Vaculik wins Elite Canada

Canada's Kristina VaculikFrom International Gymnast Magazine:

2007 Canadian national champion Kristina Vaculik overcame a fall on floor exercise to take top honors in the senior women’s all-around at Elite Canada, held Friday night in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Vaculik scored a 56.9 to hold off challengers Peng-Peng Lee of Seneca, Ont. and Nansy Damianova of Gymnix in Montreal. Although she overrotated her double pike on floor exercise, Vaculik said she looks at the meet as just another stepping stone to next summer’s Olympic Games.

“I just came here and basically told myself to do the same thing I did in Beijing,” said Vaculik, who was sixth in the all-around at the “Good Luck Beijing” International Invitational earlier this month.

Vaculik posted the highest score of the night on uneven bars with a 14.8 and balance beam with a 15.2. Lee put up a 14.6 to qualify first to Sunday’s floor exercise final. Damianova, born in France to Bulgarian parents, was the top qualifier on vault with a 14.5.

2006 world championships bronze medalist Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs competed uneven bars and balance beam only. Hopfner-Hibbs matched Vaculik’s 14.8 on bars and qualified third to the balance beam final with a 14.2.

Competition such as Elite Canada have taken on added importance for those vying for the Canadian women’s two individual berths to the 2008 Olympic Games. (Canada finished 14th at the 2007 World Championships; the top 12 nations qualified full teams.) Gymnastics Canada Gymnastique, the governing body of the sport in Canada, has instituted a selection process through which gymnasts earn points based on their apparatus scores at national and international meets.

The two gymnasts with the highest number of points come June will be selected to represent Canada at the Olympic Games, but special consideration will be given to those who excel on one or two events, said Lise Simard, women’s artistic director for Gymnastics Canada Gymnastique.

Lee, 14, had the lead going into the final rotation but faltered on balance beam, falling on a tucked barani and a front flip and balking on her dismount. She did, however, make her back handspring, back full combination, which she said she had been training for only two months.

“It didn’t feel any different competing at a higher level,” Lee said. “Everything felt really good. I was very confident with my performance.”

Competition continues Saturday in Abbotsford with the second day of men’s all around competition. The University of Calgary’s Nathan Gafuik leads Ken Ikeda and Hugh Smith.

2007 Elite Canada
Dec. 14, Abbotsford, B.C.

Senior Women’s All-Around
1. Kristina Vaculik (Gemini, ON) 56.900
2. Peng-Peng Lee (Sport Seneca, ON) 56.150
3. Nansy Damianova (Gymnix, QC) 56.100
4. Sydney Sawa (CalGym, AB) 53.950
5. Aisha Gerber (Oakville, ON) 53.900
6. Emma Willis (Bluewater, ON) 53.750
7. Alyssa Brown (Mississauga, ON) 53.600

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