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Archive: November, December 2006

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Edmonton's Brandon O'Neill and Toronto's Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs finished their 2006 competitive season today, at the World Cup final in Sao Paulo, Brazil. O'Neill competed vault and Hopfner-Hibbs the beam. O'Neill threw a 2.5 Tsukahara nearly sticking the landing for a 16.325. He suffered several steps landing his second vault, a 2.5 Yurchenko, to score 15.625. He averaged 15.975, finishing off the podium. Gold went to Romania's Marian Dragulescu, silver to Russia's Antov Golotsutskov, and bronze to Brazil's Diego Hypolito

Hopfner-Hibbs suffered several wobbles on beam but stayed on, tying for fifth with Zhang Nan of China. Gold went to China's Li Ya, who took home silver on bars yesterday. The Hypolito family earned their second medal of the day, with daughter Danielle Hypolito taking silver. Spain's Lenika De Simone rounded out the podium, picking up the bronze. Irina Krasnyanska, 2006 World Champion on beam, fell on a layout and scored 14.500.

Canada leaves this World Cup with two medals, a silver from Kyle Shewfelt and bronze from Brandon O'Neill. Both medals came on the floor exercise.


Calgary's Kyle Shewfelt and Edmonton's Brandon O'Neill have just placed second and third, respectively, at the World Cup Final on floor in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Winner is Brazil's Diego Hypolito. This marks the end of Shewfelt's 2006 season, but O'Neill will vie for a medal tomorrow on vault. Tomorrow also sees Canada's Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs compete for a medal on beam.


Boosted by a nearly 5 point lead from day 1, Grant Golding (U of C) coasted to first place tonight in the senior men's all-around competition at Elite Canada. Golding had the largest - and loudest - cheering section at the meet, with many relatives and friends present. Ken Ikeda (Abottsford) picked up the silver, with Luke Boyd (U of C) improving from his day 1 placement to grab the bronze.

In the junior men's category, Saskatoon's Jayd Lukenchuk capitalized on mistakes made by day 1 leader Jackson Payne from Edmonton (breaks on p-bars, pommels) to rally to first. Calgary's John Hall retained his third place standing to claim the bronze. 

Apparatus medals were also awarded, with Golding taking gold on floor, rings, and p-bars in the senior division. Ikeda picked up two of the remaining two titles, on pommels and high bar, with AJ Rayment tops on vault. In the junior division, all three all-around medalists picked up at least one an apparatus title; Lukenchuk (rings, vault), Payne (high bar, pommels with Alexander Hoy), and Hall (p-bars). Kevin Lytwyn won gold on floor.

Full results are available at Gymnastics Canada:

- Two day totals: Junior men's
- Two day totals: Senior men's


Peng Peng Lee of Sports Seneca has won the junior women's division at Elite Canada. Runner-up is Charlotte Mackie of Omega. Third place went to Laurie-Eve Pépin-Gagné of Gym Richelieu. Watch some of the top junior women's performances via our updated multimedia page.

Click here for complete junior women's results.


Grant Golding surprised no one tonight, topping the senior men's standings at Elite Canada. Golding is in a comfortable lead after the first of two days of competition, having hit 6-for-6. He sits nearly 5 full points ahead of Ken Ikeda, a member of this year's World Championships team. 

Golding posted the best scores of the night on floor, rings, vault, and parallel bars whereas Ikeda bested the competition on pommel horse and high bar. David Kikuchi, the only other 2006 World Championships team member to compete in tonight's competition, competed only pommels (3rd) and high bar (2nd). Devon Sidwell, a training partner of Golding's at the U of C, sits in third place going into day 2 of competition.

In the junior men's category, Edmonton's Jackson Payne sits in first place as the only junior to break the 80-mark. Payne, who trains alongside World Cup final bound Brandon O'Neill, holds a 1.05 point lead over Saskatoon's Jayd Lukenchuk. Both boys represented Canada earlier this year at the 2006 Junior Pan Am Games.

Calgary's John Hall rounds out the top three and is likely to face pressure from recent Junior Pan Am Games member Alexander Hoy to retain a spot on the podium. Hoy tied for fourth tonight with Francis Croft, struggling with falls on parallel bars (dismount) and high bar (Tkatchev).

