Westerns are a step in the right direction for Emily Pilat.
The JO Level 9 athlete from the Dynamyx Gymnastic Club qualified for this weekend’s competition in Richmond, B.C. after serving as an alternate on the provincial women’s team at last year’s westerns.
“It’s the next step to go. Provincials is first and now it’s westerns and after westerns it’s nationals,” Pilat said. “Westerns is kind of a new step so it’s a new experience, just like the Alberta Winter Games I did two years ago.”
Pilat, 14, was determined to push forward after last year’s setback at the trials for westerns.
“I came so close and I was kind of mad when I didn’t go because being the alternate is not the greatest feeling. You’re this close but you don’t get to go,” said the Grade 8 Vincent J. Maloney student. “But going now this time makes it all the more better because you know you’ve worked harder for it.”
Pilat was on pins and needles at last year’s qualifier.
“That day I was entirely really nervous so it wasn’t the greatest day for me,” she said. “That weekend I was really sick so bars was kind of a struggle. I also pulled something so I pushed through it and then on beam I fell off.”
At last month’s trials in Edmonton, Pilat willed her way to sixth place all-around while finishing third on uneven bars and sixth on floor.
“The night before the trials to westerns I was kind of stressing over bars. I was kind of really nervous to do it but then Kelly (Baird, her coach) said, ‘I don’t want a single doubt in your mind. Think positive. Go through your routine in your head.’ So all I thought of was me doing it and I did it so that kind of boosted my confidence on bars that day,” Pilat recalled. “I’ve been struggling with bars up until that day and when I got done on the bars I was so happy. It was so satisfying to know what I can really do if I keep going on the bars.”
Pilat’s success on bars carried over into the recent provincials in Fort McMurray. She placed third on bars, tied for fourth on beam, was sixth on vault and tied for 11th on floor.
“I did a good bars there too and I was also happy I stuck beam,” said the third-place all-around finisher who was the 2015 P5 novice runner-up on floor at provincials.
Confidence was the key to Pilat’s development this season, according to Baird.
“We started out the year kind of rough and she’s really progressed from there. The big thing about her is that she needs the confidence and she’s finally found the confidence. The last three meets she’s been exceptional. Her performances are great,” said the Dynamyx coach. “She’s worked really hard on bars because we had a lot of trouble on bars at the beginning of the year so big improvement there.”
Baird is excited to see Pilat compete at westerns.
“She’s been wanting to be a westerns’ athlete for two years so I’m so happy she finally got a chance to realize that and I think she will do great.”
Pilat has high hopes for success at westerns.
“My goal is to make it into more than one event final and do well at that too.”
This is Pilat’s sixth year in the competitive stream and she trains Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays during 18 hours of instruction per week.
“Next year hopefully I will be in Level 10 to be able to try out for nationals.”