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Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 13 March 2007 20:23    PDF Print
Swiss Women Striving for Success in '07

Led by 2006 world all-around finalist Ariella Käslin, the Swiss women's team has high hopes for the upcoming Europeans, and September's Worlds in Stuttgart. "Stuttgart is the goal, and we would like to be in the top 15," head coach Eric Demay told IG.

Linda Stämpfli

The French-born Demay said the Swiss team is busy preparing for its two most important competitions of 2007: the European Championship (April 26-29 in Amsterdam) and the World Championships (Sept. 1-9 in Stuttgart).

As a team, the Swiss placed 10th at the 2006 Europeans in Volos, Greece, and 17th at the 2006 Worlds in Aarhus, Denmark. In Stuttgart, the top 12 teams will qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and others will earn individual berths.

Demay cited Käslin, Danielle Englert and Linda Stämpfli as the team's probable leaders this year. Missing will be 2004 Olympian Melanie Marti, the top Swiss all-arounder at the 2004 and 2005 Europeans, and the 2005 Worlds. Marti retired after the 2006 Worlds.

"The experience of Danielle, Linda and Ariella, combined with the younger girls, will be a very good (impression)," Demay said. "For individuals, Ariella is strong on vault and has the possibility of a final in Stuttgart, but she needs to have perfect preparation."

Demay said Käslin did not compete at the American Cup held earlier this month in Florida, because of an injury to the talus ligament in her ankle.

"Now she's begun with normal training, and I think she can compete a simple program in two weeks in the match with France in Switzerland," Demay said.

Käslin placed 22nd all-around at the 2005 Worlds in Melbourne, and 18th all-around at the 2006 Worlds. In recent European Championships, she was 13th all-around in 2004; fourth on vault in 2005; and sixth on vault in 2006.

Englert took Käslin's place at the American Cup, but competed on uneven bars only because of an injury to the underside of her foot. "I didn’t want to take risk near the European Championships," Demay explained.

Demay said the Swiss are still in their selection period for the European Championships, but they are optimistic for success in Amsterdam.

"We know that Ariella has the possibility to make a final and maybe win a medal in the Europeans, the first in the history of Swiss women's gymnastics," Demay said. "But with the injury, she’s very late in preparation. In Amsterdam, one or two finals is realistic. More would be fantastic."

International Gymnast Magazine Related Feature
"Swiss Thrill-Seeker" - Käslin profile (January/February 2007)

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 06 March 2007 20:16    PDF Print
Church Hopeful for 2007 Comeback
Nearly recovered from a torn ACL, Commonwealth Games silver medalist Shavahn Church of Great Britain is eager for this year's European and World Championships. "She's looking great," coach Chris Waller told IG.
Church at the 2006 Commonwealth Games

The 17-year-old Church, who holds dual citizenship in Great Britain and the U.S., placed 20th all-around at the 2005 World Championships in Melbourne. She was coached by Don Peters and Yu Feng at SCATS in Huntington Beach, Calif., and began training under Waller in December 2005. Church finished second with the English team, fifth all-around and second on uneven bars at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, held in March in Melbourne.

Last spring, Church injured her knee on floor exercise at the European Championships in Volos, Greece.

Waller, a 1992 U.S. Olympian, said the injury was particularly frustrating because Church had torn the ACL in her other knee in 2004.

"It's taken Shavahn much longer to come back from this one," said Waller, who with his wife, Cindy, owns Wallers' GymJam Academy in Santa Clarita, Calif. "There's no real reason why, so she started getting kind of down about that. But we've been very pragmatic about coming back steady and stable, doing tons of landing drills. She's been strong enough for the last month to go ahead and do stuff, but the confidence hasn't been there to use both legs the same."

Waller said he noticed a rise in Church's confidence about two weeks ago.

"She made a huge breakthrough," he said. "Mentally, she's like, 'OK, I guess my leg's good to go.'" She's doing great now."

