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Archive: November 2002

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Shewfelt at the
World Championships

Photo by Grace Chiu

Calgary's Kyle Shewfelt equaled Canada's best-ever finish for an artistic gymnast in a major FIG competition by taking the silver medal on floor at the World Cup final in Stuttgart, Germany, earlier today. Shewfelt, 20, redeemed himself after an uncharacteristic mistake forced him to miss the final at last week's World Championships in Hungary, scoring a 9.637 to finish just behind reigning world champion Marian Dragulescu of Romania.

For Shewfelt, the result matched his silver medal performance from the last World Cup final, held in Glasgow two years ago. He now holds two of Canada's best-ever artistic gymnastic results in a major competition (World Championship, World Cup, or Olympic Games). Previously, silver medals were won by Alexander Jeltkov on high bar at the 1999 World Championships, and by Curtis Hibbert on the same event at the 1987 World Championships.

Shewfelt also competed in the vault final in Stuttgart, where he placed fifth with a 9.506 average. The event was won by China's Lu Bin, who ran away with the title with a 9.749 average. Poland's Leszek Blanik, the reigning world silver medalist, finished second, while Dragulescu was third.

Competition continues tomorrow with the remainder of the men's events, including the high bar, where Jeltkov will be competing for his second World Cup medal. He won bronze on the high bar two years ago in Glasgow.


Kyle Shewfelt finished a solid fourth on the vault today on the final day of the World Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. Shewfelt showed some of the best form and execution in the competition on his two vaults (Yurchenko 2 1/2 - 9.9) SV, and Kasamatsu full - 9.7 SV) for a final average score of 9.512. All three men's vaulting medalists (China's Li Xiaoping, Poland's Leszek Blanik, and China's Yang Wei) showed two vaults with the maximum 10.0 start value, putting Shewfelt at a disadvantage going in. Nonethless, he was pleased with his performance, saying: "I couldn't have done either vaults any better. I felt my medal chances in vault coming in were slim because I didn't have high enough start values. I really needed others to make some mistakes. I was very happy to come in fourth in this event."


Kyle Shewfelt advanced to the final round of competition at the World Championships yesterday after executing two solid vaults. Performing a difficult Yurchenko with 2.5 twists and a double twisting Tsukahara, Shewfelt averaged 9.468, which earned him 6th place. On the floor exercise, traditionally Shewfelt's strongest event, he faltered on his first tumbling pass, scoring 9.187 and failed to qualify to today's final. David Kikuchi, who competed in the semi-finals on parallel bars, ran into some trouble following his giant to double pike sequence, scoring 8.837, thus ending his competition in Debrecen.

The men's vault finals are scheduled to take place Sunday, November 24 at 4:00 pm local time.


Today saw the women's semi-finals in Debrecen, Hungary. Amelie Plante and Ashley Peckett each qualified to one semi-final. On bars, Plante had troubles getting around her free hip 1½. She improvised, instead doing a giant full, giant full, giant half to Gienger. The judging on bars was tough, and Plante was given an 8.687 for 12th place. Ashley equalled her placement from qualifications on floor today, scoring 8.912 (9.6 SV) to place 13th. She took a step out on her tucked full-in. Neither women will advance; Only the top 8 on each apparatus advance to finals.


Kyle in Debrecen
Photo by Grace Chiu

Canada's Kyle Shewfelt forged ahead in today's second subdivision of qualifications at the World Championships, posting 9.687 on floor exercise to finish less than one tenth of a point behind Romania's Marian Dragulescu (9.712). According to IG, the routine included whip 1 1/2, layout front full, rudi and 2 1/2 punch layout front, punch front 1 3/4. He dismounted with a tucked double-double, with a small hop.

On his other specialty event, the vault, Shewfelt scored 9.327, but with stiff competition from his fellow competitors, he finds himself sitting in 10th place going into tomorrow's semi-finals. Shewfelt has room to improve on today's performances, however, having taken a large cross step on his Yurchenko 2½ and a hop on his Tsuk 1½. Earlier in the day Shewfelt competed on high bar. With the second round of qualifications done, his 8.400 puts him in 48th place on this event.

