The members of the Rankin Inlet Aqsarniit Ujauttaq (Northern Lights) gymnastics club crossed one stop off of their dream list, and put in a strong showing at a competition in Las Vegas from March 2 to 4.
The event played host to more than 80 clubs from across Canada and the United States.
The Rankin gymnasts also impressed with their group routine, which used the Jerry Cans song Ukiuq as the soundtrack to their performance.
The trip wasn’t totally about gymnastics, as club coach Lisa Kresky packed a multitude of fun-filled and educational stops and activities in along the way.
Kresky said the group had two days in Winnipeg on their way to Vegas.
She said in the Peg they went rock climbing and visited two different trampoline parks, events where her young athletes could still train and work on some of their moves. It also gave them the opportunity to try a few things they’ve never done before.
“We also went snowshoeing, which was a fantastic experience for the kids,” said Kresky.
“Then once we got to Las Vegas we went to Cirque du Soleil and trained at a gymnastics club down there, which was fantastic because this was the first time going to a competition for more than half of our team and they had never been in a fully-equipped gym before.
“We also took them to a chocolate factory for chocolate tasting, up to the Vegas version of the Eiffel Tower so they could experience views of the entire city, and to an NHL game.
“One of the big highlights was our day trip to the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam, while some of the kids went up to Fremont Street to see the laser show, and one of the hotels had an amusement park, so we did that, as well.”
Kresky said the competition was held right at the Westgate Hotel and the layout was huge.
She said they had three full massive ballrooms for the event because there were four competitions going on at the same time.
“There was tons of equipment everywhere, and thousands of athletes and parents kept the place packed every day.
“It was just a great opportunity for our gymnasts to see different levels, but also different disciplines.
“They got to see some power tumbling and trampolining, and that was really cool for the kids to take in.”
Kresky said the Rankin girls controlled their nerves quite well.
She said the club did a little mock competition in front of the parents before they left Rankin in an effort to get the girls more used to bigger crowds watching them perform.
“Some of the kids definitely fed off the energy of the crowd and used the cheering to pump-up their routines ever more.
“During every flight – when they rotate to the different events – in each competition section we were matched with a different club to rotate to the different events, so they got to meet kids from all over through that, and we would cheer each-other on.
“It was a really neat way for the girls to meet and interact with a whole variety of kids from all over Canada and the States.”
Kresky said the organizers decided to give medals all the way down to 10th place, and then made sure no more than 10 kids competed in any category.
She said that took nothing away from an athlete’s performance, because they still had to earn a first-, second- or third-place showing in every event.
“The girls will take away even more motivation for the sport from participating in a competition such as this.
“They loved the sport already, but as soon as the competitions were finished, they couldn’t wait to get back into the gym to work on, learn or improve this move or that move, so it really motivated a lot of them to go even further in the sport.
“We were definitely a very tired bunch by the end, but they were real troopers throughout the whole trip.
“I’m really proud of every girl on this trip and how hard they worked to be there. It was a fantastic experience.”