18-year-old Sylas Snider took the podium at the Canadian Ninja League National Finals in Vancouver and is hungry for more
Although his ninja journey was relatively short, a young man from Sault is already enjoying a slew of successes on some of the continent’s biggest stages.
Sylas Snider, an 18-year-old gymnast and graduate of Superior Heights, recently placed second in the pro division at the first-ever Canadian Ninja League National Finals in Vancouver, BC
The Canadian Ninja League offers athletes of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to compete in obstacle course style competitions similar to those seen in American Ninja Warrior.
The course typically lasts less than five minutes and participants will try to overcome as many obstacles as possible to test their balance, upper body strength and coordination.
In 2019, Snider began his ninja training with strength and conditioning coach Tyler Belanger at the Sault’s newly opened Rebel Gym.
There he increased his athletics after being involved in gymnastics for ten years.
“When COVID hit, I couldn’t do gymnastics anymore,” he says. “We went to the ninja gym sporadically during the pandemic when we were allowed to.”
In 2021, Snider placed second in the amateur category at the World Championships, which qualified him for the Pro division – the most competitive tier in ninja competition.
Snider later earned his spot at that year’s Nationals after completing two qualifying rounds, the first of which was at Rebel Gym.
While his efforts paid off, his intense training and competition schedule hasn’t always been the easiest during a pandemic.
“It was tough during COVID, but it was nice to have something to work toward,” he says. “I was at home with nothing to do, but we have the gym in our garage, so Tyler programmed me workouts and I did them at home. It was really helpful to be able to do that when I wasn’t feeling well.”
The ranking of the competitions is based on a points system. A completed obstacle earns the competitor a point, and sometimes points are awarded halfway through an obstacle. Whoever has the most points in the fastest time wins.
After an impressive run in Vancouver last month, Snider missed first place by just one point and finished second in the Canadian Pro division. He even finished the weekend with the best overall average in his group and was the only Ontario competitor to make the podium – all in his Nationals debut.
“It was great,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun going to a competition across the country because you meet a lot of athletes that you just can’t see. It was really fun to compete against them and see what their style was.”
Snider was one of four other Rebel Gym athletes who went to Vancouver and he says they represented the sault well.
“I went to a lot of competitions alone, but our athletes were there too, so it was a lot of fun to be there and support them and that they could support me,” he says. “It was really cool.”
Snider works full-time at Rebel Gym, even coaching the athletes who eventually went to the nationals with him.
“I really enjoy training them,” he says. “It’s great to see them progress, set goals and achieve them. It’s fun to help them achieve their goals. I also enjoy watching the other coaches and seeing what strategies they use when working with the kids they coach.”
Snider says he wouldn’t be able to do all of this without the support of his family, friends and coaches.
“My parents were really supportive,” he says. “Both have driven me to competitions all over Ontario and the United States and they’ve really helped me do it. Patrick from a gym in Sudbury and Matt from a gym in Milton were also big role models for me.”
Snider is now gearing up for June 2023 Worlds to be held in Greensboro, North Carolina.
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