While every single junior gold medal went to Ana Padurariu at Elite Canada this weekend, the senior women had a five-way title share during Sunday’s event finals with lots of surprise performances on every event.
2016 Olympian Shallon Olsen easily won the vault gold averaging a 14.3, Jessica Dowling of Dynamo (pictured above) won bars gold with a 13.075, all-around silver medalist Megan Phillips won beam gold with a 13.075, and there was a tie for the gold medal on floor between all-around champion Jade Chrobok and 2016 Olympic alternate Megan Roberts, both of whom posted a 13.025.
Olsen, who trains at Omega Gymnastics, came into the vault final a clear frontrunner, and did exactly what she needed to take the win. No one could match her top-notch level of difficulty, so for her, it was really all about putting her vaults to her feet, which she did with ease. Her Yurchenko double showed solid form until the very last half twist before the landing, which had a small hop back. The Khorkina, aka a Yurchenko half-on tucked 1½ off, had a few more issues, form-wise, though the landing was fine, with just a small hop to the side.
In second, we saw excellent work from Laurie Dénommee of ViaGym, who looks ready for NCAA with a huge Yurchenko full, only bounced back slightly, and a beautiful stuck handspring front pike, the combination of which averaged a 13.55. Sofia Baggio of Rideau won the bronze with a 13.325, showing a solid handspring pike of her own followed by a stuck tsuk layout, with her chest slightly down on the landing.
New senior and bronze all-around medalist Brooklyn Moors was also a medal contender, competing a handspring front pike half with a bit of a wild landing before performing her tsuk layout to her knees, averaging only a 12.725 for fifth.
On bars, we got something of a surprise win from Dowling, the 22-year-old who used to compete for the Netherlands, placing fourth all-around at nationals there in 2011. She returned to Canada partly so she could begin university studies — she’s a nutrition science major at the University of Guelph — but also because she has a great national pride for her home country and wanted to fight for a spot on the Canadian national team so she could compete with the maple leaf on her chest.
Dowling had a little struggle on bars in the all-around, but looked fantastic in event finals with an inbar half to straddle Jaeger, toe full right on top of the bar, a clean pak, a Maloney to bail that arched over, but she gained control pretty quickly and brought it right into her toe shoot, and then landed her full-in with ease to earn a 13.075. With her win, she edged out Chrobok, who had a good but slightly watered-down set for a 12.675 to earn the silver.
Coming in for the bronze was new senior Sophie Marois, who had beautiful work on her straddle Jaeger, bail to toe shoot, giant full, and double pike with a good landing, an easier set than most but with clean enough work to earn a high execution score and a 12.375 total. Phillips also had a great set to place fourth, Olsen hit her skills with some form issues to place fifth, and the rest all had mistakes, with Meaghan Ruttan‘s Weiler kip mishaps the most heartbreaking of the session. She has lots of big skills there, but just couldn’t bring it together and make it work today.
Phillips then upset quite a few gymnasts to take the beam title, showing careful work on her front aerial to split jump to wolf jump, bhs + loso, switch to switch half, and punch front full dismount to earn a 13.075. It wasn’t the most difficult set, and there were some minor form issues, but she got through it all pretty easily whereas some of the other beam medal contenders had larger mistakes in their own performances.
That includes Chrobok, who was second with a 13.05, 2016 Olympian Rose-Kaying Woo, third with a 12.925, and Roberts, fourth with a 12.7. Chrobok had a few big wobbles, but also some big saves, including on her side aerial to loso, double turn, and side somi. When she finished up with her big double pike, she looked relieved, smiling after making it through what could’ve been a couple of falls. Instead, she showed nerves of steel to keep some of those elements on the beam, which was super impressive to watch.
Woo had some clean work in her routine, including on her punch front, bhs + layout, switch ring, and double pike, but she also had a couple of wobbles and errors that hurt her chances for gold, leaving her only a couple of tenths from the top spot on the podium. Roberts, in her Olympic leo that only six Canadians will get to wear, also had some small bobbles, and then a big fight to save her brand-new full-twisting back handspring, a great new addition to her set that will work out well for her once it’s a bit more consistent.
The rest of the gymnasts in this final had falls, including Laurie-Lou Vézina on her layout stepout mount, Moors on her front aerial to side somi and then again on her split leap to side aerial (though her presence on beam is so gorgeous, and she had a superb front walkover to front 1½ dismount, so I immediately forgave the mistakes), Marois on her side aerial, and Lindsay Chia on her switch leap to split ¾.
I was happy to see Chrobok and Roberts, whom we interviewed together yesterday, get to share the floor gold. Both had a couple of minor errors, but overall presented really stellar routines to post matching 13.025s. Chrobok’s whip whip to double tuck was solid, and she also showed great work on her 2½ to punch front to stag before sticking her double pike to finish things up, and Roberts nailed her arabian double pike with a step forward and out-of bounds, but had a solid piked full-in and the routine is SO much fun to watch, she looks like she has a blast performing it and she really made the rotation her own.
Phillips got her third medal of the week, earning bronze with a 12.85 after hitting her double arabian, double tuck, and 2½, narrowly edging out 2015 worlds team member Audrey Rousseau, who competed a double arabian to stag, 1½ through to double tuck with a hop back, and double pike, also with a small hop.
Poor Moors tried to come back from three falls earlier in her day, and opened her routine with an awesome front double full to punch front full, but then sadly sat her double front, earning a 12.425 for fifth, a real bummer knowing she could’ve easily won the title without the fall based on how everything else went. But chalk it up to a bad day…with an almost impossibly strong mix of beauty and power, she’s definitely one we’ll see more from.
Full results from all sessions at Elite Canada are available here. Next up for the Canadian team is the International Gymnix in March, to be held at the same arena in Montreal where worlds will be held later this year.
Article by Lauren Hopkins