A year after her senior debut ended with a broken foot on vault, world silver medalist Ana Padurariu returned to all-around competition at this weekend’s Elite Canada with a huge win a point ahead of 2017 world all-around silver medalist Ellie Black.
Padurariu, 16, won Elite Canada all-around titles twice as a novice and once as a junior in 2017, where she swept the competition with gold medals on every event. Even with her fall and injury last year, she still took silver in the all-around, and she managed to get healthy enough to return on bars at nationals, taking the silver on that event before then returning on beam a month before world championships, where she earned an historic silver medal for Canada in Doha.
Her first senior title in Canada came with a stumble back on her double pike beam dismount after an otherwise excellent set, and the rest of her day was fantastic, including a solid FTY on vault and an immensely difficult bars set that included a beautiful piked Galante to Pak and absolutely perfect handstands throughout.
Padurariu was a little downgraded on floor, opening up with just a double pike before continuing with a 2½ to punch front to stag jump and finishing with a double full, but she sold the performance so well, and proved that she doesn’t really need the difficulty there – or on vault – at the moment. She’s clean enough to still come out on top as an all-arounder, earning a 55.591 here, and the upgrades will come when she needs them.
It was also a mostly great day for Black, who opened with one of the best handspring front layout fulls I’ve ever seen her do. She had so much power, was super upright on the landing, and her form looked much tighter than usual, making this a highlight of the meet.
Black continued with a fall on bars, missing her huge Shang, but looking solid on the rest, sticking her toe-front half dismount. She then showed some major changes on beam and floor, taking out her opening leap mount to leap series on beam – the series that cost her a medal at worlds last year – and then adding a 2½ dismount, which she plans on upgrading to a triple full, replacing the double pike she had in the past.
She also added an excellent front full to triple full on floor, where she had a standout routine to lead the field going into event finals. Her beam had a few bobbles throughout, but for a new set, it looked promising, and she easily made all four event finals, finishing her day with a 54.624.
The bronze medal went to junior Zoé Allaire-Bourgie, who is competing at the senior level domestically this year as a way to keep her in the mix with the gymnasts who could potentially be her Olympic teammates next year.
Last year’s junior national champion, Allaire-Bourgie is coming back from a minor ankle injury, which limited her a bit on vault and floor, but she had an incredible bars set and she was mostly flawless on beam to put up a 53.541. Her bars featured an excellent Weiler half to Maloney to Pak to toe-on to van Leeuwen series, and on beam, she had a few small bobbles, but she performed an expertly connected side somi to transverse split jump half, helping her earn the second-best scores of the day on these two events.
Allaire-Bourgie, who won a total of 10 international medals last year (including the beam titles at Gymnix, Pac Rims, and Pan Ams), obviously won’t be eligible to compete with the senior team internationally until 2020, but she’ll be expected to lead the junior worlds team this summer, and she’ll absolutely be part of the conversation going into Tokyo.
Rounding out the top of the field were Victoria-Kayen Woo in fourth with a 52.249, Jade Chrobok in fifth with a 52.116, Jessica Dowling in sixth with a 51.758, Emma Spence in seventh with a 50.933 in her senior debut, and Isabela Onyshko in eighth with a 50.733.
Woo opened her meet with a fall on beam, but the rest of her day was incredible, with a gorgeous floor set, an excellent FTY on vault, and mostly clean work on bars. Chrobok, a last-minute replacement on last year’s Commonwealth Games team who did a fantastic job to help Canada earn the team gold, hit all of her routines, as did Dowling and Spence, with Dowling performing a standout routine on bars while Spence, the Youth Olympic Games bronze medalist on vault, was a little downgraded on her leg events, but looked solid, and I loved her new front tuck through to double pike.
This was the first meet for Onyshko representing Phoenix, her new gym in Vancouver. For the most part, she hit her routines, but just looked a little rough around the edges, getting some low sets in her floor passes and not looking super tight on some of her other skills in addition to falling on bars and beam.
Even with the fall, beam actually looked mostly great for Onyshko, who got rid of her tuck full acro series in favor of two back handsprings into a layout. That was the skill she missed on Friday, but the rest looked solid and lovely, especially her front aerial to switch half, full Y turn to full turn, and side aerial, though she was a bit short on her double full dismount and considering that as well as how her tumbling looked on floor, she probably just needs a bit of work on endurance.
Endurance could also be her issue on bars, where she struggled with a late clear hip full, a Maloney to low Tkachev, and then a low Hindorff, which she missed to count another fall. Her Pak and van Leeuwen looked cleaner than they did last year, and she had a nice, high double front to cap off her set.
Ultimately, on a good day, Onyshko would’ve been much closer to the top of the field even not being at full strength, so I’m excited to see her keep healing so she can get back to a hundred percent and continue to challenge for international teams in the future.
Laurie Denommée, who got injured during training for worlds, returned on two events here, hitting bars, but wobbling a bit throughout her beam set, where she performed just a layout dismount, and 2016 Olympian Rose-Kaying Woo returned from an Achilles injury on these two events, hitting beam with some bobbles and a layout dismount, but then counting two falls on bars, where she missed her feet on a toe-on and had to hop off before then sitting her double front dismount.
Going into the apparatus finals, Black leads the field on vault and floor while Padurariu leads on bars and beam. Both are expected to continue their dominance in the finals, but it’ll be nice to see some others step it up and improve on Friday’s performance.
Article by Lauren Hopkins