Meet the new seniors: Canada

Back in 2012, the future of Canadian gymnastics seemed very bright not only because their Olympic team achieved a historic 5th place finish at the London Games, but also because they had plenty of young athletes who showed incredible potential. Some of them, like Heaven Latimer and Aleeza Yu, unfortunately suffered with injuries that prevented her from living up to their potential during the quad but despite those problems, Canada still has some incredibly talented gymnasts who turn seniors just in time for the Rio Olympics.

Seina Cho

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photo credit: Grace Chiu

Seina, who trains at Omega gymnastics, is one of the Canadian gymnasts who turn 16 just in time for the Rio Olympics. She placed 20th at the 2014 Elite Canada and then, she placed 12th All Around at the Canadian championships, where she was also 8th on vault. In 2015, she tied for 9th in the All Around at Elite Canada and she placed 7th on vault and 5th on floor exercise. A few months later, she competed at the Canada Games, helping her team win a bronze medal and placing 23rd in the All Around. She was once again 9th All Around at the Canadian nationals. Her strongest events are probably the balance beam and the floor exercise and she has competed some very impressive skills during the year. Her beam routine includes switch ring, a switch half and a double tuck, while she has also competed a beautiful and unique onodi tick tock. On floor, she has shown a spectacular 3.5 twists opening pass, as well as a triple full and a piked full in. She still needs to clean up her form, but I’m very excited to see what she can do on this event, where she has both difficult tumbling and entertaining choreography.

Laurie Lou Vezina

Laurie Lou is a gorgeous gymnast, with beautiful lines, flexibility and toe point. She has a fair amount of experience since she has competed at national and international competitions like the Elite Canada, the Nadia Comaneci Invitational, the Coupe Avenir, the International Gymnix and the Elite Massilia. Some of the most notable achievements of her career are her two medals at the Nadia Comaneci Invitational and her 4th All Around finish and balance beam bronze at the 2015 Elite Canada. Her start values are not huge but she has so many great qualities that make her worth watching. I absolutely fell inLaurie-Lou  Vézina_2 love with her work, when I saw her performing on her favorite event, the balance beam at the recent Elite Massilia. She is capable of a stunning side aerial + lay out step out combination, a switch ring and a switch leap + sheep jump combination and she has a respectable 5.8 start value while also showing beautiful artistry and style. She is also promising on the uneven bars, where she performs a maloney, a clean ray and a gorgeous ezhova. She needs to work on hitting her handstands, but her swing, her form and her lines are absolutely lovely. She seems to struggle a little bit with the power events, and she does not have the most difficult vaulting or tumbling. Her tumbling passes are a double tuck, a double full and 2.5 twists and she has vaulted a tsukahara piked and a yurchenko full on back pike off during the year. This is a very interesting vault but unfortunately, it’s not competitive. Even though her difficulty is lacking, Laurie Lou has plenty of potential and she’s beautiful to watch so hopefully, she will manage to upgrade her routines in the future. She will also need to improve her consistency because she has unfortunately had plenty of falls and major mistakes through the years. If she doesn’t have enough time to do that by Rio, I’m hoping to see her being successful during the next quad. (photo credit: Grace Chiu)

 bars: 4:14 beam: 21:27 floor: 29:18 vault: 35:32

Meaghan Ruttan

Then, we have Meaghan Ruttan, who competed at major international competitions like the International Gymnix and the Top Gym in 2014. She didn’t manage to win an individual medal but she helped her team finish in second place. She was much more successful in 2015, when she won All Around and floor exercise bronze at the Elite Canada and balance beam bronze at the maeghan ruttan.pngCanada Games. A few weeks later, she earned her first international medal when she placed second on floor at the International Gymnix. Some of her most notable skills are her full twisting yurchenko on vault, her maloney, bail + toe on full and tkatcev on bars, her switch leap + switch half, split jump + front aerial and double pike dismount on beam and her double tuck, double pike and 2.5 twists on floor. She improved a lot during the year and she has gained lots of confidence experience but she still doesn’t have the highest start values. However, it looks like she’s working hard to upgrade her routines, and she has been training a triple twist, a double arabian and two whips into a double tuck on floor, a maloney + bail and a double front dismount on bars, and a beautiful side aerial + layout step out combination and a tour jete half on beam so it will be exciting to see what she can do next year. (photo source: Meaghan’s instagram)