Church plans to travel to England for an April 1 competition that will serve as a British team trial for the European Championships, which will take place April 26-30 in Amsterdam.

Waller said he is also grateful to Heathrow Gymnastics Club, where Church trains when she is in England. At Heathrow, Church's coaches include 1981 world floor exercise champion Natalia Ilienko, and Vincent and Michele Walduck. Last year, Church trained at Heathrow from January through April. Waller said Church will spend six weeks based at Heathrow, beginning March 26.

As a warm-up, Church competed in the Friendship Challenge, a club meet held last weekend in Burbank, Calif.

Waller said Church performed impressively in Burbank, although she performed watered-down routines. To protect her leg, Church did not compete her recently learned double layout on floor exercise, and did a simple layout Yurchenko vault.

"If we had had another week, she probably would have been doing real tumbling, or something close to it, and a real beam routine," Waller said.

On uneven bars, Church performed full difficulty, with the exception of a simple dismount. Waller said Church's new routine includes a toe-on, layout Tkatchev; layout Jaeger; Shaposhnikova, back uprise to free hip; and a toe-on, full turn on the low bar.

"We're going to see what dismount she's going to do—either a double front, or a piked double front-half," Waller said. "Shavahn actually does that (latter dismount) better, but that's a big dismount to do after a routine with 10 crazy, hard skills."

Waller said he believes Church will be ready to compete at the Europeans on at least uneven bars and balance beam. "The goal at the end of this week is to do landings on the regular floor, and be ready for two to four events at elite level by the time she goes back to England," he said.

Waller said Church, who will turn 18 on May 3, will be ready for all four events at the 2007 World Championships, to be held in Stuttgart in September. He noted the new strength that she is showing on vault and floor exercise.

"Her vault is better than I've ever seen it, as far as technique and power go," said Waller, who also serves as an assistant coach at UCLA. "It's just a matter of what vault we're going to do. We want to make sure Shavahn has safe landings. She could do a Yurchenko double full and make it, but I'm not sure we want to go that route."

On floor exercise, Waller said Church has been training various skills including a double layout, a piked full-in and a piked Arabian double front. "I'd like to keep Shavahn away from front landings as much as possible," Waller explained. "Back landings are easier to stick, and landing a double layout is safer than landing an Arabian double front. We've been working a variety of skills so she has more in her toolbox. Plus it's good for her training. We're trying to get her fully rounded, but her double layout is stellar. She has a long body and long legs, and when she takes off, it's a gorgeous skill."

Although Church trains most of the time in California, Waller and British national team coaches keep one another apprised of Church's progress via e-mail. "I give them updates as to what she's training and what skills she's working on," Waller said. "They have their opinion on what skills they want her to do, so we converse back and forth."

Waller said he believes Church has the determination and talent to successfully return to world-class competition.

"Shavahn's an amazing person," Waller said. "She's hard-working and humble. She's great, and I'm wishing the best for her. She's what every athlete should be."

Shavahn Church is featured in the following issues of International Gymnast magazine:

May 2006 - Commonwealth Games coverage
March 2006 - "New British Royalty" (short profile)

To subscribe to IG Magazine or order back issues, click here.

Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 28 February 2007 20:03    PDF Print
Worley Replaces Bieger at American Cup
Shayla Worley will replace teammate Jana Bieger at the Tyson American Cup, which begins Friday in Jacksonville, Fla.

Bieger injured her leg while training Wednesday evening.

"I am very disappointed and frustrated to have this happen now because I have been training very hard for this competition," Bieger said. "Everything happens for a reason, and we'll know more once we get additional information. I hope to be back sooner than everyone thinks. I also will be pulling for my teammates to do well this weekend."

Worley finished second all-around to Nastia Liukin at the 2006 American Cup. Hamstring injuries kept her out of the 2006 National Championships and World Championships.

