Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Sport Seneca Style

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Three years ago, Toronto’s Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs made history as the first female Canadian to win a medal at the World Championships. In recent years, this country’s medal hopes had rested on Olympians such as Stella Umeh, Yvonne Tousek and Kate Richardson, but it wasn’t until 2006 that a Canadian gymnast stood proudly on the most prestigious podium of all. Only seasoned competitors Irina Krasnyanska (UKR) and Sandra Izbasa (ROM) scored higher than Elyse’s 15.475 on the balance beam.

Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, 2006 World Championships

Elyse’s routine exudes the beam style shared by many Sport Seneca gymnasts of the past. In the next few beam routines, you’ll note the particular type of choreography and the skills (in particular the illusions, the double turns and the Homma flairs mounts, named for Sport Seneca gymnast Leah Homma) that make these beam routines distinctly Seneca.

Peng Peng Lee, 2008 Canadian National Championships

Lydia Williams, 2003 8-Country Competition in the Netherlands

Michelle Conway, 1999 World Championships

And perhaps the first from this Toronto gymnastics club to demonstrate this distinct style:

Koyuki Oka, 1988 Pacific Alliance

Now that Sport Seneca’s head coach, Carol-Angela Orchard, has left for England, it remains to be seen whether current gymnasts like Peng Peng Lee can maintain the high level of gymnastics the club has contributed to the Canadian scene over the past few decades. Peng Peng continues to train with former Sport Seneca coach Brian McVey at Discovery Gymnastics.

Gymnix 2009 – Junior and International Cups

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Gymbyte and I have just returned from L’International Gymnix 2009, and it was an amazing weekend in Montreal! This was the inaugural year as a World Cup event and it was a great success, especially on the men’s side where many of the world’s top competitors were present.

The Junior Cup portion of the competition included female gymnasts from Canada, France, Russia and the USA. The International Cup female competitors competed alongside the juniors, with gymnasts representing Canada, Australia, USA, France and Peru.

My favourite Bits:

– The General Warm-Up. I saw the American girls going through the routine of donkey kicks, needles, walking on hands, twisting leaps, etc…all under the watchful eye of Marta Karolyi. The Russians’ warm-up routine included rows of back extension to 1.5 pirouette on hands to front roll to press handstand to 1.5 pirouette on hands.

General Warm-Up, International Gymnix 2009

– American Jordyn Wieber stole the show, winning all four events thanks to her level of difficulty, consistency and neat form. On Vault she performed a double-twisting Yurchenko, while on Beam she nailed her front aerial, one-hand backhandspring, layout combination and her standing full to back tuck. It was also a pleasure to see that Teodora Ungureanu’s protégée, Sabrina Vega, had been added to the roster at the last minute.

– One of my favourite routines of the evening belonged to Russian junior Yulia Belokobylskaya. Hers is the most balletic floor exercise in recent memory.

Yulia Belokobylskaya, International Gymnix 2009, Floor Exercise

– Canadian Mikaela Gerber’s floor exercise was every bit as gripping as Aisha Gerber’s Dire Straits routine. Both sisters exhibit interesting choreography and nice lines.

Mikaela Gerber, International Gymnix 2009, Floor Exercise

Stay tuned for Part 2…the Montreal World Cup!

“Hard work made it easy.”

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work. –writer Emile Zola

Hard work made it easy. That is my secret. That is why I win. –gymnast Nadia Comaneci

Gymnasts and gym fans alike know the amount of intense training it takes to reach the top. Starting from a young age, gymnasts learn the discipline that is required to put their bodies through hours of rigorous training each day.

Fans from around the world have produced some amazing training montages over the years, but there are a few in particular I’d like to point out. The first is a fantastic one I came across called Training Emotions. I like it because it covers a wide variety of skills, gymnasts and eras, and I enjoy the dramatic music too!

Training Emotions Montage, by Gymlover

My favourite parts:

-A pensive portrait of Yelena Mukhina at 0:42. She will forever be remembered as the 1978 World Champion, denied a chance at the 1980 Olympic Games after a terrible injury. She passed away due to complications from her paralysis in late 2006.

-Unique skills, such as the aerial cartwheel perpendicular to the beam at 1:48, the Gaylord at 1:58 and the German giants to Tkatchev at 2:06.

-The gymnast practising a layout Jaeger with a harness at 2:15.

-Jackie Bender at 3:06. She was a strong gymnast on the Canadian National Team in the early 1990s, but I believe her strength, flexibility and balance would have lent itself well to Sports Acro or a show such as Cirque du Soleil.

Jackie Bender, Former Canadian National Team Member

The next training montage includes all the gymnasts striving to be part of the Unified Team at the 1992 Olympic Games. This was to be the last time competing together under one flag.

Soviet Training Montage

I’ll leave you with a well-made montage about China’s training system. I’ll reserve comment, except to say that it’s hard to watch such young gymnasts and that perhaps raising the age limit in international competition wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

Gymnastics in China

Please leave a comment and tell me about other montages you enjoy watching. I’m always interested in discovering new ones!