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MEET THE CHAMPS: Island rope skippers talk world championship
There are not many people who can claim that they know somebody who is the best in the world at something.
There are even fewer still who can claim they know two world champions.
Lucky Bainbridge Island residents can now claim that they know three.
That’s because, after bringing home a Grand National Championship title and trophy early last month, Abigail Harrison, Sarah Sharman and Anna Warga made a beeline for Orlando, Florida where they competed in — and ultimately won — the World Jump Rope Championships.
After a trip to Disneyland and a little time off, all three of the champions found themselves back on Bainbridge together, where they sat down with the Review to discuss their newfound world-class status and future plans.
Sharman said that the experience has been a whirlwind.
“It’s been so much fun, though,” she said. “It was a really long trip, because we went straight from Nationals to Florida for World Jump Rope, so we were all really tired by the time we got there.”
“We were so exhausted,” Warga recalled. “We would take naps on the gym floor whenever we had time.”
The three island athletes agreed, however, that the struggle was worth the reward.
They performed a near perfect intricate Double Dutch freestyle routine at the Florida competition, narrowly outscoring a Japanese trio who ultimately took the silver medal in the event.
Ironically, the champions said that their own winning routine included a key mistake that the Japanese team’s performance did not.
“For World’s we had one miss at the end,” admitted Warga. “You can’t miss the ending. We missed the ending, and we were really nervous. And then Japan went — they went before us. We were backstage so we didn’t actually get to see them perform, but I guess they did a perfect no-miss routine. So we were really nervous, because we missed once in our routine.”
Ultimately, the judges decided that the Bainbridge jumpers’ performance, even with a mistake, was worthy of the gold.
The trio said that they knew right away that they had won because, unlike at the national competition where the scores are posted at the end of the day, the world championship judges announce team scores immediately.
The World Jump Rope Championships were held at the University of Central Florida in Orlando from July 1 through July 5. More than 500 competitors from the U.S. and 14 other countries — including Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom — sought medals in the five-day tournament.
Sharman, Warga and Harrison competed in numerous speed and freestyle events.
In speed, they placed fourth in Double Dutch speed relay (3x40 seconds). In Double Dutch pairs speed, the girls joined forces with Riley Williams from the Montana Super Skippers to make a foursome for the event and won the silver medal.
The newly formed foursome also earned a bronze medal for their single rope relay speed.
In Double Dutch freestyle, the girls won gold in their three- and four-person Double Dutch event with Williams joining them in pairs Double Dutch.
Warga, Harrison, Sharman and Williams also brought home the bronze medal for the all-around Double Dutch team. The all-around medal was earned for their combined score in two Double Dutch speed events and two Double Dutch freestyle events for all age divisions combined.
Harrison also placed sixth in single rope freestyle for her “no miss” routine. She scored in the top 12 for all age divisions combined, earning her the honor of competing at Grand Worlds the final day of the competition, in which she placed fifth.
This year, with Sharman and Harrison graduated, lead student coaching responsibilities of the Island Rope Skippers organization will fall to Warga, though the trio’s days of competing together may not yet be behind them, they said.
“I’m hoping that they’ll come back and we’ll get to jump for some tournaments,” Warga laughed, adding that the next World Championship will be held in France.
All three agreed it was a trip they’d like to make.
Until then, Warga is anxious to share what she’s learned at the sport’s premiere event.
“I know that some of the younger kids will look up to me and hopefully that will make it easier to coach them,” Warga said. “I have a couple of new coaching techniques in mind, just how we approach different things and when we start doing different activities.”
Sharman said that she and Harrison, though not planning to attend the same colleges this fall, had already arranged a tentative training schedule and all three of the champions had agreed to get together during school breaks and trips home to jump together.
Sharman said, looking back, she was most appreciative of the friendships she had made during the course of her jump rope career so far.
“We met a bunch of people from across the world,” she said. “We just the other day met some guys from Tanzania at Mora [Iced Creamery] that are here for the summer staying in Seattle with another team. That was pretty cool.”
Harrison said that the ability to work as part of a team was the most important lesson she learned during her time jumping rope competitively.
“I feel like in this sport — I haven’t tried other sports — but in jump rope, you have individual events and then you also have group events,” she explained. “It’s really hard to work with others on routines, but then you get really good at it and you get to work when you’re teaching younger kids at camps and everything. We have 8 year-olds on our team so there’s a lot of working with others. I think it’s taught us a lot.”
Even as some seasoned members of the group prepare to move on to new challenges, the Bainbridge Island Rope Skippers are already preparing for another season.
Returning to helm the organization this year is former Head Coach Tamera McCoskery.
“We’ve had a core of very strong jumpers the past six years, and each year we’ve lost two or three after graduation,” explained team spokeswoman Pam Sharman.
“Sarah and Abigail are off to college soon, and Anna is moving into an assistant coach role for her senior year,” she said. “So, this will be a bit of a rebuilding year for the team. We have about a dozen girls from age 7 to 14 on the team currently. In the fall we run a jump rope class for first through sixth graders, and that’s one way we recruit our jumpers for the [competition] team.”
Sign-ups for the fall class are currently open. The classes will be held Tuesday afternoons after school and will run from September through November.
For further information, and to register for classes, please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the Rope Skippers, visit the team’s official Facebook page (search Bainbridge Island Rope Skippers).