Written by Amanda Turner    Sunday, 25 February 2007 19:40    PDF Print
Flohr, Kelley Added to American Cup
The U.S. added two gymnasts, Bianca Flohr and Natasha Kelley, to its women's lineup at the American Cup, which starts Friday in Jacksonville, Fla.

Flohr and Kelley will join Jana Bieger, Shawn Johnson and Samantha Peszek in Florida. Ashley Priess, who had originally been selected to compete, was bumped from the lineup Sunday following an intrasquad competition in Houston. Priess finished sixth behind Johnson, Flohr, Bieger, Kelley and Peszek.

Bianca Flohr

"We knew coming in Ashley wasn't completely ready," said Mary Lee Tracy, who coaches both Flohr and Priess. "She had a back injury that set her back about four weeks. Ash has added some new skills that needed more time."

Though five Americans will compete in the qualification, only two are eligible to advance to Saturday's final.

It is the second American Cup for the 16-year-old Flohr, who finished third all-around in the qualification at last year's competition in Philadelphia but was unable to advance because of the two-per-country rule.

It would have been the first American Cup for Priess, who turns 17 on March 8. She finished 10th all-around at the 2006 World Championships.

"Although we are disappointed we accept the decision," Tracy said. "If Ashley needed to be replaced, she is happy it is with Bianca!"

Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 21 February 2007 19:43    PDF Print
American Cup Kicks Off March Meets
The international competition season heats up in the coming weeks, starting March 2-3 with the Tyson American Cup in Jacksonville, Fla.

Competitors at the 2007 American Cup include eight medalists from the 2006 World Championships: Sasha Artemev, Jana Bieger and Ashley Priess (USA), Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (Canada), Zhou Zhuoru (China), Fabian Hambüchen (Germany) and Kristina Pravdina and Maxim Devyatovsky (Russia).

The American Cup will also be the senior debut for Americans Shawn Johnson and Samantha Peszek, who finished first and third at the 2006 U.S. Junior National Championships. The top 16 gymnasts from the qualifying competition on March 2 will advance to the final on March 3, to be broadcast live on NBC.

The World Cup season begins March 17-18 with the French International in Paris, to be followed by the Cottbus Cup on March 23-25.

Two smaller meets attracting international fields are the Gymnix International, March 16-18 in Montreal; and the Friendship Classic, March 23-25 in Pottsville, Pa.

American Cup
March 2-3, Jacksonville, Fla.

Australia: Dasha Joura
Belarus: Dmitry Savitsky
Canada: Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs; Adam Wong
China: Zhou Zhuoru; Lu Bo
Colombia: Natalia Sanchez
France: Dmitry Karbanenko
Germany: Marie-Sophie Hindermann; Fabian Hambüchen
Japan: Kyoko Oshima; Takuya Nakase
Mexico: Elsa Garcia; Daniel Corral
Puerto Rico: Luis Vargas
Romania: Andreea Grigore; Flavius Koczi
Russia: Kristina Pravdina; Maxim Devyatovsky
Switzerland: Danielle Englert
Ukraine: Daria Zgoba
USA: Jana Bieger, Bianca Flohr, Shawn Johnson, Natasha Kelley, Samantha Peszek; Guillermo Alvarez, Sasha Artemev, Raj Bhavsar, Jonathan Horton

