Posts Tagged ‘Gina Gogean’

L’International Gymnix 2010

Monday, March 29th, 2010

The 2010 edition marked the third time I have attended the Gymnix International and Junior Cups, and while the field was not quite as deep as in years past, it was still lots of fun for me, my sister and our friend Catherine. This year I recognized two judges, Romanian star Gina Gogean and Pam Collett of Canada, who judged me when I was a high school gymnast!

Judge Gina Gogean (ROU) Marches In

The highlight was seeing the up-and-coming juniors from Russia and Romania, but truth be told, the Canadian juniors showed just as much potential! For the most part, they displayed great form and adequate levels of difficulty. With all these fantastic gymnasts, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Canadian ladies haven’t been so successful on the world stage in recent years (with the exception of Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs’s medal on beam at the 2006 World Championships, of course!). Maybe this new generation is the one that will launch Canada into contention for team finals at Worlds.

Madeline Gardiner won the all-around portion of the competition ahead of Riley Cholod, who was fresh off her victory at the Nadia Comaneci Invitational. In third place was Maria Karpova, the youngest of the four Russian gymnasts. Rounding out the Top 10 was a talented field: Diana Bulimar, Ekaterina Baturina, Ekaterina Shtronda and Mikaela Gerber (tie), Victoria Moors, Alena Marchenko and Shae Zamardi. It’s interesting to note that Cholod, Gardiner and Gerber allowed for a Canadian sweep of the uneven bars medals!

Madeline Gardiner (CAN), Uneven Bars, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

Riley Cholod (CAN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

Mikaela Gerber (CAN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

I particularly enjoyed the floor exercises of the Russian gymnasts, as they displayed the polish that has become the hallmark of their national program. Their technique on even the most basic skills was beyond compare, but these gymnasts are so young that they won’t be eligible for senior competition until 2013 and 2014.

Maria Karpova (RUS), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

Ekaterina Baturina (RUS), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

Alena Marchenko (RUS), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

It was interesting to see how high Ekaterina Shtronda set before pulling around the delayed double back. You can see it in the video, but it seemed even more dramatic live.

Ekaterina Shtronda (RUS), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

Young Maegan Chant showed great potential with difficult skills including a double layout mount on floor exercise followed by a full-in. She is coached at World Class Gymnastics by Cristina Bontas, who achieved much success for Romania in the late 1980s and early 1990s. With just a little more polish, Chant will be a major player on the Canadian scene.

Maegan Chant (CAN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

I was looking forward to seeing the Romanian juniors that I’d heard so much about: Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar, Ana Maria Baicu, and a new name for me, Tatiana Geamparoiu. They suffered a few falls on balance beam, but as usual they shone on floor exercise. I enjoyed Iordache’s piked full-in off bars.

Larisa Iordache (ROU), Balance Beam, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

Diana Bulimar (ROU), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

Ana Maria Baicu (ROU), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

Tatiana Geamparoiu (ROU), Vault, 2010 Gymnix Junior Cup

Unfortunately, the International Cup portion of the competition wasn’t very well attended this year. Apart from the Canadians, the only gymnasts from abroad were some Parkettes (coach Donna Strauss was spotted with a knee brace of her own!), two Finnish girls and a South African.

Kristina Vaculik (CAN) was in a league of her own, winning the all-around by more than four points, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. I had a chuckle when I saw her coach, 1980 Olympic Champion Yelena Davydova, judging her on balance beam. Vaculik later went on to achieve great success (two golds and two silvers) at the Cottbus World Cup in Germany.

Kristina Vaculik (CAN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix International Cup

Olympian Nansy Damianova (CAN) showed off a nice Spanish floor exercise to place third.

Nansy Damianova (CAN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Gymnix International Cup

Anysia Unick (CAN) performed well in her first year as a senior, winning the gold on vault and the silver on floor exercise. Cynthia Lemieux (CAN) always manages to gather quite a collection of medals, and this time she brought home silver in the all-around and bronze on uneven bars. Annika Urvikko (FIN) was the only foreign athlete to break into the medals with her third place on vault.

During the awards ceremony, former Olympians and Gymnix alumnae Cathy Giancaspro, Mylène Fleury, Julie Beaulieu, Amélie Plante and Nansy Damianova were on hand to present the medals to the winners. After the competition, the gymnasts and the audience enjoyed a performance by Cirque du Soleil (during which the Romanian gymnasts munched on apples!).And so, another year of Gymnix has come to an end. I hope that by next year the field will be prestigious enough to include a Women’s World Cup event to go along with the Men’s World Cup.

