At last weekend’s national championships held in Waterloo, Ontario, Ellie Black took the fifth national all-around title of her career, also winning the gold on bars and beam as well as the silver on floor.
Black went eight-for-eight to tally a two-day score of 111.607 after posting a 55.408 on day one and upping that to a 56.199 in the final, which is a top-ten all-around score so far this year, and her two-day lead was more than five points ahead of the rest of the pack.
It wasn’t even a full-strength meet for Black, who had some changes in her beam set with her punch front skills gone, and she also seemed to be lacking a bit of strength in her vaults, finishing them in a super seated position on both days, but overall this was a superb meet for her.
Bars and floor were her most impressive to me. On floor, she’s a queen, what more can I say? She performed her heart out, and in the first day of competition she stuck her 2½ through to double tuck like a boss before also crushing a front double full to punch front and clean double full to finish. It’s not the most difficult routine out there, but she’s almost effortless in her execution of the skills and choreography, making it one of the most consistently entertaining routines out there.
As for bars, all I can say is that for someone who isn’t a known bar worker in the traditional sense, her difficulty level is not only fantastic but it works for her almost perfectly. There are some skills that could use some fine-tuning, like her van Leeuwen which always ends up a bit tucked, but her big connections like the Maloney to Hindorff and the high-valued individual skills like the Shang are all great, and she gets more and more consistent with her work here each time we see her.
After a weak performance on the first day of competition left Isabela Onyshko in fifth place with a 51.890, she came back on day two with the best all-around performance I’ve seen from her since 2016, with her beam one of the highlights of the meet for me. She ended up with a 54.516 that day for silver, and also won the silver medal on beam and the bronze on floor, though a mistake on bars on day one kept her just off the podium on that event.
Vaulting only a Yurchenko full and with lower difficulty on floor, these events are more about her execution than any jaws dropping in amazement, but her fulls are solid and clean enough to help her to a high 13, and on floor, while she doesn’t always have the biggest power going into her tumbles, she’s often clean and polished enough to make it through, and both of her routines here were fine.
Her bars still have some form issues and her legs can get a bit crazy at times when she loses control, though they look stronger now than they did at Commonwealth Games just a couple of months ago, but beam is as always her standout event. She unfortunately had a fall on her tricky tuck full series on day one in addition to missing a connection, but in the final, she nailed the flight series, showed a lovely and effortless full Y turn to full turn, was super fluid on a switch leap to side aerial to jump series, and nearly stuck her double full dismount, earning a 14.133 for a routine that was the most calm and confident I think I’ve ever seen from her.
One of the highlights of the meet for me was the performance from Jade Chrobok, who ended up with the bronze less than a point behind Onyshko with a 105.647 combined total after posting a 52.465 on day one and a 53.182 on day two, with both days outstanding for the girl who has been so plagued by injuries and unable to perform at top strength as a senior after her exemplary junior career.
Chrobok hit every routine here, hitting her sometimes tricky Yurchenko 1½ with no problems, fighting through some iffy handstands on bars to finish both sets with no major mistakes, looking solid on beam both days with her finals performance especially excellent (her side aerial layout stepout was gorgeous and she had a nice, high double pike dismount, helping her to the bronze medal on this event), and putting up incredibly strong floor sets both days as well, with her finals routine a major standout.
After seeing her struggle a bit early this season, sitting her vault to take her out of the all-around running at Elite Canada before falling apart on beam at Gymnix, the Canadian national program didn’t give up on Chrobok, sending her to the Birmingham World Cup, where she had an incredible meet, and then subbing her in for an injured Rose-Kaying Woo last-minute at the Commonwealth Games, where she performed admirably to help the team to gold. She has flourished since then, making herself a strong contender for an alternate spot at the very least for this year’s worlds team.
Unfortunately, last year’s breakout international star Brooklyn Moors, who boasts Canada’s best-ever finish on floor at worlds when she finished fifth in Montreal, had a rough time at nationals, struggling with falls on bars both days while also sitting her opening pass on floor on day two, finishing fourth after a 52.224 on day one and a 52.216 on day two.
Dealing with a nagging shoulder injury, Moors was forced to miss out on contributing at the Commonwealth Games and Pac Rims, and given some slight downgrades, she definitely wasn’t at full strength here. On vault, for example, she was sitting her handspring front layout full in warm-ups on day one, but ended up hitting one of her better attempts during the meet, though she ended up downgrading to the half in finals, which was a smart choice, and on bars, she couldn’t get the timing quite right on her van Leeuwen, and it seemed like nerves got the best of her, making some of her other skills a bit weak as well.
This was actually one of Moors’ best meets on beam, with her front aerial to front tuck done so quickly, it’s impossible for the judges to question her connections, while her full attitude turns are gorgeous, and she did a fantastic job to stick her Rudi dismount. As for floor, she’s still getting used to her new front layout to double front in the first pass, which she hit a bit low on day one and then stumbled back and sat after fighting like hell on day two. But her other passes, the Podkopayeva and the 2½ to front full, are superb, and I have no doubt she’ll get that first pass up to a high standard in time for worlds.
Sophie Marois ended up fifth with a 104.238 in addition to winning the silver on vault, Victoria-Kayen Woo was sixth with a 103.646, Haley de Jong was seventh with a 101.756 in addition to winning the bronze on vault, and Jessica Dowling was eighth with a 99.614, also sneaking onto the bars podium with the bronze medal there. In addition to the all-arounders, Shallon Olsen took the gold medals on vault and floor, while Ana Padurariu, still getting over a foot injury sustained at Elite Canada, won the silver on bars.
