Posts Tagged ‘Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs’

12 days of up and coming gymnasts, day 10

January 1, 2009
Canadas high bar hope Nathan Gafuik could be a contender in 2009.

Canada's high bar hope Nathan Gafuik could be a contender in 2009.

Nathan Gafuik, Canada: The Canadian men were one of the unexpected surprises at the 2007 World Championships, placing 11th in team prelims to qualify a full team to Beijing. (The Canadian women weren’t as lucky. A disastrous team prelims left them 13th, and as a reuslt only two women — Nansy Damianova and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, traveled to Beijing).

The Canadian men were fantastic in Beijing, but few really noticed it because they didn’t win any medals. Nevertheless, the level of difficulty and execution at the Olympics represented a huge step forward for what has been an emerging program.

Nathan Gafuik

Nathan Gafuik

At 23, Gafuik, who is coached by the University of Calgary’s Tony Smith, has emerged as one of the team’s cornerstones. He’s still relatively young, but his experience runs pretty deep — at 19, he was an alternate to the Athens Games.

In 2006, he posted a huge 16.45 on vault at the American Cup and turned in a very respectable high bar routine (15.5 for second place). The same year he helped Canada to a sixth place finish at the World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

Gafuik’s one of those guys who doesn’t get along with the pommel horse, which sort of takes him out of all around competitions. However, he’s a big contender on high bar and vault. With him, Canada is still a program on the rise.

Meet the Bruins (version 2009)

December 14, 2008

Looking very beach-ready in blue tank tops and black shorts, the 2009 UCLA gymnastics team gave an exhibition of sorts a couple weeks ago in Los Angeles.

Included are the floor routines of Ariana Berlin, Brittani McCullough (who didn’t tumble, likely still recovering from her ruptured Achilles last season), Allison Taylor, Talia Kushynski and Canadian freshmen Aisha Gerber and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs. Enjoy!

Helping Taylor Lindsay-Noel

September 8, 2008

Olympian Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs trained with Taylor Lindsey-Noel at Sport Seneca in Toronto.

Olympian Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs trained with Taylor Lindsey-Noel at Sport Seneca in Toronto.

Gymnastics Coaching was the first to blog about Canadian hopeful Taylor Lindsey-Noel’s paralysis after a bars dismount went awry in training in July.

It’s always sad to read about young people being injured in gymnastics, but coming in the wake of all the Olympic glory, the story of Lindsey-Noel, a 2012 hopeful who trained at Sport Seneca with Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and Peng-Peng Lee, feels especially tragic.

Toronto Star opinion columnist Royson James and Lindsay-Noel’s mother Rowena both seemed outraged at the small amount of attention Lindsey-Noel’s injury initially got. But thanks to James’ article, coupled with this one in the Globe and Mail, Taylor’s story is spreading around — including to one big-hearted person, who donated $10,000 to her cause.

Just yesterday, a donor sent $10,000 to the Star to bolster the trust fund set up to assist Olympics-bound gymnast Taylor Lindsay-Noel, 14, in her battle to walk again.

“In your article, you described the perfect and decent human being. Her tragic injury pains me,” reads the handwritten note accompanying the cheque. “Please forward this to Taylor and family in their need of support. More people should have moments of compassion; it would make them more human.”

When they talk about her bieng a 2012 hopeful, they weren’t kidding. According to a very old thread from the Gymnastics Gossip Message Board (GGMB), in 2007 Taylor’s tumbling passes were a double layout, double Arabian, 1.5 to layout front, double tuck side pass and a double pike. At 13. This kid was undoubtedly on her way up.

Taylor’s injury is preceded by that of Dutch junior Imke Glas and China’s Wang Yan, who also sustained a major injury on a bars dismount. Both can walk today.

Best of luck to Taylor in her recovery.

Canadian women name Olympians

June 10, 2008

Nansy DamianovaIn the midst of the media frenzy that was the U.S. women’s championships, the Canadians quietly held their own Nationals and named Nansy Damianova and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs as the two who would wear the Maple Leaf in Beijing.

Left out is 2007 Canadian champion Kristina Vaculik, a waif-like 16-year-old who is excellent on bars and beam but a bit weak on vault and floor.

