Young Edmonton pole vaulter lands on TV show

EDMONTON – Grab a spoon, a bowl of cereal, and park yourself in front of the TV at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, to watch an Edmonton preteen literally vault herself and her hometown into the national spotlight.

By the time final credits for Cross Country Fun Hunt scroll down the screen, 30 minutes later, 12-year-old Kassandra Hordal hopes you’ve become as passionate about pole vaulting and the City of Champions as she is, and that more kids her age decide to try the sport.

Hordal is one of a dozen Canadian kids featured on the 12-part CBC kids series which highlights the most fun things to do in Canada, as voted on by under-16 youth. Besides pole vaulting in Edmonton, viewers will see what it’s like to ride in a hot-air balloon in Prince Edward Island, skateboard in Winnipeg, and mine for gems in Thunder Bay, Ont.

The show’s host Jordan Francis (known for Disney’s Camp Rock movies), says pole vaulting in Edmonton was definitely one of the high points of his cross-country hunt for fun.

“It kind of felt like I was in the Olympics because (my visit) was during the Olympics,” he explains.

The day Francis and the camera crew spent with Hordal in July was busy, busy, busy, starting with a visit to her west-end home where she keeps 65 medals and 42 ribbons from her gymnastics competitions in a box in her room.

There were stops at West Edmonton Mall, lunch at Bucas & Pastas — her favourite restaurant — and pole vaulting, lots and lots of pole vaulting at Foote Field and the Butterdome, where Hordal trains with the University of Alberta’s track and field team.

“Jordan tried pole vaulting and he did pretty well,” Hordal says. “We went to the gym club (Capital City Gymnastics Club) too and he can do a backflip. I was surprised,” she adds grinning.

Hordal picked up her 3.3-metre (10.8-foot) fibreglass pole for the first time two years ago after gymnastics stopped being fun. Her mom, Sheila, suggested Kassy might enjoy pole vaulting because it was “something different, something unique, and something fun.”

The two sports are also very similar, which is why most pole vaulters are ex-gymnasts, Sheila adds.

Her daughter says she loved it the first time she tried pole vaulting during a U of A summer track camp.

“It’s fun enough that even if you’re scared of heights, it’s still fun,” Hordal says.

The Grade 7 St. Thomas Moore School student practises four hours a week with the Edmonton International Track Club which also trains the University of Alberta’s varsity vaulters. Members range in age from 12 to 32 and include an engineer with the federal government.

Hordal’s personal best is 2.35 metres (7.7 feet), so far. Her dream is to compete in the Olympics.

Is she excited about watching herself on TV Saturday?

“To be honest, I don’t know if I’m going to be up by then,” she says. “I’m kidding! I’ll probably be watching it with my family and PVR it.”

Her family includes older sister, Bryanne, 14, who was herself a TV star two years ago as a contestant on the YTV reality show In Real Life, a kind of Amazing Race for kids.

To watch previous segments of the show and Kassandra Hordal’s audition video go to and click on Edmonton on the map.

Kids under 16 can continue to share what they like to do for fun by uploading videos and pictures of their fun spots and putting their communities on the map. All destinations entered on the Fun Hunt map will be entered in a contest to win a Fun Hunt concert for one hometown, featuring 17-year-old Abbotsford, B.C., Shut Up and Dance singer, Victoria Duffield. Voting will take place in December.


Kassandra Hordal
Kassandra Hordal

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