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Archive: March 2004

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After her success this past weekend in Kiev, at the 2004 Stella Zakharova Cup, Rebecca Simbhudas has been named to the fourth and final spot, on Canada's junior team to the Pacific Alliance Championships. She is joining three members from Canada's A team at the recent 2004 Jurassic Classic: Sport Seneca's Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and Aimie Balderian and Cambridge Kips' Aisha Gerber. Gerber's teammate, Madison Ward, was originally also named to the junior PAC team.

Representing Canada in the senior women's category will be Mélanie Banville (Ottawa), Heather Purnell (Ottawa), Kylie Stone (Stampede City), and Lydia Williams (Sport Seneca). Canada's men's team consists of three Calgarians - Nathan Gafuik, Adam Wong, and Grant Golding, as well as David Kikuchi of Halifax. Canada is fielding two full rhythmic teams. Competing in the junior division will be Suzy Lendvay, Juliana Semenova, Rosana Tso, and Katia Zaitsev. Leading the senior rhythmic team is Alexandra Orlando, who will be joined by Pamela Jewell, Stefanie Carew, and Yana Tsikaridze. Full rosters are available at the Pacific Alliance Championships web site.

The Pacific Alliance Championships take place in Hawaii, April 15-17. The senior artistic competition follows a 4-4-3 format, and the juniors artistic a 4-3-3 format. Canada's junior and senior women will train together in Calgary for six days immediately prior to the competition. Canada's men will train together in California, leading up to the same Championships. Hawaii is also the host of the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships.

The Pacific Alliance Championships are slated for broadcast on NBC May 9, 1pm to 3pm E.S.T. Please check your local listings as the date approaches.


Simbhudas 8th BB, 5th FX in Kiev
Photo courtesy of Edwin Koppers

Rebecca Simbhudas was the lone Canadian to qualify to yesterday's event finals, at the 2004 Stella Zakharova Cup. Held in the capital city Kiev, Simbhudas struggled on beam (two falls) to place 8th with a 7.425. The event was won by Russia's Svetlana Kliukina (9.237), with Americans Nicole Harris and Katie Heenan behind with 9.125 and 8.962, respectively.

Floor proved more succesful for Simbhudas, where she earned an 8.55 for 5th place. Simbhudas looked set for bronze, until her final tumbling line, when she put her hands down. The Ukraine's Alina Kozich, who earlier won the senior AA and vault final, topped the field on floor. She scored a huge 9.637, nearly half a point ahead of second place Mirabella Akhunu (UKR; 9.175). Hungary's Tunde Pentek finished in third, scoring 8.837.

Women's Vault
1. Alina Kozich UKR 9.356
2. Tatiana Kazantseva RUS 9.144
3. Olga Scherbatykh UKR 9.025
4. Marina Papadopoulous GRE 9.000
5. Tanja Deladido CRO 8.906
6. Adrien Kekegui HUN 8.631
7. Laura Gomhas HUN 8.487
8. Svetlana Klyukina RUS 4.650
Balance Beam
1. Svetlana Klyukina RUS 9.237
2. Nicole Harris USA 9.125
3. Katie Heenan USA 8.962
4. Darya Elizarova RUS 8.950
5. Natalia Sirobaba UKR 8.675
6. Lynn Moonen BEL 8.600
7. Valeria Maksyuta UKR 8.525
8. Rebecca Simbudhas CAN 7.425
Uneven Bars
1. Darya Zgoba UKR 9.587
2. Alina Kozich UKR 9.475
2. Nicole Harris USA 9.475
4. Katie Heenan USA 9.325
5. Kristina Pravdina RUS 9.025
6. Lynn Moonen BEL 8.725
7. Nadezhda Ivanova RUS 8.700
8. Marina Papadopoulous GRE 4.725
Women's Floor Exercise
1. Alina Kozich UKR 9.637
2. Mirabella Akhunu UKR 9.175
3. Tunde Pentek HUN 8.837
4. Kristina Pravdina RUS 8.712
5. Rebecca Simbudhas CAN 8.550
6. Katie Heenan USA 8.300
7. Lynn Moonen BEL 8.062
8. Darya Elizarova RUS 8.000


Simbhudas 18th AA in Kiev
Photo courtesy of Edwin Koppers

The Russians topped yesterday's team portion of the Stella Zakharova Cup, amassing 111.575 points. Second place went to the Ukraine's A team (111.000), and third to their B team (108.150). The Greeks finished in fourth (102.200).

Team Canada (Rebecca Simbhudas, Ellen McCarthy, Erin Sorge, and Katherine Fairhurst) finished fifth, with bars proving the biggest struggle for the group (two scores in the 7's). The group posted only two scores above 9.0, both from Rebecca Simbhudas. Her 9.025 on beam and 9.075 on FX are good enough to move Simbhudas into event finals, being contested today.

Simbhudas finished the day as Canada's top all-arounder, scoring 34.55 for 18th AA. The biggest challenge to Simbhudas' effort came on bars (7.950); her feet touched the ground on her Stalder full on low bar. Her top score came on floor exercise, an event she'll try to improve in today's event finals. Yesterday, she was a little short on her triple twist, and took some steps on her 2 1/2. 

Alyssa Brown and Melanie Rocca competed with the USA's Nicole Harris and Katie Heenan in a modified, mixed group. Suffering from injuries, both Brown and Rocca competed only bars and beam. 

Rank Name V UB BB FX Total AA rank
1. Russia . . . . 111.575 .
  Kristina Pravdina            
  Nadhedza Ivanova            
  Svetlana Kliukina         36.850


  Yulia Lozhecko         36.700


2. Ukraine 1 . . . . 111.000 .
  Alina Kozich       9.600 37.625


  Daria Z'goba            
  Alyona Kvasha            
3. Ukraine 2         108.150  
  Olga Scherbatykh         36.450


  Marina Proskurina            
4. Greece . . . . 102.200 .
5. Canada . . . . 101.725 .
. Rebecca Simbhudas 8.400 7.950 9.025 9.075 34.450 (18)
. Ellen McCarthy 8.500 8.050 8.475 8.400 33.425 (27)
. Erin Sorge 8.300 8.300 8.525 7.950 33.075 (29)
. Katherine Fairhurst 8.450 7.100 8.750 8.300 32.600 (35)
6. Belgium . . . . 100.600 .
. USA/Canada . . . . . .
. Nicole Harris . . . . 35.95 (6)
. Katie Hennan . . . . 36.05 (5)
. Alyssa Brown 0.000 8.350 7.750 0.000 16.100 .
. Melanie Rocca 0.000 7.750 8.050 0.000 15.800 .

