At Elite Canada, one of the first elite meets of 2017 and the new quad, we had the chance to catch up with three potential podium front runners both here in Halifax and going forward toward Tokyo 2020.
The first two are Ana Padurariu and Jade Chrobok. Together, the pair trains at Gemini Gymnastics and come to Elite Canada having had fantastic 2016s, both playing huge roles in the Canadian junior team lineups at several international meets. Elite Canada marks Jade’s senior debut, while Ana remains a junior until 2018.
We also had the pleasure of catching up with Omega gymnast and 2016 Olympian Shallon Olsen. As she points out in the interview below, this is her first time back competing since the Olympics where she placed ninth with the team and eighth on vault. She was captivating to watch in podium training on Thursday, and we can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for her, Ana, and Jade.
Enjoy the interview!
First, a somewhat technical question, although one with an answer that so far seems to vary greatly from sport to sport. Do you consider the new quad to start as soon as the Olympics are over? Or does it start with the new year?
Ana: The new quad started for us after the Olympics because we went to Pan Ams and Olympic Hopes where we all proved the new talent that Canada is preparing in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020.
Shallon: I consider the new quad to start forming over the coming years leading up to 2020 as there are many new up and coming athletes that have yet to prove themselves and show Gymnastics Canada what they’re capable of. From there, the committee will be able to decide who they will choose for the next cycle, depending on how well the athletes do at each meet and from results of past competitions that would place them on the team.
Jade: I don’t think of it as a four-year term with a start date and an end date. For me, I focus more on the present, with a focus on skills and the upcoming competitions for that year. It is a long journey but I have to focus on all of the steps to prepare for [these next years and upcoming] competitions.
For the people just getting to know you and just getting to know gymnastics, can you sum up your feelings for each event in one word or phrase?
Ana: Vault: powerful, bars: agility, beam: gracefulness, floor: fluidity
Shallon: Vault: powerful, bars: strength, beam: sturdy, floor: expressive
Jade: Vault: controlled, bars: fluidity, beam: composed, floor: powerful
Onto the typical pre-meet questions. What does your week leading up to the competition look like and what are your goals at Elite Canada for podium training and competition?
Ana: The week leading up to competitions is about perfecting the routines I have. My goals for Elite Canada are to do my best, stay safe, and have fun.
Shallon: My week leading up to any competition is extra training in the gym and general working out. Also, eating healthy is even more important so it can fuel my workouts and competitions. My goals for Elite Canada this weekend are to have as few mistakes as possible and to try and improve my technique and execution.
Jade: My week leading up to Elite Canada consisted of Monday and Tuesday as regular training days at the gym, Wednesday was a travel day, Thursday was podium training where we get the chance to get used to the equipment, and Friday is competition. My goals are to be successful in my routines during all-around, and to qualify for event finals.
If we could only watch one of your events this weekend, which should it be?
Shallon: Vault, as it is my favorite event and I competed it at the Olympics [in team qualifications and event finals].
Jade: You should watch my floor because that’s the event I have the most fun competing, and it’s the event that I enjoy watching the most.
The event you just named, is that the same one you’re most looking forward to competing? Or are you more excited to compete one of the other three? Why?
Ana: Yes, I am definitely looking forward to competing floor because I just got a new routine that is fun to do and hopefully fun to watch!
Shallon: I’m looking forward to competing in general as it seems like such a long time ago when I last competed, which was in Rio. I’m excited to be in that competitive environment again. There is no specific event that I’m excited about, I’m just really looking forward to the overall experience.
Jade: The truth is I have been working on skills that are not 100% ready to be in my routines, but I’m still excited to do floor because it’s the event where I have the most fun, and to me it still has to be fun.
Is there a particular skill you’re most looking forward to showing off here?
Ana: I think a cool skill that I will present at this competition would be my mount on beam!
Shallon: No particular skills in mind.
Jade: I have had some injuries in the past year, which have limited me in upgrading my routines, so my coach and I have been focusing on preparing for this competition with the skills that are ready.
Of the others here competing, is there someone whose routines you’re looking forward to seeing?
Ana: Everyone competing here has worked really hard to get here so I am excited to see what they all prepared for this competition!
Shallon: Ilka Juk, as she used to train at my gym and switched to Calgary. I’m excited to see what she’s been working on.
Jade: It is nice to get together with all of the girls because we are all spread out across Canada, so I am looking forward to catching up with them, training, laughing, and competing against each other, because for some of the girls and I we have been competing together since we were little, so it’s just nice to have the opportunity to catch up.
Any up and comers in your city or gym or just girls you know who you think we should watch out for here?
Ana: Canada has a lot of talent up and coming, but I always like watching the new novices that come every year and see all the new potential that they could bring to team Canada.
Shallon: Ana and Jade. They will be the girls to watch for in the next few years.
Jade: I don’t see many of the other younger gymnasts training every day, but I do see my teammate Ana, who is in her second year as a junior, and she had a great year last year. She is definitely an up and comer because of her talent and how she works hard in the gym.
What was your favorite competition in 2016? What are you most looking forward to this year?
Ana: My favorite competitions of 2016 were Junior Pan Ams in Bolivia and Olympic Hopes in Czech Republic. They were super fun competitions where we got great international experience as a team and individually.
Shallon: My favorite competition in 2016 was of course the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The competition that I’m most looking forward to in 2017 are the World Championships which will be held in Montreal later this year.
Jade: My favourite competition in 2016 was having the opportunity to travel to Bolivia for the Junior Pan Ams, because I got to see how the culture and way of life was so different than that in Canada. It was also a great experience to be a part of. There is no particular competition that I am looking forward to in 2017, but I am just trying to focus on upgrading my routines to see where it takes me. Having the chance to compete internationally and representing Canada is something that I look forward to and have pride doing.
Thanks Ana, Shallon, and Jade. Best of luck competing tonight and this weekend at Elite Canada! The senior all-around will be held tonight, February 3, at 7 pm AST (an hour ahead of ET), which you can stream live online. The juniors are separated into two flights, the first beginning on Saturday February 4th at 10 am AST, while the second group goes later the same day at 1:45 pm AST.
Article by Alexandra Leask