Woo Sisters Dominate at International Gymnix

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It’s rare when two sisters make it to the elite level in gymnastics. It’s even more rare for both to be on the country’s national team, but last week in Montreal, Canada’s Victoria-Kayen Woo and younger sister Rose-Kaying Woo made history as they were both crowned all-around champion at their respective competitions.

The sisters walked away from International Gymnix with a total of seven medals, a huge feat at this competition that featured 40 other competitors from around the globe. Victoria defeated her biggest competition, 2014 Worlds teammate Isabela Onyshko, by several tenths and Rose topped Russian junior Natalia Kapitonova by nearly a point.

Victoria won the Challenge title with a score of 54.625 in her first all-around competition back since World Championships qualification while Rose, who competed as part of the Canadian team for the Junior Cup team final, had the highest all-around score of 56.1 in her division. In addition, Victoria picked up the bronze apparatus final medals on bars and floor while Rose added three more golds, first in the team final alongside Shallon Olsen, Megan Roberts, and Ana Padurariu, and then on beam and floor during event finals.

Rose is most excellent on floor, where she opens with a big double arabian, can stick her triple full (it’s seriously one of the best I’ve seen all season, especially after watching Russian Championships), and finishes with a double tuck. But she’s truly good everywhere, and it’s a shame she’s not a senior…she’d be an easy choice for Worlds, especially with how consistent she is.

In her all-around competition, Victoria competed a clean FTY to start. Her bar set featured a shaposh to bail to Ray, a clear hip half to straddle Jaeger, a clear hip full, and a double layout. It’s not the cleanest routine, but she hit and it was one of the better bar routines presented by the seniors. On beam she looked mostly solid aside from a check on her double turn, and on floor she had a stumble on her 2.5 but looked great on her triple full and piked full-in.

It wasn’t all about the Woo sisters this weekend, though. Throughout both the Challenge competition and the Junior Cup, we saw tons of fantastic talent, so check out the recaps below! You can also easily access the full results through The Gymternet.

The Challenge

Behind Victoria Woo in the Challenge all-around final was Isabela Onyshko, who earned a 54.325, and then new senior Sydney Soloski for bronze with a 53.100.

During all-around finals, Onyshko struggled on bars and floor, but pulled off a hit beam routine both there and in finals, where she earned gold on the event. She also cleaned up bars enough for the silver there in finals, hitting an excellent Maloney to clear hip full to Tkatchev, a big Hindorff to pak salto (though she’s still straddling her legs on the pak), and a gooooorgeous toe half to Endo into her double front dismount. I actually am obsessed with the composition of this routine…it’ll be a big deal for Canada if she can clean it up.

Soloski’s difficulty is a bit low on bars, though she looks VERY polished there, and works slowly from skill to skill. I believe she attempted a Markelov but just didn’t actually release from the bar? And then her double layout dismount is excellent. Her true prowess is beam and floor, and though she struggled a bit on both, she still managed floor gold for her hit routine in event finals.

Sabrina Gill is continuing to prove her case as a bars specialist for the team, winning event gold there after hitting her stalder half to straddle Jaeger, an excellent Ricna to pak salto, a Chow 1/2, and a double layout dismount for a 14.275. Again, there’s some cleanup to be had, but a team with Gill, Onyshko, and Ellie Black on this event would be so exciting.

New senior Sydney Laird was relegated to just bars, earning a 13.275 in prelims and a 12.675 in finals after she got lost in her routine and took an extra swing. Her lines are absolutely gorgeous, however, and with some added difficulty this could be an excellent routine to add to the mix.

Though she didn’t have the greatest all-around competition, Gabriella Douglas, who was out for awhile due to injury, does lovely work on beam and it was rewarded in event finals, as she earned a silver with a 14.200. She has a beautiful double turn to single turn and an attempt at a triple turn (she fell there in the all-around), which was very nice to see, as her routine is all about the dance more so than the tumbling.

Also earning medals in the Challenge were Helody Cyrenne with gold on vault (she has an FTY and a handspring front pike), Sonita Zlobec with silver on vault, Madison Copiak with bronze on beam, and Meaghan Ruttan with silver on floor.

Junior Cup

The Junior Cup was first and foremost about team competition. It featured three Canadian teams as well as guests from Russia, Italy, and Switzerland. As mentioned, one of the Canadian teams (featuring Woo, Olsen, Roberts, and Padurariu) won gold with a 166.750, Russia earned silver with a 162.800, and Italy brought home bronze with a 159.350.

All-around winners were also crowned during the team final, with Woo getting gold with a 56.100, Natalia Kapitonova of Russia earning silver with a 55.400, and Jade Chrobok of Canada earning bronze with a 54.100. This competition also acted as a qualifier for event finals; Olsen won vault gold with a 14.750 average, Kapitonova won bars gold with a 14.400, and then as mentioned, Woo earned the gold medals on beam and floor.