Update! A photo gallery from the Stella Zakharova Cup is now available!


Melanie Rocca, Jennifer Simbhudas, 
and Kiera Amyot at last year's 
Stella Zakharova Cup
Photo courtesy of Dave Brubaker

Podium training got underway today, at the third annual Stella Zakharova Cup. Tomorrow's team event follows a 4-4-3 format (four team members, four compete per apparatus, with three scores counting). Competing for Team Canada will be Katherine Fairhurst, Ellen McCarthy, Rebecca Simbhudas, and Erin Sorge. Melanie Rocca and Alyssa Brown, both injured, will join the USA's Nicole Harris and Katie Heenan on a modified, mixed team. Brown is said to be suffering some back problems, while Rocca injured her foot at an exhibition in Mexico (see Gymn.ca's March 9 news flash). The two will compete only bars and beam, tomorrow.

Jordan Harvie, tenth all-around at last year's Canberra Cup, was also originally scheduled to make the trip to Kiev. Harvie hyperextended her knee training for the Jurassic Classic, and is not yet fully recovered.

Russia is fielding a strong team of juniors, many of whom are expected to contend for gold at next month's Europeans. Highlighting the field are Svetlana Kliukina, Yulia Lozhecko, Nadhedza Ivanova, and Daria Elizarova. The Ukraine will also have its best on hand.

Everybody is reported to be "having a really good time" in the Ukraine. Sorge celebrated her birthday yesterday, and was presented with an ice cream scoop structure with fake candles in lieu of a cake. Rocca was interviewed on national T.V., and appears in today's sports newspaper Ves sport'. The article includes several quotes from Rocca, describing the honour she feels to be competing in the Ukraine (Rocca has a strong Ukrainian heritage). This is Rocca's second trip to the Stella Zakharova Cup.

Stella Zakharova is on hand this weekend, at the event named in her honour. Zakharova is the 1979 and 1980 all-around World Cup gold medallist. She holds one Olympic medal, team gold from the 1980 Olympics.


Alexandra Orlando
Photo by Tom Theobald

Alexandra Orlando, Canada's best rhythmic gymnast, was denied the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games when the final available Olympic berth was awarded by International Olympic Committee (IOC) ealier this week. In an announcement made on March 17, the IOC determined that the final competitive berth, known as the Tripartite Commission wild card, would be awarded to Vania Vicente Monteiro of Cape Verde. Previous continental wild cards were awarded several months ago by the International Gymnastics Federation to athletes from Africa and Australia, and a final wild card was awarded to Great Britain based on qualification results. As a result of the decision, Canada will not be represented in rhythmic gymnastics for the first time since the sport's inclusion in the Olympic Games in 1984.

For Orlando and the rest of the Canadian gymnastics community, the decision came as a surprise, particularly since Monteiro ranked last in last year's Olympic qualification. The Tripartite Wild Card is designed to encourage participation for smaller countries with fewer than six athletes qualified to the Olympic Games, provided that the athlete meets a required technical standard. Monteiro finished 106th at the last world championships, which made Canadian officials question whether she meets the technical standards needed to compete at the Olympic Games.

The decision has further frustrated Orlando's supporters because it meant that two athletes from the continent of Africa will now be competing in the Games, both based on wild cards. In contrast, the entire continent of the Americas, both North and South, will only have one representative in Mary Sanders, the former Canadian champion who elected to use her dual citizenship to represent the United States in 2002.

In light of the fact that Africa had already been awarded a wild card by the FIG, Canadian officials were hopeful that the IOC would not exercise their right to use the Tripartite wild card. The wild card would then have been be returned to the FIG, who would have awarded it to the next-highest ranking athlete not in the Games. Ranked 22nd in Olympic qualifying, Orlando would have been the next athlete in line for the FIG wild card, and will be the highest-ranked athlete in the world not invited to participate at the Games. She will remain the official alternate for rhythmic gymnastics, and could have the chance to compete, should a qualified country elect not to compete.

In a discussion with Gymn.ca, Marisa Orlando, Alexandra's mother, expressed disappointment with the decision. "We knew that Cape Verde fits the bill regarding a very small delegation," Orlando said, "but the athlete in question placed 106th at world championships, which in our mind, did not fit the bill [for the athlete to have met the technical standard]. Also, Africa already has a continent wild card and we were surprised that they would get another one...We want an explanation of this wild card."

Alexandra Orlando
Photo by Tom Theobald

Rhythmic Gymnastics Canada president Adrienne Arnold agreed. In a statement provided to Gymn.ca, Arnold noted that, "the African continent had already been awarded a "wild card" by the FIG (to cover the necessary "universality" issue), and therefore, in our minds, the two bodies should have compared notes to consider the implications of a country of the same continent being awarded the Tripartite card." While Arnold and the RGC, as well as Gymnastics Canada Gymnastique CEO Jean Paul Caron are continuing to look into the matter, there is little hope of the IOC overturning their decision. "At this point, although we continue to make inquiries and try to get answers, we are feeling both frustrated by what has occurred and extremely disappointed for both Canada and Alexandra herself," Arnold said.

With the Olympics now out of reach for the next four years, Orlando's future remains uncertain. "Alex will have to decide what she wants to do," her mother said, "This was a dream of hers since she was a very little girl and she worked very hard for her amazing ranking at world championships." At last year's world championships, Orlando finished 16th all-around. She is also the defending Canadian national champion and two-time defending Elite Canada champion.

