Dynamo dominating fencing scene

By Don Fennell

Published 4:44 PDT, Thu October 17, 2019

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

The performance was as dominating as it was historic.

At the recent national championships, athletes from the Dynamo Fencing Club won every gold in men’s epée—U15, cadet, junior, senior and veteran. They also secured top spot in the U15 women’s epée.

For Igor Gantsevich, Dynamo’s dedicated and affable president, the results further embrace a club mindset that began over a decade ago with his equally hard-working dad Victor.

“This is huge for us,” Igor says, noting Dynamo won more medals than all the other provinces, save Ontario, combined.

The feat becomes even more jaw-dropping after another 16 medals, and 20 additional top-eight placings, are included.

“We are the only club in the country to win medals in all three disciplines—foil, epée and sabre,” Gantsevich notes. “Everyone, the past few years, has noticed us arriving on the scene and now we are definitely dominating. And we are (enjoying) more and more success in North America.”

But even as Dynamo’s medal count climbs, Gantsevich is equally encouraged by what the success of his athletes may mean for their peers around the province.

“The higher our level grows, the more it pushes (others) to be better,” he says. “We are seeing many new clubs opening and the level of fencing is increasing. That’s great. We want fencing in B.C. to best the best in the world and the only way to do that is by (encouraging) more competition.”

Gantsevich oversaw the opening in September of a second full-time facility at 238 Fell Ave. in North Vancouver. The new facility reflects a growing market in North and West Vancouver.

“A huge percentage of our members were driving from West or North Vancouver to Richmond four to six days a week. Now, these members are able to train a major portion of that time in North Vancouver. This is all thanks to our amazing partnership with the West Vancouver School District.”

Gantsevich is modest and unapologetic about the amount of time he devotes to fencing—and to his dream of it becoming a mainstream sport.

“When you come from nothing you are willing to go through fire to achieve your dreams. That (mindset) is set first by my father and has a trickle down affect.”

He’s also quick to praise the dedication of Dynamo’s coaches, which now number 14 full-time and three assistants. The number represents roughly half of all the full-time coaches in Canada. What’s more, the club recently added Hristo Etropolski to the fold. Etropolski is a two-time Olympian and arguably half of one of the best brother tandems in the history of sabre. He’s also a very successful coach, having had a huge club in Chicago for many years before immigrating with his family to Canada.

Gantsevich also attributes Dynamo’s success to never being satisfied.

“We are always hungry. Next nationals I want 30 medals; I always want more. That’s the spirit in our club. We are never satisfied. After the national competition finished on Sunday, we were back to work on Monday.”

With the general level of fencing continuing to rise, Gantsevich’s willingness to contribute also gets stronger. His ultimate dream is to produce a gold medallist at the Olympics, ideally from Dynamo, though he says “I’ll be just as proud if (that individual) comes from Nova Scotia or Ontario.” 


NAME                 MEDAL        CATEGORY

Nicholas Zhang Gold                U15 Men’s Foil

Nicholas Zhang Gold                U15 Men’s Épée

Linda Li                 Gold                U15 Women’s Épée

Derek Rong         Gold                Cadet Men’s Épée

Howard Zhao         Gold                Junior Men’s Épée

Howard Zhao         Gold                Senior Men’s Épée

Bela Suveg         Gold                Veteran Men’s Épée

Jack Pan                 Gold                 Cadet Men’s Sabre

Christina Zozulya Silver        Junior Women’s Épée

Fynn Fafard         Silver         Junior Men’s Épée

Giorgio Gradassi Silver         Senior Men’s Sabre

Angelica Sun         Silver         U15 Women’s Épée

Angelica Sun         Silver         Cadet Women’s Épée

Adrian Wong         Bronze         U15 Men’s Foil

Dylan French         Bronze         Senior Men’s Épée

Janet Cheng         Bronze         Cadet Women’s Épée

Christina Zozulya Bronze         Senior Women’s Épée

Giorgio Gradassi Bronze         Junior Men’s Sabre

Jack Pan Bronze Junior               Men’s Sabre

Jack Pan Bronze Senior              Men’s Sabre

Avery Townsend Bronze         Cadet Men’s Épée

Avery Townsend Bronze             Junior Men’s Épée

Adam Wong         Bronze         Cadet Men’s Foil

Nicholas Zhang Bronze         Cadet Men’s Foil

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