Gymnastics’ Jared Goad wins Nova Scotia’s first medal of the 2011 Canada Winter Games!

Jared Goad wins Nova Scotia's first medal of the 2011 Canada Games with gold in the floor exercise

The wait is finally over for the host province of Nova Scotia in their hunt for their first medal.  Jared Goad of Truro, NS, was the last competitor on the floor exercise.  After a nearly perfectly executed routine, the excited crowd at the Canada Games Centre knew this could be it.  As the score flashed, the crowd went wild and it was confirmed:  Jared Goad had won the gold medal and had become the new hero of the Games!

“Winning a gold medal is unreal.  We are in our hometown and a lot of family and friends got to come out and support me.  I am living this to the fullest right now,” said Goad who had reporters lined-up to talk to him.

Shortly after Goad’s goal medal, Nova Scotia added a second medal: bronze by Stephen Clouter on parallel bars.

Mathieu Csuakksy of Quebec came back strong, after a fall in the All Around competition cost him the silver medal.  Cuskassy won gold on vault and high bar, in a tie with teammate Mathew Halickman, and bronze on floor exercise.   Halickman also added a silver medal on Rings.

Simon Porter, the men’s all around champion, added to his collection of medals with a gold-winning performance on rings.  Porter also garnered two bronze medals – on pommel horse and high bar.  Nicolas Mallia, also from Ontario, scored a 12.7 on parallel bars to win the silver medal. 

Men’s gymnasts from BC had another great night of competition earning five medals.  Tyro national champion Zachary Clay won gold on pommel horse (tie) and silver on vault.  Teammates Kal Nemier won 3 medals: silver on floor exercise and bronze on rings and vault.

Saskatchewan’s Curtis Graves and Alberta’s Robert Kriangkum also won the first medal of the Games for their provinces in gymnastics.  Graves winning gold on parallel bars and Kriangkum winning Gold on  pommel horse (tie).   Graves also added a bronze medal on rings (tie).

In the women’s finals, Briannah Tsang from BC, proved that she is currently the best vaulter in Canada by successfully landing her Yurchenko Layout Double Full for the third day in a row.  She earned 14.45 points to take the gold.  Tsang also added a bronze medal on floor with a score of 14.2.

Mikaela Gerber of Ontario had another great day, adding 3 more medals to her gold and bronze won in the team and All-Around competitions.  Mikaela took the silver on vault and floor exercise, and bronze on balance beam.  

Sabrina Gill, the co-all-around champion of the games, topped the field on uneven bars and balance beam with scores of 14.35 and 14.85 respectively.   Gill is, as of today, the most decorated athlete of the games with four gold medals.

Shallon Olsen, the youngest competitor of the games, had one goal in mind today for the finals: “I wanted to win floor,” Olsen said.  Mission Accomplished.  Olsen improved on her 14.2 qualifying score from Sunday, earning 14.6, becoming the Canada Games champion of floor exercise at just 10 years old.  Olsen also added a bronze medal on balance beam, tying with Gerber.

Other gymnasts to climb on the podium include: (from BC) Emma Sibson with bronze on vault, Shae Zamardi with silver on uneven bars; (from Québec) Paraskevi Babalis winning silver on balance beam; and co-all-around champion (from Ontario) Silvia Colussi-Pelaez, with bronze on uneven bars.

Today was the last day of competition for Gymnastics.  Ontario finishes with the most medals with 16 (7 gold, 3 silver and 6 bronze) followed by BC with 14, and Quebec with 9.

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Simon Porter runs away with gold in men’s gymnastics

From left to right: Kal Nemier of BC, Simon Porter of Ontario and Mathieu Csukassy of Quebec pose with their medals in the men's individual all-around at the 2011 Canada Games in Halifax

Even with the added pressure of being favoured to win gold, Simon Porter of Ontario did not falter and was in a league of his own tonight in the men’s All-Around gymnastics competition. 