Kapitonova’s bars were stereotypically Russian, with lovely inbar work (including a Komova II) and beautiful lines and extension. She is already working with a 6.2 difficulty and yet has plenty of room for upgrades, as her current dismount is just a double pike and she doesn’t connect many of her skills. She missed her side somi in beam finals, though again shows lovely extension and great potential, and she showed pretty dance elements on floor, though her tumbling was relatively easy.

Chrobok, a member of the Canada 2 team that placed 4th, was kind of a surprise for the all-around podium, beating out junior Elite Canada champ Megan Roberts as well as Russia’s Angelina Simakova by three tenths. She showed steady work throughout her all-around performance, looking especially great on floor, hitting a whip whip through to double tuck, 2.5 to punch front, double full, and double pike for a 14.050; she also won bronze on bars for a tidy routine that included an inbar stalder + stalder + Ray to high, a Tkatchev, and a lovely (not cowboyed!) double front with a hop for a 13.500.

In 4th place, missing the podium by just two tenths, was Italy’s Francesca Noemi Linari, who is a bit behind on bars (she hit a somewhat weak routine in prelims but missed her Tkatchev in finals), but had great performances on beam and floor in the all-around. Her floor routine looked a bit easy but she seemed to be having fun, and placed 6th there in the final.

Unfortunately, Roberts had a rough day on bars and beam during the all-around, though she hit her DTY with no problem on vault and nailed floor both days, earning a silver on the event in apparatus finals after sticking her full-in pike and showing excellent form on her double arabian.

The 12-year-old Simakova was easily one of the youngest there, but she held her own; in addition to her 5th place all-around finish, she came 4th on beam (an excellent routine considering her age!) and earned bronze on floor, where she nailed her whip whip through to double tuck, 2.5 to front tuck, double full, and double pike with ease for a 13.650. This kid is so, so, so talented and promising, and has an exceptionally bright future if she continues performing the way she did here.

5th place was actually a three-way tie; in addition to Roberts and Simakova we had Leonie Meier of Switzerland also earning a 53.800. Meier had a very clean FTY in addition to great work on beam and floor, though she unfortunately fell on her bhs + loso + bhs in event finals. She earned a 13.45 in floor finals, however, good enough for 5th place there, hitting her double pike, open double tuck, Memmel turn, just a layout third pass, and a double full to finish.

Also of note was Olsen in 8th with a 53.400; she had a rough go on bars and then fell on beam in the all-around, though easily won vault with her big DTY and then her odd choice second vault, a Khorkina II, which is a Yurchenko half-on tucked 1.5 off (if I could bet on it, I’d say she’s definitely working her way up to a Cheng). Though she qualified to the floor final with a 13.900, she didn’t compete, though her routine in prelims showed big tumbling, including a piked full-in, a 1.5 through to double tuck, a triple full, and a double pike.

Ana Padurariu debuted a brand new skill – an inbar piked Tkatchev. The inbar straddle Tkatchev is named for Italian gymnast Paola Galante, and U.S. gymnast Ashton Locklear is currently training it, though the piked Tkatchev takes it to a whole other level. Padurariu’s skill is INCREDIBLE, and though the rest of her bar routine is a little sparse (she follows up with a just a bail + inbar + stalder + Ray before her full-in dismount), it has the makings of greatness. Though she placed 4th on bars due to her lower difficulty, a high 5.7 start value on beam worked in her favor, as she earned silver even with a fall on her switch + switch half. She hit her bhs + loso + bhs, a front aerial and sheep jump (looks like she wants to connect them), and a double full dismount for a 13.375. Keep her in your mind, guys.

Russia’s Anastasia Ilyankova only competed on bars, and she made it very worth it, taking home the silver medal after earning a 14.150. She showed clean form on her shaposh, clear hip full to big Tkatchev, clear hip + Hindorff, bail + toe shoot, and full-out with a step. Her handstands for the most part were excellent, and she has exactly the long lines and extension you’d expect from Mother Russia.

Finally, Sara Berardinelli earned bronze on beam, but one rotation earlier had a couple of very scary falls on her Tkatchevs in bar finals. She didn’t have the height nor the counter-rotation over the bar, landing the skill both times with her butt on the bar only to bounce backwards and fall upside down into the arms of her coach. Thankfully he had quick enough reflexes to catch her just moments before she hit the ground, and then also the good insight to make her stop her routine after the second fall.

She went on to get the beam bronze, earning a 13.275 after hitting a switch leap + back tuck, sissone + wolf jump, front aerial, bhs + bhs + loso, switch ring (with an oddly bent back leg), side aerial, ring leap, and a roundoff + 1.5 dismount.

That about wraps things up from International Gymnix.

Article by Lauren Hopkins
Photo thanks to International Gymnix

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