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Canada Cruises to Lead After First of Two Subdivisions
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

Powered by strong performances by Christine Lee (57.80), Kristina Vaculik (55.10) and Victoria Moors (54.85), Canada dominated the first of two subdivisions at the Pacific Rim Championships. The talented trio also occupied the top three senior all-around ranks in order.

"I was just trying to have a lot of fun, and also was just trying to get a little more experience competing my new routines," Lee told IG. "My expectations weren't too too high."

Lee also said that the team was hoping to finish on the podium after tonight's session. "I think we're hoping for a silver, so [that] would be amazing," she said.

Despite a few falls on beam, Canada was solid to spectacular elsewhere to post a leading team score of 219.000. Japan rallied on beam in the final rotation to finish in second (212.550), ahead of Russia (210.500). Chinese Taipei, competing with only four gymnasts and a low level of difficulty, is in fourth with 164.100.

Japan's Sakura Yumoto leads the junior all-around (53.600) over Russians Maria Kharenkova (52.950) and Yekaterina Baturina (52.350). Yumoto's top score came on bars (13.25), where she also is in first place.

The women's team and all-around will conclude tonight in Subdivision 2, which will include teams from Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, China and the host U.S.

Following are team summaries:

Canada

Canada began on bars and was solid, highlighted by Christine Lee's beautiful set that included a toe-full to full-twisting Pak and stuck double layout (team high 14.55/5.7). Victoria Moors led off the event and hit her Maloney-half and toe-front with full twist dismount. Kristina Vaculik also hit a strong routine, mounting with a Maloney-half and catching a high Tkatchev and Gienger (14.20/5.8. Only junior Maegan Chant, last up, struggled with a 5.75 E-score.

Victoria Kayen Woo led off beam with one fall (front aerial) to put added pressure on her team. Moors followed with a calm, confident set until one foot missed the beam on her roundoff double tuck, and she landed on all fours. Jordyn Pedersen kept the fall streak alive when she dropped off after a layout. Vaculik was clean and precise and saved her overrated double pike dismount to get the team on track (14.20). Mounting with flairs, Lee threw a clean standing full, a flip-flop layout and excellent front somi and then barani. She capped it off with a stuck double pike, drawing the loudest applause of the meet so far (14.95/6.2). Vaculik posted a leading 13.25 to set up Lee, who nailed her mount of 1.5 twist to Arabian double. With the crowd clapping rhythmically, she followed with a double layout, which she saved after a low landing. After a clean double pike, she again drew huge applause. Moors stuck her tucked double-double and then proceeded to work the crowed with her dance. She hit her 1.5 through to triple twist, and was on balance on her 2.5 twist to stag jump and closed with a double tuck (14.35/5.8). She can really tumble (14.75/6.0).

Canada closed on vault, where the first four gymnasts did Yurchenko-fulls, led by Lee's, which looked perfect. She scored 8.95 for Execution, which is a mystery. Moors followed with an incomplete Yurchenko-double twist, but not as bad as in warm-ups (team-high 14.500).

Russia

Russia competed three juniors and two seniors on vault. Maria Stepanova and Anastasia Belova opened with Yurchenko-fulls, neither done with much amplitude. Maria Kharenkova did the same vault with form and height. Junior Yekaterina vaulted a handspring-piked barani, and Anastasia Marchuk, the tallest of her team, anchored with another Yurchenko-full.

Baturina was fairly clean on bars, ending with a double pike. Kharenkova was next and has the cleanest form of her team, legs and pointed toes never changing throughout. She missed her Jaeger but ended with a very high double pike. Great inside-Stalder work. Tiny Diana Elkina, left knee wrapped tightly, survived her set with constant encouragement from her teammates (inside-Stalder work, Pak, Tkatchev; team-high 13.45/5.6). Belova hit as well, with a high Jaeger, low Tkatchev and high double pike. Marchuk didn't connect her inside-Stalder to Tkatchev but maintained rhythm, ending with a Fontaine (Arabian double front). Last up on the Start List, Stepanova scratched, perhaps because Russia hit five routines, and only four scores count.

Belova opened beam with two falls (layout, double tuck dismount). Kharenkova, who seems to have the most upside of this team, performed a difficult set with excellent form (flip-flop, two-foot flip-flop, layout), and most important, no falls. Baturina fell onto the beam after a leap but otherwise was steady. Marchuk and Stepanova finished the event, but neither could bring a score to top Kharenkova's 14.00/5.9.

Leading off floor was Stepanova, who stuck a whip-Arabian front (12.95). Baturina mounted with two whips through to double tuck and was clean in her other tumbling as well. Kharenkova, who has sort of a double hurdle, mounted with a high Arabian double front and closed with a double pike in an energetic routine (team-high 13.90). The lyrical Marchuk opened with a high Arabian double and interpreted her music to the note. She closed with a double pike that stepped out of bounds, but the routine was extremely well performed. Last-up Belova also mounted with a double Arabian but was short of rotation. She fell out of a triple turn but and seemed to got through the motions a bit in her dance.

Japan

Japan also had only five gymnasts (two juniors), and began on floor with clean but stock tumbling. Second-up Yuri Ishi mounted with an Arabian double front. Anchor Risa Konishi opened with a tucked full-in but stumbled after her second pass and put her hands down on her triple twist dismount.

Japan used mostly Yurchenko-fulls, and Wakiko Ryu attempted a Yurchenko-double twist but came up well short and fell to the side. She did a second vault of a roundoff half-on to tucked barani, and Risa Konishi also did two vaults, one of them a strong Tsukahara-full.

After strong sets from Ishi, Ryu and Yumoto, Uchiyama got stuck on her opening inside-Stalder and later fell to her face on Jaeger. She fell again from the low bar, but finished with a strong tucked full-out. Afterward, she walked away with a trainer holding her mouth with a gauze pad. Konishi was last and going well until an Endo came up short and left her standing on the bar. She had to jump off and remount.

Notes:

• With the teams and individuals divided into six groups, each had two byes during the competition.

• Prior to the timed warm-ups, Canadian coach Elvira Saadi spotted Victoria Moors through a grueling abdominals workout (leg lefts, crunches) and about 25 handstand push-ups. This appeared to be Moors' least favorite part of warm-ups, judging by the pained look on her face.

• Former Canadian Olympian Kate Richardson is serving as the team trainer for Canada (men and women). After earning a bachelor's from UCLA, Richardson got a master's in physiotherapy from the U. of British Columbia.

•Sing of the Times: It sounds strange to say "she only has a double-twisting Yurchenko," but if you're trying to win a major all-around title or make the U.S. Olympic team, it certainly applies.

Tricks:

UB - Maria Kharenkova/RUS: inside-Stalder on low-shoot to high. She's tiny, which makes this low-to-high transition even trickier.

BB - Anastasia Marchuk/RUS: reverse full turn holding one leg overhead, followed by a regular reverse full turn.

VT - Victoria Moors/CAN: in warm-ups, Moors survived a fews scary landing on a double-twisting Yurchenko that barely got past 1.5 twists. Hard to watch for such a promising talent.

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