Posts Tagged ‘Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs’

L’International Gymnix 2010

Monday, March 29th, 2010



The 2010 edition marked the third time I have attended the Gymnix International and Junior Cups, and while the field was not quite as deep as in years past, it was still lots of fun for me, my sister and our friend Catherine. This year I recognized two judges, Romanian star Gina Gogean and Pam Collett of Canada, who judged me when I was a high school gymnast!

Judge Gina Gogean (ROU) Marches In

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkVh_HG-iBI

The highlight was seeing the up-and-coming juniors from Russia and Romania, but truth be told, the Canadian juniors showed just as much potential! For the most part, they displayed great form and adequate levels of difficulty. With all these fantastic gymnasts, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Canadian ladies haven’t been so successful on the world stage in recent years (with the exception of Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs’s medal on beam at the 2006 World Championships, of course!). Maybe this new generation is the one that will launch Canada into contention for team finals at Worlds.

Madeline Gardiner won the all-around portion of the competition ahead of Riley Cholod, who was fresh off her victory at the Nadia Comaneci Invitational. In third place was Maria Karpova, the youngest of the four Russian gymnasts. Rounding out the Top 10 was a talented field: Diana Bulimar, Ekaterina Baturina, Ekaterina Shtronda and Mikaela Gerber (tie), Victoria Moors, Alena Marchenko and Shae Zamardi. It’s interesting to note that Cholod, Gardiner and Gerber allowed for a Canadian sweep of the uneven bars medals!

Madeline Gardiner (CAN), Uneven Bars, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBiAO0pROlI

Riley Cholod (CAN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUoUR7qyt7c

Mikaela Gerber (CAN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgAC7k-s53U

I particularly enjoyed the floor exercises of the Russian gymnasts, as they displayed the polish that has become the hallmark of their national program. Their technique on even the most basic skills was beyond compare, but these gymnasts are so young that they won’t be eligible for senior competition until 2013 and 2014.

Maria Karpova (RUS), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXN4kuqhiME

Ekaterina Baturina (RUS), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmclNnRwIhU

Alena Marchenko (RUS), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7bWhCbJaSA

It was interesting to see how high Ekaterina Shtronda set before pulling around the delayed double back. You can see it in the video, but it seemed even more dramatic live.

Ekaterina Shtronda (RUS), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrOI31Ek2nQ

Young Maegan Chant showed great potential with difficult skills including a double layout mount on floor exercise followed by a full-in. She is coached at World Class Gymnastics by Cristina Bontas, who achieved much success for Romania in the late 1980s and early 1990s. With just a little more polish, Chant will be a major player on the Canadian scene.

Maegan Chant (CAN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjwMs3CkF_8

I was looking forward to seeing the Romanian juniors that I’d heard so much about: Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar, Ana Maria Baicu, and a new name for me, Tatiana Geamparoiu. They suffered a few falls on balance beam, but as usual they shone on floor exercise. I enjoyed Iordache’s piked full-in off bars.

Larisa Iordache (ROU), Balance Beam, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKA7PTw_PVE

Diana Bulimar (ROU), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH01aPh3NKk

Ana Maria Baicu (ROU), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP9rR5ldx7Q

Tatiana Geamparoiu (ROU), Vault, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hZBhGq3c6g

Unfortunately, the International Cup portion of the competition wasn’t very well attended this year. Apart from the Canadians, the only gymnasts from abroad were some Parkettes (coach Donna Strauss was spotted with a knee brace of her own!), two Finnish girls and a South African.

Kristina Vaculik (CAN) was in a league of her own, winning the all-around by more than four points, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. I had a chuckle when I saw her coach, 1980 Olympic Champion Yelena Davydova, judging her on balance beam. Vaculik later went on to achieve great success (two golds and two silvers) at the Cottbus World Cup in Germany.

Kristina Vaculik (CAN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix International Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVHMnl5m11Q

Olympian Nansy Damianova (CAN) showed off a nice Spanish floor exercise to place third.

Nansy Damianova (CAN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix International Cup

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdZZbzB89uI

Anysia Unick (CAN) performed well in her first year as a senior, winning the gold on vault and the silver on floor exercise. Cynthia Lemieux (CAN) always manages to gather quite a collection of medals, and this time she brought home silver in the all-around and bronze on uneven bars. Annika Urvikko (FIN) was the only foreign athlete to break into the medals with her third place on vault.

During the awards ceremony, former Olympians and Gymnix alumnae Cathy Giancaspro, Mylène Fleury, Julie Beaulieu, Amélie Plante and Nansy Damianova were on hand to present the medals to the winners. After the competition, the gymnasts and the audience enjoyed a performance by Cirque du Soleil (during which the Romanian gymnasts munched on apples!).And so, another year of Gymnix has come to an end. I hope that by next year the field will be prestigious enough to include a Women’s World Cup event to go along with the Men’s World Cup.

Sport Seneca Style

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Three years ago, Toronto’s Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs made history as the first female Canadian to win a medal at the World Championships. In recent years, this country’s medal hopes had rested on Olympians such as Stella Umeh, Yvonne Tousek and Kate Richardson, but it wasn’t until 2006 that a Canadian gymnast stood proudly on the most prestigious podium of all. Only seasoned competitors Irina Krasnyanska (UKR) and Sandra Izbasa (ROM) scored higher than Elyse’s 15.475 on the balance beam.

Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, 2006 World Championships

Elyse’s routine exudes the beam style shared by many Sport Seneca gymnasts of the past. In the next few beam routines, you’ll note the particular type of choreography and the skills (in particular the illusions, the double turns and the Homma flairs mounts, named for Sport Seneca gymnast Leah Homma) that make these beam routines distinctly Seneca.

Peng Peng Lee, 2008 Canadian National Championships

Lydia Williams, 2003 8-Country Competition in the Netherlands

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvZ196JpUNM

Michelle Conway, 1999 World Championships

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VelUSqLsUsc

And perhaps the first from this Toronto gymnastics club to demonstrate this distinct style:

Koyuki Oka, 1988 Pacific Alliance

Now that Sport Seneca’s head coach, Carol-Angela Orchard, has left for England, it remains to be seen whether current gymnasts like Peng Peng Lee can maintain the high level of gymnastics the club has contributed to the Canadian scene over the past few decades. Peng Peng continues to train with former Sport Seneca coach Brian McVey at Discovery Gymnastics.