Hopfner-Hibbs, who had been concentrating on her specialties (bars and beam) made an impressive return to the all-around to win the Canadian title over Vaculik and young Charlotte Mackie. Young Peng-Peng Lee was also impressive, winning the senior beam and floor titles.

Adam Wong won the Canadian men’s title, although his victory was somewhat overshadowed by the continuing saga of Kyle Shewfelt, who made a media splash even though he didn’t compete.

Most were betting that the two to go would be Hopfner-Hibbs, the only Canadian woman in about two decades to have won a World medal (bronze, balance beam, 2006), and Vaculik, who was sent to the Olympic venue for the Good Luck Beijing International Invitational in December.

Damianova has been viewed as no. 3 to Vaculik and Hopfner-Hibbs in international exposure, media coverage and probably readiness — everything but the complicated, confusing system Gymnastics Canada Gymnastique installed to choose its Olympians. A month ago, Damianova led the qualifying, having racked up 32 points to Hopfer-Hibbs’ 30 and Vaculik’s 19.

Vaculik has become the first of what will undoubtedly be several women who are Olympic-caliber but will not be granted an berth to the Games because their countries didn’t qualify a full team or because the wildcard process screwed them over didn’t work out for them.

We already know who many of these people are on the men’s side: Krisztian Berki, Vlasios Maras, Yuri van Gelder, Jeffrey Wammes, Philippe Rizzo, Yernar Yurimbetov and others (for full list, see Gymnastics Coaching.)

Damianova was impressive at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships in April.

Nansy Damianova, 2008 Pacific Rim Championships, Floor Exercise:

Aisha Gerber to become a Bruin

May 23, 2008

Aisha GerberAisha Gerber, the expressive Canadian who was third at the 2006 American Cup has signed a letter of intent to compete for UCLA next winter, NCAA.com reports.

In a statement, UCLA coach Valorie Kondos-Field compared Gerber to former Bruin Yvonne Tousek, one of the most expressive and unique gymnasts of her generation.

“Aisha embodies all that we pride ourselves on at UCLA. She is a brilliant and serious student of academics as well as of gymnastics. She also exudes confidence, poise and elegance, much like her fellow Canadian and past Bruin Yvonne Tousek.”

(more…)

Petitioning Kristina Vaculik to Beijing

May 7, 2008

Kristina VaculikSomeone isn’t happy that 2008 Olympic hopeful Kristina Vaculik is training Nansy Damianova and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs in the points competiton that will partly determine who makes the Canadian Olympic team.

A petition to Gymnastics Canada Gymnastique, the governing body of Canadian gymnastics, has been set up here.

The fairly complicated Canadian selection process was explained well by Hopfner-Hibbs’s coach Carol-Angela Orchard in an interview with International Gymnast Online last week.

Athletes also receive points for their previous World Championships experience.

A minimum standard has been set by Gymnastics Canada for each event: 13.600 on vault (average of two vaults); 15.300 on bars; 15.100 on beam; and 14.300 on floor.

The gymnasts are given Olympic Qualifying points when they hit the minimum standards in meets they are sent to around the world, plus Elite Canada and Nationals. The higher their score, the higher number of points they receive.

Related post: Nansy Damianova, Olympic hopeful

Tanella, Gerber give a clinic in expressive floor routines

February 5, 2008

Yes, Virginia, you can do an expressive floor routine with a code of points that forces many to do double fulls as side passes.

Cases in point: The dramatic Christa Tanella of World Olympic Gymnastics Academy in Plano, Texas, and Aisha Gerber, formerly of Cambridge Kips and Elvira Saadi in Ontario, now with Canadian great Kyle Shewfelt’s coach, Kelly Manjak, at Oakville Gymnastics.

Christa Tanella, 2007 U.S. Championships Prelims, Floor Exercise:

Aisha Gerber, 2007 Elite Canada Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Gerber told International Gymnast Magazine in December that she would be trying for one of the two spots on Canada’s Olympic team, likely as a vault and floor specialist. She’s one of the few Canadians to ever throw a double-twisting Yurchenko in competition, and that expressive floor routine is likely to win fans over to her cause.

As far as the Olympics go, Gerber’s got strong competition from reigning Canadian champion Kristina Vaculik and 2006 World bronze medalist Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs. In her bid to make the Canadian team, Gerber is planning to upgrade to a double layout (or maybe double Arabian) on floor.

