Black Leads Virtual Elite Canada

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Ellie Black

After missing out on competition for nearly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, world medalist and two-time Olympian Ellie Black came back looking as good as ever, winning the all-around title with a 55.100 in this year’s Elite Canada competition, held virtually for the first time.

The competition went pretty seamlessly from a viewer’s perspective. Gymnastics Canada had strict rules in place in terms of equipment regulations, how the videos needed to be filmed, and requiring a local judge to sit in at each gym’s individual filming schedule. After the videos were accepted, a panel of judges watched and scored each routine together online, with live results updated after each result was in, and then with all videos released after the fact.

This is how all competitions will reportedly run in Canada this year, with two technical trials and then nationals to come. It should work well as an alternative to the in-person meets, but it’s definitely a bit nerve-wracking to know none of the gymnasts will get any real competitive experience outside of their home gyms before traveling to the Olympic Games.

Black looked great with her handspring front layout full on vault, an excellent beam routine with strong landings on every skill and a fantastic switch leap mount to switch half to Korbut, and a new floor routine that included a 2½ to double tuck, front double full to front tuck, and a clean double full at the end. She had a little too much oomph going into her Shang on bars, falling there, but the rest of the routine was great, and the fall didn’t hurt her overall score at all, putting her at a 55.100, nearly two points ahead of the rest of the field.

Th silver medalist was certainly a surprise. Ava Stewart, a first-year senior whose only previous elite experience was at Elite Canada and Gymnix in 2020 right before the world shut down. She showed promise at both of these meets, but struggled with consistencyher improvement in the past year – especially considering the lockdown – was tremendous, and she finished ahead of some all-star Canadian seniors with a 53.200.

Stewart’s best events are beam and floor, though she’s a pretty well-balanced gymnast overall, and her bars are exciting. She had a tidy Yurchenko full on vault, and on bars, all of her skills and connections went well, including a stalder to Maloney to Tkachev, Galante, Pak, van Leeuwen, and a stalder half to piked double front dismount. The dismount is new this year, and she was pretty deep on the landing, but I think given how early it is in the season, she has great potential to rise.

Though she had a fall on her back handspring to tuck full on beam, the rest of the routine was still good enough for second place with a 13.3, and her floor routine was excellent, winning the gold with a 13.05 after hitting a split jump full, 1½ to double pike, switch full, tour jeté half to switch ring, 2½ to front tuck, and double tuck. It’s going to be difficult for her to go head-to-head with Black when the two are competing at their best, but I anticipate Stewart will be a star for the program this season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her make the Olympic team.

Rose Woo won the bronze medal, a big statement given that she hasn’t been at the top of the pack for quite a bit. Granted, some major competitors sat this meet out, including 2018 and 2019 worlds team members Brooklyn Moors and Ana Padurariu, so she’ll need to improve on her 52.300 to be competitive with them if they both come back with what they’re capable of, but she proved to be a solid bars and beam option here, winning gold and bronze medals, respectively.

She started out with a decent Yurchenko full, and had a few small things off in her bars set, but it was the most complete routine overall, and she picked up the top score of 13.4. Her beam also had a few small form errors and little adjustments, but again, it was strong overall, and her floor routine, though not the most difficult, was lovely and she performed it well, both in terms of the tumbling and in the presentation.

Rounding out the top eight were Sophie Marois in fourth with a 50.450, Audrey Rousseau in fifth with a 49.600, Emma Spence in sixth with a 49.500, Cassie Lee in seventh with a 49.300, and Jessica Dowling in eighth with a 48.500. Most of these athletes had struggles, but Marois put up the top vault score of 14.2 with her Yurchenko double, while Lee, a first-year senior, won the bronze on floor, showing solid but mostly simple work.

Laurie Denommée had a mostly strong day, competing every event but floor, and earning the second-highest score on vault with a 13.6 and the third-best on beam with a 13.2. First-year senior Clara Raposo, the country’s top junior last year, only competed beam here, getting a 13.1 for a slightly downgraded but strong routine.

The junior title was up for grabs between Aurélie Tran, who is in her final year at the junior level, and 12-year-old Victoriane Charron. Tran ended up taking it by seven tenths with a 50.550 to Charron’s 49.850, hitting all four routines beautifully and with tons of style, and she posted the top scores of the meet on bars and floor. Charron was also gorgeous to watch, and despite a fall on her back handspring mount on beam, she still won the event with a 12.3, and she had the second-best scores on the other three events.

Marie Millette was the bronze medalist with a 46.450, hitting all four events but with much lower difficulty than the top two. She also earned the second-best score on beam, where she showed clean skills and good fight on a side somi that started to go awry.

Rounding out the top eight were Viktoria Duchesne in fourth with a 46.400, also putting up the third-best scores on vault and floor, Amelie Blanton in fifth with a 45.050, Makenzie Grant in sixth with a 44.350, Amy Jorgensen in seventh with a 44.350, taking the second-best vault score, and Jordanna Phillis in eighth with a 44.000. Virginie Therrien, who was ninth with a 42.800 after missing some handstands on bars and falling four times on beam, put up the top vault average of 13.1.

Full results from the competition are available here, and you can read about all of the routines on the live blog.

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William Emard

The men’s Elite Canada competition was judged a week after the women’s meet, with the guys sharing two days of routines.

There were several ‘waves’ of senior competitors, with Jesse Tyndall winning the all-around in the first wave, totaling a 161.488 after hitting a 79.899 on day one and an 81.589 on day two. He was followed by Sam Zakutney in second with a 160.955, and Chris Kaji in third with a 154.687.

Zachary Clay had the highest all-around score in this group, with an 83.173 on the first day of competition, and he likely would have won, but opted to not compete vault on day two. He won the pommels, rings, and parallel bars titles, while Tyndall won vault, Zakutney won high bar, and Jake Bonnay won floor.

The talented and powerful William Emard dominated in the second wave, winning gold with a 166.300 after earning an 82.950 on day one and an 83.350 on day two. It was a huge win over 2020 Olympic Games qualifier René Cournoyer, who finished second in this group with a 158.000, struggling on high bar on day one and then p-bars on day two. Cory Paterson was third with a 155.400.

In the first wave of “next generation” seniors, we saw Davey Boschmann with a 149.922 (74.815 and 75.107) to take the gold, while Félix Dolci won the title for the second wave, earning a 160.100 (78.600 and 81.500). Jayson Rampersad won the junior 16-18 title, Mathys Jalbert won the second wave junior 16-18 title, Connor Fielding won the junior 14-15 title, and Victor Canuel won the second wave junior 14-15 title.

Full results are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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