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Archive: March 2003

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MARCH 31 - WILLIAMS FIFTH CANADIAN NAMED TO ACHTLANDENTOERNOOI ROSTER

The final gymnast added to Canada's roster for the Achtlandentoernooi ("Eight-Country Meet") - the Netherlands' 2004 Euros test event - is Sports Seneca's Lydia Williams. The nomination comes after recent successful showings for Williams. This past weekend she won the 2003 Gymnix International, and the weekend preceeding placed third with her teammates at the Pacific Challenge. At that tri-meet her 9.025 was Canada's top mark on the balance beam.

The Achtlandentoernooi takes place in Groningen, in the northern part of The Netherlands. Williams rounds out a team that includes Ottawa Gymnastics' Melanie Banville and Heather Purnell, Omega's Gael Mackie, and Stampede City's Kylie Stone. The combined team and all-around takes place May 3rd, with event finals the following day. Local Dutch TV is expected to televise live coverage of the event finals.


MARCH 30 - O'NEIL FIFTH ON VAULT IN WORLD CUP DEBUT

O'Neil vaults at
2002 Elite Canada

Competing in his first World Cup gymnastics event, 18 year-old Brandon O'Neil took fifth place on vault against an esteemed field of international competitors at the "NoyNoy" Family World Cup Qualifier, held this weekend in Thessaloniki, Greece. O'Neil, who represents the Capital City Gymnastics Club, earned a 9.275 average over his two vaults to take fifth, just 0.025 from third place. The winner was Latvia's Yevgeny Sapronenko, the 2001 World Championship runner-up on vault, who scored 9.412 to move ahead of Denmark's Kaspar Farden (9.337) for the gold. 1996 Olympic vault champion and home country favourite, Ioannis Melissanidis, earned the bronze medal with a 9.325 average.

O'Neil displayed remarkable consistency over the two days of competition. In the finals, he earned a 9.300 and 9.250 for his two vaults, while his preliminary score was a steady 9.200. O'Neil has a history of success on the vault, including gold medals as a junior at the 2001 Canadian championships and at last year's Pacific Alliance Championships.


MARCH 30 - WILLIAMS CAPTURES GYMNIX TITLE

Lydia Williams, 1st AA

Sports Seneca's Lydia Williams earned the first international victory of her career on Saturday, winning the Gymnix International in Montreal. Williams, 15, overcame a fall on the balance beam to win the competition over fellow Canadian Breanne King, 35.900 to 35.375. Russia's Ekaterina Privalova placed third, with 34.450. Last weekend, Privalova also finished third at the Bluewater International in Sarnia, Ontario, while Williams finished 21st at the Pacific Challenge in California.

The victory by Williams capped a stellar effort by Seneca athletes on the first day of competition. Ellen McCarthy took third all-around in the senior division with a 33.475 score, solidifying her growing reputation as one of Canada's most improved senior athletes. Also notable was the return to competition of triple Commonwealth Games medallist Vanessa Meloche, who competed uneven bars (fall on a toe-on Shaposhnikova, no dismount) for the first time since surgery to remove a pin in her ankle last November.

In the junior competition, Ukrainian Olga Scherbatikh repeated her gold medal effort of a week ago, scoring 33.925 to add the Gymnix title to last weekend's Bluewater victory. Seneca athletes also played a key role in the junior competition, with Aimie Balderian just missing out on the gold medal by 0.025, scoring 33.900 to take the silver. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs overcame a poor performance at the Bluewater meet a week ago to score 33.375 for third.

Competition concludes today with the event finals for both senior and junior athletes.


MARCH 28 - O'NEIL QUALIFIES FOR VAULT FINAL IN GREECE

Edmonton's Brandon O'Neil qualified for the vault final at the "NoyNoy" Family World Cup Qualifier, held earlier today in Thessaloniki, Greece. O'Neil, 18, finished seventh on vault with a 9.200 score to advance to the eight-athlete final, which will be held on Sunday. The top finisher in the preliminary round was Dmitry Kasperovich of Belarus, with a 9.425. Hungary's Robert Gal finished second with 9.325.

