All the way from Japan, competitors from Sagami Senior High School go through their preliminary routine during the World Baton Twirling Federation Pan Pacific Cup on Saturday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Elite baton twirlers take centre stage in Red Deer

Before the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre was even built, baton twirling had an unexpected stake in it.

Hunting for a location for the newly minted Pan Pacific Cup, the Canadian Baton Twirling Federation (CBTF) set their sights on Red Deer for the international competition.

Almost two years ago things were in motion to bring the high-level event to the city and through two days of competition this weekend, CBTF president Joanne Moser said the 2020 Pan Pacific Cup has been an outstanding success.

“Our planning started before this place was even finished. Some members of the local Alberta association toured the building while it was under construction… they were keen on pursuing this facility. We put in the call, the college was amazing and rolled out the red carpet for us,” said Moser.

“They’ve been the best host and they wanted to make sure this is the best event ever. It’s almost like it was built for our needs.”

On top of Canadian and American athletes at the event, competitors from Japan and Australia also joined the fold. More 220 athletes total gathered for the three-day event, with some as young as nine set to compete. The competition featured elite-level competitors, with some having their eyes on competing at the World Baton Twirling Federation (WBTF) 2020 World Baton Championships later this year.

“We’ve expanded our rules on the minimum age to compete to allow some younger athletes to get some international experience. We think that this event is just going to get bigger and bigger,” Moser said.

“Because this is also the stepping stone in that open division for athletes who really have their sights set on the world championships. It allows them to get exposure to help develop. For our athletes, I want to get Canada on the map and on the podium.”

With the vast majority of events in Europe, Moser said the Pan Pacific Cup gives athletes a chance to compete on the international stage, in front of international level judges and against some of the best in the world.

On the international stage for the first time was Australian Chole Ryan, 15, from Queensland. Ryan said the team has enjoyed their taste of Canadiana this week.

“The most enjoyable part about the whole experience is probably meeting new people and seeing other people’s routines and how you fit into all that,” said Ryan, who participated in four different events at the competition.

Her teammate Bri Horsnell, 18, said their group is like a family. They’ve been training three times a week for nearly 18 months, which all comes down to about 10 minutes of competition.

“It’s really fun with the girls, the friendships we make. Most of the girls that I twirl with are three or four years younger than me. They’re like my best friends. We come from different schools but we’re all still really close,” she said.

“It’s more nerve-wracking because you put so much effort in, we’ve been preparing for 18 months… and you don’t get any do-overs. It’s very nerve-wracking.”

Central Alberta also has a strong history in baton twirling. Red Deer helped produce Michelle C. Smith, a world champion baton twirler, who is now an actress and stunt artist (Deadpool, Smallville) and Hollie Gamble (nee Neilson).

Moser added with the success of the Pan Pacific Cup, there may be opportunities for Red Deer to host national-level competitions down the road.

The finals were set to begin Sunday at 9 a.m. at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Team Tango of Canada works through its Artistic routine during the World Baton Twirling Federation Pan Pacific Cup on Saturday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

All the way from Japan, competitors from Sagami Senior High School go through their preliminary routine during the World Baton Twirling Federation Pan Pacific Cup on Saturday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Just Posted

More ambulances are needed in Red Deer to handle inter-hospital patient transfers, says mayor

‘Code reds’ — meaning all city ambulances are in use — happen monthly

On the ropes: The Red Deer Boxing Club wants to expand, but is stymied by back-alley location

The club’s founder is looking for other site options, sponsorships

NDP speak out about future surgery access for women

Surgeries called “limited clinical value”

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

Einarson, Homan, Jones frontrunning at Tournament of Hearts

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — Manitoba, Ontario and the Jennifer Jones wild-card team… Continue reading

Feds hope to meet with Wet’suwet’en chiefs and negotiate end to blockades

OTTAWA — Traditional chiefs from British Columbia at the heart of the… Continue reading

Ponoka selling its airport to flying club

Agreement is for 25 years with option to buy back

Disturbances prompt Wetaskiwin to close emergency shelter

Citing increased threats, assaults, vagrancy and other crime, the City of Wetaskiwin… Continue reading

Blockades expose a polarized nation

The political response to Canada’s blockade crisis so far has been to… Continue reading

Canada hosts Lima Group, appeals for world’s help on Venezuela crisis

GATINEAU, Que. — Canada and its Western Hemisphere allies are calling on… Continue reading

Trump ally Roger Stone sentenced to over 3 years in prison

WASHINGTON — Trump loyalist Roger Stone was sentenced Thursday to more than… Continue reading

Most Read