Manitoba Fusion is coached by Tracy Sterdan, Tanya Manastersky and Kira Burkett with the philosophy that participating in gymnastics should be for everybody, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, culture, ability, or social standing. The team features a wide variety of backgrounds in gymnastics – from Mamie Kroker-Tom who represented Manitoba at the 2023 Canadian Championships in rhythmic gymnastics, to parents of gymnasts who recently joined Fusion as their first foray into the sport.
The team began their multi-year journey to the World Gymnaestrada back in 2019. Manitoba Fusion usually takes a break after each World Gymnaestrada, but the team members and coaches were so inspired after the 2019 World Gymnaestrada in Dornbirn, Austria to continue training into that fall. The team had weekly trainings until the Covid-19 pandemic forced the team to pause in-person practices. The team members maintained their fitness virtually until in-person practices resumed in fall 2021, when Fusion started preparing for the 2022 Canadian Gymnaestrada.
At the Canadian Gymnaestrada, teams are evaluated on their performances and teams can earn a performance slot at the World Gymnaestrada based on their adjudication. Manitoba Fusion was rewarded with a full 15-minute indoor slot at the 2023 World Gymnaestrada and the team would also create a second routine for performing at the city stages. The Fusion team members would have a busy year – polishing the routines, fundraising to help cover the costs of international travel and hosting the Provincial Gymnaestrada and Talent of Manitoba.
In July it was finally time to travel to the 2023 World Gymnaestrada – a week-long event that focuses on the joy of movement and celebrates the plethora of disciplines that fit under the gymnastics umbrella. The team would take part in the 18,000 individual strong parade through the Amsterdam city centre, ending at the Olympic Stadium, where the Gymnaestrada opening ceremony took place. Team Canada was one of the largest countries at the event with a delegation of 670 members.
Manitoba Fusion would go on to perform their indoor 15-minute routine “Wizard of Oz” to a packed RAI venue, with every seat filled and 4-audience members deep lining the competition carpet. The routine tells the story of Dorothy who ends up in Oz, and features rhythmic, acro, and tumbling gymnastics. Fusion also performed at an outdoor city stage to “Northern Lights” by the Jerry Cans, a music group who mixes traditional Inuit throat singing and folk-rock sung in the Indigenous language of Inuktitut. The song captures a glimpse of life in the north with the experience of the aurora borealis.
In addition to the gymnastics performances, the week-long event is also about making friends and connections with gymnastics participants from across the globe. The Fusion team members traded uniforms, ate meals, and attended parties like the silent disco with gymnasts from a multitude of countries. The next World Gymnaestrada is set to be hosted in 2027 in Lisbon, Portugal under the motto of “Connecting the World”.