More than 300 gymnasts from around Vancouver Island are expected to compete at the Chimo Gymnastics upcoming PJ Party Meet.
The event offers a relaxed atmosphere where athletes wear pyjamas — but it also serves as a provincial qualifier for all levels of athletes. To qualify for artistic gymnastics, girls need to score 32 out of a possible 40 points in bars, beam, floor and vault.
Last year, Chimo sent more than 50 gymnasts to provincials. One of those, 11-year-old Taelyn Stuve, will compete at the BC Winter Games, Feb. 28 – March 3 in Fort St. John. She qualified for the biennial event at the trials, Jan. 5 in Nanaimo.
“There were six spots available for JO8s (Junior Olympic) — three for JO8 and three for JO7 — so she really only had three spots available,” Chimo head coach Toni Vance said.
Vance will be head coach for Vancouver Island (Zone 6) in Fort St. John — a position she has held at several Winter Games, which used to be a yearly competition.
“She (Taelyn) is also the provincial champion last year for JO7. That was an age category,” Vance said. “We actually had four provincial champions, three bronze medal all-arounds and one silver all-around, so we did very well.”
Taelyn, a Grade 6 student at Brooklyn Elementary, spends five days, or 20 hours, each week practising gymnastics.
“But even if I’m not in here, I’m doing something,” said Taelyn, who was in Grade 1 when she started the sport. She keeps a lucky seal stuffie in her bag at each competition.
“She’s done very well,” Vance said, noting Taelyn advanced from JO4 to JO7 in four years. “She shines on the floor and she shines on beam. On the floor, she’s a dancer. She’s happy, she’s vivacious. She presents herself very well.”
At present, Vance said the average age of the club is 10- to 11-years-old. Chimo only has boys training in its recreational program.
“We did have competitive boys, but we lost out to skiing and soccer,” Vance said. “You can’t give a sport six hours and be successful. It’s total body, and for girls, there’s not a lot of sports that require total body.”
The 20th annual Chimo Pajama Party runs Feb. 7-9 at the Comox Recreation Centre, 1855 Noel Ave. Along with featuring athletes at various competitive levels, the event will include a high school category and qualification for provincial championships.