Black Wins Third National Title in a Row

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After a fall on beam in qualifications threatened her title bid, Ellie Black came back strong in all-around finals to win her third title in a row at this weekend’s Canadian Championships in Gatineau.

Black, 19, topped the charts with a score of 57.950, one of her best scores yet, after hitting all four events with skill and precision. This included a 14.8 on beam, the event that is her best when she hits but tends to give her problems every now and then due to the sheer difficulty involved. She also showed improvement on bars for a 14.4, looked incredible on vault for a 14.8, and performed a steady floor routine for a 13.95.

In addition to her title win, Black was selected once again as the 2015 RICOH Female Individual Athelte of the Year for Nova Scotia, a ceremony that recognizes the achievements of more than 200 athletes, coaches, officials, sponsors, and volunteers from across the province. Black had the honor of receiving this award in both 2012 and 2013, and while nominated last year, the award went to Olympic snowboarder Alex Duckworth.

It wasn’t an easy win, however. Isabela Onyshko seems to have really come into her own, and put together quite the performance on Sunday afternoon to earn 57.550 for the silver medal. The gymnast is especially strong on bars and beam, though in the past has struggled to hit under pressure. At Championships, however, she hit her difficult bar routine for a 14.6 and then finished right behind Black on beam with a 14.75; she also performed a clean FTY for a 14.15 and a solid effort on floor for a 14.05.

Junior Rose-Kaying Woo, who led the pack in qualifications, unfortunately fell on bars and earned just a 12.45 there, though her work elsewhere – including on her powerful and clean DTY – helped her to a 55.0 total score. She’s been so steady and infallible this season, showing great skill under pressure and landing at the top of the podium even when competing in the senior group. Had she been age-eligible, Woo would have undoubtedly been a key player on this year’s Pan American Games and World Championships teams, and will definitely factor into Canada’s Olympic picture next year.

Just outside of the podium were Madison Copiak and Victoria-Kayen Woo in 4th with a tied score of 54.850, junior Shallon Olsen in 6th with a 54.500, Maegan Chant in 7th with a 54.000, Jordyn Pedersen in 8th with a 52.600, Helody Cyrenne in 9th with a 52.350, and Laurie-Ann Demers in 10th with a 50.400.

Of these, Copiak and Woo both had solid competitions and should also be included in the international picture for the rest of the season, Chant looked great on vault and floor and should likely help the team there, and Olsen performed an explosive DTY but had some errors on bars and beam, though like the younger Woo, won’t factor in due to her junior status.

The rest of Canada’s team picture is kind of a crap shoot. Pedersen, Cyrenne, Demers, and those who placed below them in the all-around don’t look quite ready for major international competition at the moment, aside from Emilie Dumont, who has a lovely bars set and clean FTY but isn’t in the top three on either of these events.

Then there’s the University of Georgia’s Brittany Rogers, back on all events but floor but at somewhat limited difficulty. In finals, she competed just on vault, where she earned a 14.3 for her Yurchenko 1.5, downgraded from the DTY she attempted in prelims. Back in elite training for only a few weeks, she struggled on bars and beam this weekend, though even with hit sets it’s going to be difficult for her to find a spot on the team, as there are at least four who could best her on both. The same goes with vault; if she is able to hit the DTY in competition, she could be a big help, but with a 1.5 she’s on par with vaulters like Onyshko, the elder Woo, Chant, and Dumont.

Even with the question of the 6th spot, the team looks to be really strong heading into the international season. A squad featuring Black, Onyshko, Copiak, Woo, and Chant could do some great things if everyone stays healthy. With upgrades and more time in the gym, Rogers with her experience could be an immense help, so I hope she’s able to get her ducks in a row.

In the junior division, Megan Roberts held onto her lead from qualifications to win the title with a score of 55.400, even with a rough patch on beam. Her DTY is looking explosive, and she also has one of the best floor routines in the country. It’s notable that due to Woo’s mistakes, Roberts would have won the junior title even had Woo competed in her own division, so she’s definitely another one to keep an eye on in the next year.

Jade Chrobok placed second with a 55.250 after a mostly great day; she didn’t hit beam, her best event, but put up solid numbers on vault and floor, and also put up a great effort on bars. In third was Meixi Semple in a bit of a surprise, as she hasn’t been around much at the elite level (she only just qualified to junior elite in December making this her debut) and yet defeated gymnasts much more experienced than she is. She posted a 52.800 after struggling on bars, but hit a lovely FTY and showed tremendous promise on both beam (she had the best junior beam of the meet!) and floor.

Other junior finishers include Alyson Arcand in 4th with a 52.700, Meaghan Ruttan in 5th with a 52.300, Madeline McLellan in 6th with a 51.350, Haley de Jong in 7th with a 50.850, and Laurie-Lou Vezina in 8th with a 50.450.

Article by Lauren Hopkins
Photo by Alexandra Leask

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