Local gymnast goes solo

Jenna Veenstra will go to the BC Winter Games as the sole gymnast from Smithers.

Jenna Veenstra practises on the bars

Jenna Veenstra practises on the bars

Jenna Veenstra will go to the BC Winter Games as the sole gymnast from Smithers, joining five others from Kitimat to form Zone 7’s team.

After three years of training in gymnastics, Veenstra, 13, was chosen after placing fourth in last December’s trials in Terrace. The top six gymnasts were chosen, out of a total of seven participants.

“I wasn’t that ready, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” said Veenstra, speaking during a Friday training session at Smithers Saltos Gymnastics. “They were a little bit better than us but we are pretty equal.”

Veenstra is looking forward to the Games in Penticton Feb. 25-28.

“I’m really excited because it’s my first time,” she said. “I have tried to train really hard and work on my routines.”

She will participate in four gymnastics events: beam, bar, vault and floor. She feels most confident in the vault event.

“That’s the easiest for me,” she said.

But Veenstra said the bars are her Achilles heel.

“The skills — I find they’re a lot harder than the other events,” she said.

Veenstra said the toughest competitors will come from the Lower Mainland.

“Probably the Lower Mainland will do the best, because they have better gymnasts and harder coaches,” she said.

Veenstra’s coach, Lori Saffel, has tailored a training plan to strengthen her weaknesses.

Both of them have spent time on strength and flexibility building and working on the bars.

“But she’s pretty good. She’s pretty ready. Just a few things we still need to polish up,” said Saffel.

Veenstra’s older brother, Adam, is an accomplished Smithers golfer who recently earned a California State University, Chico golfing scholarship.