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Archive: April 2005

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Edmonton’s Brandon O’Neill edged out Olympic silver medallist and former world champion Marian Dragulescu 9.512 to 9.425 to earn the top qualifying spot for tomorrow’s apparatus finals at a World Cup competition in Ghent, Belgium. O’Neill, the current Pan American Games champion on this apparatus, was the only qualifier to earn a 10.0 start value. Hungary’s Robert Gal, a world championship finalist on floor qualified to the final in third place, scoring 9.275. O’Neill missed qualifying for the vault final – another strong event for him – averaging 9.218 over his two vaults to rank 12th. He also competed on parallel bars, scoring only 7.45, leaving him in 18th place.

Vancouver’s Gael Mackie also qualified for tomorrow’s apparatus finals, scoring 8.912 out of a 9.9 start value on the uneven bars, good enough for fourth place. Great Britain’s Elizabeth Tweddle, a world bronze medallist on the event, scored 9.55 to qualify in first place, ahead of the Czech Republic’s Jana Sikulova (9.225) and Spain’s Laura Campos (9.10). Mackie finished 13th with an 8.425 score on her other apparatus, the balance beam.

The finals take place tomorrow, with O’Neill scheduled to compete sixth in the order on floor, and Mackie second to compete on the uneven bars. Full results from qualifying are available in PDF format from the GYMmedia website.


Laura-Kay Powell and Kate Richardson earned the best results among Canadians on the first night of competition at the 2005 NCAA Championships, held at Alabama's Auburn University.

Powell, who competes for Iowa State University, was the highest ranking Canadian in the all-around, finishing tied for 17th with 39.250. The 21 year-old former Ottawa Gymnastics Club stand-out was hampered only by a 9.650 on the uneven bars, keeping her out of the top ten overall. Powell also qualified for the floor exercise final with a 9.900 score, good enough for a fourth-place tie in the second of two subdivisions of competition. The top four scores (ties included) from both subdivisions qualify to Saturday's event finals. Last year, Powell qualified to the NCAA Championships as an individual, competing on the floor exercise only.

Kate Richardson with UCLA coach
Valorie Kondos-Field at the
2004 Canadian championships

Richardson, a two-time Olympian and junior at UCLA, qualified for two event finals, finishing second on beam in the second subdivision with a 9.925. Richardson also tied Powell for fourth on floor with a 9.900, while her UCLA team finished second in their subdivision. The 2004 Olympic finalist was expected to compete on all four events for UCLA (she finished third all-around in 2003) until an injury kept her from competing on the uneven bars for the latter part of the season. To date, Richardson has four top three finishes in individual events at the NCAA Championships, including the 2003 NCAA titles on the uneven bars and balance beam.

Also earning an event final berth was LSU's Annie Gagnon. Gagnon finished fourth in the first subdivision on bars with a 9.875, although her team narrowly missed making the Super Six team final. The top three teams from each session qualify for the final. The event final berth is a first for the former Gymnix athlete.

Also competing in this year's NCAA Championships was Florida's Breanne King, who finished 19th all-around. Unfortunately for the former Flicka gymnast, King's Florida team finished fourth in the second subdivision, taking them out of the running for the Super Six.

Other Canadians in the field included 2001 world all-around finalist Ashley Peckett (three 9.800s for UCLA), and 2002 Canadian Open champion Marie-Helene Claveau (34th all-around for Brigham Young University), her twin sister Genevieve Claveau (9.700 on bars and 9.750 on floor for BYU), and former national open competitor Kirsten Pauga from Alberta (9.775 on vault for BYU).

Competition continues tomorrow night with the team final, while the event finals will take place on Saturday.


Photo courtesy of 
OEG/Edwin Koppers
Casey Sandy of Mississauga and Brittnee Habbib of Oshawa took gold medals today at the Stella Zakharova Cup in Kiev, Ukraine. Sandy took gold in the men’s parallel bars, scoring 8.875. He also took silver medals in the floor exercise (8.775) and high bar (8.675). He also finished just outside of the medals on pommel horse, normally one of his bests events. Edmonton’s Jared Walls also competed in four apparatus finals for the men, finishing fourth on the vault, fifth on parallel bars, and sixth on pommel horse and high bar.