Regardless of the decision, Orlando continues to compete abroad, having placed 15th all-around at the Deryugina Cup Grand Prix in Kiev, Ukraine last week. She will also compete at the Thiais Grand Prix in France from March 27-28, as well as the Pacific Alliance Championships from April 12-17, the Baku Grand Prix in Azerbaijan from April 24-27, and the prestigious Corbeil-Essonnes Grand Prix in France in early May. At the Pacific Alliance Championships, Orlando will be joined by Yana Tsikaridze, Pamela Jewell, and Stephanie Carew on the senior Canadian team. The junior team will include Juliana Semenova, Katia Zaitseva, Suzy Lendvay, and Rosana Tso, the top four finishers from this month's Elite Canada.

As a result of Canada's now-official absence from the 2004 Olympic roster, the Pacific Alliance Championships will serve as the unofficial launch of the new generation of rhythmic gymnasts in Canada. "I believe this will be the first time Canada is not represented at the Olympics in rhythmic gymnastics," Orlando said, "so we might be taking a few steps backwards and have to prove ourselves again. We have had such amazing gymnasts in the past years, and now a new younger set will begin. It might take a little time to build up our position again."


Danielle Hicks of ASF won the all-around gold medal at the Twisters Invitational held this past weekend in Abbotsford, B.C. Hicks recently won the National Open category at Jurassic Classic, as well as Retro Boogie in Scarborough, making this win a hat trick for the 2002 Canadian Champion. Scoring 37.500 in the all-around, Hicks also placed second on all four individual apparatus. 

In second place was Laura Ann Chong of Twisters (36.975), who won the uneven bars title. Hicks' teammate, Marci Bernholtz, placed third all-around with a score of 36.800 and also picked up the gold medal on floor exercise with a 9.65. Finishing fourth through sixth were Stefanie Lang of Delta, Bailey Lewis of Chimo and Kelsey Lang of Twisters.


The International portion of the Friendship Classic was contested last night. Placing 1-2 in the senior all-around were Olga Scherbatykh (UKR) and Polina Miller (RUS). Both are aiming for spots on their country's Olympic teams this summer. The USA's Grace Taylor, competing for her home club Aiken, rounded out the medal podium.

Russian juniors Svetlana Kliukina (1st) and Anna Grudko (2nd) topped the junior division, with Canada's Leslie Mak of Sport Seneca claiming bronze. In late 2003, Mak and Sport Seneca teammate Aimie Balderian traveled to the Siska International. Mak finished 21st AA in Slovenia.

Other Canadians competing at last night's international portion include Gemini's Brittnee Habbib, Gymnix' Nansy Damianova, and Sport Seneca's Nicole Heikkila. Habbib finished 5th all-around in the senior portion, with Heikkila and Damianova placing 5th and 6th in the junior all-around, respectively.

Mak placed 3rd AA (Juniors)
(Shown here at 2002 Gymnix)
Photo by Grace Chiu
Damianova at last weekend's 
Jurassic Classic
Photo by Grace Chiu
Senior All-Around 
1. Olga Scherbatykh UKR 37.125 
2. Polina Miller RUS 36.225 
3. Grace Taylor USA 35.700 
4. Kayla Hoffman USA 35.050 
5. Brittnee Habbib CAN 32.925 
6. Zuzana Sekerova SVK 32.425 

Junior All-Around 
1. Svetlana Klyukina RUS 35.750 
2. Anna Grudko RUS 34.675 
3. Leslie Mak CAN 33.975 
4. Marina Kostyuchenko UKR 33.925 
5. Nicole Heikkila CAN 33.525 
6. Nansy Damianova CAN 33.425 
7. Nicole Lyons USA (Northeast) 33.175 
8. Stephanie Seich USA (Rebounders) 33.075 
9. Maartje Allebes HOL 31.625

Individual apparatus awards were also handed out last night. Mak added a silver on floor, Heikkila a silver on beam, and Damianova a bronze on vault. Last weekend, Damianova competed in Calgary at the 2004 Jurassic Classic. Competing on Canada's B team, Damianova and teammates (Bernholtz, Colling, and Sorge) finished in third place.

Senior Vault 
1. Miller 9.200 
2. Scherbatykh 9.150 
3. Hoffman 9.000 

Senior Uneven Bars 
1. Miller 9.625 
2. Scherbatykh 9.500 
3. Sekerova 8.900 

Senior Balance Beam 
1. Scherbatykh 9.175 
2. Taylor 9.100 
3. Hoffman 8.475 

Senior Floor Exercise 
1. Scherbatykh 9.300 
2. Miller 9.150 
3. Taylor 9.000 

Junior Vault 
1. Klyukina 9.325 
2. Grudko 9.050 
3. Damianova 8.800 

Junior Uneven Bars 
1. Kostyuchenko 9.225 
2. Klyukina 8.725 
3. Lyons 8.350 

Junior Balance Beam 
1. Grudko 9.150 
2. Heikkila 9.050 
3. Klyukina 8.800 

Junior Floor Exercise 
1. Klyukina 8.900 
2. Mak 8.825 
3. Grudko 8.750

Update! A photo gallery from the Friendship Classic is now available!


Banville wins bronze on
vault at Olympic Test Event!
(Shown here at 2003 Worlds)
Photo by Grace Chiu

Melanie Banville of the Ottawa Gymnastics Center took home a bronze medal today on the vault at the Athens Olympics test event in Greece. Banville - the sole qualifier for the Canadian women - scored a 9.162 on both her vaults to take third place behind Russia's Natalia Ziganshina and Courtney McCool of the United States who scored 9.312 and 9.249 respectively.

David Kikuchi of Halifax was also in action today in the rings final, where his score of 9.50 ranked him fourth - less than one tenth away from bronze. Reigning co-world rings champion Dimosthenis Tambakos of the host country Greece took home the gold with a strong 9.787 score. Romania's Dorin Selariu took silver with a 9.612 ahead of Pierre-Yves Beny of France who edged out Kikuchi for the bronze with a 9.587.

Also scheduled to compete in today's finals was Calgary's Adam Wong who had earned a spot in the floor exerice. Despite a sore ankle sustained earlier in the week during the men's all-around finals, Wong hoped to still compete in the event finals. No specific information is known at this time. Wong also qualified for the parallel bars final which takes place tomorrow.

