Less than six months after the biggest competition in the sport of gymnastics at the Rio Olympics, a new competitive season is starting and a new code of points has been set in place for the 2017-2020, forcing gymnasts and coaches to adapt to the new rules of the sport. For the Canadian gymnasts, their first big test came on the weekend of February 3rd through to February 5th with the Elite Canada competition taking place in Halifax.

Among the women’s Seniors, with top all-arounders Ellie Black and Isabella Onyshko missing the meet, it was up to who managed to hit their routines the best when it mattered. In the end, 15-year-old Jade Chrobok was able to match her 2016 win at the Junior level and take the gold with a total of 52.917. On vault, Chrobok showed a strong Yurchenko 1.5 with a stuck landing to score just below 14, while on bars she presented a clean but low-difficulty routine that included a high Tkachev and a double front dismount for a 13. Next on beam, where she had her highest D-score of the day, she performed confidently connecting her switch to switch half, attempting a series of side aerial to LOSO to LOSO and executing a beautiful double turn before finishing with a double pike dismount for a score in the mid-13s. Finally on floor, she once again hit her routine as planned with clean tumbling and expressive choreography, though her low difficulty (4.9) kept her from going beyond the mid-12s. Despite dealing with injuries throughout a big portion of 2016, Jade has proven that she’s here to fight for a place on Team Canada and hopefully she will continue to improve as the season progresses.

Almost two points behind Chrobok in second place was Megan Philips, also a first-year Senior, with a total of 51.100. Though competing a general lower level of difficulty than some of the other competitors, Philips was able to execute her routines cleanly and with that take home the Silver medal. On vault she posted her best score with a 13.250 after a clean 4.2-difficulty vault (front pike or Tsukahara layout, most likely) and on bars she got a 12.500, the second highest score of the day on the event. Beam also brought her a good result, in the low-13s, despite some form issues on her leaps, while floor gave her some problems (it’s all a matter of concentration, she said) scoring just 12.300.

In third place was the younger Moors sister, Brooklyn, also a first-year Senior, with a total of 50.550. Starting on vault, Moors showed a beautiful front pike half for a score in the mid-13s, while bars brought her quite a bit of trouble, scoring just 10.700. Luckily, she was able to recover quickly and hit beam, featuring a front tuck mount and a front aerial to side somi for a 12.700. Finishing her competition day on floor, Moors was able to perform her routine beautifully, showing both elegance in her dance and power in her tumbles that included a front double twist to front full and a tucked double front, bringing her a solid 13.500 to top the event.

Rounding up the top 8 were Olympic alternate Megan Roberts in fourth with 50.100 after issues on bars and beam, Audrey Rousseau in fifth with 50.067 also having problems on bars and beam, Shallon Olsen in sixth with 49.617 despite boosting the highest level of difficulty among all the gymnasts, Madeline McLellan in seventh with 49.267 and a tie between Sophie Marois and Lindsay Chia for eighth place with a score of 48.834.

In Event Finals, Shallon Olsen took the vault title without problems after showing a strong DTY with a small hop back and an equally solid Khorkina II (tucked Cheng) for an average of 14.300. In second place was Laurie Dénommée with 13.550, performing a FTY with some bent knees and a tiny hop on landing and a stuck front pike, while the bronze medal went to Sofia Baggio with an average score of 13.325 after a front pike with a small step forward and a stuck Tsukahara layout. Due to the requirement of presenting two vaults from different families, only six Senior gymnasts were able to qualify into the final, with Alexis Djoboulian finishing in fourth with 12.925, Brooklyn Moors in fifth with 12.725 and Seina Cho in sixth with 12.375.

On bars, 1994-born Jessica Dowling managed to take home the Gold medal with a total of 13.075 after a hit routine that included a straddle jaeger, a Pak salto, Maloney to bail and double tuck full dismount, topping the D-score of all competitors in what was a quite low-difficulty final. In second place was All-Around Champion Jade Chrobok with 12.675 after a clean but simple routine capped off with a double front dismount with a step back, while the Bronze medal went to Sophie Marois with a score of 12.375 after another solid but low-difficulty performance. Outside the podium were Megan Philips in fourth place with 12.250, Shallon Olsen in fifth with 11.925, Lindsay Chia in sixth with 11.225, Alexis Didomizio in seventh with 9.875 and Meaghan Ruttan in eighth with 8.975.

In the beam final, Megan Philips proved that lower difficulty performed cleanly can win you medals against high D-scores that can’t hit when it counts and took home the title with a score of 13.075 despite some form issues on her leaps. The Silver medal once again went to Jade Chrobok with a total of 13.050 after a lackluster routine with big wobbles on multiple skills, and Rose-Kaying Woo took the Bronze with 12.925 after some balance checks of her own. Besides the three medalists, Olympic alternate Megan Roberts finished fourth with 12.700, Laurie-Lou Vézina was fifth with 12.300, Brooklyn Moors was sixth with 11.425, Sophie Marois was seventh with 11.350 and Lindsay Chia was eighth with 10.725.

Finally, on floor, Chrobok and Roberts tied for Gold with a score of 13.025 after two hit routines from both of them, with Roberts showing particularly difficult tumbles such as a piked double arabian and a piked full-in. In third place, taking the Bronze medal was Megan Philips receiving a score of 12.850 for her elegant and expressive performance. Rounding-up the finalists, Audrey Rousseau finished fourth with 12.825, Brooklyn Moors was fifth with 12.425, Madeline Straker was sixth with 12.100, Laurie-Lou Vézina was seventh with 12.050 and Laurie Dénommée was eighth with 11.450.

Overall, this competition served as the first show of the year for many Canadian gymnasts, some starting their Senior careers and wanting to prove their value to the team. Since Canada is hosting the 2017 World Championships in Montreal, they will want to put forth their best players to represent the country as best as possible in front of their home crowd and the competition for the only four spots available will be quite fierce. Between returning Olympians and new Seniors, this is set to be a very difficult choice for the powers that be in Canada and all gymnasts will hope to be at the top of their game as we get closer and closer to the most important competition of the year.

On the other hand, this was one of the first few competitions, together with the Reykjavik Games, using the new Code of Points and it’s still a bit hard to understand the new scores which as generally lower than what we’re used to. In the end, rankings were still as they should be and in time, we will all hopefully get accustomed to the new numbers and easily figure out if a score is good or bad without wondering what is going on. Even though it is quite strange to see scores in the low-13s winning titles and gymnasts barely getting into the 14s range, as time goes by, coaches and gymnasts will be able to better work with the new Code, maximizing their scoring potential and generally increasing scores across all four events. In the meantime, all we gotta do is try to make sense of the current system and focus on execution scores to understand whether a routine was a success or a disaster. That’s just how gymnastics works!

Full results here.

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