For a gymnast best known for vault and floor, it’s ironic that Ellie Black can thank the uneven bars for her first Canadian national all-around title.
Black, a 2012 Olympian and World Cup gold medalist (on everything except bars) scored 13.05 on the event, her last of the competition, to wrap up the Canadian senior title after falling on vault (12.85), arguably her strongest event.
Black missed on bars during the first night of competition at the Canadian Championships in Ottawa and scored sub-12 on the event, but hit the routine in the finals to finish with 54.5 points, having received an impressive 14.05 on floor and 14.1 for a hit beam set.
The elegant Natalie Vaculik, younger sister of 2012 Olympian Kristina Vaculik, finished second (53.325), followed by new senior Maegan Chant (53.075).
Futures Gymnastics’s Kaitlyn Hofland, whose uneven bars routine is one of the best in Canada, led after the first night of competiton but finished fifth on the second day of the “new life” (read: the first night’s scores are erased) competition. First year senior Victoria Woo came in fourth.
The women’s all-around race looked like a competition between Moors and Black, both of whom have extreme difficulty on their three best events. (Moors notably debuted a double-twisting double layout on floor during night one of the competition, becoming only the second woman ever to throw the skill in competition.)
But Moors also fell twice from the balance beam during the qualifying round and opted to do only a roundoff, layout dismount. She did not compete during the second day.
On the men’s side, veteran Hugh Smith, 29, took the all-around title with 81.6 points, edging 2010 Youth Olympian Robert Watson (81.45) and newcomer Rene Cournoyer (79.9). According to Gymnastics Canada, it is Smith’s first national championship win in 15 years, since he won the Tyro Division as an adolescent. His 81.5 was the highest total of a competition that featured a rebuilding Canadian men’s team with a goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, something it did not do in 2012.
The victory is big for Nova Scotia, the tiny province where both Smith and Black hail from.
In the junior women’s division, 12-year-old Shallon Olsen won the title over Aleeza Yu and Gymnix star Brianna Clark, who is back from a knee injury that kept her out of competition most of last year.
Olsen, a star in Canada since she burst onto the scene with Worlds-worthy difficulty at the tender age of nine, nailed a great double-twisting Yurchenko vault but showed sloppy form on bars and had falls on beam.
Competition at the Canadian Championships continues through the weekend with event finals.
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