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Centre Stage basking in the spotlight with Olympic ambitions

Watching 11-year-old pole sports phenom Paige Olson go through her complex and physically taxing routine in front of a panel of judges and a crowd of fellow athletes in London at the 2016 World Pole Sports Championship, coach Katrina Wyckoff said that she couldn’t call what happened next a surprise.

When the woman operating scores stood up and said “Shut the front door, we just broke a world record,” Wyckoff said that all she could do was cry.

Already a world champion, Olson – who trains out of Oro Valley-based Centre Stage Pole Fitness – won her age division, set a world record and was part of a United States team effort which netted a team championship.

Of the seven women who represented the country, four hailed from the Oro Valley school. Olson and Wyckoff were joined in London by Zoe Blair and Bree McClanahan.

While winning world championships and setting records is impressive – the woman of Centre Stage have higher ambitions.

“None of this happens by accident, all of these things have been carefully planned out and we have a goal to see pole in the Olympics,” Wyckoff said. “We want to be a part of it when it goes there, so we are training as many athletes as we can and sending them to as many competitions as we can.”

Though the establishment may be more than 10-years-old, Centre Stage has been involved in pole sports since the fall of 2014, with interest throughout the community spreading quite rapidly. Now boasting a team of more than ten athletes, Wyckoff is building momentum towards even more global success.

Playing a quite visual role in that Olympic bid is young Olson, who was also selected by the International Pole Sports Federation as the poster child for Olympic recognition.

“It’s so exciting,” Wyckoff said. “But I want to be clearthat the path is still long and there are, from the time that something qualifies, still several years. It’s not something that will happen for Tokyo but it’s something that we hope to happen for Paige. She is literally the poster child for this push to the Olympics.”

Helping to develop and train Olson and other Centre Stage athletes, Wyckoff has expanded her business in recent months to better suit pole sports. The business has now opened a second location at 1335 West Lambert Lane #115. The new building includes competition-grade, 14-foot high poles, space for a competition set-up with two poles and a stage. 

Not a group to rest on their laurels, the Centre Stage team will continue to compete and spread word of the sport in the future. The team recently spent time as panelists in Las Vegas for the 2016 Pole Expo to discuss the Olympics.

Next month Olson, Wyckoff and McClanahan will act as delegates of the sport at the TAFISA (The Association for international Sports for All) world games in Indonesia. Wyckoff also said there are plans to compete in the U.S. Pole Sport Federation national competition next January.

According to Wyckoff, each win, each performance is one step close to the ultimate goal. 

“It’s a long journey and the sport has to continue to grow and one of those things is gaining recognition at sporting events like the TAFISA world games. It’s one step, were crossing off one more thing on the way to the Olympics.”

For more information on Centre Stage Dance Studio or Pole Fitness, visit www.csdstucson.com.

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 2:40 pm

© 2016 Tucson Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Oro Valley at the epicenter of pole sports

One national championship wasn’t enough for 11-year-old Paige Olson, a point she most certainly made clear after taking home her second title in the U.S. Pole Sports Federation Championships, held last month in Jacksonville, Fla. In addition to her national title, Olson has the privilege of being the highest ranked pole athlete in 10-14 age elite novice division in the country and second in the entire world.

While Olson’s accomplishments are astounding all their own, she is not alone in excellence. Dancing, practicing and performing out of the Centre Stage Dance Studio in Oro Valley, the 11-year-old phenom is surrounded by a cadre of outstanding dancers, pole-sport athletes and mentors.

The dance studio, which will soon celebrate its 10-year anniversary, is owned, operated and coached by Katrina Wyckoff. Wyckoff was trained at the studio herself before studying dance at Brigham Young University prior to a professional career.

According to Wyckoff, the studio has had poles up in the establishment since the fall of 2014, though interest and popularity quickly spread among both students and the community at large. One of those students happened to be Olson, who had been enrolled for classical dance classes.

Even though pole sports have become increasingly popular across the country, there is still a stigma present in American culture. Despite adverse views some may hold, Wyckoff said the program is G-rated, and calls it the “perfect combination of athleticism, adventure and artistry.”

Joining Olson and Wyckoff on the pole sports team at Centre Stage are Andrea Ang, Carly Hauschild, Zoe Blair, Bree McClanahan, Nohelia Chan and Renee Peyton.

The hard work each woman has put into their new passion has paid off in spades. Ang is ranked third in the nation in the women’s professional division; Hauschild one spot ahead; Blair is second ranked in the elite novice women’s division; McClanahan and Wyckoff hold the number two spot in the women’s elite doubles division and Chan is ranked third in the women’s elite 40-year-old and up division. Peyton will compete next year in the women’s elite 50+ divisions. 

When asked what has been the driving force behind all of the success at her studio, Wyckoff named vision as key.

“Absolutely it’s vision,” she said. “I think that there are a lot of talented people out there, but I think that what really sets us apart is that we came into this with a purpose and with a vision.”

Not only is the goal for the women at the studio to succeed in the sport, but also for pole sports to explode in popularity both locally and nationally — with a greater goal of becoming an Olympic sport.

Wyckoff and her team aren’t alone in vying for future Olympic inclusion; there is a global movement to have the sport included. Though there is a huge drive, Wyckoff said any sport looking to join the Olympics must go through a lot in order to qualify.

While the women wait, there is still plenty of change and innovation coming to the sport on a near-constant basis. With the advent of social media, athletes across the world are able to share new moves and routines on a scale previously impossible. Wyckoff and her team are able to keep up to date with others across the world as exciting moves are thought up, always working to stay on the cutting edge.

Each new move may come in handy in December, when part of the team, Olson, Wyckoff, McClanahan and Blair, all travel to Geneva to compete in a world-wide competition. The entire team is also working on qualifying for a world competition this summer.

Olson said she expects the worldwide competition to be much more difficult than what she has experienced in the U.S., a point which Wyckoff explained. 

“Pole sport is very much in its infancy here in the United States where some of these other countries — you look at the things that are going on in Russia and in the Czech Republic — we’re really like the first school that’s training kids,” she said.

Despite stiff competition, more and more success continues to fall into their laps, and the women at Centre Stage Dance Studio are working tirelessly to show just how difficult, impressive and exciting pole sports truly is.

More than a competitive sport, Wyckoff said what they do is a complete body workout. 

Between the physical strength required and the cardio for a four-minute routine, she compared it to an all out sprint with the added benefit of zero-impact.

Centre Stage Dance Studio offers much more than pole sports; tap, jazz, hip hop, cheerleading, acrobatics and point are all taught. The studio is located at 10370 N. La Cañada Drive, on the east side of the street, just south of West Lambert Lane. Information can be found at www.csdstucson.com or calling by 498-0093.

Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 4:00 am

© 2016 Tucson Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.