After a few individual competitions early on, the first international team competition of the new Olympic cycle finally came to be in Montreal, Canada, with the 26th edition of International Gymnix, on March 10th to 12th. While no country expects to be at the top of their game at this point in time, this meet gave us the chance to see some new team dynamics and prepare for what’s in store for the next four years.

The Senior gymnasts started their competition on Friday with Senior Cup which served as team and all-around finals, as well as qualification for the event finals of Sunday. At the end of the day, the team title went to Team Canada 1 represented by Audrey Rousseau, Brooklyn Moors, Jade Chrobok and Megan Roberts with a total of 158.871. They started off very well with three hit vaults, counting two scores in the mid to high-13s for Moors’ Tsukhara full and Chrobok’s FTY and a huge 14.500 for Roberts’ DTY. Unfortunately bars was their lowest scoring event with all three scores in the twelves after low difficulty and errors but they were able to recover well on beam and floor, posting in the low to mid-13s after hit routines with just small mistakes.

In second place was Japan with a total of 157.439. Competing with just three gymnasts (Ayu Koike, Hitomi Hatakeda and Marina Kawasaki), the Japanese girls were at a disadvantage in this 4-up 3-count format, being unable to discard the lowest score from their team total. Still, they made every routine count and managed to reach the podium. On vault they received two low-14s after a Yurchenko 1.5 from Hatakeda and a DTY from Koike, as well as mid-13 for Kawasaki’s FTY. Bars once again was the most problematic event with just one hit routine from Hatakeda scoring in the mid-13s, while both Koike and Kawasaki had mistakes and scored in the mid-12s and mid-11s, respectively. On beam, they had two solid performances from Koike and Hatakeda for scores in the low to mid-13s and again some issues from Kawasaki for a high-12, while on floor Hatakeda maintained her 13s-range but Koike and Kawasaki didn’t managed to reach beyond the low-12s, probably counting falls in their routines.

In third place, taking home the bronze medal, was another set of Canadians, named Canada 2, with Megan Phillips, Rose-Kaying Woo, Shallon Olsen and Sophie Marois, finishing with 157.070. On vault, they performed two DTYs but only Olsen’s was successful, posting a solid mid-14 score, while Marois crashed hers and only received a score in the mid-13s, matching Woo’s FTY score. Moving on to bars, they counted three scores in the twelves after hit but low difficulty routines from Olsen and Marois and some mistakes from Phillips, their strongest bar worker. Unfortunately, things didn’t improve on the last two events, with only Marois scoring in the low-13s on beam, while both Olsen and Woo counted falls to post in the mid-12s, and all three showing mistakes on floor for a mid-13 from Olsen and 12.567 from both Phillips and Marois.

Finally, almost seven points behind the podium finishers and also competing was just three gymnasts was team Australia with Emily Whitehead, Erin Modaro and Jade Vella-Wright with 150.770. On vault they showed two hit FTYs from Whitehead and Modaro for scores in the mid to high-13s, as well as a Yurchenko pike from Vella-Wright for a mid-12, while on bars all three of them scored in the mid to high-12s after some mistakes from Whitehead and hit but low difficulty routines from Modaro and Jade. Both beam and floor had disappointing performances, with errors and falls from all three gymnasts for scores in the mid to high-11s on beam and low to mid-12s on floor.

In the case of the all-around results, Hitomi Hatakeda was able to capture the gold with 54.635 after having a solid competition across all events and posting respectable difficulty on most of her routines. On vault she performed a Yurchenko 1.5 with a small hop forward for her highest score of the day (14.234), followed by a solid exercise on bars with good difficulty for a mid-13. While beam was her lowest scoring event, it was mostly due to its slightly lower difficulty (4.8 D-score) and not poor performance, still managing to post in the low-13s before finishing strong with a solid 13.600 on floor. This was a very good competition for Hitomi, who also qualified into every event final and medalled in all of them, so good things should be expected from this gymnast in the near future. As we head towards the Tokyo Olympics, Japan will be trying to raise their best gymnasts and Hitomi is definitely one to watch.

