Smithers Saltos gymnast Grace Allen practices on the uneven bars at the Saltos gym last week.

Smithers Saltos gymnast Grace Allen practices on the uneven bars at the Saltos gym last week.

Saltos gymnast flies high at Western Canadian Champs

A promising young local gymnast recently returned from the 2011 Western Canadian Gymnastics Championships with some solid finishes to add to her resumé.

Grace Allen, 10, represented the Smithers Saltos club at the competition, held the last weekend of April in Grand Prairie, Alberta. She competed in four events in the National Pre-Novice Aspire category, in a group of 28 gymnasts.

In the Vault event, Allen finished in first place. She finished sixth in the Uneven Bars, and her total combined score, including Balance Beam and Floor Exercise, landed her in 11th overall. Saltos head coach Alana Jensen said she was very proud of Allen’s results.

“She’s very talented,” said Jensen, who has coached Allen since the age of three.

Allen said she was very happy with her results from the Championships as well. Even though she trains for about 16 hours a week, she said she still has fun training and competing, although she does have favourite aspects of the sport.

“I like vault the best,” she said.

One of her goals is to add new skills to her repertoire, and one in particular she’s hoping to perfect by the time the Saltos host a northwest competition at the end of May.

“I’m trying to learn the Yurchenko,” she said, which is a specific type of vault originated by a Soviet gymnast in the early 1980s.

Allen is one of a number of successful athletes from the Smithers club, said Jensen.

“We probably have the biggest competitive club in the north, including Prince George,” she said. “We have quite a few high level gymnasts.”

Smithers gymnastics fans will have a chance to see local athletes compete against the best from the north on the last weekend in May, when teams from Kitimat, Terrace and Prince George gather at the Saltos gym on Main Street for the spring Saltos meet.