Stacked against the top Junior Elite gymnasts in the country, Whistlers Rikka Tindle finished ninth overall at the 2002 Canadian Artistic Gymnastics Championships last weekend in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The 13-year-old, who recently moved to the city to be closer to her coaches and the facilities at the Flicka Gymnastics Club, was 11 th on vault, 12 th on the uneven bars, ninth on the balance beam and sixth on the floor exercise to finish ninth all around. In the event finals on the following day, Tindle was fourth on the floor exercise.
"I think it went really well," said Tindle, who only qualified to compete at the Junior High Performance level last winter.
"I was training hard and hoping I would do well at that level, and I did. Its pretty competitive."
The next step in her progression is to qualify for the Senior Elite Team basically the training group for the national team next season, after which point she will begin to compete internationally. The Olympics are the ultimate goal.
"Thats pretty big to make it there. You have to do well at nationals, then make the senior team, and then do well at the nationals as a senior if you want to make it," she said.
Her main priority is to make the senior team next year, which she feels is a reachable goal if she puts in "a few more hours and have more intense training." The Canada Games are also next year, where she hopes to represent B.C.
She already trains 25 hours a week, although she has only moved up to that level recently. Previously she commuted from Whistler to the Flicka gym four days a week after school.
"This was a major step for her," said Mary Lou Tindle, Rikkas mother. "She has gone up three levels in three years with a lot less training time than the other kids have had."
In the past, Tindle has benefited from competing with other girls, but now she is at the elite level, "theres really only a handful of girls, and theres not as many competitions," said Mary Lou. "She is training, but now she has to progress a lot on her own."
In Canada, she is only allowed one year as a junior to move up to the senior high performance level, although once she is there Rikka can compete internationally as a junior until she is 16.
According to Mary Lou, Tindle has upped the level of difficulty of her moves and is now completing two and a half twists on floor exercises, as well as double pikes and jute beam manoeuvres. She has learned E level expert moves as well, which are the second highest in difficulty in scoring.
Gael Mackie, who practices with the Omega club in Vancouver was first all around in the Canadian championships, and Laura-Ann Chong, also from Omega, was seventh, giving B.C. three gymnasts in the top 10.
Tindle will be in Whistler this week with her first club, the Whistler Gymnastics Club, to put on a display during their year-end show. The show is at Whistler Secondary from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.