O'Neil, who won two gold medals at last year's Pacific Alliance Championships, also competed in the floor exercise, but failed to make the final. Mississauga's Casey Sandy also missed the cut on floor exercise and pommel horse.

The World Cup event is serving as an opportunity for O'Neil and Sandy to gain experience prior to the upcoming World Championships, which will be held in Anaheim, California, in August. Both athletes are being considered as possible specialists for the Canadian men's team, which will be looking to qualify a full team to the Olympic Games for the first time since 1988.


MARCH 24 - ROSTER REVISED FOR 2004 EUROS TEST EVENT

GCG has announced a revised roster for the Achtlandentoernooi ("Eight-Country Meet"), the Netherlands' 2004 Euros test event. Assigned to the competition are Ottawa Gymnastics' Melanie Banville and Heather Purnell, Omega's Gael Mackie, and Stampede City's Kylie Stone. A fifth gymnast will be named before the end of the month.

MARCH 23 - CANADIANS THIRD, DEFEAT AUSTRALIA AT PACIFIC CHALLENGE

Team Canada takes bronze

Canada's women's gymnastics team squared off against some of the best gymnasts in the world on Saturday, finishing third at the Pacific Alliance, held in Fullerton, California. Paced by a four-for-four effort by Stampede City's Kylie Stone, the Canadian team survived a poor performance on the balance beam to defeat Australia for the first time in recent memory, 142.375 to 142.200. The winner of the competition was the USA-Red team, who took the title over USA-Blue, 151.700 to 147.500.

Individually, USA-Red's Carly Patterson was initially named the official all-around winner, though teammate Chellsie Memmel actually posted the best total of the day. Competition rules stated that, while all six athletes competed on each apparatus, one athlete was named a reserve, and their score was not counted to the official team total. Memmel competed officially on uneven bars and balance beam only.

While American athletes took the top 11 spots in the all-around, Stone was the top non-American finisher in 12th. Highlights of Stone's 35.775 total included a 9.325 on vault and a 9.050 on floor exercise.

Ottawa's Heather Purnell was the second-best Canadian, finishing 16th all-around with 35.475. Purnell took the sixth-highest vault score of the entire competition with a 9.400, but fell on her acrobatic series on the balance beam. Close behind Purnell was Ottawa teammate Melanie Banville, who scored 35.400 for 17th. Like Purnell, Banville scored over 9 on vault and floor exercise (9.200, 1st for Canada), but suffered a break on beam.

Finishing 21st all-around was Seneca's Lydia Williams. Williams' 9.025 was Canada's top balance beam score of the day, and she was one of only two Canadian athletes to complete her routine without a major error (Stone was the other). On the uneven bars, Williams successfully competed a rare Zuchold transition (piked shoot from high bar to land in handstand on the low bar) for the first time in competition, but was forced to take an extra swing before her dismount.

Omega's Gael Mackie, the reigning Canadian junior champion, had an off-day in her first competition back after breaking her foot in January, finishing 22nd. Mackie struggled most on her best event, the balance beam, suffering three major mistakes. A crowd favourite, she received as much applause as the American contingent, despite the falls. Her mount and signature poses created audible gasps in the crowd, and loud groans of disappointment were heard when she fell off. Montreal's Amelie Plante rounded out the Canadian team, finishing 24th. Plante caught her Def to take Canada's best score on the uneven bars (9.025), but suffered numerous errors on balance beam and floor exercise.

Full results of the Pacific Challenge competition are available here. Gymn.ca's exclusive photos of the event are available here.


MARCH 22 - CARNEVALE CLAIMS BLUEWATER, SIMBHUDAS SECOND

Carnevale delights at
2003 Bluewater

Argentina's Celeste Carnevale (pictured, left) was the best gymnast on the first day of the Bluewater International, winning the all-around competition over Canada's Jennifer Simbhudas. Carnevale, who had previously competed in Canada at the Bluewater International, Burlington Spring Cup, and Gymnix International, claimed the title with a 35.203 total. Simbhudas, 18, took the top scores of the day on balance beam (9.267) and floor exercise (8.933), but a 7.500 on uneven bars (fall on double front) held her all-around total to 34.640 for her four events.

