2001 Spring Cup Invitational
Several of Canada's top gymnasts were on hand at the 2001 Burlington Spring Cup invitational, held over the Easter long weekend. The meet gave not only a glimpse of some of Canada's top up and coming stars, but also a chance to see a few of the 2001 world team contenders in action as they continue to develop their routines for the new code of points. Gymn.ca was in attendance for the junior and senior FIG all-around competition only, and the results from the competition can be found here.
Several of the gymnasts opted to only compete on selected events - evidence of the on-going growing pains associated with the new code of points. Still, the competition was a good indicator of where some of the Canadian gymnasts stand, as well as of what we can expect from some of the top juniors who will be contenders for world and Olympic teams down the road.
Before getting to those gymnasts who actually competed, it's worth mentioning two of the gymnasts who did not: Olympian Michelle Conway was on hand and did some warm ups prior to the competition, but did not compete. She was in good spirits as a spectator, though, so hopefully she does not have a serious injury and will be ready for her next competitions. Also not competing, but in the audience, was current senior Elite Canada champion Ashley Peckett from Gymnastics Mississauga. Peckett appeared to be nursing some type of arm injury; gymn.ca will post more information about this once it becomes available.
Of the gymnasts who competed all events, one of the standouts was definitely Teri Gibson from the host Burlington club. A junior aged senior competitor (Gymnastics Canada rules not only allow but encourage gymnasts to compete senior one year before being FIG eligible) Gibson showed new skills on most events. A noticeable improvement was shown on the uneven bars, a previous nemesis for this talented gymnast. Gibson showed a strong piked Jaeger, and a giant-full to overshoot ½ turn to handstand during her routine - and also had stronger cast handstands and cleaner pirouettes (thanks largely to Dave Brubaker's coaching - he's known as an outstanding bars coach in Canada). She unfortunately sat down on her double pike dismount - proving that a double layout is most likely in the works. On beam, as usual, she showed a variety of skills including a tuck jump full to straddle jump ¾ to support, a switch leap to wolf jump-full, two ffs to layout to two feet, and a punch front to Chen (not connected in the competition). She did not show her trademark Rulfova this time (or her double tuck dismount - just a double twist), but she displayed the confidence on this event that she is most noted for. On floor, she showed two new tumbling passes to open: an arabian double front (a little low but stood up) and a triple twist (a tiny bit short, but stood up well). Her vault was a layout Tsukahara - not high on start value, but perhaps indicative of what direction she will take on this event in the future (she had previously used the handspring tucked front as her primary vault).
2000 Canadian junior champion Heather Purnell, from the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre, competed in Canada for the first time since the 2000 Gymnastic Challenge competition. Another junior aged gymnast competing as a senior, she too showed good work on all events and left little doubt as to whether or not she would be a threat for future Canadian teams. On bars she had a bit of trouble with her cast handstand to healy, but recovered and showed a solid Gienger (with better form and amplitude than in previous years) and a much cleaner ½ in ½ out dismount. On beam, some of her new combinations included an aerial walkover to aerial cartwheel (not connected this time), a handstand step-down into ff-layout, a switch leap to split jump ½ turn, and a split jump full to tuck jump full. The one area in her routine that needs work is the dismount, which was only a tucked front-full. On floor, she showed the same music and choreography as last year, but with upgraded tumbling: double pike mount, front-full layout to front-full tuck, and a 2 ½ twist dismount. She actually over rotated her first and last passes, proving she has the ability to do even harder tumbling in the near future. She also showed a nice switch ring leap to cat leap double turn (a dance combination we are likely to see a lot this cycle). Her vault is the same as last year, a tucked Tsukahara-full - and despite some low landings in warm-ups, she stood up a beautiful one when it counted most (the gymnasts were competing under competition 1 rules and thus only performed one vault).