Taking a Tumble

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Gymnasts display so many difficult skills with such grace that it’s easy to forget just how tricky the sport really is. There are times, of course, when things don’t go quite as planned and a Blooper is born….

Note to Gymbyte: don’t watch 0:16! I know you can’t stand to see this. Oh yeah, and there’s a close-up of the same thing at 3:27.

Funniest Bloopers:

Bronze: American Kristen Maloney loses her air sense while warming up a triple twist and kicks out of it (1:07).

Silver: A gymnast fights hard to stay on the beam (3:17). Who is this? I feel like I’ve seen this before. It also reminds me of a funny beam fall by Soviet Natalia Frolova at the 1986 Kraft International.

Gold: At 3:20, the uneven bars come crashing down as Lyudmila Tourischeva from the Soviet Union completes her dismount at the 1975 World Cup (see “Raise the Bar”). She managed to win despite this apparatus malfunction.

Most Heartwrenching Bloopers:

Bronze (3-way tie): Yelena Zamolodchikova of Russia (1:10) finds herself travelling backwards during this punch front at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. This error cost her the All-Around Gold medal. Ukrainian Viktoria Karpenko (1:33) trips over her own toe after successfully landing an Arabian double front, punch front at the same competition. Chinese Yang Bo falls yet again during a beam event final that she could have won, this time at the 1992 Olympics (1:38).

Silver: Vanessa Atler of the United States (0:20) lands slightly out-of-bounds on her double layout, and hurts her ankle while punching into the front tuck. Despite being a favourite throughout the quadrennium for Olympic glory, this injury and subsequent mental blocks proved to be too much. The 2000 Games went on without her.

Gold: At 3:55, Soviet Olga Strazheva injures her knee at the 1988 Olympic Games, ending her competition.

Most Horrifying Bloopers:

Bronze: Guy doing a triple back “dismount” on to the high bar (2:14). This video is probably second only to Brian Meeker as the most-watched gymnastics blooper on the internet (4:14)!

Silver: At the Dortmund Team World Championships in 1994, Romanian Gina Gogean (0:16 and 3:27) suffered a horrendous fall on the balance beam, but came back a couple of days later as a leader in the Gold medal effort.

Gold: Yukio Iketani of Japan is lucky he wasn’t seriously injured when he missed this Gaylord at the 1991 World Championships in Indianapolis (3:29).

Most Ghastly Technique in a Blooper:

Bronze: Hmm…any contenders? Perhaps Puerto Rican Eileen Diaz (3:45) with her botched full to leap at the 1996 Olympics.

Silver: Allana Slater of Australia, at 0:05, deserves the benefit of the doubt, though, given the vault situation at the 2000 Olympic Games.

Gold: The double layout at 2:11. I have no idea who is performing this.

Textbook Falling Technique in a Blooper:

0:46. Chinese Fan Ye at the 2003 World Championships. It’s a pity she finished last in the bars finals…she has such exquisite form!

Here’s another video showcasing some funny falls. I hope no one was hurt. A first for me: seeing a high bar snap in half at 0:31!

Gymnastics bloopers are only funny as long as the gymnast was not injured in any way. Of course, mistakes can still be devastating if they occur at a major competition for which the gymnast has trained long and hard. Here are two bloopers that are not the slightest bit amusing. The first is Hwang Bo Sil, a gymnast from North Korea. This accident took place in 1989. Fortunately, she made a full recovery and went on to compete at the 1992 Olympic Games. The second video is of a Chinese male (I haven’t been able to identify this gymnast!). Three-quarter saltos such as these are now banned in women’s gymnastics, but the men continue to train and perform the popular Thomas salto. You’ll notice that the gymnasts continue to struggle when they should have been instructed to lie down and stay still in case of spinal injury or concussion. I find it appalling that the male was allowed to complete his routine.

Here’s another neck injury where the coach knew exactly what to do, and Cosmina Paulescu was immediately immobilized after crashing her double pike bars dismount at the 2005 Romanian National Championships. She has since recovered.

With all the difficult skills being performed in this sport today, it’s amazing that it is still a rare occurrence to hear of a permanent spinal injury. Knock on wood…let’s keep it that way!