Women’s artistic gymnastics: 12 to watch in ’08

January 3, 2008

Shawn JohnsonFor so long, the Gymnasts to Watch have come from four countries of the world: The United States, China, Russia and Romania. As we move into 2008, it is quickly becoming apparent that the best gymnasts are not exclusively from these four nations.

With the help of coaches who have migrated from South America to New Zealand, Korea, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, Great Britain, etc., international gymnastics is flourishing in ways it never has before.

Some of those who will be contenders for numerous Olympic medals aren’t mentioned on the following list. We know who they are. But sometimes the stories of the underdogs are equally compelling. Oksana Chusovitina’s fifth Olympics? Come on. That’s an achievement even those who snap up most of the gold in Beijing will never accomplish.

Shawn Johnson, USA: The 2007 World Champion will have all eyes on her this season, but she’ll be dealing with maintaining her position at the top of the podium instead of simply claiming it, as she did in every contest she entered last year. Many fans may watch Johnson with apprehension. After all, Johnson’s idol Kim Zmeskal, whose gymnastics greatly resembled Johnson’s own, looked darn unbeatable too going into 1992.

Shawn Johnson, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Floor Exercise:

Beth TweddleBeth Tweddle, Great Britain: The most decorated gymnast in British history (a term I never thought I’d hear again after Shannon Miller retired) Tweddle is going into 2008 with what seems like all of England marching behind. Freak injuries in podium trainings and the like have robbed Tweddle the opportunity to compete her best at so many competitions.

Beth Tweddle, 2006 World Championships Event Finals, Uneven Bars:

Jiang Yuyuan, China: She’s China’s rising star and a potential late-blooming all-around threat. With the Olympics being held in Beijing, it’s hard to imagine that Jiang won’t do well.

Jiang Yuyuan, 2007 World Championships Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Aisha Gerber, Canada: She looked like the next Yvonne Tousek at the 2006 American Cup. After a tumultous 2007, with new coaches Kelly and Sue Manjak cheering her on, a revitalized Gerber wants to compete for Canada in Beijing. In order to do so however, she’ll have to prove she’s more worthy than Kristina Vaculik and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs.

Aisha Gerber, 2006 American Cup, Floor Exercise:

Vanessa Ferrari, Italy: The competitive spirit obviously rages inside this one. The question will be if she can hit all of her events — in the same day.

Vanessa Ferrari, 2006 World Championships All Around, Floor Exercise:

Daria Joura, Australia: She’s been a spunky and well-choreographed presence on the international scene since 2006. If she does everything she’s capable of in Beijing, she could be in the top five on several events.

Daria Joura, 2007 American Cup, Floor Exercise:

Hong Su Jong, Korea: Despite their particular prowess on vault and uneven bars, the Koreans have gone relatively unnoticed internationally. But at the 2007 World Championships, Hong showed the same vaults as Cheng Fei — an Amanar and Cheng’s own signature vault, which some argued Hong did better in Stuttgart. With Brazilian Jade Barbosa also performing the Cheng, it will be a battle to determine who’s going to do what in 2008.

Hong Su Jong, 2007 World Championships Event Finals, Vault:

Anna PavlovaAnna Pavlova, Russia: The gymnast once deemed Svetlana Khorkina’s successor on the Russian team has limped along since Athens, which was the last competition she really looked alive at. The rudderless Russian team has looked thrown for a loop most of the quad as well, despite immense depth and talent from upcoming juniors. The thing is, Pavlova nearly pulled off the upset of the quad in 2004 (many argue she should have had bronze), and there’s a feeling she does have more to give. If she puts the extra effort into her performance in Beijing as she did in Athens, we could see more from her and the Russians this year.

Anna Pavlova, 2004 Olympic Games All Around, Floor Exercise:

Bridget Sloan, USA: One of the USA’s “Bubble Girls,” the 2007 World Championships alternate is getting attention for her clean gymnastics, personality, consistency and self-choreographed floor routine.

Bridget Sloan, 2007 Beijing Test Event All Around, Floor Exercise:

Cerasela Patrascu, Romania: With veteran Catalina Ponor gone for good, this girl could be the top Romanian in Beijing. Her form is good, her skills are difficult and her presentation has a wonderful quality to it. Expect her — and not teammate Steliana Nistor, deserving as she is — to be the one to watch this year.

