B.C.’s best gymnasts were in Prince George for the provincial championships last weekend, and even against such a stacked field, athletes from Twisters Gymnastics Club stood out above the rest.
The Abbotsford squad produced more champions than any other club, highlighted by seven all-around gold medallists.
On the women’s side, the Skulstad siblings – Ashlynn (national open) and Tamara (level 4 tyro) – both finished atop their respective divisions, as did Katrina Penner-Loat (level 2 open).
On the men’s side, all-around champs included Michael Frew (level 3 under 13), Elijah Horner (level 4 over 13), Cohen Kiers (national youth) and Kyle Machibroda-Ames (national open).
“It was probably the best provincials that Twisters has had,” enthused Shallon Heinzig, a coach with the women’s program. “Ashlynn Skulstad was the provincial champion at the highest level possible at provincials, which was exciting.”
The Twisters women saw 14 of their 17 qualified provincial athletes climb the podium, and they were especially strong on the floor, with six B.C. champs in that discipline.
It was a similar story on the men’s side, as the Ikeda coaching clan – father Mits and sons Richard and Ken – guided their charges to a series of podium finishes.
“There were a couple great results we weren’t really expecting,” Ken Ikeda said. “We definitely had several guys who stepped up (at provincials).”
All-around silver medals went to Lexi Gaspar (level 2 open), Katelyn Cotterell (level 2 tyro), Kristofer Unipan (level 3 under 13) and Steven Chaplin (high performance junior), while all-around bronze went to Andry Friesen (national open), Ella Palmer (level 3 argo) and Jeremy Gaspar (national open).
In all, Twisters athletes brought home 24 gold medals, 21 silver medals and 17 bronze medals, and nine athletes have qualified for the national championships, which will be held in Ottawa in May.
Ken Ikeda, a member of the senior men’s national team in addition to his coaching duties at Twisters, leads the national contingent, which also includes Ashlynn Skulstad, Andry and Dawson Friesen, Emily Moorthy, Cohen Kiers, Steven Chaplin, Nicolas Garfias and Zachary Clay.
Ikeda will be coaching in addition to competing, and he said he finds the former more stressful.
“It’s definitely different, I’ll tell you,” he said with a chuckle. “As an athlete, I’m totally in control of my performance . . . Trying to keep the boys relaxed and focused is a little different.”
A complete listing of Twisters’ medallists in individual events is as follows.
Ashlynn Skulstad (national open): gold on beam and floor, bronze on bars
Andry Friesen (national open): gold on bars
Emily Moorthy (national novice): silver on vault
Tamara Skulstad (level 4 tyro): gold on floor, silver on bars, bronze on beam
Jadyn Ansell (level 3 tyro): bronze on floor
Ella Palmer (level 3 argo): gold on floor, silver on vault
Brienna Gaspar (level 3 argo): bronze on beam and floor
Katrina Penner-Loat (level 2 open): gold on floor, silver on beam
Lexi Gaspar (level 2 open): gold on bars, bronze on beam
Kimberley Vandermeulen (level 2 novice): silver on floor
Katelyn Cotterell (level 2 tyro): gold on bars and floor
Paula Melger-Ida (level 2 tyro): bronze on vault and floor
Zoe Rumsby (level 2 argo): gold on floor, bronze on beam
Heather VanHouck (level 2 argo): bronze on floor
Zachary Clay (high performance senior): gold on pommel horse and vault
Steven Chaplin (high performance junior): gold on pommel horse and vault, bronze on parallel bars
Kyle Machibroda-Ames (national open): gold on pommel horse, rings, and parallel bars, silver on floor and high bar
Jeremy Gaspar (national open): gold on rings, silver on pommel horse, bronze on floor, vault, parallel bars and high bar
Cohen Kiers (national youth): gold on pommel horse and floor, silver on parallel bars and high bar
Andrew Schmidt (national youth): gold on high bar
Curtis Olivier (national youth): bronze on parallel bars
François Barnard (national youth): bronze on vault
Elijah Horner (level 4 over 13): gold on vault and high bar, silver on floor and pommel horse
Wyatt Lavers (level 4 over 13): bronze on high bar
Michael Frew (level 3 under 13): gold on pommel horse, vault, and high bar
Kristofer Unipan (level 3 under 13): silver on pommel horse, rings, and vault
Brogan Neufeld (level 3 under 13): silver on floor
TJ Jordbakke (level 2): silver on parallel bars