For the women, Habbib led a 1-2 Canada finish on floor exercise, taking gold with an 8.90 score ahead of club mate Kelsey Hope (8.875). Montreal’s Nansy Damianova also landed herself on the podium, taking bronze on the uneven bars with a score of 8.75. Hope also finished fifth on the vault, while Laura-Ann Chong of Vancouver and Dawn Patulli of Beaconsfield, Quebec finished fifth and sixth on the balance beam. Richmond Hill’s Marci Bernholtz had qualified for two apparatus finals, but was unable to compete after suffering a strained knee. Canada won ten medals overall at this competition, continuing what has already been a strong season, with many successful performances from our gymnasts this year at various international invitational and world cup competitions.


Banville at the 2004 Nationals
Ottawa's Melanie Banville won the all-around title by almost four points last night at the annual Elite Ontario, held in Caledonia with a score of 38.20.  Solid and consistent over four events, Banville scored her highest mark on uneven bars with a 9.625, where she executed a nice toe on full turn to giant to immediate Tkatchev and nailed a double layout dismount.  Banville vaulted a high piked Podkopayeva and showed her World and Olympic experience with a solid beam routine, where she debuted a new double turn.  

Finishing in second place was Jenna Kerbis (Brandon Eagles in Manitoba) with 34.225.  Kerbis added some excitement to the competition after her uneven bars effort, performing a Shaposhnikova, giant full to Tkatchev and a high full-in back out dismount.

Finishing with the bronze medal was Pulsar's Rebecca Simbhudas, with a score of 33.700.  Competing for the second time since suffering a back injury prior to the 2004 Olympic Trials, Sport Seneca's Lydia Williams proved that she is fighting to regain her previous skill level and national ranking by putting forth two aggressive performances on the uneven bars and balance beam.  On the uneven bars, Williams executed her trademark spectacular releases of piked Jaegar and Tkatchev, while competing with confidence on balance beam with a front somi to two back tucks, double turn and illusion to score the second highest mark of the day on the event (9.00).

In the junior division, Caya Colling from ASF placed first, followed by Stephanie Pacitto (Mississauga) and Nicole Heikkila (Sport Seneca).


Photo courtesy of 
OEG/Edwin Koppers
Marci Bernholtz led Team Canada 1 to a team silver in Kiev today, at the 2005 Stella Zakharova Cup. Joining her were Kelsey Hope, Dawn Patulli, and Alyssa Brown. The winning team was Ukraine 1, led by 2004 Olympian Olga Shcherbatikh. The Hungarians took the bronze.

Team Canada 2 (Nansy Damianova, Laura-Ann Chong, Britnee Habbib, and Leslie Mak) amassed a total of 101.300, fourth highest in score but only one team per country was permitted to vie for team honours. (Similarly, Team Ukraine 2 actually outscored Team Canada, but competed hors de concours for the medal rostrum).

All individual results counted for all-around standings, with Bernholtz posting Canada's highest all-around total in the senior women's competition. The Ukrainians dominated the all-around podium, with Shcherbatikh, Maksiuta, and Zgoba taking top hours. 

Belgium's Gaelle Mys surprised, posting the highest all-around among junior aged competitors. Canadians Kelsey Hope and Dawn Patulli rounded out the junior all-around awards, finishing in silver and bronze positions, respectively.

A maximum two per country proceed to tomorrow's event finals, and there are two Canadians qualified to each final.  

Photo courtesy of 
OEG/Edwin Koppers

For the first time, Canada also fielded male athletes to the Stella Zakharova Cup. Casey Sandy placed second in the senior men's all-around, and Jared Wells fifth.

Women's Team:
1. Ukraine 1 (Shcherbatikh, Zogba, Valova, Ishchenko) 107,15
2. Canada 1 (Bernholtz, Hope, Patulli, Brown) 103.65
3. Hungary 99.125

Senior Women's AA:
1. Shcherbatikh (UKR) 36.25
2. Maksiuta (UKR) 35.35
3. Zgoba (UKR) 35.15
? Bernholtz (CAN) 34.8
? Chong (CAN) 33.5
? Habbib (CAN) 32.75
? Brown (CAN) 32.65

Junior Women's AA:
1. Gaelle Mys (BEL) 35.25
2. Hope (CAN) 34.75
3. Patulli (CAN) 33.9
?. Damianova 33.5
?. Leslie Mak (CAN) 8.55 (
Mak injured her elbow in training, competing only beam)