Full results are available at Gymnastics Canada:

- junior men's day 1
- senior men's day 1


Junior Canadian champion Kristina Vaculik of Gemini gymnastics took the senior all-around gold medal at the Elite Canada competition tonight at Seneca College in Toronto. Vaculik, coached by 1980 Olympic Champion Elena Davydova, was the junior Elite Canada champion last year. Vaculik began her competition on the vault, showing a solid Yurchenko-full as well as a round-off ½ on front tuck off second vault which she showed for event finals qualification. On her next event the uneven bars, Vaculik impressed with her body line and world class difficulty, including some new skills for her: a toe-on full pirouette on the low bar, and a Gienger release. She was also solid on her stalder-full Tkatchev and double front dismount. Vaculik struggled on the balance beam, counting three falls (after her second layout step-out, aerial cartwheel, and side somi) but still impressed with a nice Rulfova and a double pike dismount – both new skills in her repertoire. Vaculik showed tremendous mental toughness and determination on her last event, the floor exercise, where she showed a solid full-in mount, a front-full, a 1 ½ twist through to a 2 ½ twist, and solid double pike dismount. Vaculik spoke to Gymn.ca after the competition, and said that her first competition at the senior level was a good experience and a great chance to compete against the top Canadian seniors. She said she did not feel a lot of pressure, feeling that no one expected anything from her. As for coming back after a missed beam routine, she noted “You can’t let it affect you. You have to focus on the next event or you might end up making more mistakes.” Vaculik’s goals for this year include competing internationally for Canada, including at the next world championships, as well as to perfect her routines. Vaculik will compete in three event finals on Sunday.

Finishing in second place was world team member Marci Bernholtz, coached by Paula Johnson at ASF Gymnastics. Bernholtz hit four for four and earned the highest individual score on the uneven bars where she showed a jump to handstand mount ½ turn to toe-on Shaposhnikova to overshoot, a toe-on full to Tkatchev, and a double pike dismount. She was also impressive on beam, with a layout step-out to pike-open swing down, a switch leap to back tuck, a Rulfova, and a solid double turn. Bernholtz has had to modify her floor routine due to knee problems, and she and her coach plan to take a close look at the code of points to see what new combinations she can incorporate into her routines in the future. Bernholtz said she is focusing on bars and beam due to her knee and that she has to avoid some of the hard landings on floor. Her main goal remains the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Finishing in third place was Stephanie Pacitto of Gymnastics Mississauga, coached by Alex Bard and Svetlana Degteva. Pacitto was the top performer on vault with a Yurchenko 1 ½ and also showed well on floor, tumbling a piked full-in, 2 whips through to triple twist, and double pike. She also showed a variety of skills on beam (front tuck mount, front tuck, aerial walkover, side somi, one armed back handspring to layout step-out). Pacitto said her performance was “pretty good” and added that it felt good to compete some new skills on vault and bars.

Veteran Crystal Gilmore, coached by Shawn Healey at Taiso finished fourth, and likely would have finished higher had she not pinged on her uneven bars dismount in her last event. She was really pleased with her performance overall. Gilmore had the highest score of the day on the balance beam, nailing her back handspring to full twisting back tuck, and hitting her other difficult skills (punch front, aerial walkover, side somi, double tuck dismount). Her floor was also extremely impressive, with a double Arabian, 1 ½ twist through to 2 ½ twist and a double pike. On vault she showed a Yurchenko-full and an Omeliantchik (RO ½ on to piked front off). She hopes to compete a Yurchenko 1 ½ in event finals on Sunday.

Sydney Sawa of Calgary Gymnastics Center was also impressive in her senior debut, showing impressive upgrades on floor (double Arabian mount, two whips to a 2 ½ twist, 1 ½ twist to layout front-full, and double pike where she fell short). She had unfortunate falls off beam, but still showed some nice work including a switch ring leap and an Onodi. Sawa is coached by Sue Raffin and recently also by David Kenwright, former coach of two time Canadian Olympian Kate Richardson, who has joined the coaching staff at Calgary.

Rounding out the top six was world team member Rebecca Simbhudas of Pulsars, coached by Ludmilla Korolenko. Simbhudas showed some impressive skills including an illusion full on beam, and a Jaeger and some nice stalder-work on bars, but falls on her beam (double back) and uneven bar (double front) dismounts cost her valuable points.