Halifax's David Kikuchi performed well on parallel bars, scoring 9.250 to match Ukrainian Andrei Mykaylichenko for 16th place. Both men were also assessed the same start value, resulting in a long delay in posting of overall scores/semi-final rosters. Luckily for Kikuchi, the FIG ruled Kikuchi as the athlete to advance to semi-final's. Mykaylichenko will have to make do with 17th place.

On pommel horse Kikuchi scored 9.287, a great score but short of top 16 (he finished in 25th, and only the top 16 move on to semi-finals). Alexander Jeltkov had troubles on this event earlier in the day, posting 8.587 (leaving him in 36th position after both rounds of competition). On high bar the specialist caught his second Kovacs with just one hand. He kept going, but was severely penalized by the judges (9.125 for 24th place). His competition is over.

An official protest is said to have been submitted on behalf of rings specialist Brett Covey, whose start value on rings was not assessed at 10.0. As a result of the missing .4 in SV, Covey scored an 8.900 to finish 37th. He might have finished 26th, otherwise. After both sessions of preliminaries, Kikuchi's 8.862 left him right behind Covey in 38th place.

Check out Grace Chiu's photos from today's competition!


This morning (afternoon in Hungary) saw the first of two rounds of qualifications for the men at the 2002 world championships. Calgary's Kyle Shewfelt had a rough time on his first event, placing 22nd on high bar (8.400). According to IG, he peeled off after an inside Stalder full pirouette. The highlights of the routine included a Def and layout double-double dismount.

Halifax' David Kikuchi posted Canada's highest score this morning, an 8.862 on rings. Sitting in 18th position, he will not advance to finals.

Canada's best placement came from Alexander Jeltkov, whose 8.587 on parallel bars puts him in 13th place after the first round of qualifications. Only the top 16 after both rounds move on to the semi-finals.

The next round of preliminaries begins around noon E.S.T., and features Canada's strongest performances. Shewfelt will challenge on vault and floor, Jeltkov and Covey compete on their specialties (high bar and rings, respectively), and Kikuchi competes pommel horse and parallel bars.


Peckett in Debrecen

Gymnastics Mississauga's Ashley Peckett and Club Gymnix's Amelie Plante both recorded top-notch performances on their way to qualifying to the semi-final round at the 36th World Championships for Artistic Gymnastics, which got underway today in Hungary.

Peckett, who was also an all-around finalist at last year's World Championships, hit all of her tumbling elements (full-in, two whips to a double pike, and two punch fronts to a 2 1/2 twist) to score an 8.950 and qualify 13th for the 16-athlete floor exercise semi-final. Peckett will also serve as the first alternate for the vault semi-final, where she scored an 8.981 average for her two vaults (Yurchenko with 1 1/2 twists, handspring piked front), finishing just one position away from a semi-final berth.

For Plante, it was the uneven bars that drew her best performance of the day, with the 18 year-old posting an 8.975 score for 14th place on the apparatus. Plante received only a 9.6 SV, after missing her giant 1 1/2. The great news for Plante is that she's got room to build at Friday's semi-finals.

On beam, Plante was trying to get her gainer triple twist dismount named after her. She attempted the skill, but stumbled. Khorkina is also capable of performing the move.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the men's competition, with qualifying beginning at 8:00 AM EST.


Two-time world championship team member Ashley Peckett has signed a letter of intent to compete for the University of California at Los Angeles, beginning in the fall of 2003. Peckett, who finished 32nd all-around at the 2001 World Championships, will compete for the Lady Bruins on a full scholarship, according to information released yesterday by UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos-Field. Peckett will join fellow Canadians Yvonne Tousek and Kate Richardson on the UCLA roster.


