The 4th Annual Coconut Cup on May 25 and 26 put on by the Kimberley Gymnastics Club is a competition for young gymnasts but also a fun and light-hearted celebration of gymnastics.
Every year, the centre has hosted teams such as Trail, Cranbrook and Golden but this year the centre had some very special guests.
“They’re from Nunavut and there are 17 of them and they have travelled all the way down here to our Coconut Cup,” said Twila Ryan, technical coordinator for the Kimberley Gymnastics Centre.
“They saw us on the gymnastics B.C. website, and they thought it might be a nice meet for them to come to — a friendly competition that they would feel comfortable with.”
The event consisted of the staples of gymnastics: bars, vaults, balance beams, parallel bars, rings and floor routines. It was an end-of-season competition and not a qualifier.
The gymnastics club from Rankin, Nunavut started in 2004 and already has approximately 150 recreational and competitive athletes, ranging from young children to adults.
The Aqsarniit Ukauttaq team practiced at the centre on Friday before the big event, splurging in the luxury of a real and fully equipped gymnastics centre.
“We don’t have a permanent facility so we set up and tear down the equipment four days a week and we just function out of the high-school gym,” said Lisa Kresky, coach for the Nunavut team.
So why did the group come all the way to Kimberley?
“Each year we try and do one competition in southern Canada because we don’t have competition in the north,” Kresky said.
“So we always look for a club down south. We’ve been going to Ontario a lot of years but this year we wanted to come towards the mountains to give the kids a different experience.”
As well, the competition fit the club’s requirements for their annual travel and competition experience.
“This competition offered the levels that we needed and it also had boys and girls,” Kresky said. “(Our team) has some of both, and that was one of the main reasons we chose this competition.”
However, both of the teams agree that the Coconut Cup is beneficial for the kids on a cultural level as well.
“Our guests are going to be singing ‘O Canada’ in their language, which is very exciting,” Ryan said. “They’re going to do some throat singing for us. So it is a cultural experience for us too.”
Ryan added that the Kimberley group is often the one that does the travelling and so gymnasts can appreciate how far this team has come.
“Our gymnasts here in Kimberley are really excited to be the host for people who have come really far away to visit them. They’re really proud of their gymnastics club and what they’re doing as gymnasts,” Ryan said.
“Our goal, really for all of our people who are coming to the event, is to have fun, enjoy gymnastics, not feel like there is any sort of pressure to perform, but to enjoy performing.”
On their way down, the team got a chance to see scenic Banff and to go horseback riding and voyager canoeing there.
After the competition, the team plans on doing sight-seeing around Kimberley to see the Underground Mining Railway and the Kimberley Aquatic Centre.
“Where we live, we are a very isolated community,” Kresky said. “So it’s really good to give the kids an experience in a southern atmosphere where there are trees that we don’t have and other facilities — shopping centres, swimming pools and things that we just don’t have — to give them those experiences.”