Senior Men's AA:
1. Vadim Kuvakin (UKR) 52.775
2. Sandy Casey (CAN) 52.175
3. Maxim Buryak (UKR) 52.1
6. Jared Walls (CAN) 50.525


Canadian Jennifer Lezeu today placed 7th all-around at the 2005 Romanian International, held in Ploiesti, Romania. The competition was won by Florica Leonida. Leonida was part of the silver medal winning team at the 2003 World Championships, but missed out on a spot on Romania's 2004 Olympic team. Russia's Alyona Zmeu and China's Wang Tianjiao finished second and third all-around, respectively.

Jordan Harvie of Canada was also expected to compete today, but sat out the competition after injuring her ankle in warm-up.


Canada came very close to the podium at the conclusion of the Sao Paulo world cup event in Brazil today. Toronto’s Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs scored an 8.875 on the balance beam, less than two tenths of a point shy of Spain’s Patricia Moreno‘s bronze medal winning score of 9.05. This result proved to be controversial, as Hopfner-Hibbs had originally been given a score of 9.075, but was lowered by 0.2 after WTC president Nelli Kim intervened and had her start value lowered. Hopfner-Hibbs' coach Carol-Angela Orchard expressed her disappointment by saying "(Elyse) had received what we thought initially was a very fair score and was deserving of the bronze medal." Orchard told Gymnastics Canada. "This was a very experienced judging panel which had judged all three days of this competition.” First place on the apparatus went to Chinese newcomer Wang Lili who earned 9.45. Silver went to another young Chinese athlete, Panpan Pang who posted a 9.25. Calgary’s Kylie Stone also competed in the balance beam final, finishing eighth with an 8.1 score. Hopfner-Hibbs also competed on floor exercise today, but struggled again, scoring only a 7.70 for eighth place. Home country favourite, and current world floor exercise champion Daiane Dos Santos took home the gold with a 9.50 score, ahead of Olympic bronze medallist Moreno, who had taken first place in qualifying (9.125). China took home its third medal of the day with Lin Xia’s 9.075 bronze medal effort.

The Canadian men finished strongly on their final day of competition with Calgarians Grant Golding and Nathan Gafuik finishing fourth and fifth respectively in the parallel bar final, scoring 9.075 and 9.025. Mitja Petkovsek of Slovenia took gold on the event, with an impressive 9.525 score, followed by Dong Zhendong of China (9.425) and Spain’s Manuel Carballo (9.20). Gafuik also competed in the high bar finals, finishing seventh with a score of 8.45. Carballo took first (9.475) closely followed by Brazil’s Mosiah Rodrigues (9.40), with Germany’s Robert Juckel rounding out the podium with a score of 9.275.

Full results are available at the Brazilian Gymnastics Federation website.


Canadian men’s all-around champion Grant Golding of Calgary posted a fifth place on still rings today on the first round of event finals at the world cup event in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Golding dropped one rank from his fourth place in preliminaries, but improved his score from a 9.325 to a 9.35. Chinese newcomer Chen Yibing won the event with an impressive 9.725, followed by Yuri Van Gelder of the Netherlands (9.675) and Kazakhstan’s Ildar Valeyev (9.425). Nathan Gafuik, also of Calgary, finished sixth on floor exercise today, scoring 8.45, one tenth off the mark he earned in yesterday’s qualification round. Hungarian Robert Gal took first place on floor with a 9.20 score, followed by Jefferey Wammes of the Netherlands (8.70) and Puerto Rico’s Alexander Rodriguez (8.65).

The Canadian women were also in action today, with Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs of Toronto finishing fifth on the uneven bars with an 8.7 score, and sixth on the vault, averaging 8.612. National all-around champion Kylie Stone also competed on both apparatus today, finishing seventh on vault with an 8.475 average, and eighth on the even bars, scoring only 7.70 after posting an 8.95 in the qualifying round. Veteran Oksana Chusovitina took first place on the vault, averaging a 9.20 to take first place over Brazil’s Lais Souza (9.15) and Spain’s Tania Gener (9.05). On the uneven bars, China’s Zhang Yufei - on the comeback trail after injuries took her out of Olympic contention last year – took the gold with a 9.475, followed by Gener (9.40) and Brazilian Olympian Camila Comin (9.30).