Other event winners today were Li Ya of China on the uneven bars, Xiao Qin of China on the pommel horse, and Spain's Rafael Martinez in men's floor exercise.

Full results are available at the Athens Olympics website.


The Olympic Test Event isn't the only thing taking place in Athens this week. Start orders for the 2004 Olympic Games were selected by random draw this week.

The Canadian women will begin their competition on the balance beam, in the second subdivision. The Canadian men will begin on vault, the event on which they ended at the 2003 World Championships. They will compete in the first subdivision of the men's competition.

Canada has qualified one male entry in trampoline, and he will compete first. Two Canadian women will compete in trampoline in Athens, in 7th and 14th positions.

Canada has qualified no team or individuals in Rhythmic. Dual citizen (CAN/USA) Mary Sanders will represent the USA in Athens, beginning with ball in rotation 1.

2004 Women's Artistic Gymnastics Olympic Draw

Subdivision 1
Vault: Russia
Uneven Bars: Mixed Group 1 (Germany, Japan, Italy, Sweden)
Balance Beam: North Korea
Floor Exercise: Great Britain

Subdivision 2
Vault: Romania
Uneven Bars: United States
Balance Beam: Canada
Floor Exercise: Ukraine

Subdivision 3
Vault: MG 4 (Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Bolivia, Belarus)
Uneven Bars: China
Balance Beam: MG 2 (Greece, Czech Republic, Cuba, Slovakia, Korea, Bulgaria)
Floor Exercise: Australia

Subdivision 4
Vault: France
Uneven Bars: MG 3 (Mexico, Uzbekistan, Belgium, Hungary, Poland)
Balance Beam: Brazil
Floor Exercise: Spain

2004 Men's Artistic Gymnastics Olympic Draw

Subdivision 1
Floor Exercise: France
Pommel Horse: Romania
Still Rings: Italy
Vault: Canada
Parallel Bars: MG2 (Bulgaria, Greece, Colombia)
High Bar: MG4 (Cuba, Greece, Hungary)

Subdivision 2
Floor Exercise: Russia
Pommel Horse: MG1 (Switzerland, Australia, Portugal)
Still Rings: MG3 (Latvia, Brazil, Iceland, Malaysia)
Vault: Spain
Parallel Bars: USA
High Bar: MG5 (North Korea, Israel, Puerto Rico, Kazakhstan)

Subdivision 3
Floor Exercise: Korea
Pommel Horse: Germany
Still Rings: MG6 (Belarus, Georgia, Tunisia)
Vault: Japan
Parallel Bars: China
High Bar: Ukraine

Canada has qualified two
women trampolinists to Athens
Photo by Grace Chiu

2004 Trampoline Olympic Draw

Men Women
1. CAN 1. UZB
2. GBR 2. USA
3. SUI 3. RUS2
4. UKR 4. UKR
5. FRA 5. BLR
6. NED 6. NED
7. CHN 7. CAN2
8. POR 8. GEO
9. GRE 9. JPN
10. RUS2 10. RUS1
11. BLR2 11. AUS
12. ITA 12. SVK
13. DEN 13. GBR
14. GER 14. CAN1
15. RUS1 15. CHN
16. BLR1 16. GER


Kylie Stone
Canada's top performer today
(Shown here at 2003 Pan Ams)

Photo by Grace Chiu

The Canadian women’s team finished sixth today at the team finals of the Athens Olympic test event in Greece. Canada scored 106.609 to finish just over five tenths behind Brazil, who scored 107.159. Russia won the team title over second place China 111.970 to 110.460. Spain took bronze with a 109.332.

The Canadian women greatly improved their balance beam performance from preliminaries, earning the third highest score of the finals with a 27.187 – an impressive result in a three up-three scores count format - but struggled on the uneven bars, where they had been second in prelims, scoring only a 25.049 – the lowest bars total among the eight finalists. Calgary’s Kylie Stone earned the three highest scores for the team today, earning 9.3 on floor exercise, 9.237 on vault, and 9.20 on the balance beam. Joliette’s Amelie Plante equaled Stone’s beam score on the uneven bars, where her 9.20 effort was the best of the day for Canada on that event. Ottawa’s Heather Purnell showed improved scores from yesterday, with two 9.0 plus scores on the balance beam (where she scored 9.0) and a 9.062 on the vault. Purnell's clubmate Melanie Banville - who will compete in the vault final later in the week – also took her highest score on the vault, a 9.087. Toronto’s Lydia Williams had trouble on bars, but put up a solid 8.987 on the balance beam, where she had been the team’s highest scorer in preliminaries. Mississauga’s Melanie Tham did not compete today.

Full results can be found at the official 2004 Athens Olympics website.


Kikuchi, 10th at Test Event
(Shown here at 2003 Worlds)

Photo by Grace Chiu

David Kikuchi of Halifax moved up to 10th place in today’s all-around final at the Olympic test event in Athens, Greece. Kikuchi, 20th all-around at last year’s world championships, moved up from 14th in qualifications and improved his score total by over a point, scoring 54.661 compared to his 53.461 from yesterday. His best event was the still rings, where he earned a strong 9.425 score. Teammate Adam Wong of Calgary, only registered scores in two events, scoring 9.037 on rings and 9.225 on vault. According to Gymnastics Canada, Wong suffered a sore ankle after landing his vault, and the decision was made to pull him from the remainder of the competition in order to rest for the apparatus finals later in the week. Wong qualified to compete in the finals on floor exercise and parallel bars.

The final all-around standings included many shifts from qualifying, with Japan’s Kensuke Murata winning the gold with a score of 56.499 after qualifying in sixth. All-around silver medallist Maxim Deviatovski of Russia scored 56.011 – moving up from 15th in qualifying where he had scored nearly three points lower. Preliminary leader Yang Tae Young of Korea dropped to third to take the bronze, with mistakes on vault and high bar lowering his score to a 55.698.

Full results from today’s men’s all-around can be found at the official Athens Olympics site.


