Canmore gymnast claims provincial championship
A handstand back handspring on the beam propelled Canmore’s Abby Houck to the town’s first provincial gymnastics title in five years.
Houck, 12, beat her competition by a full point to secure the gold meda at a provincial event in Edmonton, Sunday, April 22.
“It means a lot. I never thought I could really do it,” said Houck. “I was shocked. Not a lot was going through my mind, but I couldn’t stop smiling.”
Houck was the best P3 Novice gymnast on the beam, and earned a bronze on the bars, which was enough to secure the overall win against the 24 best from across Alberta.
“She really rocked (the beam) and kept first place through the entire competition. She was consistent and had a great performance in every event,” said coach Marilou Gariepy. “I knew going in, with a strong performance, she had a chance for the podium.”
Houck moved up a competition level this year and scrambled to perfect her skills in the weeks leading up to the provincial competition.
“The beam was the one I was most nervous for. I had to learn a new skill,” Houck said. “But once it was over, I knew I was able to do everything else well.”
She did just that, and earned a best choreography on the floor routine as well.
Houck first became a gymnast when she was six-years-old, however, she quit and didn’t return to competitive gymnastics until she was 10. Watching older gymnasts flit about the apparatus inspired her to push herself, and she was soon one of the best in the business.
“Last year was pretty amazing as well. I stepped up to a higher level and it made me more excited and motivated to do well,” Houck said.
She received a lot of praise from her coach and teammates, and said her mother Jennifer was always there to listen to her after stressful days.
Houck wasn’t the only Canmore performer who won a medal. Erika Lepper won the silver medal in the P2 Tyro division, and was only .35 points out of first place. Tess Engel finished 10th in the P3 Open division and won the most dynamic bars award, and Tori Kelly was seventh on bars in P2 Tyro
“Erika was a little nervous on the beam, but after that she was strong and consistent,” Gariepy said. “It’s inspiring for the girls. Basically, for their level, there’s no other championship. It’s a big accomplishment and inspires them for the next level.”
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