The Canadians will be in action again tomorrow when the competition concludes. Full results are available at the Brazilian federation website.


Canada will be well represented in the apparatus finals at this week-end’s world cup competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with all four entrants qualifying. For the women, Toronto’s Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs was the only gymnast to qualify to all four event finals, with her best result coming on the balance beam where her 8.60 score ranked her fourth. She also scored well on the vault, where an 8.675 average left her in fifth place. Despite much lower scores on the uneven bars (8.225 – she missed her Jaeger) and floor exercise (7.475 – after falling on her last two passes), she still earned the eighth and final berth to the final on both events. 

The other Canadian women’s entrant was current national all-around champion Kylie Stone of Calgary, who made three finals. She qualified to the finals on the uneven bars in fourth place, scoring 8.95, her top score of the day. She also qualified in fifth place on the balance beam (8.525) and sixth on the vault (8.425). Like Hopfner-Hibbs, Stone suffered an uncharacteristically low score on the floor exercise, normally one of her best events, scoring only 7.225, the lowest score of the day on an event where half the field scored below 8.00. Stone attempted a new opening pass off a double layout, but stumbled on an Arabian double front and landed low on a piked full-in – ending her routine with just a layout instead of her usual double pike.

The Canadian men will also feature prominently in the apparatus finals tomorrow, after national champion Grant Golding of earned two fourth places in preliminaries on rings (9.325) and parallel bars (9.175), easily qualifying for both finals. Golding also competed on floor and vault (just missing finals, finishing ninth on both events with scores of 8.55 and 9.05 respectively), and pommel horse (struggling to a 7.325). Up and comer Nathan Gafuik, also of Calgary, made three apparatus finals, with his best rank of fifth coming in the floor exercise, with an 8.55 score. He also made finals on parallel bars (8.75, seventh best), and high bar (9.025, sixth best). He also competed on pommel horse, where like his teammate struggled to a score of 7.375, leaving him in 19th place.

It has been a successful world cup season for the Canadian team so far, with Hopfner-Hibbs, Golding, and Gafiuk having also made finals at February’s American Cup, along with Marci Bernholtz.

Competition concludes tomorrow with the apparatus finals. Results of today’s preliminaries can be found at the Brazillian federation’s website.


Photo by Barbara Kost-Lonergan

Oshawa’s Brittnee Habbib and Kelsey Hope earned all-around medals for Canada at this weekend’s prestigious Friendship Classic competition. Habbib, a senior national team member, took bronze in the senior women’s all-around, scoring 34.80. Habbib’s top score of 9.0 came on the vault apparatus, but her highest ranking individual event proved to be the balance beam, where her 8.7 score ranked her third. Grace Taylor of the United States took home the all-around title, upsetting Olympic all-around bronze medallist Zhang Nan of China, who suffered a few errors, 35.90 to 35.30. Taylor and Habbib finished third and fifth respectively in the senior all-around at last year’s competition.

In the junior women’s all-around competition, Hope actually tied China’s Han Bing for the highest score (35.20) but finished second after a tie breaker. Hope took first place on the uneven bars, scoring a 9.0, and also broke the 9 point barrier on the balance beam, where her impressive 9.05 was good enough for second on that event. Russia’s Ekaterina Kramarenko, who recently competed in Canada at the Gymnix International, equaled her all-around result from that competition, taking the bronze with a 34.95 score. Other Canadian entries in the junior competition were 2004 Elite Canada novice and junior all-around winners Kristina Vaculik and Cynthia Lemieux, who finished fifth (33.3) and seventh (32.475) respectively, and Lemieux’s clubmate Laurie-Eve Pépin Gagné - who represented Gym Richelieu here – who finished just behind Lemieux, scoring 32.40. Vaculik’s top score of the day came on the uneven bars, where her 8.7 ranked her fifth, with Lemieux’s 8.20 on floor earning her the second best score of the day on that event, though her top score of 8.675 came on the vault, which ranked seventh best. Pépin-Gagné’s highest-ranking event was floor exercise (8.05 for sixth), with her best score of 8.55 coming on the vault.

Full results from the Friendship Classic can be found at the competition’s official website.

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