Left to right: Gisela Kilian, Samuel Kliever, Izzy Landry, and Cathy Cunningham at practice in preparation for their trip to North Pole, AK. (Jesse Day/Western News)

Penticton jump rope all-stars heading to Alaska

Would you describe jumping over 50 times in a minute as fun? To these kids it is.

If you thought skipping rope was just something kids do to pass the time at recess, think again.

A trio of all-star jumpers from Penticton are taking the sport to the next level. Soon, they’ll be taking the show on the road to instruct a group of over 30 amateur jumpers in the small community of just over 2,000 people in North Pole, Alaska.

The three B.C. all-stars from the Penticton team dubbed the The Black Widow Rope Spinners will be joined by their coach, Cathy Cunningham, and two all-stars from both Nelson and Victoria for the voyage to Alaska from Feb. 14 to 18.

Cunningham says the B.C. All-star application process has very strict requirements for acceptance. In order to apply for the all-star team, jumpers must possess certain skills, be able to teach new jumpers, and be a good advocate for the sport.

Cunningham has been coaching for over 15 years in Penticton. One of the biggest things about jumping she’s excited to share is not just the physical benefits, but also the personal ones.

“They (students) are more comfortable around people, they have a lot more confidence,” she said. “They can do things that other people can’t do, so when they get out in front of a crowd and they cheer it really builds their confidence. I’ve had jumpers that have started off really shy and their performance skills change them, now they’re more comfortable.”

Izzy Landry, 20, shows off her jumping skills. Jesse Day/Western News

Samuel Kliever, 14, has been jumping since he was seven. His first exposure to the sport was at a Black Widow Rope Spinners’ community show in Penticton. After seeing the skill the performers had, he knew he had to be a part of it.

Kliever says a jump rope competition can be likened to a dance a competition.

“There’s a bunch of different events where we’re usually jumping either really high or really fast, or we’re in groups,” said Kliever. “These different components are all judged differently. You’re judged on things like your speed and how many tricks you do in a set.”

The youth says the sport has done much for his health, as well as his confidence, and he’s excited to share those benefits with people in Alaska who have had less exposure to the sport.

“I feel like we can really help bring up their skill level because they maybe haven’t seen some of the big fancy tricks and crazy stuff people are doing in the sport. It will really help them learn fast to be around a group of experienced jumpers,” he said.

Another member of the team made the transition from dance to jumping in the fourth grade after deciding it was more fun. Gisela Kilian, 17, thinks the trip will be a great opportunity to pass on just how much fun the sport can be.

“Showing them (new jumpers) new tricks should get them more excited about skipping, seeing their faces when they get a trick just makes you so happy in your heart,” said Kilian.

Those interested in seeing the team perform can attend their annual community show held March 3 at Princess Margaret High School.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

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