Raising the Bar: Airdrie Gears Up for Second Annual Grizzly Classic Men’s Gymnastics Tournament

Story by Josie Randall


Photos by Luke O'Geil Photography

Spring 2024

A young man is about to perform a full twisting layout in front of a crowd of his peers.

Boys, as young as the age of five, watch on as these senior level athletes compete in various events like floor, vault, rings and highbar – perhaps one day picturing themselves competing.

It’s why the Grizzly Classic in Airdrie is more than just a gymnastics competition, it’s a testament to the resilience and dedication of the small but mighty men’s gymnastics community.

“Men’s gymnastics is a dying sport, and we want to make sure it remains viable,” says 2024 Meet Director Chris Pettigrew.

“We wanted to create this event to inspire young athletes and showcase the best in the world.”


A Sense of Community

After the permanent cancellation of the University of Calgary International Classic, the gymnastics community in Alberta felt a void.

Now in its second year, the Grizzly Classic has become the only event sanctioned by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) in North America.

That means athletes will be judged at the Olympic level right here in Alberta.

“This wasn’t just about competition; it was about creating opportunities,” Pettigrew says.

“We’re bringing in some of the world’s best gymnasts so our local athletes can aspire to the world stage without extensive travel. But it’s so much more than that, any man or athlete can compete; it’s not as restrictive as other international events. We want to build a sense of community and give athletes a glimpse into what this sport can offer.”


Resilience, Collaboration, and Respect

Pettigrew says the decision to host the event in Airdrie wasn’t arbitrary. With its proximity to the international airport, welcoming community, and number of young families, Airdrie provides an ideal setting for the competition.

“We wanted a place where families could come together and connect. Airdrie’s growth and family-friendly atmosphere made it perfect.”

More than 337 male athletes, 60 coaches and 45 judges from across Canada and the United States are expected to gather at Genesis Place on March 21 to March 24 for the Grizzly Classic.

“Gymnastics isn’t just about flips and routines; it’s about character development,” says Pettigrew.

“Gymnastics teaches resilience, collaboration, and respect. It’s about celebrating successes and learning from failures. I’ve seen firsthand the dedication and discipline of these athletes. They inspire courage and camaraderie, traits that extend far beyond the gym.”

For more information and a full event schedule visit