After posting the second highest uneven bars total of the day on their last rotation, the Canadian women’s team finished fifth in preliminary competition at the Olympic test event in Athens, Greece earlier today. The Canadian team of Melanie Banville, Amélie Plante, Heather Purnell, Kylie Stone, Melanie Tham, and Lydia Williams scored 141.659 to earn their fifth place ranking – and in the process defeated two teams they had ranked behind at last year’s world championships: Brazil, who scored 141.333 for sixth, and Britain, who ranked eighth (137.735). China qualified in first place with a 148.258, followed by Russia with a 145.08. Spain scored a 144.295 to finish a close third ahead of Ukraine who totaled 144.209. The host Greek team finished seventh, scoring 138.433. All eight teams will advance to tomorrow’s team final, where the champions will be crowned using the 6-3-3 format. The world’s top two teams, the United States and Romania sent only two gymnasts each to this event, putting them out of the running for the team title.

Individually, Banville qualified for the vault final in seventh place with a 9.168 average. She will also be the first reserve in the uneven bars finals, scoring 9.312 – the highest Canadian mark of the competition. Stone’s score of 9.25 on floor exercise makes her the first reserve for event finals on that event.

No all-around rankings are available yet. Gymn.ca will update you with more information about the meet as soon as it is available. Some results can be found by navigating the official Athens Olympics website.


Adam Wong
Shown here at 2003 Pan Ams

Photo by Grace Chiu

Calgary’s Adam Wong and David Kikuchi of Halifax qualified to the all-around finals at the Athens test event today with 13th and 14th place finishes respectively. Wong, an up and comer in only his first season on the senior international circuit, earned an all-around score of 53.799 to rank as the top Canadian, ahead of Kikuchi who scored 53.461. The top 25 men qualified for the all-around finals, which take place tomorrow.

Individual apparatus finals berths were also decided today, and Wong earned a spot in the floor finals, qualifying in third place with a 9.30 score, as well as the parallel bars, qualifying eighth with a 9.275. Kikuchi scored 9.275 on rings to qualify in eighth place on that event, and is also the first reserve for pommel horse finals, where he earned a score of 9.35.

Leading the way in the men's all-around was Korea's Yang Tae Young who scored 56.224, followed by Romania's Dorin Selariu, who scored 56.036. The USA's Alexander Artemev - first alternate on their 2003 world team - qualified third with a 55.549. Results can be found on the official Athens Olympic site. Also, results and details should later be available at gymmedia.com.

Canada’s women’s team – including Calgary’s Kylie Stone, 14th all-around at the 2003 World Championships, veteran Amélie Plante of Joliet, QC, Ottawa teammates Heather Purnell and Melanie Banville, Toronto’s Lydia Williams and Mississauga’s Melanie Tham are also competing today in the women’s team qualification competition, and gymn.ca will provide their results as soon as they become available. At stake for the women is a spot in the 8 country team final, as well as the apparatus finals to come later in the week. Also later this week our trampolinists will be in action, with world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Karen Cockburn leading the way for the women, where she will be joined by Ottawa’ s Heather Ross-McManus. Olympic bronze medallist Mathieu Turgeon will represent the Canadian men.


Gymn.ca is pleased to present a number of videos from this weekend's Jurassic Classic, with more continuing as the week progresses. If you wish to download any of these videos, please first save them to your hard drive and view from there. To do so, please right click on the links below and select "Save Target As," specifying a location on your hard drive. By simply clicking on the links below, you will consume extraordinary amounts of bandwidth, potentially causing this site to crash and go offline. Thank you, and enjoy!

Men's International EF
Adam Wong (CAN) V - 9.325  
Todd Thornton (USA) V - 9.250
Alexander Jeltkov (CAN) HB - 9.575

Women's International EF
Danielle Hicks (ASF) FX - 9.550  
Melissa Hough (Ortona) FX - 8.775 
Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (CAN) BB - 9.425

Women's International Team/AA competition
Aimie Balderian (CAN) FX - 9.025
Marci Bernholtz (CAN) UB - 9.100
Marci Bernholtz (CAN) FX
- 9.175
Shoko Furukawa (JPN) V - 9.225
Aisha Gerber (CAN) FX
- 9.300
Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (CAN) FX - 9.325
Mayu Kuroda (JPN) UB - 9.575
Erin Sorge (CAN) FX - 8.65
Madison Ward (CAN) FX - 9.075

Men's International Team/AA competition
Richard Ikeda (CAN) V - 8.850
Grant Golding (CAN) PH - 9.400
Grant Golding (CAN) V - 9.300
David Kikuchi (CAN) PH - 9.425
Casey Sandy (CAN) V
- 9.500

Women's National Open
Amanda Gering (Ortona) UB
Lisa Pattison (Marian) FX


The field is set for the sixth annual Friendship Classic to be held March 19-21 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Four Canadian national team members will compete at Saturday's elite competition, including Sport Seneca's Leslie Mak and Nicole Heikkila, Nansy Damionova from Gymnix, and Gemini's Brittnee Habbib. The Canadians will face stiff competition from Russia and the Ukraine. Leading Team Russia will be Polina Miller, who last week captured the bars title at the Russia Cup. Joining her will be Svetlana Kliukina and Anna Grudko. The Ukrainians are fielding two members of their European Youth Olympic Days gold medal team - Maryna Kostyuchenko and Olga Shcherbatykh. Their third team member, Daria Z'goba, is recovering from a broken hand.

Also competing will be 2000 Olympian Zuzana Sekerova (SVK), who is currently living in Georgia. Making a return trip is Grace Taylor of Aiken Gymnastics in South Carolina. Taylor placed second all around in the junior division at last year’s Friendship Classic.

In addition to the elite competition, approximately 900 gymnasts representing 37 clubs will take part in the age group competition.


The International portion of the Jurassic Classic wrapped up yesterday evening, with gymnasts contesting event honours. The field was larger than Saturday's team/AA portion, with top placing individuals from the National Open rounds invited to participate. Competing last night under this ruling were Danielle Hicks (ASF), Melissa Hough (Ortona), Jessica Baladad (Stampede City), Scott Raymond (CGC), and Devon Sidwell (Red Deer Gym).

