Gagnon, Karstadt to compete against country

Minnesota has a meet against the Canadian national team this Saturday.

Freshman Justin Karstadt concentrates during his performance on the pommel horse at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday.

Sam Harper, Daily File Photo

Freshman Justin Karstadt concentrates during his performance on the pommel horse at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday.

Jack White

Sophomore Justin Karstadt and junior Joel Gagnon both compete on the men’s gymnastics national team for Canada.

For Minnesota’s next dual, the two gymnasts will compete against
their own country.

Gagnon and Karstadt are set to compete for the Gophers in the
team’s meet against the Canadian National team on Feb. 25 in Palo Alto,
California.

“We’ve trained as a group with all the guys that are going to be
coming and competing with us,” Karstadt said. “It will be a nice competition.”

Karstadt and Gagnon qualified for their national team for the
Pacific Rim Championships. The two gymnasts compete on the Senior “B” team for Canada.

Tony Smith, Director of Men’s Gymnastics for team Canada, gives
Burns a plan for Gagnon and Karstadt to work on during the collegiate season.

“I’ve sat down with them and have gone through with what’s
important [in the plan],” Burns said “Our competitive season prepares them for
our national championships”

Smith stays in contact with Burns and the two gymnasts during
Minnesota’s season.

“We were texting last night back and forth,” Burns said. “We’re
making their guys better.”

The Canadian National team competed in the 2017 Elite Canada
event in Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics, the same time Karstadt and
Gagnon had a meet for the Gophers. Karstadt said he did a similar routine in
Minnesota’s dual against Nebraska than he would for his country.

“I tried to put in a good performance [versus Nebraska], and
likewise, I’m going to try to put in a good performance in California,”
Karstadt said.

Team Canada missed qualification in men’s gymnastics for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“Their goal, as a country, is to qualify as a team,” Burns said. “They didn’t
do that in 2016. It’s a huge goal.”

Karstadt heads into the dual against his country on a hot streak.

The sophomore is coming off a meet where he set a personal record on
still rings and tied his season best on the pommel horse.

Karstadt said he knows all of the gymnasts he will compete against on team Canada in the Gophers’ upcoming meet.

“I personally consider some of the guys as rivals,” Karstadt said.

Gagnon earned a personal record and sixth-place finish last meet.
He also tied for fourth place on the rings.

The junior wears gloves with a Canadian Maple leaf design when he warms up prior to meets.

“I usually bring these gloves with me all the time, warm up with them every day,” Gagnon said. “Nothing is going to change.”

Karstadt heads into the meet against his country with top-30
rankings in four events via roadtonationals.com.

Gagnon is ranked No. 23 in the nation for the floor via roadtonationals.com.
The captain said he has extra motivation for the meet knowing some of the
gymnasts on the other team.

“Like most competitions, I’m trying to hit the routines as best I
can,” Gagnon said. “I’m hoping to stick a couple landings and keep improving
from the last meet.”