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2002 T&T World Cup: Greensboro, North Carolina

Greensboro, North Carolina played host to the sixth and final trampoline and tumbling world cup circuit until the world cup finals, which will be held later this year in Germany. The United States presented this great meeting of international stars with amazing organisation which made the athletes feel totally comfortable and created a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Starting with men's trampoline, king of all kings, world and Olympic champion, Alexander Moskalenko (Russia) came back after a poor showing in Edmonton to win the gold. Moskalenko was able to do go all out and hit difficult and competitive routines despite a sore back. Nikolai Kazak (Belarus) was equally impressive, making his mark as the most stable and confident competitor of the North American circuit. In this extremely tight competition, Kazak missed the gold by only one tenth of a point. The same can be said for German Knytchev (Russia), who medalled at both world cup circuits and missed the gold medal by only two tenths of a point. Knytchev showed high difficulty, which included mostly forward skills including a randi-out piked and a layout full-in-rudi-out! The Canadian's showed that they still have some work to do before next year's world championships: Mathieu Turgeon (16th), Dave Parke (47th), Dave Sabourin (61st). Veteran's Michel Greene and Chris Mitruk both scratched due to injury.

In the women's trampoline, Olympic bronze medallist Karen Cockburn (Canada) was the best, beating world and Olympic champion Irina Karavayeva (Russia). Cockburn and Karavayeva actually tied scores at 40.2, but better execution always win's the battle! Cockburn was all smiles after the competition, cheerfully signing autographs and accepting hugs from her fellow team members and competitors. Karavayeva showed great difficulty, which included a randi-out piked to half-in-rudi-out piked and a spectacular layout miller to finish! Natalia Tchernova (Russia) claimed the last spot on the podium, but one has to stop to think whether Claire Wright (Great-Britain) deserved to take home the bronze medal instead of Tchernova. Wright missed a medal by only a tenth of a point. Canada's Heather Ross-McManus and Savija McManus finished 11th and 26th, respectively. Ross-McManus has her sights on Athens, she will be training full time this year for what will probably be her last chance at an Olympic berth.

In synchronized trampoline, Moskalenko and Knytchev surprisingly teamed up after some conflicts between their respective clubs earlier this year. In Edmonton, Moskalenko partnered with young Alexander Leven who suffered a bad crash in warm-ups for the synchro finals which forced the pair to scratch. Leven was not badly hurt however, he placed 21st individually in North-Carolina. Alan Villafuerte and Sven Mooij (Netherlands) took the silver medal, while David Ford and Ryan Weston (USA) won the bronze medal in front of a home crowd. Canadian's Turgeon and Greene placed 16th. On the women's side, Wright and Kirsten Lawton (Great-Britain) won the gold medal by over a full point to Canada's consistent and stylish pair of Cockburn and Ross-McManus. Galina Lebedeva and Tatiana Petrenia (Belarus) placed third.

In men's tumbling, Denis Serdyukov (Russia) bounced back on top after a disappointing seventh place finish in Edmonton. Serdyukov treated the crowd with two beautiful dismounts, the first being a piked triple back and the second being a layout miller. Huanian Pan (China) and Robert Small (Great-Britain) both also showed their own layout miller dismounts but Small gave away too many form mistakes to the judges however, giving Pan the silver medal. Small settled for the bronze medal once again, as he did in Edmonton. Tseko Mogotsi (South Africa) placed fourth but received the most cheers from the audience for his super four double pass: double layout through to double pike through to double tuck punch immediate double front! Also looking really good was fifth place finisher Ross Gibson (Great-Britain) who had the best execution and flow of the entire competition. What he lacked was difficulty, but he managed to stand up a really nice one and a half twisting double layout! Canadians Denis Vachon, Dave Cowen, and Steve Whiteside placed 12th, 15th and 21st, respectively.

In women's tumbling, Kathryn Peberdy (Great-Britain) easily won her second world cup title in two weeks. Peberdy's high and technically perfect skills put her into just over a five point lead to Olena Chabanenko (Ukraine). Chabanenko's form lacked, but she showed a decent layout full-full dismount on her first pass. Melanie Avisse (France) placed a satisfying third position, smiling and looking cheerful throughout the circuit. Canada's Neisha Davis placed 7th.

The junior competitors got to show their stuff once again, in the "Carolina Classic". Andrei Oudalov (Russia), who trains with Moskalenko, placed first this time. Oudalov was shaky in finals but his preliminary scores were high enough for the lead. Bryan Milonja (Canada) scored a career high 39.9 points in finals, but had a very shaky preliminaries, which gave away too many deductions. Milonja, who took home the silver medal, started his routine off with a piked Triffus and ended with a layout full-full. Tanner Griggs (USA) placed a rewarding third place this time around after failing to finish his final routine in Edmonton, which ultimately kept him out of the medals last week. On the women's side, Erin Blanchard (USA) took the gold. Blanchard trains in Lafayette, Louisiana under Belarussian champ Dmitri Poliaroush. Rosie MacLennan (Canada), who trains with newly crowned world cup champ Cockburn, took the silver medal. Sarah Caruso (Canada) placed third. In tumbling, the tiny Ekaterina Lobaznyuk look-a-like, Anjelika Soldatkina (Russia), dominated the women's side with a beautiful double layout dismount for her first pass and a punch rudi opening to piked full-in to close for her second pass! For the men, Chris Ford (USA) easily won the gold medal.

All in all, team unity, training camps, and well thought-out training plans for this year, will be key aspects in order for Canada to perform to their potential at the next world championships. Worlds, which will be held in Germany in 2003, will also determine how many trampolinists will represent their respective countries at the Olympics Games.

Written by Bryan Milonja

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