Russian veteran Ekaterina Privalova, a member of her nation's 2001 World Championship silver medal winning team, finished third with a 34.242 total. Privalova, who was nursing an ankle injury, watered down her tumbling and her uneven bars dismount. Teammate Lydia Sidorova was unable to travel to Canada due to visa problems.

In the junior all-around, Ukraine's Olga Scherbatikh was the best athlete of the day, taking the top score on uneven bars (8.700) to win the all-around, 34.374 to 34.046 over Canada's Aimie Balderian. Balderian, who trains at Toronto's Sports Seneca club, took the top scores of the day on beam (8.950) and floor exercise (9.066) to secure the silver medal. Great Britain's Melanie Roberts had a solid effort on all four events to finish third in the junior competition with a score of 33.983.

Results of the Bluewater International are now available here. Look for more results, photos, and competition reports in the coming days.


MARCH 21 - CANADIANS IMPRESS IN HOLLAND

Last weekend, some of Canada's best trampoline athletes took the floor in the 2003 Flower Cup, hosted by the town of Aalsmeer in the Netherlands. Canadian athletes performed extremely well against a top field of competitors from 17 nations.

The highlight of the Canadian performance was a gold-silver finish by Olympic bronze medallist Karen Cockburn and teammate Heather Ross-McManus in the women's competition. Bryan Milonja was the top Canadian finisher in the men's event, placing ninth after a fall in finals. More....


MARCH 20 - ROSTER ANNOUNCED FOR 2004 EUROS TEST EVENT

As previously reported, this May the Dutch federation is hosting a test event for the 2004 Women's Artistic European Championships. Confirmed to compete at the event are China, Romania, France, Great Britain, Australia, the Ukraine, Canada, and host nation the Netherlands. Top names scheduled for the meet include Verona van de Leur (NEd), Renske Endel (NED), Allana Slater (AUS), Jacquie Dunn (AUS), Sun Xiaojiao (CHN), Beth Tweddle (GBR), Tatiana Yarosh (UKR), Alina Kozich (UKR), and a strong group of Romanians, including Ioana Petrovschi, Oana Ban, and Florica Leonida. The Dutch list the Canadian team as including Melanie Banvile, Danielle Hicks, Gael Mackie, Amelie Plante, and Ashley Peckett. Three months after this meet, gymnasts from these and other countries will converge in Anaheim at the 2003 World Championships to vie for spots to the 2004 Olympics. The Dutch federation hopes to run this new, 8-team event every other year.


MARCH 18 - SARNIA PREPARES FOR BLUEWATER INTERNATIONAL

International gymnastics will make its return to Sarnia, Ontario this weekend, with the seventh installment of the Bluewater International Invitational. The competition, which is hosted by the Bluewater Gymnastics Club, is scheduled to take place from Friday, March 21 to Sunday, March 23 at St. Christopher's High School in Sarnia.

Athletes from seven nations, including Russia, Ukraine, Mexico, Argentina, Great Britain, Austria, and Canada are expected to attend the event. Among the top Canadian entries for the event are national champion Danielle Hicks, Champions Gymnastics' Amanda Gering, Sports Seneca's Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, and Bluewater's own Melanie Rocca.

Highlights from the international field include Russia's Yekaterina Privalova and Lydia Sidorova. Privalova was a member of Russia's 2001 World Championship team, but had to withdraw from the competition due to injury, while Sidirova finished 11th overall at the recent Russian national championships. Ukraine will be represented by Valeria Maksiuta and Olga Scherbatikh, who finished 5th and 10th all-around, respectively, at the 2002 Ukrainian Cup. Argentina will field a large delegation, including their best athlete, Celeste Carnevale, as well as several members of their 2002 South American Games team. Great Britain will will represented by the same team of athletes that competed at last weekend's Jurassic Classic, including all-around silver medallist Melanie Roberts, as well as Amy Bagshaw, and Rhian Pugh. Austrian youth champion Barbara Gasser, who is currently training at the Bluewater club, will also be on hand.