Olsen competed downgraded vaults, a Yurchenko double that is almost too easy for her and a Lopez instead of the Cheng, which she landed excellently, though she was a little iffy in the air there. On floor, Olsen nailed her double double, front tuck through to double tuck, piked full-in, and triple full, the latter of which was one of the best attempts I’ve seen from her in the second day of competition.
Padurariu, meanwhile, is so tidy and precise on bars, earning a 13.966 on day one and a 13.866 on day two, with a couple of slightly arched handstands her biggest problems in her otherwise flawless sets. She’s always been great on bars, but it’s clear her attention has been “all bars, all the time” over the past few months while recovering from her injury. I can’t wait until we get to see her at full strength, as I think she’s the only gymnast in the country right now capable of challenging Black in the all-around.
One of the biggest highlights for me during this meet was Woo’s day two floor set, where she earned a well-deserved 8.9 E score for her big clean double layout, stuck 2½, and stuck double pike on top of her always-outstanding performance value and gorgeous dance elements.
I was also obsessed with a perfectly stuck Yurchenko 1½ from Kelly Johnston on the first day of competition (which outscored Olsen’s DTY!), Hannah Scharf’s super confident first day of competition that left her in a surprising seventh all-around, Dowling leading the pack on beam after the first day of competition with a fantastic set, and seeing Marois and de Jong continue to prove themselves as worthy international-level contenders, especially as de Jong had to fight back from a rough first day and yet still finished in the top eight.
At the junior level, Zoé Allaire-Bourgie continues to set herself apart after her outstanding performances at Gymnix and Pac Rims earlier this season, winning the gold medal with a combined score of 113.273, nearly seven points ahead of the rest of the competition even with falls on beam and floor in finals.
The juniors have some extensive D score bonuses, seen mostly on bars and beam, and part of Allaire-Bourgie’s impressive lead comes from insane bonuses on these two events, on which she won the gold medals. But her day two falls aside, this was a phenomenal meet for the 2004-born junior, who put up a performance on the first day of competition that could’ve rivaled the top seniors.
Allaire-Bourgie has always been known for her difficult work on beam, but the more I see her, the more I grow as a fan of her work on bars, where she is impeccable in her Maloney to Pak, van Leeuwen, clear hip to blind full to blind change to piked Jaeger, and full-in dismount, earning a 15.2 on day one and a 15.175 on day two with the bonuses.
In second was Emma Spence with a combined 106.449 total, on top of taking the silver on beam and the bronze on bars, while Quinn Skrupa won the bronze in the all-around with a 102.671, also picking up the silver on bars.
Spence was a little downgraded here, sticking to a big and clean Yurchenko full instead of the 1½ she began competing this year, and she she also took the 1½ to triple full, a new skill this year that gave her some trouble at Pac Rims, down to a 1½ to 2½, which looked excellent in her floor set. She was a little weak on floor in the first day of competition, and she stumbled her bars dismount forward on the second day, but otherwise this was another strong meet for her, and I was especially impressed with how solid her beam is getting.
Skrupa struggled on beam in both days of competition, unfortunately, and she also had a fall on the second day of the competition on floor. She goes for so many cool and exciting skills and series on beam, like a tick tock that she holds in a handstand split before connecting immediately to a gorgeous layout series, and her Omelianchik that she finishes with a walkover back onto her feet is so cool. Her composition there and on bars is so unique and fun to watch, but when she gets to a more consistent level, she’s going to be so fabulous.
Rounding out the top eight were Rachael Riley in fourth with a 101.924 in addition to winning bronze on vault, Ilka Juk in fifth with a 101.248, Imogen Paterson in sixth with a 101.097, Mia St-Pierre in seventh with a 100.450 in addition to winning the gold medals on vault and floor, and Kyra Cato in eighth with a 99.347. Sophia King, 14th all-around, won the silver on floor but struggled on bars and beam to finish 14th, while Bryn Topham (15th all-around) won the bronze on beam and Lucia Jakab (ninth all-around) won the bronze on floor.
Saint-Pierre is proving herself more and more as a solid tumbler, and I loved watching her routine on floor, Riley is lovely to watch (especially on beam!) and just needs a bit more in terms of consistency, Jakab showed a really excellent tsuk full on vault, and while Leah Tindale could only do bars and beam, she showed just how clean and excellent she can be on both of these. Tindale has been struggling with injuries on top of a growth spurt, so she’s not at full strength yet, but she’s definitely one of the most promising kids out there and will hopefully get her time to shine next year.
I didn’t get to watch any of the novice competition, which Rébéka Groulx won with a 111.664 combined total (including bonuses). Groulx also won the beam gold and silver on floor, while Maya Zonneveld won the silver all-around medal and gold on floor, and Clara Raposo won the bronze all-around, gold on bars, and bronze on beam.
Rounding out the top eight, we saw Jenna Sartoretto in fourth with a 105.565 (and she took the bronze on beam), Makenna Guidish in fifth with a 105.099, Nyla Morabito in sixth with a 104.063 (and the bronze on floor), Scarlett Earl in seventh with a 103.364 (and the gold on bars), and Kiora Peart-Williams in eighth with a 102.931.
The vault medals went to Charlie-Ann Barbeau with the gold, Bailey Inglis with the silver, and Elizabeth Noble with the bronze, while Rylee Miller (ninth all-around) won the bronze on bars, and Cassie Lee (16th all-around) won the silver on beam.
Full results are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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