Saturday, December 20, 2014

Stinson hoping to ‘Finnish’ strong

It’s T-minus three days to take-off for Vicki Stinson and the rest of her high-flying Team Saskatchewan colleagues.
The Fort Frances native, who is living in Saskatoon while in her third year of pursuing her Ph.D. in geology at the University of Saskatchewan, will join the rest of her 70-person squad at the 2014 Canadian Gymnaestrada in Calgary.

“I’m pretty nervous,” admitted Stinson, who has her Level 2 coaching certification in five different gymnastic disciplines but will be competing as an athlete with Team Saskatchewan.
“But I’m pretty confident in our club [Prairie Ribbons Rhythmic Gymnastics in Saskatoon] and I’m extremely confident in Team Saskatchewan,” she added.
“We have the most diverse team in Canada, with gymnasts from all disciplines,” noted Stinson.
“And with an age range from as young as 12 up to women in their 60s that we call ‘The Ladies,’ whose daughters were national team members and who decided they wanted to try it, too.”
The event revolves around each team giving multiple performances during the three days both indoors and outdoors (on Canada Day), where they’ll be part of the city-wide celebrations of the nation’s birthday.
Canadian Gymnaestrada happens once every four years and is promoted as the biggest non-competitive gathering of athletes in the country.
Close to 1,000 gymnasts of all disciplines and talent levels from every province and territory will be descending upon Calgary.
“The reason for Gymnaestrada is to keep people involved in athletics throughout their entire lives, not just their competitive careers,” explained Stinson, who was one of the top athletes and coaches during the existence of the Fort Frances Gymnastics Club more than a decade ago.
She now is in her second year as a coach/athlete with Prairie Ribbons.
“It’s for beginners to advanced gymnasts, and your part in the routines are geared toward whatever talent level you are at,” Stinson noted.
But the non-competitive characterization extends only to a point as adjudicators will be on hand to judge not only the routines, but how teams represent themselves overall in their behaviour and demeanor during the event.
That’s because one team will be selected to travel to Helsinki, Finland next July for the 15th World Gymnaestrada.
The European spectacle is expected to draw more than 30,000 athletes—more then the Olympic Games—from 95 countries.
“That would be pretty darn cool but we have to kick Quebec’s butt,” chuckled Stinson, in a statement laced with more than a hint of her competitive fire that still exists from her gymnastic days in Fort Frances.
“They’re always up there among the best,” she said. “It’s either us or them.”
The large-group environment of Canadian Gymnaestrada will take some adjustment on Stinson’s part, however.
“I’ve only been in routines with a couple of other people or just myself,” she admitted.
“It’s nerve-wracking and thrilling to do this, though,” Stinson added.
“You share the highs and lows with all the other people on the team.”
Canadian Gymnaestrada will be streamed live online at www.sportscanada.tv

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