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Archive: February 2002

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Last weekend marked the start of a marathon of gymnastics meets for the Canadian women. Scarborough Gym Elites hosted the Retro Boogie meet. Held at the Markham Fair Grounds, the venue was brimming to capacity. Headlining the meet was 2001 world championship team member Jennifer Simbhudas, who performed only on the uneven bars. Jennifer told us that she is busy working on new skills in the gym, among them, a new floor routine. Younger sister Rebecca Simbhudas also competed in the meet, gaining important experience. The home club's Melissa Tan drew tremendous crowd support. Her piked Jaeger on bars highlighted her meet. Cambridge Kips brought two High Performance athletes, Jennifer Lezeu and 2001 Elite Canada junior champ Madison Ward, plus novice up-and-comer Alannah Burns. Ward fell on a back full twist on beam, but nailed her full-in on floor. Lezeu had world class difficulty on floor with whip-triple twist, 2 1/2 piked front, and double pike.

This coming weekend marks the beginning of a busy month for Canadian women. Gymnasts from BC and Alberta compete at the Great West Gym Fest in Idaho, USA. The roster includes Omega's Gael Mackie and Laura-Ann Chong. Joining them, from Calgary's Stampede City, are Kylie Stone, Jody McKellar, and Stephania Iliescu. Fans at home in Canada can alo enjoy NBC's live coverage of the American Cup, Saturday 1-3pm E.S.T. Canadians have performed well at this meet in the past, but will not be represented this coming weekend.

Canada's Meloche at the
2002 Parkettes Invitational
Photo courtesy Ruth Judson

Club Gymnix hosts the 2002 Gymnix International the following weekend, March 9-10. Past invitees have included gymnasts from Russia, the Ukraine, Brazil, USA. Russia will be represented by Irina Kryutchkova and Olga Azarkevich, who finished third and 13th all-around, respectively, at the 2001 Russian Championships. The USA is sending many of its brightest hopes for the 2004 Olympics, including Terin Humphrey, Jordan Schwikert, Melanie Sinclair, Kristal Uzelac, Tia Orlando, Carly Patterson, Hollie Vise, and Kaitlin White. Uzelac is the reigning three-time US junior national champion, while Orlando, Patterson, Vise, and White represented the USA at the 2001 Goodwill Games. Ukraine will be represented by Irina Krasnyanskaya and Inna Teslenko.

Canadian seniors expected to compete include 2001 World team member Amelie Plante, Abby Pearson, Danielle Hicks, Amanda Haikalis, Julie Lauzon, Melanie Banville, Heather Purnell, Lydia Williams, Julie-Ann Passy, Fanny Girard, Siloe Chicoine, and Vanessa Meloche. Meloche has gained tremendous experience competing in a number of US meets of late: 2002 Maryland Classic, 2002 Parkettes Invitational, region 7 zones, and the Dragon Invite in Missouri. Expect to also see some bright juniors at Gymnix, including Melanie Rocca, Katherine Fairhurst, Stéphanie De Lima, and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs.

The next stop on the Canadian Friendship tour is the Spring Cup (March 15-16), hosted by Dave and Liz Brubaker of Burlington Gymnastics (formerly of Bluewater Gymnastics, who brought us the Bluewater Internationals) in partnership with Gymnastics Mississauga. Many of the national and international competitors are expected to travel from Gymnix to Spring Cup, including Russians Kryutchkova and Azarkevich and Ukrainians Irina Krasnyanskaya and Inna Teslenko. A different group of American competitors is expected however, consisting of Liz Tricase, Kassi Price, Sarah Curtis and 2001 world team member Ashley Miles.

Canadians expected to compete at Spring Cup include 2001 world championship team members Jennifer Simbhudas and Joelle Ouellette, as well as juniors Lisa Pattison, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, and Melanie Rocca. As a lead-up to the competition, Burlington will also host a day of clinics, with session leaders including world and Olympic champion Svetlana Boginskaya (choreography) and Canadian Olympian Joanne Malar (sports psychology).

Four of the Americans from Gymnix will compete the same weekend (March 15-16) at Calgary's Jurassic Classic, which is a dual Canada-USA match. Representing Canada at the Jurassic Classic are Danielle Hicks, Kylie Stone, Heather Purnell, and Lydia Williams with Melanie Banville serving as the alternate. Hollie Vise, Carly Patterson, Kristal Uzelac, and Melanie Sinclair will represent the USA.

Pottsville hosts the elite portion of their Friendship Classic March 23. Canadians have historically competed at the Friendship Classic, usually representing their home clubs. Further roster information will be provided as it becomes available. That same weekend (March 22-24), 2001 world team member Joelle Ouellette will compete Germany's Cottbus Cup for the second year in a row.

The third and final installment on the Canadian Friendship Tour is Wild Rose (March 30-31), making its return after a four year absence. Vanessa Meloche, Amelie Plante, Jennifer Simbhudas, and Kylie Stone are expected to compete. A different group of Ukrainian athletes are expected to take part at this meet, consisting of 2000 Olympian and 1999 and 2001 world team member Olga Roschupkina, 2001 world team member Natalia Sirenko, Oksana Dremlyuga, and newcomer Yevgena Oliynyk.

Gymnastics Mississauga may participate in the Stella Zakharova Cup (March 28-30) the same weekend on a club basis.

