Rhythmic gymnasts compete in Winnipeg

Local rhythmic gymnasts Katie Pearce and Chanelle Matthews competed at a meet in Winnipeg over the weekend and were pleased with their performances.
“I was quite impressed with how they did,” Fort Frances Gymnastic Academy coach Mirela Bica noted Monday. “They listened to everything I said and that makes you feel good as a coach.”
Pearce, 16, competed in level 6A and placed first in her rope routine and second in her hoop routine. Matthews, 12, competed in level 4B, finishing seventh in her free routine and eighth in her ball routine.
“I was happy with my score, but not my placement,” admitted Matthews.
Bica explained at least three girls were competing against Matthews who should have been performing at a high level.
“She was a little unlucky being in such a strong group,” Bica stressed, noting Matthews’ overall score actually was higher than Pearce’s first-place finish.
Bica added Matthews could have competed in a lower level and would have likely placed first in her routines, but there would be no challenge for her.
“She’s completing at the level where she should be.”
However, Matthews’ ball routine was far from perfect at the weekend meet—where she made a big “boo-boo.”
“She dropped the ball, which is a big deduction,” said Bica. “But everything else was just beautiful.”
Given there are no other competitive rhythmic gymnasts in the region, the pair either must compete in Manitoba or Sault Ste. Marie. Since Manitoba is closer, they often compete on the club circuit there.
But Bica said competing in another province has its disadvantages, such as no one knowing who they are, unintentionally missing invitations to meets, and having to perform under different rules.
“They have to do new tricks, risky things, for high points,” she explained.
The gymnasts also have barriers to overcome because of their practice space here in town, which is only three-quarters of the floor area and has lower ceilings.
“They have to accommodate for more floor because they have to use the whole space,” Bica remarked, adding they also throw their props (ribbons, balls, etc.) higher in competition, which they may not necessarily be comfortable with.
“Waiting for an extra second for it to come down and taking extra steps to reach the floor edges uses up more music, so then they have to scramble to get back in the routine,” she explained.
But all in all, Bica said she’s very proud of both Pearce and Matthews for their personal achievements.
There’s one more Manitoba club meet this year the gymnasts have been invited to attend, but Bica noted they aren’t sure yet whether they will compete there.
“If they do, I hope it will be as good as this [competition]—without the boo-boo,” Bica said.