Black widows raise bar

Black Widow rope spinners earn top five finishes at nationals in team and individual events

BLACK WIDOW Mickella Biggs goes through her routine during a practice at Holy Cross School.

BLACK WIDOW Mickella Biggs goes through her routine during a practice at Holy Cross School.

The Black Widow rope spinners team accomplished a first in its 10-year history as two teams and three individuals had strong performances at the national championship.

The group traveled to Abbotsford May 16-19 and placed in the top five for team and individual events.

“It was great. It’s the best year that we’ve had,” said Black Widow coach Cathy Cunningham. “Qualifying for nationals is quite competitive. We beat out some higher-level teams in the province, so it was quite exciting.”

The national championship featured 327 competitors from across Canada and Cunningham said it was great for them to beat out better teams.

“For some of these kids, they start and see older jumpers and they want to get there,” said Cunningham, who has coached in the sport for three decades. “When they get to nationals they have arrived. They are really happy about it.”

This season the Black Widow team focused on simple routines that were clean. Cunningham said several points can be lost from a mistake.

“In front of a large audience and 10 jumpers, making a miss can happen,” said Cunningham.

Among the members in the team events that placed were Melissa Steinke, Lauren Brooke and Mickella Biggs.

It was Steinke’s second trip to the nationals after going to New Brunswick last year. Steinke said they were unsure how they would do. She was impressed by the competition saying some teams “were absolutely amazing” while others possessed equal skill to them. She said it was tough competing against strong groups but that pushed the Black Widows.

“We kind of grew as a team,” said Steinke. “We worked on things we knew would benefit us. Things we had seen other groups do.”

The experience was new for Biggs, but a bit scary for Brooke, who liked seeing the other jumpers and learned by watching how they train.

“They worked really hard on their routines,” she said. “It was good to see what they did to get ideas for next year.”

Biggs, 15, said being at nationals is the highest point of her five-year skipping career with her team placing three times in the top five.

“We had a blast,” said Biggs, who started crying after learning of the results while travelling home. “I was very happy. A really high moment. We definitely found inspiration to push ourselves harder.”

To reach nationals, the Black Widows sent their entire team to provincials in Nelson in April.