These four, along with 2016 Olympians Brittany Rogers and Rose-Kaying Woo who will serve as alternates, earned spots at a selection camp in Sarnia following their performances at Canada’s national championships in May. Women’s national team director Dave Brubaker said all six did “very, very well,” noting that alternates Rogers and Woo are just as strong as the girls going to worlds, and “could step in depending on how the ongoing verification goes between now and the final camp.”
Following nationals, all-around champion Black and vault champion Olsen seemed likely to be locks for this year’s worlds team, with Black capable of ranking in the top five globally in the all-around while Olsen is basically guaranteed a vault finals spot. But competition would be close for the remaining two spots, with Onyshko, Moors, Rogers, and Woo all bringing their own value to the table.
In my post-nationals recap I talked about how I’d go with either Onyshko or Woo for the second all-around spot, choosing whoever seemed best up for the task when the time came, but despite Rogers’ name and experience, I didn’t think she made sense to go as the second specialist. For one, she wouldn’t be able to compete one of her specialities, vault, because Olsen and the two all-arounders would get priority, and only three of the four gymnasts are allowed to compete in qualifications this year. Rogers isn’t at a high level on beam and hasn’t yet trained floor this year, leaving bars as her sole speciality event in a year where bars is the most competitive event. Her scores wouldn’t really get her close to that final based on how she’s competed so far this year, and so despite her largess in the sport and the draw she’d have for Canadian fans watching her compete on the world stage in Canada, she just doesn’t fit the puzzle.
That’s why back at nationals I argued for the inclusion of Moors over Rogers. Not only does she have potential for a 14+ on floor, which could land her a spot in what is looking like a comparatively weak final, she’s also young and could potentially be a major team player as Canada fights for a spot at the 2020 Olympic Games.
Moors isn’t even a year and a half into her elite career yet, having qualified to junior elite shortly before turning 15 and then moving up into the senior ranks earlier this year. She improved immensely between her first two seasons, and Canada sent her to Jesolo this year to make her international debut, but aside from domestic meets and attending Elite Gym Massilia with her club last fall, she hasn’t quite had a chance to get high-level experience under her belt.
Taking Moors, a sometimes nervous competitor as it is, to worlds in 2018 or 2019 with no prior major international experience wouldn’t be ideal. But bringing her to Montreal — where the pressure will be high but not “we’re trying to qualify a full team to the Olympics” high — will be the best way for her to dip her toes into the major international elite scene, giving her exactly what she needs to keep improving at a high level not only skill-wise, but also in terms of her confidence.
Canada’s ultimate goal at worlds in Montreal this year will be to earn medals and spots in finals, which is something they can potentially make happen with Olsen, Black, and Onyshko. Neither Rogers nor Moors comes in as particularly notable for any final, even on their best events, and so with neither a ‘guarantee’ in the way the other three are, how could Canada best benefit from this fourth spot?
The answer is by giving experience to a young athlete who needs it, developing her as a confident international competitor so that she can contribute in a major way for the rest of this quad and possibly beyond. Rogers is great, and had they justified bringing her based on her name and accolades alone, I don’t think anyone would’ve fought the decision even though her worlds performance would most likely amount to nothing more than a thirty-second bars set in qualifications. But Rogers has had eight years of experience at the senior elite level. She has competed and medaled in countless international meets, been a part of several world championships team, represented her country at two Olympic Games, and she helped lead the Georgia GymDogs for four years. Why, then, should she go this year?
If it was a team year, Rogers would be at the top of my list for her leadership and experience alone. It’s an individual year, though, and so the goals aren’t quite what they’ll be in 2018 or 2019. Unless she shows up at one of the final camps with a bars routine they absolutely can’t turn down, Rogers simply doesn’t fit this year’s objectives as someone who can either (a) medal or reach a final, or (b) benefit from the experience of a high-level international elite competition.
Rogers made the worlds team in her first year at the senior level, placing 19th in the all-around final and seventh on vault. Her career has spiraled from there, and she’s been an invaluable part of the Canadian national team for two full quads. Now Moors has the chance to do the same, coming up pretty much out of nowhere this year with big skills and major potential on floor, an event that has been Canada’s weakest in recent years. Getting to compete her routine at world championships will be a major step for her as her career takes off, with that the key reason for taking her to Montreal. Making the final would be a happy bonus, and one she’s absolutely capable of making happen.
Some fans are thrilled with the decision to take Moors to Montreal, while others are upset to see Rogers not included after everything she’s done for the program. There are valid points on both sides of the argument, but what I’m taking away most from this is how lucky Canada is to have this as a problem at all. When your national team’s biggest concern is too much depth, it’s a bummer that a couple of super talented gymnasts won’t get the chance to represent at a competition like worlds in what was an insanely difficult selection process, but it’s also kind of amazing that Canada is able to justify so many contenders as opposed to scrambling to fill all four spots.
The Canadian women will meet for verification several more times in the lead-up to worlds, which will be held from October 2-8 in Montreal. It’s possible we could see some team shifts depending on how everyone’s doing, but I think the team selected today is a top-notch one and I’m excited to see them get the chance to represent their country on home turf.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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