You know something else that hasn’t happened since 2019? The NWT Gymnastics Championships. Not only did they return after a two-plus-year absence, they returned with spectators.
The Yellowknife Gymnastics Club played host to the biggest event of the year for the sport in the NWT this past Saturday with four sessions of action: CCP3 and Xcel Bronze along with Xcel Gold levels for the girls, Provincial Level 1, 2 and 4 for the boys and a masters demonstration session.
Jessica Smith, the club’s head coach and recreational director, was on the floor all day long looking after much of the organizational side of things and said everyone did as well as they could, considering this was the first time several of the gymnasts had ever entered such an event.
“For everyone, this was either their first or second competition,” she said. “Some went to Westerns (Canadian Championships) or to a meet in Vancouver at the end of April but most have never competed before so this was brand new to them.”
Personal goals and bests were the goals for everyone, she added, and that included the younger gymnasts.
“For our younger groups, we usually do a demonstration and give them feedback on their performance but we wanted them to compete this time,” she said. “We wanted them to get some scores and experience what it’s all about. We’re going to continue with that because it gives them an introduction to competition.”
Both sets of genders had a full slate of apparatuses to navigate — uneven bars, beam, floor and vault for the girls while the boys took on high bar, pommel, vault, floor, parallel bars and rings.
Smith said the competition went as smoothly with just one small hiccup along the way on the parallel bars.
“One of our boys’ specialties is parallel bars and we had a bit of a misjudgement,” she said. “The height of the bars wasn’t set to the requirement and that’s why he fell but everyone did really well aside from that.”
Along with being the first territorial championships since 2019, it was also the first time parents and spectators were able to watch in the upper level. There were some restrictions, such as masking among the crowd and limiting the amount of people allowed in the restrooms, but Smith said the overall feeling was one of excitement.
“Having people coming to watch us again and viewing the hard work put in over the past year was very exciting,” she said. “Families were finally able to come and see the commitment some of our athletes have put in and it was great.”
The competitive season for much of the club is now over but the competition group is still going.
Smith said they will be working on upgrading skills and working until July, where they’ll take a month off, before getting back into the swing of things in August.
“Our girls will be working toward the Arctic Winter Games trials in December,” she said.