Porter topped the field on two apparatus, rings and vault, to solidify a convincing win with a total score of 79.35, two full points ahead of second place.

“Competition was really good.  I hit 6 for 6 routines today,” said Porter.  “I held all my strengths on rings and I nailed almost all my landings on floor.”

When asked how the flu virus, that assailed both he and his Ontario team-mates, affected his performances, Porter said: “It took away a little bit of bounce in my skills but my head space was pretty good.  I just had to stay focused.”

The spectators here at the Canada Games Center had been blessed all week with exciting and down-to-the-wire competitions.  And tonight was no different in the battle for silver and bronze.

Four gymnasts, from four different provinces, were neck and neck going into the final rotation.  Evan Cruz, the local favourite, had a chance to win the first medal of these games for his province.  The athlete from Nova Scotia averaged the highest execution score of all competitors, but his overall difficulty wasn’t enough to put him on the podium in the end.  Cruz finished 5th, less than one point from the bronze medal.

Junior national champion on high bar, Curtis Graves from Saskatchewan, had the advantage of finishing on his strongest apparatus.  He did not disappoint with the night-high 12.65.   Graves missed the podium by only 0.5 points and finished fourth with a total score of 76.45.

Kal Nemier of BC, who was not in the leader group after qualification, surprised many and stood in the silver medal position with one competitor to go.

The only gymnast who could dethrone Nemier from silver was Mathieu Csukassy of Québec.  Csukassy was comfortably holding the second place (1.5 points ahead of third place) going into the final apparatus.  

A hit routine on high bar was what Csukassy needed.  As he prepared for his dismount, Csukassy slipped, which forced an unexpected early release of the bar that had his coach holding his breath.  The loss of height in the dismount caused a fall – and the silver medal for Csukassy. 

Csukassy finished third with 76.95 points, less than 0.3 points behind Nemier and the silver medal.  Rounding up the top 8 were: Zachary Clay from BC (6th); Damien Cachia from Alberta (7th); and Robert Kriangkum (8th), also from Alberta.

Tomorrow is the last day of competition for gymnastics with the apparatus finals for both men and women.

Ontario continues to dominate in women’s gymnastics

The top eight finishers in the women's individual all-around, including the three medal winners from Ontario, pose with Anni and Sammi at the Canada Games Centre

The women’s gymnasts from Ontario continued their domination tonight at the Canada Games Centre in front of a sellout crowd.   A total of 36 gymnasts were selected according to the results of the team competition to battle it out for the coveted title of All-Around champion.

Everyone was focused on the leader group which was comprised of 9 gymnasts, of which 6 were from Ontario (Elise Bolger, Silvia Colussi-Pelaez, Mikaela Gerber, Sabrina Gill, Jordyn Pedersen and Krishna Yemany) and 3 were from BC (Shallon Olsen, Taylor Ricci, Briannah Tsang).

The group began the evening on Vault.  Briannah Tsang took the lead after the first rotation as she successfully landed a Yurchenko Layout Double Full that was rewarded with a score of 14.4.  She currently is the only Canadian female gymnast to be performing this world class vault.  Closely behind her were Mikaela Gerber and Silvia Colussi-Pelaez.

In the second rotation, Tsang suffered an unfortunate fall on her uneven bars dismount, which took her out of contention for a medal.  The highest score of the evening on the apparatus came from Krishna Yemany with 13.9, which propelled her into the lead at the half way point. 

The balance beam proved to be a crucial event, and Ontario demonstrated once again that they owned the apparatus.  Colussi-Pelaez, who qualified in third for this evening’s competition, led off and performed a beautifully executed routine that earned her 13.9 points.  This was good enough to put her in the lead after the third rotation.  A mere 0.4 points behind was Sabrina Gill, who once again earned the top balance beam score of the night with 14.6 points.  Gill had scored an impressive 15.2 during the team competition.