With the upcoming 2002 World Championships less than two weeks away, the weekend saw team member Amelie Plante prepare for Worlds by competing at France's Massilia Cup. The competition was stiff, with many countries likewise using the meet as a warm-up for Worlds: Romania sent its top four seniors (Raducan, Petrovschi, Cojocar, and Ban), the Ukraine fielded its team for Worlds (Kvasha, Yarosh, Yarodskaya, and Serobaba), and seasoned Grand Prix competitors Allan Slater (AUS), Verona van de Leur (NED), and Evgenia Kuznetsova (BUL) also challenging. Current junior European champion Anna Pavlova also competed. Plante struggled on bars, scoring 8.450, but managed to finish in the top 10 on the event.

Uneven Bars
1. Verona van de Leur NED 9.438
2. Irina Yarodskaya UKR 9.413
3. Allana Slater AUS 9.113
4. Oana Petrovschi ROM 9.113
5. Gaelle Richard FRA 9.113
6. Alyona Kvasha UKR 9.075
7. Katja Abel GER 9.013
8. Ludivine Furnon FRA 8.813
9. Laura van Leeuwen NED 8.563
10. Amélie Plante CAN 8.450
11. Nicole Harris USA/Parkettes 8.338
12. Natalia Uchevatkina RUS 8.338
13. Annelore Collaud SUI 8.150

In addition to the international competition, an open optional division was held. A team from Parkettes won this division, with a team from Gymnix (including Stephanie Gadbois and Stephanie de Lima) finishing 13th.

Canada's other female entrant for Worlds, Ashley Peckett, spent the weekend competing at Ontario's Tour Selection. She placed first in the all around.


Melanie Rocca

Sarnia's Melanie Rocca captured two more medals in event final competition at the 4th FL Gym Open in Luxembourg. Rocca took gold on her best event, the balance beam, winning the event with a score of 8.326. She also added a silver on the uneven bars, scoring a 7.925 to finish behind all-around winner Marinka van Appledoorn of the Netherlands. A fall on floor exercise kept Rocca out of contention for her fourth medal of the weekend (she won the silver in the all-around on Saturday).

Rocca was also invited to participate in the vault finals, despite qualifying as an alternate to the event. There she averaged an 8.088 score to finish eighth.

Full results of the event final competition are available here.


Canada earned three additional event medals today, the final day of competition at the Junior Pan Am Championships. Yesterday Kylie Stone and Gael Mackie earned medals on vault and bars, respectively. Today the two girls earned medals on beam and floor: Stone took bronze on beam, and tied with Mackie for silver on floor.

The men added to yesterday's bronze by Adam Wong with equivalent placements from Hugh Smith on vault and Nathan Gafuik on high bar. Vault was won by Brazil's Diego Hypólito, brother to 2001 World floor medallist and frequent Gymnix International competitor Danielle Hypolito.

Women's Beam
1. Melanie Sinclair (USA)
2. Nastia Liukin (USA) 9.475
3. Kylie Stone (CAN)

Women's Floor
1. Ana Paula Rodrigues (BRA) - 9.487
2. Gael Mackie (CAN) - 9.462
2. Kylie Stone (CAN) - 9.462

Men's Vault
1. Diego Hypólito (BRA) - 9.344
2. Tomás Gonzalez (CHI) - 9.212
3. Hugh Smith (CAN) - 8.975

Men's High Bar
1. Wesley Haageensen (USA) - 9.375 2.
3. Nathan Gafuik (CAN) - 9.187
8. Devin Stem (CAN) - 7.900


Following a successful performance in Slovenia, Melanie Rocca and coach Dave Brubaker travelled to Luxembourg to compete at the FL Luxembourg Open International. Competing at this 4th edition of the meet are gymnasts from six countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and host country Luxembourg.

Rocca placed second today, less than .1 to Marinka van Appeldoorn of the Netherlands. She advances to tomorrow's finals in first place on beam, and will also compete bars and floor. She is the first reserve for vault.

