For a few medallists in the debut of synchronized trampoline at the 2019 Canada Winter Games, unfamiliarity proved to be an unexpected advantage.
The event was being worked into the Games for the first time and two pairs had very little practice time to get in sync.
Just two days before the event Thursday, Ashley Anaka and Hannah Metheral of Saskatchewan came together as partners.
After two preliminary routines, they sat third behind Alberta and Nova Scotia, but the duo saved their best for prime time. In the final, they scored a 43.250, the best of the night and second best routine score of any of the nine teams through preliminaries and the finals.
“I was really nervous before (the final) because we needed to finish our routine as best as possible to even have a chance at the podium,” said Metheral, before Anaka finished her teammate’s sentence, “because we just became synchro partners two days ago, this was all new to us.”
For both parts of the Saskatchewan tandem, it was their first podium finish in trampoline and one of only three gold medals for the province at the Games.
“It feels amazing,” they said, once again nearly perfect tandem.
“It’s unreal,” added Anaka, the 19-year-old from Saskatoon.
Nova Scotia earned silver and the team of Sara-Jade Berthiaume and Laurence Roux of Quebec finished with bronze.
On the men’s side, Team Manitoba, who had also never practised together before the Games, leaped into medal position. The Quebec duo of Rémi Aubin and Benjamin Lagacé ended the night with top score 47.130 – two points ahead of Manitoba at 45.195.
Manitoba’s Isaiah Klassen, 17, had been sending his average stop time and other stats to partner Tyler Champagne, who trains out of Calgary, but they had never actually worked together before the Games. Klassen said when they got off the trampoline he was in a state of shock. Even more so when he saw their score.
“To come out here and get a silver, that’s incredible,” Klassen said.
“So much joy, this was my last chance at a medal. I was really, really hoping for it.”
After two preliminary rounds, Manitoba sat just behind Quebec with a two-routine total of 83.200. Manitoba had the second best score overall at 44.465 in their second preliminary routine and thought if they could duplicate it, they’d capture a medal.
“We were both really nervous, we knew we were capable of winning a medal if we did our routine like we did in prelims,” said Champagne.
“Both of us were really off at one point in that routine, so we were just happy to stay on our feet.”
Ontario’s Erik Arruda and David Johnston finished in the bronze medal position with a score of 44.810.
Team Alberta’s Zach Blakely of Red Deer, along with 15-year-old partner Nolan Zurek finished just off the podium in fourth. Red Deer’s Kalena Soehn combined with Alex Boucher of Calgary and were in top spot after the preliminary round. They faltered in the final and ended up in sixth place.