P.A. gymnasts make nationals

Prince Albert’s Billy Georget placed first in the rings portion of the men’s artistic program on Saturday. -- Evan Radford/Daily Herald

Ertman hits double gold; Gillis qualifies for nationals next month

After a successful weekend at provincial championships, a pair of Prince Albert-based gymnasts has qualified for national competition next month, one of who earned double gold.

Brent Ertman and Serra Gillis represented the Prince Albert Aerials Gymnastics Club at the provincial meet, which was held Friday through Sunday at the Alfred Jenkins Field House.

Ertman took home double gold, after winning the tumbling competition in the level 6 male category, earning a total score of 117.200.

He followed that up with a first-place finish in the double mini trampoline competition in the level 6 male category; his final point total was 194.500.

With those wins and final point scores, Ertman qualified for the Canadian national gymnastics championships, to be held July 6, 7 and 8 in Lethbridge, Alta.

On the female side, fellow Aerials gymnast Serra Gillis also qualified for national competition in Lethbridge.

Gillis competed in women’s artistic gymnastics in the junior Olympic category (i.e. athletes born in 2002 and years prior.)

She had a cumulative score of 34.200, which put her in fourth place, behind two gymnasts from Saskatoon and first-place finisher Denelle Pedrick of Regina.

Judges added Gillis’ individual scores from vault, bars, beam and floor to get her point total.

Even though she finished off the provincial medal podium, her final score was high enough to earn her a competitive spot at the national level.

Thinking about his gold in tumbling, Ertman said he want to use the provincial meet to try something new.

“This past weekend, tumbling went really well. I tried a new kind of skill on the dismount, so the very last skill I do (before I land on the mat),” he explained.

“I added a new element, which is a full twist into the double-back, so that was one of the first times I successfully completed it. I was really happy about that going into nationals.”

Adding – and completing – the new element in his routine has contributed to his confidence.

Noah Royer of Saskatoon competes in the rings portion of the men’s artistic program. — Evan Radford/Daily Herald

“For me the big thing was seeing my scores and trying my skills for the first time … so getting those scores and trying to figure out if I need to go back to the gym and if I need to upgrade now or if I can stay the same (with my routine).”

The process of adding new elements (or not) to a routine resembles a balancing act of risk and reward in gymnastics, he explained. A gymnast has to walk a fine line between adding more challenging elements to gain more points, and weighing the risk of taking a point deduction if a given element isn’t properly executed.

“Knowing the difference between a harder skill and making it not look as good, or keeping your lower-value skills but making them look like perfection,” is how Ertman described it. “There’s always that line that’s kind of hard to cross … it’s always a hard call, so that’s what we have the coaches for.”

Gymnasts’ oath in Cree

Sam Caisse (with microphone) reads the gymnasts’ oath in Cree at the opening ceremonies on Saturday. — Evan Radford/Daily Herald

The opening ceremonies of the provincial meet were marked by a celebration of languages – English, French and Cree.

As athletes, coaches and fans gathered in the field house mid-day on Saturday for the opening ceremonies, Prince Albert gymnast Sam Caisse marked the occasion by reading the gymnast’s oath in Cree.

“It was really nice, because I didn’t think that they were going to do that, but it was nice how they included all the different races and ethnicities and languages,” she said.

Prior to her reading, representatives read other oaths in English and French.

The 15-year-old gymnast identifies as Cree and has been learning the language since she was young, but she admits she’s not yet fluent in the language.

“It’s hard, because the English language is so different … when I was learning the oath, because I’m still not fluent in it, my dad was said, ‘you have to have a loose tongue, because we don’t pronounce everything,’ so like it’s really loose, but you can understand it,” she explained.

Along with her reading, Caisse said she was happy to compete in her hometown in front of family and friends.

“It’s closer (to home), instead of having to go to B.C. or farther away for provincials.

“It’s more homey, like one of my teammates was saying, it doesn’t really feel like a competition, because it’s so homey, it just feels like we’re training and showing off our skills,” she said.

Caisse competed in the women’s artistic gymnastics category. She finished in fourth place with a final point tally of 31.300.

Her best scores were in the uneven bars and floor. She placed third in each, scoring 7.850 and 8.225, respectively.

From competitor to coach

Fellow elite Aerials gymnast Jessie Georget found himself in unfamiliar territory over the weekend, taking on the role of impromptu coach.

In January, he sustained a micro-fracture in his hand, which kept him out of the majority of competition at the provincial meet.

But he still made himself useful to his teammates: The 16-year-old was helping and coaching his younger brother, Billy, as he made his way to each station on the floor.

“It’s really different. I’ve never had to do that. I’ve never been really injured before, not preventing me from competing.

“But it’s kind of cool. I’m kind of coaching Billy a little bit today,” he said.

The two brothers are three years apart, and they both began competitive gymnastics seven years ago.

Jessie described how having his brother by his side has always been a boost as they’ve worked their respective ways through meets and competitions. “It’s cool to have someone to talk to about it, because no one else really understands it. We push each other. It’s a good relationship.”

It also helps that each gymnast has strengths in different competitive categories.

“I think I’m better at the power events – rings, vault and floor. And Billy’s really good at the swing events, which is a pommel horse, parallel bars and high bars,” he said.

At the end of the weekend meet, Billy Georget finished third in the men’s artistic category, with a final score of 63.400. His cumulative score was based on points gained in floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar.

His best event was in rings, where he placed first with a score of 10.900.

For full results from the provincial gymnastics championships, visit gym-score-depot.ca.