Gymnasts have flipping good time at Winter Classic |

Gymnasts have flipping good time at Winter Classic

Local gym hosts over 950 athletes for weekend event

Alexia Wahlen holds a pose during her floor routine at the Black Diamond Winter Classic gymnastics tournament at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. Wahlen competed for South Jordan's Black Diamond gymnastics team.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Over the weekend, Black Diamond Gymnastics played host to gymnasts, and their families, from all over the country for its annual Winter Classic meet. More than 950 athletes of varying skill levels — level two through 10 and Xcel levels — gathered at the Basin Recreation fieldhouse from Thursday through Sunday.

Black Diamond owner and meet director Katy Heddens — who has two locations for Black Diamond Gymnastics, one in Park City and one in South Jordan — said that there are many challenges that come with hosting an event such as the Winter Classic meet..

“I think one of the biggest challenges is coordinating all of the moving parts,” Heddens said. “In addition to people coming in from all over the country, we also having to coordinate the judges and bring them in. We try to use a mix of in-state officials, as well as out-of-state officials so we can maintain, not only a high quality, but a level of diversity and knowledge when we’re hosting such a grand event.”

Heddens and her staff have succeeded with the event in the past, which is why this year’s event was the 16th annual Winter Classic. It wasn’t always as big as it is today, but the collective work from the Black Diamond staff built up and maintained the reputation the event has today.

“For quite a while, it was a decent event,” Heddens said. “It had a good reputation and a good following, but about three years ago, I personally took the event back over with my business partner and we grew the event from a relatively consistent 500 kids to, in some cases, pushing 1,000. We have a really good staff who’s come on board and is very enthusiastic.”

With over 100 Black Diamond athletes competing, there were a number of notable finishes for Park City athletes.

Rose Domonoske, a senior at Park City High School and a level-10 (the highest level) gymnast, finished in fourth place in every event (vault, bars, beam and floor). She also took fourth in the all-around competition. Elise Heddens, level nine, placed second on bars, third on floor and just behind Domonoske in the all-around category in fifth.

A number of Black Diamond gymnasts also placed first in the all-around competition in their respective divisions: Akacia Christoffersen (level six), Sedona Murdock (level five), Arabella Brenkus (level four), Saya Chho (Xcel Silver) and Sadie Bretts (Xcel Bronze). Additionally, the level six team finished in second behind Auburn Gymnastics of Washington.

Many of the lower-level gymnasts are up-and-coming athletes, a position that Domonoske and Elise Heddens found themselves in not long ago. Having gone through the program and competing in this event since they were little girls, the duo is very much looked up to by the younger gymnasts.

“[Demonoske] and [Elise Heddens] have really proven to be leaders within their teammates,” Heddens said. “They are really looked up to, so for them to go out and be able to be quite competitive with these athletes coming in from all over the country was super impressive. We’re very proud of them.”

While gymnastics is almost impossible to maintain as a lifelong sport with the grueling physical requirements, Heddens said it’s one that can help shape an athlete’s life.

“It’s really interesting to see what the sport does,” Heddens said. “Whether they compete or not, the sport of gymnastics really is a true all-around activity. Not only are they working on the physical development of their bodies and the psychological strength and the mental toughness from a focus standpoint, but also the structure and the goal-setting and the perseverance that is required for them to achieve any level of success in this sport is pretty amazing.

“The beautiful thing about it is it definitely carries over into other parts of your life.”

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