Firth tops balance beam at provincials 

Excellent showings from gymnasts all around

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - FIRTH IN FIRST Whistler Gymnastics' Sophie Firth, shown here on the bars, earned gold in the balance beam event at the Artistic Gymnastics BC Championships in Coquitlam earlier this month.
  • Photo submitted
  • FIRTH IN FIRST Whistler Gymnastics' Sophie Firth, shown here on the bars, earned gold in the balance beam event at the Artistic Gymnastics BC Championships in Coquitlam earlier this month.

When Sophie Firth brought home gold from the Artistic Gymnastics BC Championships in Coquitlam earlier this month, she acknowledged that to have done it in the balance beam event was a shocker.

"It was very surprising. I wasn't expecting it at all. I was just going out there to have fun and do my best," she said.

Competing in the 2005 Level 6 age division, Firth scored a 9.4 en route to taking first in the contest. Firth's favourite event is the bars, but the beam was where she made her mark this time around. Despite some nerves when on the beam, she overcame them to score the win.

"I was expecting to fall off and not do very well on (the) beam because that has been giving me some troubles in practice but I guess I was able to do it," said Firth, whose routine included two connected cartwheels, a full turn, and a seesaw jump. "I told myself I wasn't going to be nervous or anything because you're more likely to fall off if you're nervous, and you just have to go big. That's what I did and it worked for me."

Firth said she was bolstered by her thoughts of a teammate who wasn't able to compete because of a broken arm.

"I told her that my beam routine was for her," she said.

Head coach Karin Jarratt said that Firth's routine was something special to see.

"Of course, I watch with eagle eyes to see what they're doing and what we can improve for the future. This was just a joy to watch. There was nothing to critique," she said. "She hit everything she trained to. With nerves, you never know what actually happens at an event, and she just did everything right."

Jarratt said she's proud of Firth, especially since she has worked diligently for years and tried her best on the beam, not one of her favourite events. Jarratt added that it was satisfying to see dedication pay off.

"It really showed her potential. Some of the girls write off beam as 'I'll hit it or I'll miss it.' They don't hold their hopes up too high for beam sometimes, because there is such precision that's required to pull off something that great," she said. "To see her hit everything on it, and the look on her face afterward ... it was just such a joy."

In a special event on April 24, Firth was set to follow in the footsteps of fellow Whistler Gymnastics winners to sign in gold pen the leg of a beam at its Cheakamus Crossing headquarters.

"I have a favourite beam and it's the one that I don't hurt myself on as much. I really like that beam," she said of how she selected the particular apparatus.

Firth first joined Whistler Gymnastics' competitive team at age nine and is in her fifth season. She hopes to stay involved in the sport in the future, but said it is getting more challenging as the years pass by.

"It's harder to be more flexible and it's hard to get my splits all the way down. I'm staying in it, and we'll see how many more years (I do)," she said.

The club won two other medals as part of the weekend, with teammate Gabbi Collins taking third on the beam and second on the floor in the same category.

With just four girls instead of the usual nine to 14, Jarratt said it was the smallest group of competitors she brought to provincials in her memory, so to take three medals was particularly impressive.

"To bring back three medals and a bunch of ribbons, it was really a surprise and a treat," she said.

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