Stay tuned to Gymn.ca for more complete roster information and meet reports, interviews, and photographs.


Canada's Heather Ross-McManus and Karen Cockburn teamed up for a silver medal at the World Cup for Trampoline, held yesterday in Nikolayiv, Ukraine.

According to a report by Gymnastics Canada Gymnasique, Ross-McManus, of Ottawa, and Cockburn, a Toronto native, took second place in the women's synchronized trampoline competition, in only their first competition as a team. The competition was won by the defending world champions, Elena Movchova and Oksana Tsuguleva of the Ukraine, who outscored the Canadians 49.300 to 47.500. The team of Victoria Pollard and Aurora Necco from Great Britain took the bronze medal with a score of 45.150.

Cockburn also finished fourth in the individual trampoline competition with a 39.300 score, only one point away from Russian Irina Karavaeva's gold medal-winning 40.300 total. Ross-McManus finished 14th.

In the men's individual competition, Burlington's Chris Mitruk finished 22nd.

For Cockburn, the Olympic bronze medallist in women's trampoline, the event marked a return to competition after taking time off for school and to rehabilitate a knee injury. She will be looking to continue her impressive performances at World Cup events later this year, including a stop in Edmonton in August.

Men's Results:

Rank NameTeam Score
1 David Martin FRA 41.7
2 Dimitri Poliarouch BLR 41.2
3 Zhan Iordanov UKR 40.6
4 Alan Villafuerte NED 39.6
5 Peter Jensen DEN 39.2
6 Yuri Nikitin UKR 38.3
7 Vladimir Kakorko BLR 38.8
8 Ryan Weston USA  
22 Chris Mitruk CAN  

Women's results:

Rank NameTeam Score
1 Irina Karavaeva RUS 40.3
2 Olena Movchan UKR 39.9
3 Natalia Chernova RUS 39.8
4 Karen Cockburn CAN 39.3
5 Galina Lebedeva BLR 38.7
6 Wenjuan Wang CHN 37.5
7 Oksana Tsyguleva UKR 36.3
8 Tatiana Perenia BLR 28.2

Abby Pearson


Abby Pearson has long pushed the envelope of difficulty on the Canadian women's gymnastics scene. From becoming the first Canadian to perform a Rulfova on the balance beam at age 11, to being the first Canadian woman to master the Yurchenko 1 1/2 on vault in the 1997-2000 cycle, Pearson's willingness to strive towards new levels of difficulty has earned her plenty of respect. Coached by Dave and Liz Brubaker at Sarnia's Bluewater Gymnastics from the very beginning of her career, Abby followed the Brubakers to Burlington in 2000. Gymn.ca interviewed Abby during a visit to Burlington Gymnastics Club in October 2001.


Ontario gymnasts fared well against the top Americans at the Vegas Cup held Saturday night in Las Vegas. Competing in three different age categories, Ontario's gymnasts turned in some impressive results. Scoring 36.45, Gemini's Danielle Hicks easily won the all-around title in her age category. After sticking her vault cold, she secured the gold on that event with a 9.30 and won the beam title with a 9.40. On the uneven bars, Hicks caught her Jaeger for the first time in competition, scoring an 8.90, which earned her the bronze medal. Seneca's Lydia Williams, Mississauga's Melanie Tham and Burlington's Abby Pearson placed second, third and fifth all-around in their respective categories and Team Ontario placed second to GymCats, the host club in the team competition. Jordan Schwikert of the host team won the all-around title in Pearson's age category, beating older sister and world team member, Tasha Schwikert, who placed fourth. Youngsters, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs of Seneca and Emily Dumitri of Hamilton placed seventh and eighth in the 15 and under category.


Danielle Hicks

Gemini’s Danielle Hicks, Burlington’s Abby Pearson, Seneca’s Lydia Williams and Mississauga's Melanie Tham, flew to Las Vegas, Nevada on Monday morning to represent Team Ontario at the Vegas Cup, scheduled for Saturday, February 9. Emily Dumitru (Hamilton), Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (Seneca) and Lori Hamilton (Mississauga) are Team Ontario’s junior representatives. The teams will be staying in Las Vegas for one week and arriving home next Monday night. Gymcats, home club of U.S. national champion, Tasha Schwikert, is hosting the competition. Traveling with the team are coaches’ Carol-Angela Orchard and Lawson Coo, as well as judge, Catherine Maddigan.

Team Ontario’s gymnasts are scheduled to compete against 98 gymnasts in the Level 10/Open session. Other clubs include Aerials, Airborne, Alburquerque, American Elite, Black Hills, Go For It, Gymnastics Ontario, Gymnastics Olympica, Gym World Tucson, Gymcats, Northwest, Phoenix Gymnastics, Precision, South Coast, Sport Seneca, Tim Daggett, Twisters, USA Gymnastics World, and Xtreme.

Gymn.ca will post information on the meet as it becomes available.


Mackie, Lashina, and Cline
Photo by Heather Maynez

The 2002 WOGA Classic is one of the premier club Invitationals in the World. This year, competitors from the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Australia, Mexico, and Canada came to Allen, TX to compete against the home club's talent. Canada was represented in part by Omega Gymnastics' Katia Lashina, Amelia Cline, and Gael Mackie.

Gymn.ca presents an exclusive post-meet interview.

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