International competition begins on Saturday with the junior and senior all-around finals scheduled from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. Event finals will commence at 2:00 pm on Sunday, while provincial and national novice competition will be held throughout the weekend.

Further details, including a full event schedule, are available at the Bluewater International website.

Watch for full Bluewater results and competition reports from Gymn.ca throughout the weekend!


MARCH 17 - PURNELL, GATSON TOPS IN JURASSIC EVENT FINALS

Canada's Heather Purnell and the United States' Jason Gatson were the top performers on the final day of competition at the Jurassic Classic, held this weekend in Calgary. Purnell, of the Ottawa Gymnastics Club, won gold on vault and floor, while teammate Melanie Banville, who won the all-around in the Canada/Great Britain dual meet on Friday, won the uneven bars. Sports Seneca's Katherine Fairhurst won the balance beam. Gold medals were also awarded to Banville (vault) and Mississauga's Melanie Tham (floor exercise) in the Canada/Great Britain event finals.

In earlier National Open competition, Purnell took the gold medal in the all-around, despite a mistake on the balance beam. Runner-up to Purnell was Japan's Maika Mizutori, one of a number representatives from Japan's Sport Science University. Stampede City's Kylie Stone finished third all-around.

In the men's competition, Gatson added titles on floor exercise, rings, parallel bars, and high bar to his team and all-around golds from Friday. Canada's lone gold medal was won by Sandy Casey of Gymnastics Mississauga on the pommel horse. Hometown favourite Grant Golding (pictured, left) added silver medals on floor, rings, and parallel bars, and a bronze on pommel horse to his team and all-around silver medals, bringing his medal haul for the meet to six.

Canadian men also took medals on vault (Brandon O'Neil, silver), parallel bars (Richard Ikeda, bronze), and high bar (Rhett Stinson, silver). In men's National Open competition, University of Calgary's Nathan Gafuik took the gold medal by just one tenth of a point over Capital City's Jared Walls. Red Deer's Patrick McElroy finished third.

Complete results are available at the Jurassic Classic website.


MARCH 16 - ORLANDO AND CAREW WIN RHYTHMIC ELITE CANADA

Alexandra Orlando (right), who recently returned from a fine performance at the Russian Grand Prix, is the new senior Elite Canada champion. Orlando took the top score on each apparatus to secure the title with a 90.550 total. Orlando's score was more than 15 points higher than runners-up Olesia Zakon of British Columbia (75.100) and Judy Berecz of Alberta (72.400).

Winner in the junior category was newly crowned Canada Winter Games champion, Stefanie Carew. Carew's 79.050 total earned her the gold medal over Ontario teammate Nathalie Ngo, who totaled 71.900 over her rope, ball, clubs, and ribbon routines. British Columbia's Jessica Krushen took third place with a 70.550 score.


MARCH 15 - CANADIANS PREPARING TO COMPETE IN THE UKRAINE

The second annual Stella Zacharova Cup gets under way in Kiev, April 4-6, 2003. Amanda Gering (Champions), Melanie Rocca (Bluewater), and Kiera Amyot (Gemini) are slated to represent their clubs at the meet. Joining the gymnasts will be personal coaches Michel Arsenault, Dave Brubaker, and Elena Davydova.

"This international event is going to be a valuable opportunity for Amanda to compete again on podium and to test out some of her new elements on all events," coach Michel Arsenault told Gymn.ca. "Her Start Values have significantly increased since Elite Canada (where she competed despite a nagging injury). She is now 100% healthy. Stella Zacharova Cup will be her third straight meet after Gymnix and Bluewater, so each of the three meets will serve a different purpose from the other. She is looking forward to the experience, in preparation for the Nationals and the upcoming Trials to Pan American Games and World Championships."


