Katie Evans performs her free routine. Evans is one of four local gymnasts selected to compete at the B.C. Winter Games in Penticton from Feb. 25 to 28.

Rhythmic gymnastics coach returns to mat

Rhythmic gymnastics is in Kristy Wilson's DNA.

Rhythmic gymnastics is in Kristy Wilson’s DNA.

Since the age of eight, the James Bay resident has always been excited to step onto the mat and perform in front of audiences and judges alike.

“It’s just one of those sports that gets into you and gets almost into your DNA,” Wilson said. “You get tangled up in it and you can’t pull yourself away from it.”

Rhythmic gymnastics is part sport, dance and acrobatics. Unlike regular gymnastics which include balance beams, all the routines are done on the floor and involve a number of hand-held apparatuses such as hoops, skipping ropes, ribbons, clubs and balls.

Growing up, Wilson tried a number of other sports such as synchronized swimming, swimming and figure skating, but she never felt like she fit in — until she tried rhythmic gymnastics at the Victoria Rhythmic Gymnastics Club in View Royal.

She dove into the competitive world, competing in provincial and western championships, where she placed in the top 10 and top 15, respectively.

Though Vancouver Island didn’t provide the ideal place for her to hone her skills (Vancouver offers more clubs and opportunities to compete), she still managed to thrive.

After taking a brief hiatus from rhythmic gymnastics after high school and travelling the world, Wilson decided to jump back into the sport she loved so much as a child.

Now, the 34-year-old is getting the opportunity to coach at the B.C. Winter Games in Penticton at the end of the month.

Wilson, who also coached a team at the Winter Games in 2004, will take Greater Victoria gymnasts Katie Evans, Lily Williams, Michaela Brennan and Elisabeth Foss to represent the Island in the Vancouver Island-Central Coast zone.

It’s an especially exciting time for the young gymnasts, since the sport was out of the Winter Games for a number of years because many zones were unable to provide a team.

“We’re pretty excited about it. It’s always a really fun experience,” Wilson said. “For some of (the gymnasts), this is their first big event. Most of them haven’t been to a multisport game before, so it should be a big experience for them, a real eye-opener.”

Heading into the Games, the team will focus on what gymnasts hope to get out the competition.

The B.C. Winter Games takes place Feb. 25 to 28 in Penticton. Other sports include archery, badminton, biathlon, curling, diving, figure skating, ringette and skiing cross-country.

There are more than 80 coaches and athletes from Vancouver Island who will compete.