Two members of the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club will be heading to Edmonton on Jan. 15 and 16 for the Elite 8 National Judo Championship. 

Kolbi Fenrick, 15, holds a blue belt and is currently ranked third in Canada in the U18 52 kilogram division. Meanwhile, Avery Gibney, 15, is also a blue belt and she is ranked seventh in Canada in the U18 48 kilogram division. Both have been invited to compete at the Elite 8. 

The Elite 8 is an invitation-only national championship held for the top-eight ranked athletes in the country in each division for U18 and Seniors. The athletes are ranked based on wins and placings in the national circuit. 

The Elite 8 is one of two national championships on the calendar. The Open National Championship takes place in May in Montreal. It does not require points or rankings to qualify. Generally, Judo Saskatchewan sends teams in the U16, U18 and Senior divisions. 

Both girls traveled with Team Saskatchewan and competed in two competitions in 2021, the Quebec Open in Montreal on Nov. 13 and the Steveston Judo Tournament in Richmond, B.C., on Nov. 28.  

Both tournaments were Judo Canada sanctions and counted towards their national rankings. 

In the Quebec Open, Fenrick won a silver medal, while Gibney finished in fifth place. Gibney would repeat her fifth-place finish at the Steveston Tournament, while Fenrick did not place. 

Moose Jaw’s Paxton Nelson also competed in the U16 division, winning a silver medal at the Quebec Open and gold at the Steveson Tournament. Nelson trains at of the Avonhurst Judo Club in Regina. Because he competes in the U16 division, he is not eligible to compete at the Elite 8 championship. 

Fenrick and Gibney also had the opportunity this season to attend the Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia provincial training camps. 

At the Alberta camps, the girls were able to get instruction from, and train with, Olympic bronze medalists Jessica Klimkait and Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard. 

Below is a video courtesy of coach Destiny Gibney of Avery Gibney picking up a victory at the Quebec Open.

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