MARCH 15 - WOMEN VICTORIOUS WHILE MEN TAKE A CLOSE SECOND AT THE JURASSIC CLASSIC

Led by first year senior national team member Melanie Banville of the Ottawa Gymnastics Club, the Canadian women outscored their British rivals by six full points (105.10 to 99.10) to win the Jurassic Classic competition in Calgary. Banville also took first spot in the all-around with an impressive 35.525. Teammate Laura-Ann Chong of Omega - not on the original start list for this meet - took the second highest all-around score (34.775) while earning the highest score on the balance beam (9.025). Banville took the highest individual score on the other three events.

Finishing third all-around was the top British gymnast, Melanie Roberts with 34.00 points. Seneca's Katherine Fairhurst took 4th place for Canada, scoring 33.45, followed by Mississauga's Melanie Tham in a close 5th, with 33.425.

The British women's team only used three gymnasts, meaning they were unable to drop their lowest score on each apparatus. Rounding out the British team effort was Amy Bagshaw (32.60) and Rhian Pugh (32.50). Competing exhibition for team Canada was local girl Jody McKellar of Stampede City, who scored 33.05. National coach Andrei Rodionenko was particularly pleased with Banville's performance, saying "Her position on the team right now is very visible. This kind of international experience is important for her." Full women's scores can be found here.

In the men's competition, a very experienced American team outscored Canada 163.925 to 163.025. Australia finished third with 154.10. Finishing first in the all-around was USA's Jason Gatson, scoring 55.525. Calgary's Grant Golding was impressive for second with 54.70, followed by Olympian Steve McCain of the USA in third (54.15). Last year's all-around winner David Kicuchi of Nova Scotia finished fourth with a 53.55 score. Finishing fifth and 6th respectively in the all-around were Americans Justin Toman (53.075) and David Durante (52.225). Saskatchewan's Rhett Stinson (9.45 on parallel bars) and Alberta's Brandon O'Neil (9.55 on floor - highest score of the day on that event) rounded out the Canadian men's team effort. Stinson and O'Neil did not compete on all-events. Men's programme director Karl Balisch was pleased with the Canadian men's performance, saying it "was a positive step in our preparation for the world championships in August."

Joel Moss led the Australian's effort, finishing 7th in the all-around with a score of 51.50. The other Australians finished 8th through 10th in the all-around standings.

Full men's team results can be found here


MARCH 14 - RHYTHMIC GYMNASTS CONVERGE IN EDMONTON

The 2003 Elite Canada and Group National championships for rhythmic gymnastics began today in Edmonton, Alberta. This is the first time the competitions will be combined, and will serve to choose the National Senior and Junior team, and the National Champions in each group category.

Favourite in the Senior category is Ontarian Alexandra Orlando, teammate of former Canadian champion Mary Sanders, who is now competing for the United States. Orlando recently returned from a fine performance at the Russian Grand Prix, and is looking to lead Canada in her quest for an Olympic birth. Although many of the top senior gymnasts from the past few years have either retired or are currently competing for Canada’s National Senior group, the depth and experience of the other competitors should make it an exciting competition. Other gymnasts to look out for are Iana Tzikaridze (QB), Judit Berecz (AB), and new senior Olesia Zakon (BC).

In the Junior category, Canada Winter Games champion Stefanie Carew from Ontario will be a top contender. However, experienced competitors like Jessica Krushen (BC), and newcomers Juliana Semenova (BC) and Katia Zaitseva (ON) could factor in.

The highlight in the group competition will be the tight race for the Junior championship. Ontario (2002 champions), BC, and Manitoba have recently returned from the Canada Winter Games; All have strong teams and continue to raise the standards in this event. Unfortunately, the Canadian Senior team (represented by Emilie Livingston, Irina Funtikova, Roxana Cervantes, Pamela Jewell, Sarah Stock) is out of the country at a training camp in Spain with the Spanish and Russian groups, but their double bronze medal performance at the Kalamata Invitational demonstrates their improvement and ability to compete against top international teams.

For more information visit www.rgc.ca.


MARCH 14 - STIRTON JOINS GYMN.CA

Gymn.ca is pleased to welcome Erika-Leigh Stirton as rhythmic contributor. Stirton is best known for her performances at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, where she won gold in the all-around and all four individual event finals. Stirton is currently in her last semester at the University of Guelph, after which she hopes to attend a professional dance program.