Last night, 10 different athletes claimed gold in the 10 events contested. On the men's side, Canadians grabbed gold in four of six events. Grant Golding brought home the first gold of the evening, with a 9.475 on floor exercise. Brothers Ken and Richard Ikeda brothers followed on pommels, placing 1-2 (9.450 and 9.425, respectively). Grant Golding picked up his second gold of the night on rings, scoring 9.40 with his 10.0 SV routine. Finally, Adam Wong vaulted his way to a gold medal (9.325), in an event that saw several messy landings.

American men grabbed the last two golds of the day, Brett McClure pulling it together on the parallel bars to score a huge 9.650 (10.0 SV) and Todd Thornton besting Canada's high bar specialist Sasha Jeltkov (9.575 vs.9.525).

The Japanese won one gold medal, with Mayu Kuroda's 9.525 on bars. The only athlete in the final with a 10.0 start value, she finished .825 points ahead of silver medallist Danielle Hicks of ASF (8.700) and nearly one whole point ahead of teammate Shoko Furukawa. Canadians won gold in the remainder of the women's events, with Aimie Balderian taking vault (9.225), Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs topping the beam standings (9.425), and Danielle Hicks finishing the night golden on floor (9.550).

The Jurassic Classic concludes today, with LEAP testing, Women's Provincial 2, and Men's Level 5 and 6.

Stay tuned to Gymn.ca for videos from the International and National Open portions of this weekend's Jurassic Classic starting later today.

Update! Photos from this weekend's Jurassic Classic are now available, courtesy of Grace Chiu.


O'Neill, the 2003
Pan Am FX champ
now wins bronze
in Lyon, France!
Photo by Grace Chiu

It was a very successful week-end for Canadian athletes on the world cup circuit in Europe this week-end. At the French International in Lyon, France, Edmonton’s Brandon O’Neill took bronze on floor exercise in today’s finals – moving up from fourth in the qualification round. The apparatus was won by Denis Savenkov of Belarus, with a 9.562, followed by the Netherlands’ Jefferey Wammes who scored 9.512. O’Neill’s bronze medal routine scored 9.387. The finals on the other apparatus are continuing today, with results being updated live on the French Federation’s webiste.

Yesterday also concluded the trampoline world cup stop in Aachen, Germany, where women’s individual world champion Karen Cockburn of Toronto finished second in the finals after qualifying first. Cockburn performed a routine with a slightly lower degree of difficulty than her preliminary routine (a 14.4 compared to a 14.6) to finish second behind Olympic champion Irina Karavaeva of Russia, who earned a total score of 107.80 to Cockburn's 107.10. Germany’s Anna Dogonadze - the 2001 world champion – finished third with a 105.70. Unlike world and Olympic competition, the preliminary scores carried over to the finals at this competition.

"It was a very competitive final, but I didn't have the performance I wanted," Cockburn told Canadian Press. "I had a really good start which is the new part of my routine anyways, but I had trouble later on. The pressure right now for me is trying to get this routine down pat."

In the men’s finals, Bryan Milonja of St. Bruno, Quebec, maintained his 8th place ranking from day one while improving his optional score by 0.1, with an overall score of 106.00. The top three men remained unchanged from the preliminaries, with Ukraine’s Yuri Nikitin taking first with a combined 111.20 over Russia’s German Knytchev who scored 110.70 to just edge out Germany’s Markus Kubicka who took third with a 110.60. "The competition was very hard, so I'm pretty happy with my finish," Milonja told Canadian Press. "I hit my routine without any major mistakes and I performed well under pressure."

Full results from the trampoline world cup are available on the FIG website.


Several top Canadian female gymnasts are en route to Athens tonight, to compete in the upcoming Olympic test event. The group recently trained together in Ottawa, and during this training camp four were selected to also attend next month's Pacific Alliance Championships in Hawaii. Representing Canada in the senior women's category will be Mélanie Banville (Ottawa), Heather Purnell (Ottawa), Kylie Stone (Stampede City), and Lydia Williams (Sport Seneca). Their competition will follow a 4-3-3 format (four athletes, three compete per apparatus, with three scores counting).

Canada's Team "A" from this weekend's Jurassic Classic (Sport Seneca's Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and Aimie Balderian and Cambridge Kips' Madison Ward and Aisha Gerber) will reconvene for the Pacific Alliance Championships, and vie for junior titles in Hawaii. Junior and senior women will train together in Calgary for six days immediately prior to the competition. Canada's men will train together in California, leading up to the same Championships.


Edmonton’s Brandon O’Neill finished fourth on the floor exercise in qualifying today at the 13th French International in Lyon, France. O’Neill, the 2003 Pan Am floor champion, was also a finalist at last week’s world cup in Cottbus, Germany. In Lyon, he earned a score of 9.412 to finish behind Spain’s Isaac Botella who earned a 9.55, Denis Savenkov of Belarus (9.462) and Romania’s Marian Dragalescu (9.437). Calgary's Kyle Shewfelt was originally scheduled to compete, but is at home resting the injury sustained last week in Germany.

Complete results from today’s prelimaries can be found at the French Federation's Web site. Finals take place tomorrow.


Reigning world trampoline champion Karen Cockburn of Toronto cemented her position at the preliminary competition at the world cup stop in Aachen, Germany yesterday. Cockburn earned 68.10 points to earn the day’s highest combined score, finishing ahead of the current Olympic champion Irina Karavaeva of Russia (second with 67.50) and 2001 world champion Anna Dogonadze of Germany who scored 67.00. Ottawa’s Heather Ross-McManus, fifth at last year’s world championships, finished 12th here and will not advance to finals, but her result puts her in a good position to earn Canada’s second women’s berth to the Athens Olympics. (Cockburn, as reigning world champion, is guaranteed a spot on the team). McManus earned 64.00 points to finish as the number two Canadian women here, ahead of Toronto’s Brenna Casey (19th with a 61.80) and Savija McManus - also of Toronto – who finished 25th with a 57.30 score.

