9-year-old gymnast expects long career post-Alaska

Maggie Carson is one of two 9-year-old gymnasts on Team NWT this year, in what could be the first of many Arctic Winter Games competitions.
Maggie Carson, front, poses with her teammates Rana Jalil Aga and Hailey Tait, and former Arctic Winter Games gymnastics medallist Celena Hoeve in the Yellowknife gymnastics club. (Sara Minogue/CBC)

“I’m looking forward to having fun and representing Yellowknife,” says Maggie Carson.

The nine-year-old gymnast is heading off to her first Arctic Winter Games this weekend.

She’s one of two nine-year-olds on the gymnastics roster this year, and  her coach Amanda Neima is excited. “They can get this under their belt and then go two or three more times.”

If all goes well, the two young athletes will follow in the footsteps of Celena Hoeve.

She got started in the sport at age two.

At the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, she brought home a silver medal on the balance beam — the first medal for an NWT gymnast in a decade.

Hoeve says she`s always loved her sport. “It’s really interesting and there’s always new things to learn.”

Now aged 15, Hoeve travels outside of Alberta at least twice a year for competitions, but she’s already training at a level that disallows here to compete in the AWG.

“I’m twisting dismounts on beam, I’m doing skills that require flight on beams like back hand springs,” she explains.

She’s got strong hopes for her young club mates, and she admits they’re likely looking up to her.

“When I was their age, there were some older gymnasts in the club that I was looking up to.”

As for their chances, she’s not sure how they’ll do.

“It’s a tough competition. Often Alberta North and Alaska have really strong gymnasts.”

But overall, Hoeve expects Team NWT athletes to have a great time.

“At Arctic Winter Games you’re in a town where there’s a whole bunch of athletes, a whole bunch of different sports, and everyone’s excited, so it’s really fun.”