Stay tuned for Stirton's contributions to Gymn.ca, including a profile on Alexandra Orlando.


MARCH 14 - CANADIANS INVITED TO 2004 EUROS TEST EVENT

This May, the Dutch federation is hosting a test event for the 2004 Women's Artistic European Championships, which are due to be held in Amsterdam. The Dutch gymnastics magazine confirms the attendance of China, Romania, France, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and host nation the Netherlands. The eigth team is expected to be the Ukraine. Three months later, gymnasts from these and other countries will converge in Anaheim at the 2003 World Championships to vie for spots to the 2004 Olympics. The Dutch federation hopes to run this new, 8-team event every other year.


MARCH 10 - ROSTERS SET FOR JURASSIC CLASSIC

The Canadian men's roster for the Jurassic Classic was finalized earlier this week, following a training camp held in Calgary. Representing Canada in this international tri-meet against the United States and Australia will be 2001 world team member David Kikuchi of Nova Scotia, 1999 and 2001 world team member Grant Golding (originally from B.C. but now training in Alberta), 1997 world team member Rhett Stinson of Saskatchewan, and 2002 Pacific Alliance team member and former junior standout Brandon O'Neil of Alberta. The United States and Australia have also confirmed their teams. Representing the U.S. will be Olympian Steve McCain, Jason Gatson, Justin Toman, and David Durante. Commonwealth rival Australia will be represented by Dane Smith, Joshua Jefferis, Sam Simpson, and Joel Moss.

The women's team, which will compete against Great Britain, has also been finalized. Ottawa's Melanie Banville will be joined by Mississauga's Melanie Tham, Seneca's Katherine Fairhurst, and local favourite Jody McKellar of Stampede City. Britain's representatives include Amy Bagshaw, Melanie Roberts, and Rhian Pugh.

In addition to the international dual and tri-meets, many other athletes will be participating at this event in other categories, including several Canadian national team members. For a complete listing of competitors, check out the official Jurassic Classic website. Competition takes place from March 13 - 16.



MARCH 9 - GYMNASTS APLENTY IN CANADA GAMES CLOSING CEREMONIES

The 2003 Canada Winter Games closing ceremonies took place yesterday, where an abundance of gymnasts took center stage. Cara Pomeroy was flagbearer for Ontario, Jenna Kerbis the same for Manitoba, and superstars Adam Wong and Nathan Gafuik carried the big banner for Alberta. Matthew Lemon accepted the sportsmanship award for PEI, and women's AA winner Fanny Girard carried the Canada Games flag!



MARCH 7 - FOUR GOLDS FOR WONG AND TWO FOR BALDERIAN IN CANADA GAMES EVENT FINALS

Alberta's Adam Wong dominated the event finals at the Canada Winter Games in Bathurst, NB today, taking four gold medals. Wong took first place in the floor exercise, rings, parallel bars, and high bar - scoring 9.7 or above three times, bringing his impressive medal haul up to six. Teammate and all-around gold medallist Nathan Gafuik took first place in the vault while Quebec's Daniel Légaré won gold on the pommel horse.

On the women's side, Ontario's Aimie Balderian continued her streak on the balance beam, taking the gold medal there after having earned the highest score there in the team and all-around competitions. She also won the floor exercise title. Saskatchewan's Meaghan Koshman took gold in the vault, an event where she made event finals at last year's Elite Canada. All-around champion Fanny Girard of Quebec took another title on the uneven bars.

Complete results can be found at the official Canada Winter Games 2003 website. Click here for photos of the competition, courtesy of Grace Chiu.



MARCH 6 - GAFUIK AND GIRARD CLAIM ALL AROUND TITLES IN BATHURST

Both the men's and women's all-around titles were contested today, at the 2003 Canada Winter Games. Alberta's Nathan Gafuik edged out teammate Adam Wong, with Matt Beiler taking the bronze. The battle for gold between Gafuik and Wong came down to the last event, Gafuik overtaking with an excellent high bar routine.