Chantelle Tousek from Cambridge Kips - younger sister of two time Olympian Yvonne Tousek - was one of few 2001 worlds age eligible gymnasts to compete in all events. Her best effort here was vault, where she landed her Hristakieva well. On bars, she fell on her new release move, a Jaeger (which had also given her much trouble in the warm-up). She did show improved mechanics on what has traditionally been her weakest event, as well as a new giant 1 ½ (Dawes) which was well controlled. On beam, she showed a new mount of round-off layout step-out on, which was very well landed. She also showed a new acrobatic series of stag handstand, step-down to ff-layout to two feet - again very solid and confident. She unfortunately fell on her aerial walkover, which marred an otherwise solid set. Tousek showed a new floor routine here, and her tumbling was obviously still in the development phase. She showed a triple twist, double pike, and 2 ½ twist, but was missing a tumbling pass with two saltos.
Jennifer Simbhudas from the Winstonettes, was another of the age eligible seniors to compete in all events. She struggled somewhat at the competition, but still showed signs of improving and upgrading her routines for the new code. On bars she was working a giant 1 ½ to mixed grip and a double front dismount - to go along with her Gienger release move. On floor she opened with two whips through to a 2 ½ twist and a triple twist (better landed than in previous meets) but showed only a double twist last pass in place of the double pike she warmed-up (and usually competes quite solidly). On vault she over rotated her clean piked front, again indicative of a possible upgrade in the near future. She showed her best work on beam, with a solid switch leap to side somi combination, a stuck punch front, and a tuck jump-full.
Veteran senior competitor Abby Pearson, of the host Burlington club, competed only on two events: vault (only a Hristakieva this time) and beam. On beam she was very solid, showing a confidence that had been missing in her previous routines. She stuck her layout step-out mount and showed a new combination of switch leap immediate Rulfova. Her dismount was only a double twist (and her FIG start value only a 9.1) but this had to be considered a personal victory for Pearson who has struggled with confidence and consistency on this event in the past. She may be setting herself up as a world team contender as a vault and beam specialist later this year.
Pearson's new club mate, Aubrey Taylor, competed on all events but floor. Apparently battling pneumonia (and still recovering from an ankle injury), Taylor struggled on beam, falling after the second of two aerial walkovers connected, and later falling on an aerial walkover ¼ turn. She did nail a new punch front to back tuck combo however. On bars she showed a good giant-full to Gienger and a Pak salto, but did only a layout flyaway dismount to protect her ankle. She ended the meet on vault where she stood up her piked front ½ well. Hopefully Taylor will recover from her injuries and illness soon and contend for one of the spots on the world team.
|a tough day for|
2000 Olympian Crystal Gilmore from Cambridge competed in only two events, beam and floor. On the former she stuck a new mount of layout step-out on, but wobbled on her ff-tucked full and struggled to connect skills elsewhere. She used the same choreography on floor as last year, and tumbled a triple twist (small stumble), double pike (low landing), and 2 ½ twist (fall). Gilmore was obviously not in her best competitive shape, having recovered from previous injuries. Once she gets some more consistent training under her belt, she should be a strong contributor to the Canadian team this year.
One of the highlights of the senior competition was Danielle Hicks' routine on the balance beam. Another junior aged gymnast competing senior, Hicks was back to her old form on the beam, an event until recently she rarely missed. She mounted with a layout step-out on where she took a slight, yet controlled, step back. Her ff-layout-layout series was dead on. She also performed a lovely sheep jump, a double toe-turn, a switch leap to tuck jump-full and a ff-ff-double twist dismount. It was great to see Hicks' confidence back on the event she has owned in past years.