1. Marinka van Apeldoorn NED 8.588 8.6007.3387.713 32.238
2. Melanie Rocca CAN 8.4257.7508.363 7.688 32.225
3. Conny Detaille LUX 8.800 7.325 7.538 7.988 31.650
4. Nadia AltenaNED 8.713 7.850 7.350 7.72531.613

NB: Full scores are available here (PDF format).


Team Canada picked up three medals in today's event finals at the Junior Pan Am Championships. Kylie Stone scored 9.087 on vault, to take silver behind all-around champion Marcia Newby of the USA. The bronze went to Lais Souza of Brazil. Gael Mackie rounded out the medals on bars, with a 9.250 for bronze behind American's Melanie Sinclair and Nastia Liukin.

On the men's side, Adam Wong fought through a sore elbow (that caused him to withdraw from finals on pommel horse) to place third on rings. Wong also competed on floor, placing sixth (8.900).

Women's vault
1. Marcia Newby (USA) - 9.200
2. Kylie Stone (CAN) - 9.087
3. Lais Souza (BRA) - 9.081
5. Gael Mackie (CAN) - 8.956

Women's bars
1. Melanie Sinclair (USA) - 9.562
2. Nastia Liukin (USA) - 9.500
3. Gael Mackie (CAN) - 9.250
4. (BRA)
5. Lydia Williams (CAN) - 8.700

Men's rings
1. Frederico Molinari (ARG) - 9.450
2. Tyler Yamauchi (USA) - 9.080
3. Adam Wong (CAN) - 8.725
7. Hugh Smith (CAN) - 8.450


Team Canada at Junior Pan Ams
Photo courtesy Pattison family

Fresh off a dual meet against the USA, Team Canada placed second at today's Junior Pan American Championships. Kylie Stone finished the meet as Canada's top performer, in fourth place with a score of 36.630. The bronze medallist on floor at the recent 2002 Commonwealth Games, Stone topped the field on floor exercise with a 9.500. She will also advance to vault (qualifying in third position) and beam finals.

Canada's current junior National Champion, Gael Mackie, finished sixth overall (36.400). She qualified to all four apparatus - a sign of her growing AA prowess. Canada will have one addition entrant in the women's event finals: Lydia Williams, who placed seventh overall (35.650), is qualified to the uneven bars finals. Still nursing an injury, Lisa Pattison competed only two events.

1. USA - 112.30
2. Canada - 108.60
3. Brazil - 106.90
4. Argentina
5. Puerto Rico
6. Columbia
7. Mexico
8. El Salvador

Individual rankings:
1. Marcia Newby (USA) - 37.450
2. Nastia Liukin (USA) - 37.350
3. Tia Orlando (USA) - 37.180
4. Kylie Stone (CAN) - 36.630
5. Melanie Sinclair (USA) - 36.400
6. Gael Mackie (CAN) - 36.400
7. Lydia Williams (CAN) - 35.650
8. Ana Paula Rodrigues (BRA)

NB: Scores from this meet have been difficult to obtain, with different sources reporting different scores and placements. Gymnastics Canada reports Orlando in second and Liukin in third, whereas USAG now reports Liukin in second and Orlando in third, with Sinclar fifth with 36.400. Canada's Gael Mackie also apparently scored 36.400, but is reported as finishing sixth not tied for fifth.


Nathan Gafuik

Fresh off last weekend's Elite Canada meet, four of Canada's top junior men took to the floor in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for the Junior Pan American Championships. Paced by a six-for-six effort from Burlington's David Stern, the Canadians finished third in the team competition, behind the winners from the United States and an improving team from Brazil.

Individually, Stern impressed with a sixth place effort and Calgary's Nathan Gafuik finished in ninth. Elite Canada champion Adam Wong struggled with an elbow injury and finished 16th, while Halifax's Hugh Smith was 21st. The competition was won by Taqiy Abdullah of the United States.

Competition continues today with the women's team competition. Event finals are scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday.


