Local fencers stick it to their opponents
A couple of drawn swords drew youth from all over the area to Park City last weekend at the Pacific Northwest Fencing Sectional Championships at the Park City Ice Arena. But it was the hometown successes that truly made the event a success.
Three athletes from the Park City Fencing Academy earned both medals and the opportunity to compete in the Summer Nationals in Miami. Park City High School senior Anna Kopcrak led the women with gold in Junior Women’s Epee and silver in Junior Women’s Foil. According to Park City Fencing Academy head coach Elaine Aliberti, Kopcrak’s success is a direct result of her dedication. Kopcrak has been fencing for three years and helps Aliberti as an assistant coach at the academy. Aliberti says that Kopcrak’s relentless training has earned her numerous medals and the opportunity to fence at California Polytechnic Institute this fall.
Good fencing is family affair for the Malcolms. Robbie and little sister Libby both fence at the Park City club, and both excelled in their respective levels at the event. At Sectionals, Robbie won gold in Senior Men’s Epee and silver in Senior Men’s Foil. Malcolm, who is currently ranked third in the country in his age level, didn’t need his ticket to Miami punched though, as he qualified at a competition much earlier in the season. In fact, Aliberti thinks that Robbie has a very good chance of medaling again at nationals in the cadet (17 and under) division.
Robbie’s little sister Libby, at 13, is also holding her own earning a bronze in Senior Women’s Foil against far older athletes.
"For her to do so well at such a young age us exceptional," Aliberti said.
The Park City fencers were competing against fencers from Utah, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and Alaska. A Regional Youth Fencing Circuit was held in combination with the sectionals.. Numbers provided by tournament committee chairperson Bethany Andrews said that there were 180 entries in the event, with 26 of them coming from areas outside of Utah. Fencers as young as seven and as old as 60 competed in one or both events.
According to Basin Recreation project manager Bonnie Park, the event, hosted by the Utah/ Southern Idaho Fencing Association, was a collaborative effort of the Park City Fencing Academy, School House Fencing in Ogden, Wasatch Fencing in Kaysville and Utah Sports Academy in Salt Lake.
"Its kind of Utah’s turn and we thought Park City was a great way to show off our state," Aliberti said.
In previous years, the event has been held in some of the other state’s but Aliberti said it was a welcome change for her fencers to be able to sleep in their own beds during the competition and fence in front of family and friends.
"It definitely makes a difference," Aliberti I said. "It’s definitely an advantage, however, I think my kids would still do just as well anywhere. I think they are exceptional fencers.
Between now and then, Aliberti plans to focus on just doing more of what she has already been doing, which includes taking the fencers to competitions on the weekend and training during the week.
Aliberti explains that fencing is more than just a discipline for the body, but for the mind as well. She highlights perseverance though adversity, dedication, maturity and good-decision making as benefits gained from fencing.
"There’s a lot of strategy and preparing their mind as well as their body," Aliberti explained.
She says that all of these factors combine to help the students excel both in the competition ring and in their personal; lives.
"It’s been really exciting just to see them develop into in incredible people," Aliberti said.
For more information on The Park City Fencing Academy and beginning fencing classes, visit http://www.parkcityfencing.org or contact Aliberti at 901-3924 or nandi @xmission.com. All classes are held at the Park City Academy and continually open to newcomers.
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