Shallon Olsen

shallon olsenstart values: 5.8 and 5.9 + 5.5 + 5.9 + 5.8 (potential 6.1 with the silivas she recently competed)

notable skills: double twisting yurchenko and khorkina on vault, inbar stalders, jaeger and full in dismount on bars, switch ring, back handspring + 2 layout step outs, onodi + front aerial + split jump and double pike dismount in combination on beam, silivas, piked full in and triple twist on floor

notable results: Elite Canada, Canada Games and Canadian championships champion, International Gymnix vault champion, Jesolo Trophy vault silver medalist, Pacific Rims vault bronze medalist and floor silver medalist, Elite Massilia vault silver medalist

There is nothing more special than following an athlete through their entire journey in elite gymnastics and watching her grow in the sport, and this is what happened with Shallon. Even if you are not familiar with Canadian junior gymnastics, you probably are familiar with her name. At the age of 12, she already had enough difficulty to outscore some of her senior teammates, she was already competing double twisting yurchenkos and piked full ins and she was hyped to be the future face of Canadian gymnastics. She was very successful between 2010 and 2012, winning multiple medals including golds in the All Around, the vault and the floor exercise at major national competitions. She won her first major international title in 2013, whenshallon and rose, shallon's photo she became the Gymnix vault champion and she won three gold medals at the junior national championships at the same year. She continued to shine in 2014, where she won a medal on every event at the Elite Canada, won the All Around bronze, the vault gold and the floor exercise silver at Gymnix and became the Pacific Rim championships vault and floor silver medalist. She was one of the most successful athletes of the Canadian championships, winning silver in the all Around, the uneven bars and the balance beam, gold on vault and bronze on floor exercise and she finished her year with a vault silver medal in Massilia. 2015 wasn’t quite as busy for her, but she still added a few medals to her already impressive collection, including two bronze ones from the Elite Canada, three silver (AA VT, FX) and one bronze (UB) from Canada Games and a silver from the Jesolo olsenTrophy. Unfortunately, she did not medal at nationals after struggling on bars and beam but it’s important to note that she was competing against her country’s seniors and she still managed to finish 6th in the All Around even with major mistakes. She was originally listed to compete at the Elite Massilia, but the Canadian team pulled out of the competition. Shallon is not as dominant as she was a couple of years ago, she has grown quite a bit, she has had her problems on bars and she has been fairly inconsistent on beam, but she still is one of the top gymnasts of her country. If she was age eligible, she would probably have made every worlds team of the quad. She is an incredible vaulter, who already performs a double twisting yurchenko and a rarely seen khorkina, and she has actually been working on amanars. Getting this vault consistent is definitely realistic for her, considering that she has been doing a double twisting yurchenko for years and it’s safe to assume that she has also trained chengs, considering that her second vault is a khorkina. She is also a great tumbler, who can flip and twist with ease and she has now successfully competed a silivas while also training a Moors and 3.5 twists. She has been quite shaky on balance beam during the last couple of years and it looked like she focused on gaining some consistency and confidence in 2015. The 5.9 start value she had during the year is very respectable but if she could put all the skills and combinations she has shown through the years (back handsprings + layout, switch half + onodi, standing arabian) on the same routine she could have a massive start value. The uneven barssh are certainly her weakest event but she has been working hard to upgrade her routine and she has been training new skills, like a ricna and a chow. We have seen so many talented juniors burning out before ever getting their chance to shine as seniors, and back in 2012, I was worried that Shallon, who already had an incredible level of difficulty, would have this same luck. However, it turns out that there was no reason to worry. She has obviously had her struggles, just like most gymnasts out there, but she is still going strong and she is working on upgrading her routines right in time for Rio. She will have to compete against the deepest field Canada has ever had and she will need to prove that she can hit under pressure, but with her high start values on vault, floor and hopefully beam, she is definitely one to watch.