As part of their preparations for the upcoming Junior Pan American Championships, four of Canada's best junior-aged women travelled to the U.S.A. for a training camp and dual meet. The events were hosted by Bela and Marta Karolyi at their famous ranch, located just outside of Houston. Participants at the camp included junior national champion Gael Mackie, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Kylie Stone, Pacific Alliance team member Lydia Williams, and 2000 Elite Canada junior champion Lisa Pattison.

The training camp began October 30th, and concluded today with a dual meet against the U.S.A. Canada came in second to the Americans, who were represented by 2001 and 2002 junior US floor champion Tia Orlando, 2002 Pacific Alliance competitor Melanie Sinclair, Nastia Liukin (daughter of 1987 European Champion Valerie Liukin), and newcomer Marcia Newby. The latter two were only recently named to the team, with newcomer Allyse Ishino and 2002 Pacific Alliance competitor Chellsie Memmel expected to complete the team. Memmel, who placed second AA at the 2002 US Junior Championships, is said to have suffered an injury while competing at the recent 2002 Brazil-Ukraine-USA meet. The new US junior vault champion, Kristina Comforte, was originally called in as a replacement, but injured her knee in training. It seems that Comforte competed hors de concours at the friendly match, performing only on bars but impressing with a layout Jaeger.

The Americans dominated the All Around, taking all top four spots. Gael Mackie finished first among the Canadians, followed by Stone, Williams, and Pattison. Nursing a sore elbow, Pattison competed only beam and floor. Click here for full results.

1. Tia Orlando
2. Nastia Liukin
3. Melanie Sinclair
4. Marcia Newby
5. Gael Mackie
6. Kylie Stone
7. Lydia Williams
8. Lisa Pattison

"We leave for Santo Dominigo tomorrow and are very excited!!!" the girls told Gymn.ca. Santo Domingo, located in the Dominican Republic, is playing host to next year's 2003 Pan Am Games. These Junior Pan Am Championships are a test event for next year's 2003 Pan American Games


Canada will send four men to the upcoming individual world championships in Derbecen, Hungary. Canada will be represented by Alexander Jeltkov, Kyle Shewfelt, David Kikuchi (each of whom will compete on two events) and rings speciallist Brett Covey. The team will train together in Montreal for one week prior to leaving for Hungary.


Alexander Jeltkov

In a remarkable come from behind victory, Montreal's Alexander Jeltkov nailed his favourite and final event of the evening, high bar, to narrowly defeat Halifax's David Kikuchi by the slimmest of margins, 106.850 to 106.737, and win the all-around title at Elite Canada. Jeltkov, 24, a native of Tbilissi, located in the Soviet Republic of Georgia, is the 2000 Canadian national champion and is one of Canada's best shots for a medal at the upcoming individual World Championships in Debrecan, Hungary. Calgary's Grant Golding won the bronze medal with a score of 105.083, just holding off Rhett Stinson of Saskatoon, who tallied 104.733.

Other top individual performances of the evening came from 20 year-old Calgarian Kyle Shewfelt on vault and floor exercise, British Columbia's Ken Ikeda on pommel horse and Brett Covey on his specialty, the rings. Covey, 21, a citizen of both Canada and the United States, hails from Houston, Texas, and is currently a senior at Oklahoma University, where he competes for the Sooners in the NCAA. As a specialist on both rings and high bar, Covey won the national title on rings for Canada this year, and in 2001 was named an All-American after finishing the NCAA season in second place on rings.


Placing 15th AA with a score of 31.68, Bluewater Gymnastics' Melanie Rocca edged out Jennifer Simbhudas of Winstonettes to take top rank among the Canadians at today's Siska International qualifications. "Our main objective in coming to this competition was to get experience and upgrade the content of Melanie's routines," Rocca's coach, Dave Brubaker said. "I am pleased with her performance for now and even more pleased with the way she is improving in the gym on a daily basis. Melanie has a lot of work ahead of her if she wants to become a senior team member."

