The 2017 International Gymnix takes place this weekend in Montreal, featuring one of the best junior battles in the world with the top young gymnasts from the United States, Russia, Italy, Japan, and Canada expected to attend.
Following a training camp held in February, national team coordinator Valeri Liukin named reigning junior national champion Maile O’Keefe, Emma Malabuyo, Gabby Perea, and Sunisa Lee to the U.S. team (from a gym aesthetic perspective, this is literally one of the most gorgeous U.S. teams of all time, especially on beam), and while Russia hasn’t yet released the team they’re sending, we can expect their top girls as well. From Japan, Mana Oguchi will be a standout competitor, and the Italian team of Giorgia Villa, twins Alice and Asia D’Amato, and Elisa Iorio has some of the country’s top talent in years, with all four of these 2003-born gymnasts competing Yurchenko doubles on vault and showing off big skills elsewhere as well.
But the hometown favorite will be Canada’s own Ana Padurariu, who is undefeated in the all-around since winning the national title last summer, having followed it up with the titles at Pan Ams, the Olympic Hopes Cup, and Elite Canada last month. Padurariu, 14, told us she wants to win gold here as well, but knows she’ll face tough competition from a big international field. Still, having seen her confidence and ability to handle immense difficulty in Halifax last month, I think she’ll absolutely challenge here, which would be huge for her and for Team Canada.
The senior field features two Canadian teams in addition to one from Australia and one from Japan. American Cup competitor Emily Whitehead will lead Australia, which will also feature new senior Jade Vella-Wright, while Olympic alternate Marina Kawasaki headlines Japan.
For Canada, the teams seem to be pretty evenly-matched, with Elite Canada all-around champion Jade Chrobok on Canada I with Olympic alternate Megan Roberts, 2015 worlds team member Audrey Rousseau, and fellow new senior Brooklyn Moors, while 2016 Olympic vault finalist Shallon Olsen headlines Canada II, which also features 2015 worlds team member Sydney Townsend and new seniors Megan Phillips and Sophie Marois.
Individual competitors include seven-time Olympian Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan, 2016 Olympians Brittany Rogers and Rose-Kaying Woo of Canada, and 2016 Australian national champion Rianna Mizzen. I believe Rogers, Woo, and Mizzen aren’t yet back on all four events, and so will focus on their individual strengths in Montreal with the hope of making event finals rather than on contributing to the teams.
There’s also a Challenge competition at Gymnix featuring a mix of juniors and seniors from all over the globe. Gymnix invites certain national federations to bring teams, which is what the above fields are, but the Challenge competition allows for national federations not part of the main fields and for club gyms to register gymnasts to compete in this separate field.
The field features some big names, like former junior national team member Sydney Johnson-Scharpf of the United States. With her gym, Johnson-Scharpf also traveled to Iceland recently to compete in an international meet there, and it’s awesome to see her coach (slash mom, Brandy Johnson) taking advantage of international opportunities that she might not get through official assignments.
Other U.S. gymnasts expected are senior Lexy Ramler of KidSport, junior Cameron Machado of First State, and juniors Kayla DiCello, Madeleine Johnston, and Anya Pilgrim of Hill’s. All five of these gymnasts are hoping to compete at nationals this summer, so like Johnson-Scharpf, it’s great that they’re able to get a bit of international elite experience underway before taking on the domestic season.
Argentina is sending juniors Martina Dominici and Maria Villalpando while Puerto Rico will send worlds hopefuls Nicole Diaz, Karelis Diaz, and Andrea Maldonado. We’ll also see first-year seniors Talia Folino of Australia and Andrea Pirsh of Mexico attend with their gyms.
As for the huge number of Canadians expected in the Challenge, we’re most excited for Elite Canada bars champ Jessica Dowling, beam beauty Laurie-Lou Vezina, powerful vaulter Laurie Denommee, and 12-year-old Elite Canada novice champion Kyra Cato.
A full list of competitors is below. We’ll be coming to you live from the event this weekend, so keep an eye out for links to all coverage, including photos and live blogs!
|Team Canada I
|Team Canada II
Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan)
Rianna Mizzen (Australia)
Brittany Rogers (Canada)
Rose-Kaying Woo (Canada)
|Amy Bladon (Bluewater, Canada)||Ilka Juk (Calgary, Canada)|
|Kyra Cato (Calgary, Canada)||Sophia King (Calgary, Canada)|
|Haley de Jong (Flicka, Canada)||Chloe Lorange (Gymnix, Canada)|
|Maelle Delourmel (Gymnix, Canada)||Cameron Machado (First State, United States)|
|Laurie Denommee (Viagym, Canada)||Andrea Maldonado (Puerto Rico)|
|Nicole Diaz (Puerto Rico)||Charlotte McDevitt (Equilibrix, Canada)|
|Karelis Diaz (Puerto Rico)||Madeline McLellan (Calgary, Canada)|
|Kayla DiCello (Hill’s, United States)||Anya Pilgrim (Hill’s, United States)|
|Martina Dominici (Argentina)||Andrea Pirsh (Gymnos, Mexico)|
|Jessica Dowling (Dynamo, Canada)||Lexy Ramler (KidSport, United States)|
|Jordyn Ewing (Taiso, Canada)||Meaghan Ruttan (Calgary, Canada)|
|Montana Fairbairn (Stampede City, Canada)||Emma Spence (Dynamo, Canada)|
|Talia Folino (Waverley, Australia)||Leah Tindale (Dynamo, Canada)|
|Rachel Grenke (Capital City, Canada)||Laurie-Lou Vezina (Gym Fly, Canada)|
|Lucia Jakab (Okanagan, Canada)||Maria Villalpando (Argentina)|
|Sydney Johnson-Scharpf (Brandy Johnson’s, United States)||Kiera Wai (East York, Canada)|
|Madeleine Johnston (Hill’s, United States)||Emily Walker (Marian, Canada)|