Cerasela Patrascu, 2007 World Championships Team Prelims, Uneven Bars:

Yulia Lozhechko, Russia: She’s got the long bodyline — if not the sass — of Khorkina, and her quality and steadiness on balance beam is thoroughly impressive. After being unceremoniously thrown off the Russian national team for disobeying her coaches in Stuttgart, one can only hope Lozhechko put her head down and kept training.

Yulia Lozhechko, 2007 European Championships Event Finals, Balance Beam:

Oksana Chusovitina, Germany: It’s taken four Olympiads, three countries and one child for Chusovitina to get to this point. Regardless of how she performs, whether or not she qualifies for vault finals, how could anyone not cheer for this woman?

Oksana Chusovitina, 2006 World Championships Event Finals, Vault:

Vaculik, Hopfner-Hibbs, Lee win Elite Canada event finals

December 17, 2007

Canada's Elyse Hopfner-HibbsFrom International Gymnast Magazine:

Canadian world team members Kristina Vaculik and
Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs each won one event and tied for another as Elite Canada concluded Sunday in Abbotsford, B.C.

Vaculik, winner of Friday’s all-around competition, vaulted a clean Yurchenko full (13.7) and an Omelianchik (13.4) to place first, ahead of Missassauga’s Alyssa Brown and Gymnix Montreal’s Nansy Damianova.

Vaculik continued her success on bars (clear hip full to Tkatchev, full pirouette to Gienger, double front dismount), tying Sport Seneca’s Hopfner-Hibbs (Markelov, Jaeger, toe-on piked Tkatchev, double layout) with a 15.1. Ontario’s Peng-Peng Lee, second in the all-around, was third with a 14.2.

On balance beam, Hopfner-Hibbs turned in a solid routine that included a McCool (front handspring) mount to immediate back tuck and a side aerial to two layout stepouts to edge Vaculik, 15.300 to 14.95. Vaculik also performed a McCool mount but wobbled on her switch leap, back tuck combination.

Hopfner-Hibbs, who won the bronze on beam at the 2006 World Championships, said she is focusing on uneven bars and balance beam leading up to the Olympic Games.

“I’m trying to use all the competitions I get to go to as preparations for Beijing,” she said. “For me it’s just practice.”

Lee, who debuted a back handspring, tucked full combination Friday night, missed it Sunday but managed to place third with a 14.35, despite also falling on a tucked barani. Lee’s 7.0 A score was the highest of any in the competition.

Canada's Peng-Peng Lee

Undeterred, Lee turned in a clean, jazzy floor routine (full in, Arabian double front, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 twist, double pike) to take top honors ahead of Damianova and Oakville’s Aisha Gerber.

Gerber, who formerly trained with Elvira Saadi at Cambridge Kips, took off five months between October 2006 and March 2007. She is now training with Kelly and Sue Manjak at Oakville Gymnastics in Ontario and said she is attempting to make the Olympic team.

“We are thinking Olympic Games,” Gerber said. “That is my goal and we are building step by step toward that goal.”

In the junior division, all-around runner up Ti Liu of Gymnix was the day’s big winner, placing first on uneven bars (13.85) and balance beam (14.4). Kristen Klarenbach of Ortona Gymnastics in Alberta won vault (13.325), while Laurel Clouston of Salta Gymnastics in Alberta was the top competitor on floor (13.85).

2009 Bruins: Hopfner-Hibbs, Zamarripa, Baer, Frattone

November 16, 2007

Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs

2006 World beam bronze medalist Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and three level 10 gymnasts will join UCLA in 2009, coach Valorie Kondos Field announced today.

In addition to Hopfner-Hibbs, Vanessa Zamarripa, Kaelie Baer and Tauny Frattone have also signed letters of intent to compete for UCLA.

“These four outstanding student-athletes bring diverse and unique qualities to our program,” said Kondos Field. “All of them are brilliant athletes in their own right. As a group, they will help maintain our program’s quest for dynamic, unique and beautiful gymnastics and help keep our program at a level of national prominence.”

One would guess this means Hopfner-Hibbs is going for one of the two Canadian spots up for grabs in 2008. Canadian Alyssa Brown, who plans to attend Stanford University, has also expressed her desire to wear the maple leaf in Beijing.