than my sister (Emily) did,” Mia said with a smile.
She got fourth in JO 6, finishing just a half-point ahead of the fifth-place finisher. She had no idea it was that close until she was driving home from the meet and was informed by her mother.
“I was really freaked out because I almost didn’t make it,” she said.
Dionne secured her spot on the squad when she finished second in the bars in Tawatinaw. Her strong showing in the bars catapulted her in to the top four, as the St. Paul John Paul II student was sixth, seventh and eighth in the vault, floor and beam respectively.
McLuskey said Dionne made it on a tough nut to crack.
“Zone 2 is a tough zone to compete in— there’s Canmore, Airdrie, we surround Calgary,” he said. “It is one of the tough teams to make. These two (Plaza and Dionne) did very well.”
He said Dionne is an experienced Level 6 athlete and could qualify for the finals by making the top eight on the first day of competition.
A pair of Nantonites who train at Mountain Shadows also are going to the Games, but for Zone 1.
Jaidyn Hensel, who attends Okotoks Junior High School, was fourth overall in JO 7 at the qualifying meet.
“Before the competition I was trying to get a medal in every event, but that didn’t quite happen,” she said.
She was close, finishing in the top four in three of the events, and picking up the bronze in the beam.
“It was my first meet of the year so I knew it wasn’t going to be my best because it is my first year at that level,” she said.
McLuskey said it was a learning experience for Hensel.
“She wanted to finish higher than fourth that was sort of the goal when we went up there,” he said. “But I think that will change at Winter Games, we have several weeks to get ready.”
Nantonite Jasmine Anchoris was second overall in JO 6 in Tawatinaw, winning the vault with an impressive front handspring.
“It wasn’t bad, pretty average,” the modest Anchoris said.
She finished with a flurry by tumbling her way to second-place on the floor.
“I watched the video and I was really happy with it,” she said.
Mountain Shadows member Kamyrn Feldstad was second overall in JO 7 to qualify for Zone 3 in Calgary.
For more information go to Albertasport.ca