Milonja celebrates at 2003 Worlds
Photo by Grace Chiu

Canada will also be represented in Saturday’s finals after Bryan Milonja of St. Bruno, Quebec, finished the preliminary round in 8th place, scoring 66.30 points. The top three qualifiers were Ukraine’s Yuri Nikitin (69.60), Russia’s German Knytchev (69.30) and Germany’s Markus Kubicka (69.20). Olympic bronze medallist Mathieu Turgeon of Toronto did not make finals after finishing 11th, but his score of 65.80 was only 0.5 behind Milonja, showing that these two athletes are in quite a battle for that lone Olympic berth for the Canadian men. According to Gymnastics Canada, the top two of three scores from this year’s world cup, combined with last year’s World Championships and this year’s national championships scores will determine who competes in Athens. Two other Canadian men competed in Aachen, with Toronto’s Jason Burnett finishing 24th with a 61.50, and Quebec’s Michel Greene finishing 33rd with a 39.9 – Greene appears to have not finished his optional routine, after scoring a very strong 27.40 in his compulsory – the highest of the Canadian men.

The finals take place today. Full results from yesterday’s prelims can be found here.


The 10th annual Jurassic Classic is well underway, and tonight fans witnessed thrills and spills as Canada took on the USA (men) and Japan (women). On paper, the U.S. men's team entered the meet as favorites. But team USA, led by 2001 and 2003 World team medallist Brett McClure, arrived in Calgary with only three competitors. Rounding out the team was Jurassic Classic veterans David Durante and Todd Thornton. 

Slated on the original roster was 2003 World team alternate Alexander ("Sasha") Artemev, but Artemev was rescheduled for competition in Europe after teammate Blaine Wilson withdrew from the Athens Test Event, tearing his bicep at the recent American Cup. Slated to replace Artemev at the Jurassic Classic was Sho Nakamori, who unfortunately had to return home to the US for family reasons and was unable to compete. Team Canada A (Grant Golding, Alexander Jeltkov, David Kikuchi, and Adam Wong) bested the trio from the USA, 164.000 to 162.775.
Golding wins Jurassic Classic
Photo by Grace Chiu

Also awarded tonight were all-around medals, and topping the podium was the host club's Grant Golding. In second place was Brett McClure (USA), with David Kikuchi (CAN) rounding out the podium.

On the women's side, Japan battled two teams from Canada. The Japanese came out on top, by the slimmest of margins. Led by Shoka Furukawa, who placed 5th AA in the junior portion of the 2003 Asian Championships and second all-around in this competition, the team scored 104.475 to team Canada A's 104.350. Rounding out team Japan was Shoko Ono, Mayu Kuroda, and Yu Minobe. Team Canada A was represented by Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, Aimie Balderian, Aisha Gerber, and Madison Ward

Hopfner-Hibbs, trained out of the Sport Seneca program, topped the women's standing with Gerber of the Cambridge Kips in third. Gerber debuted a new floor routine tonight, using a similar cut of the same music former Cambridge Kips teammate Crystal Gilmore used in 2000 (Private Investigations, by Dire Straits)!

Worth noting is that ASF's Marci Bernholtz, competing for team Canada B, actually earned the second highest all-around score of the day - a 35.10 that included the only 10.0 start value of the night on floor exercise.

The women's competition also suffered a no-show; expected to compete was a lone entrant from Mexico, Elsa Garcia.

Presenting tonight's awards were Jordan Harvie and Kyle Shewfelt. Harvie recently represented Canada at the prestigious 2003 Canberra Cup, and was expected to compete in tonight's event tweaked her knee very slightly in training. Coaches felt it in her best interest to sit out the meet, and prepare for her upcoming trip to the Ukraine for the Stella Zakharova Cup. (Caya Colling of ASF, originally scheduled to compete in today's Open session, instead competed in Jordan's place on team Canada B). Kyle Shewfelt was not originally expected to attend tonight's meet, but after an awkward landing on vault at last weekend's Cottbus Cup, cut short his trip to Europe.

The Jurassic Classic continues tomorrow, with the evening portion once again reserved for elite competition. The event finals will be contested tomorrow, and will include the best from this evening's portion as well as top finisher's from this afternoon's open session. Stay tuned to Gymn.ca for more news from Jurassic, including a special video feature (expected Sunday).


Rocca at the
Cereal City Classic

Bluewater Gymnastics' Melanie Rocca has been invited to perform at an international gymnastics gala, to be held March to in Mexico. Rocca, 16, received a special invitation to join the cast of top-level performers at the 6th Academia de Gimnasia Olympica Torreon (AGOT) International Cup, which will be held on Saturday, March 13 in Torreon, Mexico. The field includes world and Olympic gold medallists Elena Zamolodchikova of Russia, Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, former two-time world all-around champion Ivan Ivankov of Belarus, Bulgaria's Jordan Jovtchev, and Sean Townsend of the United States. The women's lineup will also include highly-touted junior Nastia Liukin of the United States as well as Brenda Magana, Mexico's top gymnast. Athletes are invited to perform on all events at the gala, using their competitive routines.

With teammate
Barbara Gasser in Michigan

The gala will be another stepping stone in a busy winter for the grade 11 student. Rocca also competed at two level 10 invitationals in the U.S. over the past two months. At the Twistars Invitational Retro Rewind, hosted by the Twistars club in Lansing, Michigan from January 9-11, Rocca finished third all-around in the Level 10 meet. At the Cereal City Classic, held in Battle Creek, Michigan from February 20-22, Rocca finished second all-around in the Level 10 competition with a score of 36.550. Rocca also took the highest score of the meet on floor exercise, with a 9.350, where she tumbled a whip to immediate double pike, triple twist, and 2 1/2 twist.

"I was very pleased with my performances on all events because I increased my routine start values and showed stability at the same time," Rocca said of her performance. "I did something new on all events and that’s what I need to show before the Olympic trials and the national championships in May." After a substantial growth spurt over the past six months, the 2002 Pacific Alliance team member feels she is back on track. "Things are getting easier again," she said.

Once Rocca returns from Mexico, she will prepare to leave for the Ukraine to compete at the Stella Zakharova Cup, which will be held in Kiev from March 27-28. From April 23-25, Rocca will compete at Elite Ontario, which will be hosted by her home club, Bluewater Gymnastics. While her eyes are still set on being a part of Canada's Olympic team, Rocca says she has not ruled out competing for several more years after 2004. She may also choose to pursue an NCAA scholarship, though she is undecided about which school at this time.