The Silver medal went to Olympian Shallon Olsen with 53.401 after some mistakes on multiple events. On vault she was as solid as ever, scoring 14.567 for her DTY, the highest score of the day on any event, but her remaining routines were nowhere near close to that level. On bars she posted in the mid-12s despite a hit routine due to her low difficulty (4.6 D-score) and major form issues, while on beam she also scored in the same range after some errors and probably a fall. Unfortunately, even though floor is usually one of her best events, she didn’t have a clean routine and only scored in the mid-13s. Similar to Elite Canada a few weeks ago, Shallon still struggles to hit her routines in competition and her execution deductions on bars definitely pile up and affect her score heavily. However, she has a great level of difficulty on most of her events and with some clean-up and experience should get more confident and gain some consistency. While she’s already an Olympian, we can’t forget Shallon is just 16 and still has a lot to learn and a lot to offer to the sport of gymnastics.

In third place was new Senior Brooklyn Moors with 53.001. Moors started on vault, upgrading her Tsukhara vault to a Tsukhara full and was quite successful posting her top score of the day, 13.834. Just like Olsen, bars is not really her thing and she only received a low-12 after low difficulty and execution issues plagued her performance. Fortunately, she was able to shine on her two best pieces, beam and floor, and hit both of her routines elegantly for scores in the low to mid-13s to finish her competition on a good note. While not matching her teammate Shallon on the difficulty department, Brooklyn has very elegant movements and performs beautiful gymnastics, despite her young age of 15. With some of the older competitors retiring or taking breaks after Rio, she could very well find herself as one of the top choices for team Canada for the up-coming World Championships in home soil.

Rounding-up the top 8 in the all-around standings were Jade Chrobok in fourth with 52.635, Ayu Koike in fifth with 52.402, Sophie Marois in sixth with 52.168, Audrey Rousseau in seventh with 51.501 and Megan Roberts in eighth with 51.435.

After qualifications, team and all-around finals on Friday, Sunday was time for event finals, featuring gymnasts from both the Senior Cup and the Challenge Cup. On vault, Shallon Olsen took the title with a great average of 14.500 after a DTY and a Khorkina, both with just a hop back. She was followed closely behind by Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan in second, who received a 14.475 average for her front layout full and Tsukahara 1.5, and all-around champion Hitomi Hatakeda in third with 14.025 after presenting two solid vaults: a Yurchenko 1.5 and a Tsukahara full. The fourth and last finisher since no one else competed two different vaults at this competition was Brooklyn Moors, who unfortunately fell on her Tsukahara full and scored just 13.225 despite hitting her second vault, a front pike half-out, with just a small hop.

The other three events were basically a Hatakeda sweep, with the Japanese gymnast taking all the gold medals. On bars she posted 13.825 after hitting her routine which included a inbar half to piked jaeger, a van Leeuwen and a full-in dismount with a hop back, while Emily Whitehead got second place with 13.000 after a great Markelov and a Maloney to pak connection and Ayu Koike got third with 12.950 for her solid routine despite landing her double pike dismount with a stumble forward. On beam, Hatakeda scored 13.350 for her solid and clean routine, with Jade Chrobok taking silver with 13.275 after a hit but slightly wobbly routine and Rianna Mizzen of Australia taking bronze with 13.200, showing a BHS to LOSO to LOSO serie and a double tuck dismount landed a bit low. At last, on floor, Hatakeda posted 13.600 for yet another gold, with Megan Roberts rallying closely behind with 13.567 after hitting all her passes, including her opening piked double arabian. Despite her superior difficulty, Shallon Olsen didn’t go beyond third place after scoring 13.467 due to a low landing on her piked full-in and an underrotated triple twist dismount.

Overall, this was a rather small competition on the Senior level with only a few countries filling in full teams while some others opted to send individual gymnasts to gain some more competitive experience. In the end, Hitomi Hatakeda was the big star of the meet and showed her great level of gymnastics, proving she is ready to compete at the highest level of the sport. With athletes slowly coming back to top form, competitions like this are important to rebuild team dynamics and keep the momentum going as we progress along the season and towards Worlds in October, all the while creating a few more opportunities for gymnasts to become more confident in their routine and improve consistency.

Full results here.

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