Red Deer trampolinist Kalena Soehn is heading to the Canada Winter Games for a second time.
This year is particularly special, she says, because it’s in her hometown.
“I’m super excited. It’s going to be super fun. The last Games was such a great experience and I think this year is the same, if not better because it’s here.”
The 19-year-old won bronze in the 2015 Games in Prince George, B.C.
“It’s good to have fun and introduce yourself to as many athletes as you can. It’s a different kind of competition.”
All the activities, like the cultural festival that features a 100 per cent Canadian artist line-up, during Canada’s largest national multi-sporting event is also something she looks forward to.
A fond memory from 2015, she says, was meeting trampoline athletes from across Canada.
“All of us hanging out in our spare time in the recreation room playing games together, whether it was just cards or dancing together, just having a great time.”
Since 2015, Soehn has had a busy and successful gymnastics career.
She brought home a gold medal at nationals in 2017 and came in fourth at the World Championships in double-mini trampoline.
Last February, she was awarded a $10,000 Fuelling Athletes and Coaching Excellence grant from Petro Canada.
Her brothers Keegan and Kyle have also represented Canada in gymnastics trampoline. Her father Kenneth coaches all of the siblings while running Red Deer’s Thunder Country Trampoline club.
To prepare for the competition — which kicks off with the opening ceremonies on Feb. 15th and runs until March 3rd — Soehn says she trains every day to ensure her routine is where she wants it to be.
Her advice to young athletes with their sights set on big national sporting events, like the Games?
“Keep working. There is always going to be hard parts to training and competing. But you have always got to push through it. If you are going to be the best, you’ve got to focus on yourself and create your own mindset to do good.”
Other Red Deer athletes competing in the Games, include Kaitlyn Wiley, 18, in archery, Zachary Blakely, 19, in gymnastics and Megan Cressey, 19, of Sylvan Lake in freestyle skiing.
Red Deer coaches include hockey coach Brandin Cote and Soehn’s brother Keegan Soehn in trampoline.
Michael Kraichy is coaching Team Alberta’s Male U16 hockey team and Cote is an assistant coach.
Red Deer managers include Walter Wiley in archery and Kendall Newell who will be managing the Female U18 hockey team.
A total of 247 athletes make up Team Alberta, which represents 47 communities in the province and 19 sports. The athletes will be supported by 73 coaches, managers and support staff and 19 mission staff.