Orlando won all five
gold medals
Photo by Tom Theobald
Alexandra Orlando took home five gold medals, including the senior all-around title at Rhythmic Elite Canada, which concluded yesterday in Winnipeg. Orlando, who trains at the Ritmika club in Ontario, took the title with a total score of 90.000 over Quebec's Yana Tsikaridze of the Questo club, who finished second overall with 80.100. In third was former Canadian group member, Pamela Jewel of Kalev, with 77.350.

For Orlando, the victory extended her dominance of the Canadian rhythmic scene. In addition to winning last year's Elite Canada competition, Orlando also swept the gold medals at the national championships in June. In September, she became the top Canadian finisher at the world championships in Budapest, finishing 16th all-around.

The junior all-around was won by Juliana Semenova of British Columbia. Semenova scored 68.250 to edge out Katia Zaitseva of Kalev, who finished second with a 67.150 total. Burlington's Suzy Lendvay, who won three gold medals in event final competition, finished third with 64.350, while clubmate Rosanna Tso finished fourth.

Senior Club   Senior Ribbon
1.Alexandra Orlando (ON)21.900 1.Alexandra Orlando (ON)20.450
2. Yana Tsikaridse (PQ)19.750 2.Yana Tskikaridse (PQ)19.500
3. Carly Orava (ON)19.200 3. Carly Orava (ON)18.300
Junior Clubs   Junior Ribbon
1.Suzy Lendvay (ON) 17.750 1.Suzy Lendvay (ON)17.600
2.Juliana Semenova (BC)17.350 2.Juliana Semenova (BC)16.550
3.Rosanna Tso (ON)17.100 3.Katia Zaitseva (ON)16.100

Full results can be found at Rhythmic Gymnastics Manitoba.


Alexandra Orlando
Photo by Tom Theobald

Canada's best rhythmic gymnasts have gathered in Winnipeg at the Investors Group Arena this weekend to contest the Elite Canada title for both junior and senior competitors. The competition will not only select the junior and senior national team, but also name the teams to the Pacific Alliance Championships in Hawaii, as well as other important international assignments.

The favourite in the senior event is reigning champion Alexandra Orlando, however former national group team members Pamela Jewel and Sarah Stock have returned to individual competition and are looking to maintain their place among the top gymnasts in the country. The junior category is considered to be wide open with a number of excellent novices moving up to this age category, as well as many talented, experienced juniors that will make for a tough competition. Look for Katia Zaitseva, Juliana Semenova, Suzy Lendvay, and Min Cho to be among the top finishers.

The Elite Canada competition format replicates that of the world championships with the top 8 in each event competing in finals at the end of the day. The top three in the junior and senior events after day one of competition are:

Senior Hoop   Senior Ball
1.Alexandra Orlando (ON)20.700 1.Alexandra Orlando (ON)21.700
2. Yana Tsikaridse (PQ)19.900 2. Stefanie Carew (ON)19.325
3. Sarah Stock (ON)19.800 3. Pamela Jewell (ON)19.150
Junior Rope   Junior Ball
1.Juliana Semenova (BC)17.875 1.Suzy Lendway (ON)17.800
2.Rosanna Tso (ON)17.825 2.Rosanna Tso (ON)17.000
3.Suzy Lendvay (ON)17.200 2.Julianna Semenova (BC)17.000

Full results can be found at Rhythmic Gymnastics Manitoba. Competition resumes today, and concludes Sunday.


Shewfelt won bronze
at last year's worlds
Photo by Grace Chiu

Kyle Shewfelt, one of Canada's top Olympic hopefuls, had to withdraw from the Cottbus Cup World Cup event with an injury to his foot, sustained in yesterday's qualifying rounds. Shewfelt, who qualified to today's floor exercise final in first place, said he suffered the injury after an awkward landing on the vault. In a post to the Gymworld Message Board, Shewfelt told readers, "Yesterday's qualification was interesting. I did well on floor and on my first vault, but unfortunately I landed weird on my second vault and it appears that I have a done a little bit of damage to my foot. I will not be competing in the finals here."

At this time, the extent of Shewfelt's injury is unknown. "I am not too sure what the damage is as of yet, but I will go home and get an MRI done to figure everything out. I am sure that it is nothing that won't heal up in a couple of weeks.

"I wish that I could compete because I was really prepared for this competition, but my main priority for this year is the Olympic Games. I am really looking forward to them!"

In his absence, teammate Brandon O'Neill, who qualified to the floor final in fourth place, struggled with his routine for an 8.800 for seventh place. O'Neill suffered errors on a handstand, as well as his double-twisting double somersault closing pass. The winner of the champion's final was Latvia's Igor Vihrovs, who finished ahead of Romania's Ioan Suciu for the gold.

Competition continues tomorrow with the men's vault finals. Shewfelt had qualified to the final in sixth place, but will not compete. O'Neill finished tenth in qualifying, but has now moved up to the position of first alternate to the final with Shewfelt's withdrawal.


Calgary's Kyle Shewfelt qualified in first place to the men's floor exercise final at the Cottbus Cup, the year's first World Cup event, which got underway earlier today. Shewfelt, who is the defending world championship bronze medalist on floor, scored a 9.600 to finish ahead of Olympic champion Igor Vihrovs, who shared second place with Switzerland's Patrick Dominguez with a 9.525 score. Finishing fourth in qualifying, with a score of 9.500, was Pan American Games floor champion Brandon O'Neill of Canada. O'Neill, 19, previously qualified to World Cup finals at last year's Thessaloniki Cup in Greece, where he placed fifth on vault and eighth on floor. This is his second World Cup assignment.

In men's vault competition, Shewfelt again qualified to the final by finishing sixth in preliminaries with a 9.475 score. The top score of the day went to Polish vault specialist Leszek Blanik with a 9.737. O'Neill, who trains at the Capital City Gymnastics Club in Edmonton, just missed qualifying for the eight-athlete final with a 9.375 average that placed him tenth on the apparatus.

The Cottbus Cup continues through the weekend, with floor finals scheduled for Saturday, and vault finals taking place on Sunday. Check back with Gymn.ca for further results as they become available.

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