Games a big first step for young gymnasts

By Angela Brown
February 21, 2018 - 8:30am

When they aren't buckling down perfecting their routines, gymnasts from across the province taking part in the Saskatchewan Winter Games in North Battleford have been enjoying the atmosphere of the games.

Many of the young athletes were focused Tuesday afternoon on competing in the artistic gymnastics competition. One of the youths, Kristina Hansen, representing Unity with Team Rivers West, was quick to assess her performance on Monday.

“It was good, but I could have done better on my back handsprings,” the 11-year-old said. “My favourite event would probably have been floor or beam, and probably my favourite skill is just tumbling."

Team Regina Head Coach Dexter Tantardini said attending the games has been a good experience for the kids on many levels. Taking part in the games and seeing the Athletes’ Village were brand new for the young athletes, he said.

"They definitely enjoy the competition atmosphere here," he said. “It’s one of the learning milestones in their career."

Youth from Team Lakeland, the region including Prince Albert, were gathered discussing last-minute strategies while preparing for their routines Tuesday.

Team Lakeland assistant coach Bryce Elliott said the Lakeland district youth participating were "doing awesome," despite an age disadvantage.

“They are a little bit younger than their competitors here," he said. "They are pretty much at the youngest age you can come to an event like this."

Elliott said the biggest challenge for the kids in the gymnastics competitions was competing in a completely new environment.

“You have to stay in a dorm, and you have to stay away from your parents,” he said. “You have to get to know your friends because you are staying with them 24-7 for the next three days.”

Elliott said scores are quite close so far, as all the teams are competitive.

“It’s going to be really tough to make finals," he said, "but that just makes it really exciting."

Separate team awards were handed out Monday following the first day of competition. Team Regina received the gold award, Prairie Central silver, and Team Lakeland garnered bronze.


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