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2002 Wild Rose: Event Finals
Entrance into the event finals at the Wild Rose was set up to allow the greatest variety of athletes to benefit from the experience. The top seven senior athletes from the all around, the top junior and an Ortona athlete (the host club) were all guaranteed slots in the finals.
In a tightly contested battle for the gold medal on vault, Abby Pearson (Burlington) came up big with the last vault in finals. Pearson earned the highest score of the rotation with a spectacular Yurchenko layout 1 ˝ (9.325), which when combined with her first vault (a solid Yurchenko layout ˝) was good enough for a tie for the gold. Equalling Pearson was Russian Natalia Uchevatkina who followed up a low landing on her first vault (piked Luconi, 9.25), with a very dynamic tucked Luconi. The bronze medal went to Vanessa Meloche who began with a piked handspring front (incredible distance) and added a half twist for her second vault. Poor form on a Yurchenko layout 11/2 (almost tucked) kept the fourth place finisher Ekaterina Chouster (Russia) from placing higher. In fifth place was team Canada's Heather Purnell (Ottawa) with two Yurchenko fulls (layout and tuck). The athletes ranked sixth through ninth were hampered by low start values on their second vaults, despite performing these vaults well. Richelieu's Amanda Haikalis, the junior in this final, started off with a piked handspring front but was unable to repeat the stick that had earned her a trip to the finals. She followed up with a layout Yurchenko. These were the same vaults used by team Canada's Amélie Plante (Gymnix) who finished seventh. Patricia Clarke of Cambridge landed low on a Yurchenko ˝ and was forced to take a step back but finished nicely with a strong Yurchenko layout. Amanda Gering of the host Ortona club had some difficulty with her Yurchenko ˝ to finish in ninth.
On the next event, the uneven bars, Russia and the Ukraine shared the gold. Leila Gruzdeva of Russia performed a beautiful front giant full raising her arm in the twist, but a lack of swing and a slightly wild full-in dismount prevented her from winning the gold outright. Oksana Dremlyunga of Ukraine claimed a share of the gold with great stalder work and a double front ˝ out dismount. Uchevatkina, who had qualified in first place to these finals, earned the bronze despite falling on a toe on handstand ˝. Her routine was packed with difficult combinations and impeccable execution. She also ended with a double front ˝. Purnell, the highest-ranking Canadian in fourth, finished with a full-in. Gering impressed the home crowd with a set that included a Geinger, piked Jaeger and high Pak salto. A step on the landing of her double front dismount kept her in fifth place. Team Canada's Melanie Rocca (Burlington) finished in sixth with a clean set and nice stalder work. Meloche, who was expected to be the biggest challenge to the Russian and Ukrainian athletes, came up short twice on a cast handstand ˝ turn and fell on her hecht to the high bar. It was unfortunate, as the crowd had been treated the day before to Meloche's complex routine with a 1 ˝ pirouette to piked Jaeger, a beautiful Khorkina and a double front dismount. In eighth was junior Lisa Pattison (Marian) who came up short on a front giant and fell on her dismount (double front).
Team Canada's Kylie Stone (Stampede City) - the senior all-around winner - was rock solid on beam to take the gold, almost half a point ahead of her nearest competitor. Her set included a variety of difficult jumps (switch to switch side, switch side half, Popa) and ended with a combination dismount of backspring backspring double back. A distant second after a bad landing on the dismount (2 ˝ twist), was Russia's Ekaterina Privalova. Her routine included some standout combinations like front tuck to backspring back layout, and a full twisting backspring all done with typical Russian artistry and flow. Meloche was third with a solid set that included some of the best turning jumps of the meet. It is nice to see these jumps completed in the air well before landing; a higher start value would have helped her achieve a higher placing. In fourth was Rocca, who also showed a great front to back combination (front ariel, backspring, layout). Rocca's beautiful flexibility was emphasized through her selection of skills and presentation. The two Ukrainians, Yevgena Oliynik and Maryna Proskurina, who had qualified in first and second respectively, fell in the finals and finished well out of the medals. Proskurina performed two side ariels (one in combination with a front ariel and one in the piked position, which made the move look more graceful). Oliynik concluded a routine that could have challenged Stone for the gold by sitting down her 2-˝ twist, thus eliminating her from contention. Both girls were quite tall and flexible, which created a line and fluidity, making their routines really enjoyable to watch. Rounding out the field was Pattison, Gering and Pearson.
The meet concluded with floor finals and an amazing display of tumbling. First up was Gering who, after a disappointing preliminary session (falls on beam and floor) and with the pressure of an alternate spot on the junior Pacific Alliance team on the line, hit all four events today. She added an exclamation point on floor by successfully completing her new Arabian double front while finishing sixth. The gold went to Ukrainian Oliynik who again used her flexibility to present a graceful routine while tumbling a double pike, triple twist (a little short) and a 2/1 twisting front. Close behind in a tie for second was Canada's Stone and Russia's Privalova. Stone once again was rock solid, showing some of the most difficult tumbling of the meet: arabian double front, full-in and whips to a double pike. Making her floor even more impressive was her technique and amplitude in the tumbling: legs always glued together and more than enough air time to land the skills easily. Two steps out of bounds prevented her from winning another gold but it was great to see her improve over the season and she looks to be in great shape for the Pacific Alliance Championships next month. Privalova also displayed complex tumbling: 2 ˝ to front layout, double pike, and triple twist (short). Though her tumbling was not as dynamic as Stone's, she made up for it with artistry. Close behind was teammate Uchevatkina who struggled a bit with her tumbling but matched the difficulty in her tumbling with equally difficult dance (tour jete full). The powerful Pearson led the rest of the Canadians. Rounding out the field was Ukrainian Dremlyunga who started off well with a handspring double front but struggled with her second pass of handspring 2/1 twist and sat down her next and easiest pass (front tuck to front full). Her dance, while executed well, was presented without much feeling, thus leaving the door open for the judges to use the artistry deduction introduced with the new code.
As the weekend drew to a close it was apparent that Canada would be well represented by the girls on the Pacific Alliance Teams and that this international event provided them with experience they can carry with them to Vancouver in May.
Contributed with thanks by: Colleen O'Sullivan