Competing on balance beam only was world bronze medallist Elyse Hopnfer-Hibbs of the host Seneca club. Hopfner-Hibbs will compete next week-end at the World Cup Final in Brazil, and she performed her full beam routine here including her triple turn and a new switch side leap with a ½ turn. Hopfner-Hibbs and her Seneca coaches Carol-Angela Orchard, Brian McVey, Lawson Hamer, and Lisa Cowan were all recognized for their world championship achievement in a special ceremony after the competition.

Noticeably absent from the competition were Nansy Damianova of Gymnix and Alyssa Brown of Gymnastics Mississauga. Damianova is resting after recently competing in Europe, with her main focus on preparations for next year’s world championships, according to her coach Katerine Dussault. Brown is resting a sore Achilles sustained in training last week, but hopes to be back in competition soon.

Competition continues tomorrow with the junior all-around competition. Event finals for both juniors and seniors take place on Sunday. Videos from tonight’s competition should be posted by tomorrow afternoon.

Full results from tonight’s competition can be found at Gymnastics Canada.


Canada is set to enjoy it's best representation at a World Cup final, next week in Brazil. Competing on vault and floor will be Edmonton's Brandon O'Neill. Calgary's Kyle Shewfelt and Toronto's Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs will compete on the apparatus on which they won their recent World Championships medals, floor and beam, respectively.

Complete rosters are available on the FIG website:
- men's roster
- women's roster


The 2006 Elite Canada competitions for both men and women will take place next weekend. Headlining the men's event in Calgary (University of Calgary) are David Kikuchi, Ken Ikeda, and Grant Golding. Kikuchi and Ikeda competed at the recent 2006 World Championships, with Golding the traveling alternate. The other team members - Shewfelt, O'Neill, Wong and Gafuik - are sitting out the event. (See recent Gymn.ca interview with Wong).

Headlining the women's event in Toronto (Sport Seneca) is recent World bronze medalist Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, who will compete only on her specialties, bars and beam. Fellow World team members Alyssa Brown, Crystal Gilmore, Rebecca Simbhudas, Crystal Gilmore, and Marci Bernholtz are also slated to compete. 

Newcomers to Canada's senior women's scene include several recent junior stand-outs, such as Kristina Vaculik, Sydney Sawa, and Caya Colling. Notable absences include Nansy Damianova, who recently returned from a European circuit (Arthur Gander Memorial, Swiss Cup), Gael Mackie, who continues to rehab following a tear in her abdominal muscle, suffered shortly prior to Worlds in October. (See IG for recent interview with Mackie), and Aisha Gerber.

Complete rosters, schedules, and more can be found at gym-score-depot.

Elite Canada is an important event for Canada's gymnasts, with annual funding on the line. Gymn.ca will be present at both men's and women's events. Stay tuned for updates!



Wong competes All-Around at the 2006 Worlds
Photo by Heather Maynez

It's been a busy year for Canada's men's gymnastics team, and Calgary's Adam Wong has played a pivotal role in the country's accomplishments this year. Competing in his first Commonwealth Games in March, Wong helped his team recapture gold and capped off the Games with a gold on floor exercise. One month later he traveled to Honolulu for the Pacific Alliance Championships, where team Canada surprised to take silver over the Chinese. 

On the heals of the 2006 Canadian Championships, where Wong placed third all-around and medaled on rings (silver) and p-bars (tied for gold), he and his teammates begin a long series of training camps and mock meets for the ultimate event in 2006, the World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. These Worlds were historic for Canada's men's program in several ways, including a first ever berth to men's team finals and highest all-around placement by Wong, himself.

Back home in Calgary for a little over one month, Wong recently took time to chat with Gymn.ca. In this interview he reflects on his career to date and shares how he keeps busy outside the gym.

Read Interview....


Calgary’s Grant Golding, former Canadian all-around champion and alternate at the recent world championships, made two apparatus finals at this week-end’s Glasgow Grand Prix in Glasgow, Scotland. Golding finished seventh in floor exercise, scoring 14.575, a score he matched in the parallel bars final to take fourth. Alexander Jeltkov of Montreal also competed, but did not make any finals. He finished 21st in floor exercise (12.55) and 20th in high bar (11.25).