(photo source: Grace Chiu and Shallon’s instagram)

Rose-Kaying Woo

rosestart values: 5.8 + 5.5 + 6.4 + 5.5

notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, inbar stalder + stalder full + tkatcev and double front dismount on bars, wolf jump + front aerial + side somi, front tuck, switch ring, back handspring + layout, switch leap + sheep jump and double pike on beam, double arabian and triple twist on floor

notable achievements: Elite Canada, Canadian nationals and Canada games champion, International Gymnix All Around, balance beam and floor exercise champion, Jesolo Trophy bars and beam bronze medalist, Pacific Rim championships bronze floor medalist

Rose, who is the sister of Pan-american medalist and worlds team member Victoria-Kayen Woo, is another extremely talented gymnast with plenty of international experience and a very impressive medal collection. She started making a name for herself during the previous quad, when she won multiple medals in national and international competitions like the Elite Canada, the Elite Massilia and Top Gym despite her young age. She started this quad with a bronze All Around medal at the Nadia Comaneci Invitational and a balance beam bronze at the International Gymnix,rose woo before having an excellent year in 2014. During that year, she won the All Around title at the Elite Canada, where she also grabbed medals on every event, she became the All Around, the balance beam and the floor exercise champion of the International Gymnix, she helped her team win the gold medal at the Junior Pan-american championships, while also earning four individual medals and she won a team silver and a floor bronze at the Pacific Rim championships. After that, she dominated the Juniors Nationals, winning gold in the All Around, the uneven bars and the floor exercise and bronze on vault and she placed second in the All Around and the uneven bars at the Open Massilia. She continued to impress in 2015, when she defended her Gymnix titles, and won a team silver and uneven bars and balance beam bronze medals at the Jesolo Trophy. She was equally successful in national competitions, outscoring some of her country’s top seniors to win the Elite Canada All Around title and winning multiple medals at the Canada Games. Then, she stunned the world at the Canadian championships, where she got to compete against the seniors and she qualified first into the All Around finals, beating Pan-american champion Ellie Black and world All Around finalist Isabela Onyshko, both of whom had major mistakes. She had a rough bars routine during the finals, but she still managed to finish third, beating world team members Madison Copiak, Victoria-Kayen Woo and Maegan Chant. 160463310152240957612384539032885n.jpg Rose is one of my favorite gymnasts out there. She has the perfect combination of elegance and power, she’s very clean, very artistic and very promising on every single event. She recently upgraded her vault into a strong double twisting yurchenko, which is always useful for the team and she’s absolutely gorgeous on balance beam, where she has one of the highest start values not only in her country but in the entire world, so she already is team finals worthy on two events. Her difficulty scores on bars and floor are not as competitive against the seniors but she has good basics and plenty of room for upgrades on both events. She already performs an inbar stalder and a tkatcev on bars, so she could potentially add harder variations of those elements in her routine, or connect her tkatcev to her pak salto and bring back this unique and spectacular double front pike dismount she has shown in the past. On floor, she has a beautiful triple twist and a fantastic double arabian, and if she just connected those two elements with a whip or 1.5 twists, she can easily boost her start value. Rose has so much to offer to the Canadian team, she is one of the most consistent athletes of her country and I certainly consider her a strong contender for the Olympic team.

(photo credit: Grace Chiu and Roland Barrett)

Megan Roberts

start values: 5.8 + 5.5 + 5.3 (5.6 with the Patterson dismount) + 5.6

notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, maloney, jaeger, ray, bail + toe on full and double arabian dismount on bars, font aerial, side somi, switch half and double tuck on beam (she has also attempted a Patterson dismount), piked full in and double arabian on floor.