The junior competition here gave Canadian fans a glimpse of the some of the up and coming talent looking to take over as the 2003 worlds and 2004 Olympics approach. Current Elite Canada junior champion Lisa Pattison, from the Marian club in Saskatchewan, was on hand and re-established herself as a top contender for the Canadian junior title this year. On bars, she showed much improved work from last year, including an elgrip giant ½ turn to Tkatchev and a double pike dismount - all with no handgrips! On beam she showed a very well executed combination of switch leap to wolf jump ½ to Chen and a round-off ff-double twist dismount. She unfortunately fell on her aerial walkover, but nevertheless left a strong impression with her aggressive style on the apparatus. On floor, she was simply charming and she showed new tumbling of 2 ½ twist to punch front and double pike. Vault is still developing (handspring tucked front) but it is impossible to watch this gymnast without thinking she has a very promising future in the sport.
Amanda Gering, from Edmonton's Ortona Club, is another strong junior from Western Canada to watch out for. She impressed with her solid lines and excellent basics on every event. Her best event here was beam, where her routine earned a 9.6 FIG start value: piked front mount; punch front; ff-layout; switch leap to tuck jump-full; Popa; switch side leap immediate straddle jump ½; and double tuck dismount. She showed excellent swing mechanics on bars with a piked Jaeger, sky-high Pak salto, and a double front dismount. Though her start value here was low (8.9 due to missing her special requirement of a C level skill from group 3, 6, or 7) she has obvious potential for upgrades with her strong swing technique. On floor she fell on her double pike opening, but did a nice front through to 1 ½ twist punch front and a 2 ½ twist last pass. On vault she did a good layout Yurchenko with a good block and nice amplitude. The sky could be the limit for Gering whose current routines are solid building blocks for future success with the new code of points.
Another host club gymnast, Melanie Rocca, had an up and down meet. One of the highlights for her must have been her layout Yurchenko on vault - after only warming up piked ones, she really achieved a great position on her vault in the actual competition. Known for her excellent bar work, Rocca performed two single bar release skills (a Gienger and a Tkatchev facing out) as well as a Pak salto. Unfortunately, she caught her pak a little close and had to do a plain back hip circle out of it; when she went for her next kip cast, she couldn't make it over the bar and then fell. She did dismount with nice double front from elgrip though. On beam she fell while attempting a full twisting ff, which was supposed to be followed by a ff-layout combo. She also did a nice switch leap to ring jump, an aerial walkover to back dive ¼ to handstand, an aerial walkover with ¼ turn, and a good double tuck dismount. On floor she showed two new passes: a double pike and a triple twist (a little short). Unfortunately she touched down on her final pass of front through to a double twist. Still, this gymnast is one to watch with her nice lines and mature presentation. Hopefully her consistency will continue to improve as this Olympic cycle continues.
Lydia Williams from Sport Seneca, coming off a very strong showing at the Gymnix International last month, would probably rather forget this meet. On bars, she sat down her double front dismount after a very clean routine with a HUGE Tkatchev facing out and an overshoot ½ turn to handstand. On beam, her flair mount was a treat, but she fell on her back pike and tuck jump-full, and overall was just shaky. After a strong double pike opening on floor, she did only a 2 ½ twist second pass (leaving out the punch front she warmed up) and then did only a front handspring where her last tumbling pass was planned (presumably the front full to piked front she had shown at Gymnix). Hopefully Williams will be able to rebound from this and finish her season on a high note.
Melanie Banville, from the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre, was actually the second highest ranked junior in the field, based on her 3rd place finish at the last Elite Canada meet. Though she struggled on three events (fell on a layout Tsuk vault, missed her Tkatchev on bars, and fell twice off beam), she rebounded with a good floor routine. Her tumbling passes were a double pike, a whip-1 ½-front layout and a 2 ½ twist. But the highlight of her routine had to be a quadruple toe-turn, which was very well mastered!
Overall, this competition was a good indicator of where some of the top Canadian gymnasts stand in this, the first year with the new code of points. While some of the older gymnasts will look to make a mark at the World Championships in Ghent Belgium later this year, many will hope to have their chance two years later in Indianapolis. Everyone at gymn.ca looks forward to following their development as they work towards their goals in the years to come.
Click here to see photos from this competition.
Written by Christopher Scott
Photos by Leslie Foster