Ana Padurariu of Gemini Gymnastics has swept the junior competition at this year’s Elite Canada in Halifax, posting scores on each event that would’ve easily topped the senior field as well.
The 14-year-old won the all-around on Saturday with a total of 55.1, a score that put her 5.4 points ahead of any other junior and 2.183 points ahead of any senior who competed a day earlier. She hit both bars and beam well, with only minor issues on both, before moving on to debut a new floor routine where she hit a piked full-in with a step back and showed a perfect 2½ to punch front before stumbling on her final pass, the double pike.
Finishing up on vault, Padurariu added a 13.9 for her superb Yurchenko full, but when she went for the 1½ as her second vault, she ended up sitting it, though still qualified into the final thanks to her high level of difficulty in comparison to the other vaulters.
Padurariu was mostly happy with how her competition went, letting us know it went better than she expected, because she was “really nervous” going in. But she was pretty tough on herself, bringing up her mistakes and talking about what she needed to fix going forward.
It was mostly about the little things, and in event finals today, she managed to tackle a few of the issues that bothered her about Saturday. She hit both her full and her 1½ on vault to average a 13.8, her bars were clean and earned a 13.95, her beam was brilliant, going 14.675, and she improved a bit on floor, reaching a 13.475 there to claim her fourth gold medal of the day.
Elite Canada marked Padurariu’s second sweep in a row, and her fourth straight all-around win. In her 2016 season, she won the all-around titles at Canadian Championships, Pan Am Championships, and the Olympic Hopes Cup, adding nine event gold medals between those three meets as well. She has virtually no competition at the junior level in Canada right now, making her something of a Canadian Simone Biles with everyone else fighting for second place. If age-eligible, she would be a frontrunner for this year’s worlds team. Instead, she’s focusing on staying clean and safe, not rushing big skills she’s not ready for so she can come into 2018 with the hope of helping Canada in a major way.
Victoria Jurca of GymFly earned the silver all-around medal with a 49.7 and Elizabeth Holmstrom of Capital City earned the bronze with a 49.4. Jurca had a fall on beam and was a little messy elsewhere, while Holmstrom, who competed in the first session, competed at a lower level of difficulty though hit nicely, especially on floor where her score of 13.0 was the second-highest of the day.
Beyond the podium, we saw Jaden Gorsline of Calgary in fourth with a 48.95 (she had lots of potential, especially on beam), 12-year-old Zoé Allaire-Bourgie of Gymnix in fifth with a 48.85 (she had a super clean bars set, a lovely floor, and big skills on beam, though a fall there kept her from the podium), Charlotte Innes of Calgary in sixth with a 48.8, Myrelle Morin of Gymnix in seventh with a 48.25, and Xuan Patenaude in eighth with a 47.95.
On vault, Jurca won silver with a 13.725 average, coming the closest to knocking Padurariu off her pedestal with a really cool and unusual vault, a Yurchenko half-on to an immediate half twist before completing a back pike, and Innes got the bronze with a 13.6 average for her clean work.
Allaire-Bourgie put up another clean bars set, showing off a piked Jaeger, lovely pak, and a huge stuck double tuck for a 12.4 to tie Éloise Monat for the silver. On beam, local kid Jillian Langille of Taiso got a 12.55 for silver after hitting a super quick switch to split jump to back tuck, bhs + loso series, and solid double tuck dismount while the lovely Chloé Lorange got a 12.4 for bronze, performing a clean bhs + loso and a lovely 1.5 dismount with fluid work throughout.
For her second silver of the day, Allaire-Bourgie posted a 12.775 after showing a beautiful triple turn, a double pike, 2½, front full, and double full with a step, and Lorange got her second bronze of the day with a 12.75 for an excellent set of her own.
Aside from Padurariu, these two were my biggest must-watch junior up-and-comers this weekend. Allaire-Bourgie has a style and composure far beyond her twelve years, and has the potential to reach great heights on all of her events as she continues getting experience in the sport. The 2002-born Lorange only competed three events in the all-around competition, but she was so good on her other events, a basic bars set would’ve easily gotten her a spot on the all-around podium, so keep an eye out for her in the future.
Going forward, the juniors have Gymnix to look forward to in a month from now. Padurariu is hoping to win an all-around medal there, where she’ll face tough international competition, including from the Americans. But her performance in Halifax wasn’t just “good for Canada.” Padurariu has a hugely internationally competitive set, and on a good day, can rival just about any junior gymnast in the world right now. Big things are coming her way this season and beyond, and Elite Canada was just the beginning.
Article by Lauren Hopkins