notable achievements: Elite Canada, Canadian Games and Canadian nationals champion, International Gymnix vault and floor silver medalist, Jesolo bronze medalist, Japan International floor silver medalist

fsdgxfhgfgUnlike Shallon and Rose, Megan was not a super star since she was 12. She always was one of Canada’s best juniors and she has won a fair amount of medals at national competitions, including four golds at the 2013 Elite Canada, two golds and one silver at the 2013 Canadian championships and two silvers and one bronze at the 2014 Canadian championships, but she was not considered a potential threat for the Olympic team. After those excellent results, she never had trouble getting international assignments, and she has participated in major competitions, like the International Gymnix, the Pacific Rim championships and the Elite Massilia. She helped her country win team medals at all the above meets, but she never managed to reach the podium in individual finals and because of that, she did not receive as much attention as Shallon Olsen or Rose Kaying Woo, who were considered the future of Canadian gymnastics. However, she managed to change that with her performances during 2015. She showed remarkable progress during the year, showing major upgrades on every event, cleaning up her execution and improving her consistency and she achieved some excellent results.megan and kyla from megan's instagram She was one of the stars of the Elite Canada, winning one bronze and four gold medals, she won four medals, two of which were gold at the Canada Games, and she earned her first international medals at the International Gymnix, where she won silver on vault and floor. After that, she won a bronze on floor at the Jesolo Trophy right behind Laurie Hernandez and Ragan Smith. With Rose and Shallon competing in the senior division, she was the clear front runner for the Junior national A Around title and she did not disappoint, since she won the gold medal despite major problems on balance beam. Then, she was selected to compete at the Junior Japan International, where she won a silver medal on floor. Just like every other junior, Megan has lots of work to do. She will need to upgrade her routines and she will definitely have to work on her consistency, since she has posted a few scores around 12 during the year. However, she certainly has the potential to be a strong threat in 2016. Her double twisting yurchenko on vault is absolutely brilliant, and she’s been training an amanar. If she could compete this vault consistently, she would immediately become a top contender for the Olympic team but even megan in japan from her instagramif this doesn’t happen, she could still be very useful on vault. She is also very solid on the uneven bars, where her country doesn’t have tons of depth. She has clean execution, high flight elements and fluid swing and she’s already working on new skills and combinations, like a church and a toe on full + maloney + bail, so she could certainly have a team finals worthy routine on this event by next year. She is also quite promising on beam, where she’s working on a very ambitious Patterson dismount. She was the first Canadian gymnast to attempt the double arabian off beam earlier this year and she did not land it successfully, but she will hopefully put it on her feet next year. Megan does not have huge start values yet but she has excellent potential. She has the power and the execution and she has the skills. Now, she just needs to add more connections and new elements in order to boost her difficulty score. She is a strong All Arounder, who particularly shines on vault and floor and she should be in the mix next year. (photo source  Megan’s instagram

There are a few other Canadian athletes turning seniors, whose 2015 performances are not available online. For example, Meixi Semple is a beautiful beam worker, capable of a switch ring, a wolf jump + side somi, a switch leap + switch half and a 2.5 dismount. She’s also beautiful to watch on floor, where she has shown a double pike and an 1.5 + 2.5 combination in the past. She is a relatively new face into the elite scene but she still managed to win a bronze All Around medal at the Canadian nationals, where she also posted the highest score on balance beam, so she’s definitely one to watch on this event.

Then, we have Laurie Denommée, who was fifth All Around at the qualifications of the Canadian nationals, but ended up finishing 11th in the finals after struggling on bars and beam. She also helped her team win a gold medal at the Canada Games, where she finished 7th on vault and she won a silver medal on vault at the Elite Canada. She is capable of a clean back handspring – layout step out and well execution aerials on beam and she has shown a full twisting yurchenko and a piked barani on vault.

Madeline McLellan, who competed at the 2014 International Gymnix and was 6th All Around at the Canadian nationals, is an elegant and flexible gymnast, who has shown a front aerial + split jump, a switch ring and a clean back handspring + layout step out on balance beam and excellent flexibility and elegant choreography on floor in the past. You can find some training videos on her YouTube channel

Sonita Zlobec finished 10th All Around at nationals and 8th All Around at Gymnix while Madyson Ferron-Maccaffrey was not very active during 2015.

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