Men's Floor Exercise Results
1. Matthias Fahrig GER 15.325
2. Wajdi Bouallegue TUN 15.125
3. Gael da Silva FRA 15.050
4. Sam Hunter GBR 14.900
5. Thomas Bouhail FRA 14.850
6. Joseph Hagerty USA 14.775
7. Grant Golding CAN 14.575
8. Anton Golotsutskov RUS 13.625

Parallel Bars
1. Yann Cucherat FRA 15.350
2. Roman Kulesza POL 14.925
3. Sean Townsend USA 14.700
4. Grant Golding CAN 14.575
5. Kamil Hulboj POL 14.375
6. Alexander Safoshkin RUS 14.250
7. Gael da Silva FRA 13.825
8. Brian Gladow GER 13.750


A minor injury on his final tumbling pass on his first event at the Swiss Cup forced Edmonton’s Brandon O’Neill to withdraw from the remainder of the competition, dropping him and his partner Nansy Damianova of Montreal to 10th place. O’Neill, who has had little time rest following the world championships last month, with appearances at the DTB Cup and Arthur Gander memorial meets, feels that the injury is minor and should not prevent him from competing at the World Cup final in Brazil next month. ‘’I don’t think there’s any serious damage but I didn’t want to take any chances with the World Cup final coming up in a month,’’ O’Neill told Gymnastics Canada.

O’Neill scored a 14.40 on floor and did not compete on vault, which was his second scheduled event. Damianova competed on two events, scoring 13.40 on the vault after suffering a fall, and a 14.80 on the uneven bars. Veterans Jordan Jovtchev of Bulgaria and Oksana Chusovitina of Germany combined to win the competition, scoring 32.20 points in the new life final round. Romanians Marian Dragulescu (a double gold medallist from the world championships in Aarhus) and Steliana Nistor took second (31.10) followed the host Swiss pairing of Nicolas Boeschenstein and Ariella Kaeslin (30.65).


Edmonton’s Brandon O’Neill added a rare all-around medal to his tally today, taking bronze at the 2006 Arthur Gander Memorial in Chiasso, Switzerland. Gymnasts compete a reduced workload, the men competing on four apparatus of their choice and the women competing on three. The format proved to O'Neill's advantage, finishing third behind Marian Dragulescu (ROM) and Jordan Jovtchev (BUL). Individually he tied for the top score on floor (with Dragulescu), second highest score on parallel bars, and the third best score on vault. He rounded out his competition with high bar.

Montreal's Nansy Damianova represented Canada on the women's side, finishing 8th overall. Damianova had a rough day, sitting down her Yurchenko 1 1/2, falling from beam (RO + Layout to 2-feet) and ending low on her piked double back dismount off beam. Damianova's best performance came on bars, which she capped with a double front dismount. Newly crowed 2006 World all-around champion Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) took gold, followed by Steliana Nistor (ROM; 4th at Worlds), and Oksana Chusovitina (now competing for Germany).

O'Neill and Damianova will pair up this weekend at the Swiss Cup, a mixed pairs event.

Men's All-around
1. Marian Dragulescu (ROM) 61.95
2. Jordan Jovtchev (BUL) 61.25
3. Brandon O'Neill (CAN) 60.85
4. Claudio Capelli (SUI) 60.50
5. Andrei Isayev (UKR) 60.00
6. Niki Böschenstein (SUI) 58.80
7. Thomas Andergassen (GER) 58.50
7. Yann Cucherat (FRA) 58.50
9. Enzo Bernardoni (ITA) 56.90
10. Anton Lobachyov (RUS) 54.45

Women's All-around
1. Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) 46.00
2. Steliana Nistor (ROM) 45.05
3. Oksana Chusovitina (GER) 44.65
4. Ariella Käslin (SUI) 44.05
5. Carlotta Govannini (ITA) 43.80
6. Svetlana Kliukina (RUS) 43.15
7. Jana Komrskova (CZE) 42.60
8. Nansy Damianova (CAN) 41.85
10. Marie-Sophie Hindermann (GER) 41.00
11. Jenny Kohler (FRA) 38.70

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