With all the pressure on for the final rotation on floor exercise, the Ontario girls continued their flawless performances.  Mikaela Geber nicely recovered from a fall on balance beam to score the high of 14.8 points on the floor.   This was good enough to earn her the bronze medal with a total score of 54.85.  Gill and Colussi-Peleaz finished in an unusual tie for first with total score of 55.1, to complete the podium sweep for Ontario. 

Teammates at Oakville Gymnastics Club, Gill and Colussi-Pelaez were very happy to share the gold medal: “I couldn’t have asked for a better person to tie with.  We spend most of our lives together and it makes it very special” said Gill.

Ontario also obtained the fourth place finish with Jordyn Pedersen.  10 year old Shallon Olsen from BC finished 5th, 0.4 points from the podium.  Quebec’s Vivi Babalis was 6th, followed by Tsang and Yemany rounding up the top 8.

Tomorrow is the men’s turn to compete for the All-Around crown.  Simon Porter of Ontario is favored to win but tough competition is expected to come from Quebec’s Mathieu Csukassy and BC’s Zachary Clay.  The competition will begin at 18:00.

Quebec team capatin Mathieu Csukassy on Horizontal Bar at 2011 Canada Games

The end of a sixteen year drought for Québec in men’s gymnastics

Team Quebec poses with their gold medals after capturing their first artistic gymnastics team event in 16 years

Three power houses were ready to battle it out tonight at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax for the men’s gymnastics team competition.  In an exciting finish, it came down to the very last routine to decide the podium placement between teams from BC, Ontario and Québec.

Before the competition began, team Ontario had already fought adversity with two of their gymnasts being bothered by a virus – Simon Porter and Cory Paterson – two key members of the team.  Paterson had to withdraw on doctor’s order but Porter showed little sign of illness and led the team on four out of six apparatus.

After three apparatus, the half way point of the competition, Ontario was in command, two points ahead of BC and seven points ahead of Québec.

In the fourth rotation, Québec went to vault and recorded a competition high score of 57.15.  One stuck vault after another and Québec was back in the game.  Team captain Mathieu Csukassy anchored the line up with a Yurchenko layout double full (blind entry vault followed by two rotations with two twists), the highest difficulty vault of the evening.

After four apparatus, standings were; Québec (208.05), Ontario (205.15) and BC (203.8).

Ontario closed the gap in the fifth rotation with a floor exercise score of 51.1, in comparison to Québec’s 48.9 on the parallel bars.  BC lost some ground with a score of 47.85 on high bar.  Québec remained in the lead after 5 rotations by a small margin (0.7 points) over Ontario, and more than five points over BC.

The stage was set for a thrilling showdown in the last rotation between Québec and Ontario for the gold medal.  But Team BC had not said its last word.  With one competitor remaining on each apparatus, it was too close to call between the three provinces. 

As the last competitor landed and saluted the judges, the crowd anxiously awaited the final results.  And, after 16 years of not being on the podium at the Canada Games, Québec had finally climbed back all the way to the top, grabbing the gold medal.      

The end of this drought is something Jeff Thomson, men’s program director at Gymnastics Canada, believes is very positive for the sport and for the province of Québec: “Québec has a long and proud history of producing some of Canada’s best male gymnasts.  It’s wonderful to once again see the province rising to the top of the podium.”

The gold winning team members from Québec are: Mathieu Csukassy, David Boucher, Samuel Paquin, Julien Samson, Jean Begin-Rainville, Matthew Halickman and Cedric Marcil.  They are coached by Martin Bordeleau and Denis Privé.

The spectacular come-from-behind effort by Team BC in the last rotation earned them the silver medal.  Ontario, who fought a hard fight, was awarded the bronze.

The top 36 gymnasts from today’s competition will be seen again in action on Wednesday in the All-Around finals.

Canada Games Gymnastics Official Dance!

It took a while for the awards to start tonight so team BC and Quebec started dancing.  Not long after, the other competitors and the mascots joined the party.  It was really nice to see everyone come together.

Interview with gymnastics team gold medal winner Ontario