At their first in-person meet in more than two years, many Whistler Gymnastics Club athletes hit personal bests at the Gymnastics BC Championships held from March 24 to 27 in Surrey.
Level 4 trampoline athletes Max Oughtred and Sofia Wright led the way with their second-place finishes in double mini trampoline as well as an additional second-place finish for Wright in trampoline.
Some of the club’s younger athletes—who were competing in their first in-person competitions—also walked away with some strong finishes, including Maxine Charron finishing second in Level 1 trampoline, followed by Makenna Griffiths, Sophie Yajima and Cora Campos who finished fourth, ninth and 10th, respectively, in the same category.
“This season’s been interesting. This was our first in-person meet back in two and a half years. It was pretty amazing actually,” said Whistler Gymnastics’ head trampoline coach Tanya Liquorish.
“The kids have all been training hard, but doing the competition brought back all the reasons why we do it—not necessarily to compete and to win, but just to be around other people.”
Without the social aspect of competition, it’s been a hard training season for the athletes, Liquorish added.
“That’s made it a really big challenge,” she said. “Also, we haven’t seen any other competitors in years, so we had no idea how we’d do, but the kids did really well at the last competition.”
On the gymnastics side of things, the club also saw many strong performances and personal bests led by a third-place finish in beam for Avery Lang. Other notable performances included Sienna Osborn with a 10th-place finish in vault and eighth-place on beam, Kirra Douglas with a 10th on beam and seventh on floor, Ruby McLatchie who also earned a 10th-place finish on vault in her age category, and Maya Langdale who finished 10th on bars.
“These guys showed spectacularly well considering how few hours we train compared to some of the Lower Mainland teams that are in the gym 16 to 20 hours, while we train a maximum of 12,” said head gymnastics coach Karin Jarratt. “They’re not as experienced as some of the bigger clubs, so any results in the top 10 are fantastic. That means they really hit what they wanted to do,”
The Whistler Gymnastics Club has got its share of talented athletes, but they lack the experience that can only be gained through in-person meets, Jarratt added.
“[Provincials was] just about going to a meet and doing what they are used to doing, but doing it under pressure,” she said. “So it was really interesting to see who could hold their own given the added stress.”
Not having in-person competitions over the last two years has been a challenge for both the club, which has lost many of its athletes, and the athletes themselves, who have been forced into solely working on individual skills as opposed to putting them all together into routines, which Jarratt said is “what gymnastics is in their minds.”
But despite all the added challenges that come with gymnastics training in a pandemic, both Liquorish and Jarratt are incredibly proud of the way their athletes have stuck with it and continued to put in the work despite not having actual meets.
“I’m very proud of them. They are a very small group and sometimes in small groups the dynamic isn’t quite as exciting as a bigger group of girls training. So they really rely on each other to pull each other up,” said Jarratt. “So this group is good at keeping each other motivated and psyched, and they celebrate when someone completes a new skill. They’re really good to each other—it’s like a big sisterhood.”
With just under three months left in their season, the athletes are working on polishing up their skills before they head off for an invitational meet in Richmond in a few weeks. After that, they will head to Kelowna at the end of May and finish their season off by hosting an invitational meet right here in Whistler.
According to Jarratt, the Whistler invitational is often the highlight of the season because of its indoor/outdoor format with the beam and vault events taking place on the lawn outside the facility in Cheakamus.
As for the trampoline athletes, due to their strong performances at the B.C. provincials, the team has decided to travel to Calgary in a couple weeks to perform at Alberta’s provincial meet, where Liquorish hopes to see some of her athletes build on their recent performances and continue to set personal bests.
“For some of them, like [Wright], we’re looking to try to get her to accomplish the national level [standard],” she said. “And then for the other kids, now that they’ve been exposed to competing, I’m hoping that they can focus on their execution scores, so like form and height, and just achieving their personal best again and trying to beat their results at provincials.
“I’d also like them to bond as a team—that’s a really big one—and then also to achieve new skills, build their confidence and then just working on higher execution.”