Gymnastics Mississauga teammates Melanie Tham and Terri Gibson placed 17th and 18th, respectively. The competition was won by former junior European champion, Sabina Cojocar of Romania.

Strict judging ruled the day in Slovenia, with only Cojocar exceeding a 9.0 average over four events, and just four scores over 9.0 awarded on bars, beam, and floor combined. The meet was key for Jennifer Simbhudas, who aimed to meet "certain standards" at this competition in her attempt to secure a berth to Canada's 2002 World Championships team. If successful, Simbhudas will join Ashley Peckett and Amelie Plante in Debrecen, Hungary. 2002 Commonwealth Games champion Kate Richardson has announced her decision to forego these World Championships, to instead concentrate on her academics at UCLA.

Panthers Gymnastics' Jholeen Ponce, who earlier this month competed at the 2002 World team trials, injured her knee on vault in training on Wednesday. She and her coach flew home yesterday.

Following tomorrow's Siska International finals (no Canadians made finals, but Simbhudas qualified as first alternate for vault), Melanie Rocca and coach David Brubaker will travel to Luxembourg to compete at next weekend's FL Gym Open tournament.

15.Melanie Rocca8.337.707.907.7531.68
16.Jennifer Simbhudas8.887.457.787.4531.56
17.Melanie Tham7.988.307.108.1031.48
18.Teri Gibson8.


David Kikuchi of Halifax leads all competitors after day 1 of Elite Canada in Montreal. Kikuchi attained his highest mark on rings with a 9.24, en route to an overall score of 53.237. Almost a full point back, in second place, is Montreal's Alexander Jeltkov with a 52.437. Jeltkov hit his high bar set for his highest score of the day, 9.267. Rhett Stinson and Grant Golding are currently tied for third place, with a score of 52.283.

Canadian star Kyle Shewfelt vaulted to the top mark of the entire meet with a 9.80, executing a tremendous Yurchenko with 2.5 twists. Shewfelt opted to compete only two events today, and scored a 9.450 for his floor exercise routine. In tomorrow night's competition, Shewfelt will compete on high bar, in addition to floor exercise and vault.

Check back with Gymn.ca tomorrow evening for the final results. A full report and photos of the meet will be provided by Gymn.ca's Jennifer Sygo following her return from Montreal.


Kyle Shewfelt
photo courtesy Grace Chiu

Canada's best male gymnasts will converge on Montreal this weekend to display their talents in the hopes of earning a position on the upcoming World Championship team. Led by recent Grand Prix gold medallists Kyle Shewfelt and Alexander Jeltkov, Canada has one of the strongest men's programs in years, and has a realistic opportunity to earn one or more medals at the World Championships, which begin November 20 in Debrecen, Hungary.

"These [World] Championships are important for our program as partial preparation for the 2003 World Championships, but also as a way to demonstrate that Canadian men's gymnasts can be among the strongest in the world," men's program director, Karl Balisch, told Gymn.ca earlier this week.

In Montreal, athletes from across the nation will compete for national rankings, international assignments, and, of course, the prestigious world team assignments. At the conclusion of the competition, which runs tonight and tomorrow night from 6:30 to 9:00 pm at the Centre Pierr-Charbonneau, it is expected that four men will be named to the world team, despite competition rules permitting up to six athletes on each country's competitive roster. "We will send athletes who demonstrate a strong possibility of entering finals and possibly bringing back a medal for Canada. Only athletes who can meet these criteria will be sent," Balisch continued, "If we have more than four, we will allow additional members to go on a self funded basis as you have indicated. We do not anticipate this to be the case."

In addition to Shewfelt and Jeltkov, other top team contenders expected to compete in Montreal include Grant Golding and David Kikuchi. National champion Richard Ikeda will miss the competition as he recovers from injury.

Gymn.ca's Jennifer Sygo will be on hand in Montreal this weekend to provide coverage of the competition. Check back with Gymn.ca throughout the weekend for all the latest news and results.

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