On the women's side, Quebec's Fanny Girard surpassed yesterday's leader, Manitoba's Jenna Kerbis for the gold. Kristen Coleman, of Ontario, finished third. One of the highlights of the meet came from B.C.'s Laura-Ann Chong, on the uneven bars. Chong entered today's competition in third place after the team event, but today stumbled on beam.

Complete results can be found at the official Canada Winter Games 2003 website. Click here for photos of the competition, courtesy of Grace Chiu.



MARCH 6 - JORGENSEN UNDERGOES SUCCESSFUL SURGERY

Danish trampolinist Mads Serejoe Jorgensen, who was paralyzed during a training session in Toronto last month, underwent successful surgery on his cervical vertebrae yesterday, and is recovering in hospital. According to a release by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), Jorgensen is now in stable enough condition to be transferred back home to Denmark.

The nature of the accident and surgery has meant that Jorgensen's long-term prognosis is unknown. "It is unfortunately too early to make any speculation regarding the little hope that he will ever be able to regain movement in his upper body," the release stated. FIG President Bruno Grandi has apparently been deeply affected by the accident, and is taking steps to provide Jorgensen with support from the FIG Solidarity Fund.


MARCH 6 - PACIFIC CHALLENGE TEAMS SET

Canada will join Australia and the host United States in a four-team meet, now being dubbed the Pacific Challenge, scheduled to take place in California later this month. The meet will be a team-based competition, with six athletes and competing reserves taking the floor in an enticing pre-World Championship match-up.

Named to the Canadian team yesterday were junior national champion Gael Mackie, recent Visa American Cup participant Heather Purnell, Commonwealth Games team bronze medallist Kylie Stone (pictured left), two-time World Championship team member Amelie Plante, Junior Pacific Alliance Championship team member Lydia Williams, and Ottawa's Melanie Banville, the fifth-place finisher at the 2002 Elite Canada. No alternate for the event has been named.

The host Americans will be competing two teams of the highest calibre, including world champions Courtney Kupets and Ashley Postell, as well as recent Visa American Cup champion Carly Patterson. Australia will also field a top-level team, minus star performer Allana Slater. Leading the way for the Aussies is Commonwealth Games team gold medallist Jacqui Dunn and two-time Olympian Lisa Skinner.

The team-only competition is scheduled to take place March 22nd at the Cal-State Fullerton gymnasium.


MARCH 5 - TEAM ONTARIO TRIUMPHS IN BATHURST

The women's team from Ontario (pictured at right) clinched the gold medal with a score of 148.025 just moments ago at the Canada Winter Games following three subdivisions of competition. The team from Quebec made a strong challenge to win the silver medal (145.800) over third place finishers Manitoba (142.775).

The top three finishers in this team event were Jenna Kerbis of Manitoba, followed by Fanny Girard of Quebec, and Laura-Ann Chong of BC. The all-around will be contested tomorrow.

Complete results can be found at the official Canada Winter Games 2003 website. Click here for photos of the competition, courtesy of Grace Chiu.



MARCH 5 - ALBERTA CAPTURES TEAM TITLE AT CANADA GAMES

Team Alberta (pictured at left) ran away with the men's team title at the Canada Winter Games last night in Bathurst, NB. Alberta tallied 273.909, ahead of second-place finishers Team Ontario, 264.408, and bronze medallists, British Columbia, 259.892. Nathan Gafuik of Calgary was the top scoring individual.

Complete results can be found at the official Canada Winter Games 2003 website. Click here for photos of the competition, courtesy of Grace Chiu.



MARCH 1 - PURNELL SEVENTH AT AMERICAN CUP

Canada's Heather Purnell rode a four-for-four effort en route to a seventh-place finish at the Visa American Cup, held today in Fairfax, Virginia. Purnell, 16, earned her highest event score on floor exercise, with a 9.187, which helped contribute to her 35.836 total. Purnell also finished fifth on vault and balance beam.

Athletes from the United States dominated the event, taking the top four positions in the all-around, as well as all four individual event titles. The winner was World Olympic Gymnastics' Carly Patterson, who was competing in her first international competition as a senior.

Click here for photos of Purnell from the competition.



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