While veteran gymnast Rachel Uggucioni and provincial newcomer Dylan Watts approached Tour Selection from very different perspectives, both concur that the early season meet, which does not count as a provincial qualifier, offers the opportunity to sample the new programs in a fairly relaxed setting.
"You treat it like any other competition, in the sense that you want to hit on all four events, but the pressure is not so large as a qualifier," said Uggucioni, a grade 11 student at St Charles College, who is making her fourth apperance at this particular annual meet.
"In a sense, it's just a practice meet."
All the better for the representative of the GymZone - Sudbury Laurels who has ascended to Level 9 status this year. "I have been stalled in Level 8 for quite a long time, and when I was a younger gymnast, I wasn't even sure if I was ever going to reach Level 9, with all of the skills and stuff that are required."
It's all made for a very interesting background as Uggucioni starts to inch her way towards what is likely the end of her competitive gymnastics career, a milestone that so often coincides with the start of post-secondary studies for these young ladies.
"Originally, coming into high school, I think the goal for me was to finish high-school in Level 9," she said. "Now that I am already here, it becomes more about seeing the difficulty of skills I can achieve, and just kind of progressing steadily for the next two years."
"I think this past summer, I went in with a different mindset," Uggucioni added. "In previous year, we've been away, on vacations and stuff, but this summer, my focus was really on gymnastics, getting myself ready for the upcoming season."
"I knew what I wanted to achieve."
By contrast, Dylan Watts is charting her course through relatively uncharted waters, the grade 8 Carl A Nesbitt student climbing the next rung of the competitive ladder. "I've had four years with the Laurels," she said. "First, I was nine hours (weekly, of training), then 12, then 12 again, and now I'm 15. This is my first year with provincials."
"I really enjoy doing gymnastics, it's my passion," added Watts. "The thought of doing it more, having more competitions, learning new skills, that made me happy."
There is clearly a drive to be the best that this 13 year old possesses. Yet in moving up one more level this year, it was the personality of a young teenager that is evident as Watts addressed what she is looking forward to most.
"In Level 6, you can make up your own routines, using your own kind of music and your own moves," she explained. "Some of my teammates have a fun routine, but I have a slower more royal one. For me, I love having fun, but when I am doing a move, I really like kind of showing it off in a graceful way."
"At some parts, it gets really fast and I do these flashy moves, and with some parts, I'm more slow and graceful. I guess it's like a mix of both. And on my floor routine, I love presenting and really want to have powerful tumbles, and showing my leap line, as well."
Despite all of the apparent confidence, there is substantially more trepidation at hand when Watts is restricted to an area just over 15 feet long and four inches wide. "At every competition, when I get up on the beam to do my routine in front of the judges, I just start shaking," she admitted.
"I hate the feeling of falling off and stuff, but sometimes it happens. You just have to get over it. You just have to keep believing in yourself."
"When I finish the routine and I don't fall and I stick everything, it feels really, really good."
Uggucioni and Watts were among a group of six Sudbury Laurels' gymnasts that were scheduled to take part in the Tour Selection meet a couple of weeks back.