Gymnix International
March 16-18, Montreal

ASF Gymnastics: Marci Bernholtz, Caya Colling
Bluewater: Emily Bigras, Dominique Pegg, Emma Willis
Calgary Gym Center: Sydney Sawa
Cambridge Kips: Jennifer Lezeu
Equilibrix: Geneviève Brazeau
Excalibur Gymnastics: Sheriese Clark, Rebekah Conrad, Maria Cross, Gabrielle Douglas, Kaitlynn Hedelund, Krystine Jacobsen, Natalia Joyce, Makyna Kancso, Sara Tiano
Gemini: Brittnee Habbib, Kelsey Hope, Kristina Vaculik
Gym Mississauga: Rochelle Hurt, Jessica Savona
Gym-Alliance: Joanie Fortin
Gymélites: Stéphanie Desjardins, Catherine Dion
Gymnastics Adventure: Alexandra Picton, Danielle Roy
Gymnix: Ann Ly Brouillette-Quenneville, Léa Barro, Nansy Damianova, Coralie Leblond-Chartrand, Ti Liu
Gym-Richelieu: Lisa-Marie Farley, Jennifer Fujs, Laurie-Eve Gagné, Cynthia Lemieux, Kim Lévesque
Lions Pride Gymnastics: Hannah Swift
Mississauga: Stephanie Pacitto
Omega Gymnastics: Charlotte Mackie, Brittany Rogers
Pulsars: Rebecca Simbhudas
Russia: Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabiyeva, Ksenia Semyonova, Margarita Slepchenko
SALTA Gymnastics Club: Laurel Clouston
Sport Seneca: Peng-Peng Lee, Leslie Mak
Taiso: Crystal Gilmore
USA: Sarah DeMeo, Corrie Lothrop, Bridget Sloan
Wimgym: Dawn Patulli

French International
March 17-18, Paris

Albania: (women) Ornela Cuka
Algeria: (men) Fatah Ait Saada, Sid Ali Ferdjani, Adbelkader Guetaf, Youcef Sebti
Argentina: (women) Virginia Deluzio
Armenia: (women) Astghik Gyulnazaryan; (men) Harutyun Merdinyan, Vahagn Stepanyan
Australia: (women) Hollie Dykes, Dasha Joura, Chloe Sims; (men) Prashanth Sellathurai
Belgium: (women) Gaelle Mys; (men) Gunther Couckhuyt, Donna-Donny Truyens, Koen Van Damme
Belarus: (women) Anastasia Marachkovskaya, Oksana Novikova; (men) Dmitry Kasperovich, Dmitry Savitsky
Brazil: (women) Jade Barbosa, Lais Souza; (men) Luiz Augusto dos Anjos, Diego Hypolito, Mosiah Rodrigues, Victor Rosa
Bulgaria: (men) Jordan Jovtchev, Alexander Batinkov
Canada: (women) Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs; (men) Grant Golding
China: (women) Fan Ye, Jiang Yuyuan, Liu Hou, Zhang Xin; (men) Du Wei, Feng Zhe, Teng Haibin, Zou Kai
Croatia: (women) Tanja Delladio, Tina Erceg; (men) Marco Brez, Marijo Moznik, Robert Seligman, Filip Ude
Czech Republic: (women) Jana Komrskova, Kristyna Palesova
Egypt: (women) Sarah Osman; (men) Tamer Ahmed Ragab, Mohamed Sayed Sourour, Abdel Rahman Sobhy
Spain: (women) Laura Campos, Lenika de Simone, Patricia Moreno; (men) Victor Cano, Manuel Carballo, Rafael Martinez, Juan San Miguel
Finland: (women) Annamari Maaranen, Annika Urvikko; (men) Sami Aalto, Ikka Kuusela, Timo Niemela, Toni Oikari, Jani Tanskanen, Olli Torkkel
France: (men) Thomas Bouhail, Eric Casimir, Yann Cucherat, Gael da Silva, Danny Rodrigues, Raphael Wignanitz
Great Britain: (women) Imogen Cairns, Lynette Lisle; (men) Adam Cox, David Eaton, Luke Folwell, Steve Jehu, Daniel Keatings, Louis Smith
Georgia: (men) Ilya Giorgadze
Germany: (women) Anja Brinker, Oksana Chusovitina; (men) Philipp Boy, Max Finzel, Robert Weber
Greece: Stefani Bisbikou, Vasiliki Millousi, Eugenia Georgakopoulou; (men) Michalis Doulkeridis, Christos Lympanovnos, Vlasios Maras, Dimitrios Markousis, Vasileios Tsolakidis, Ioannis Zachariadis
Guatamala: (men) Joel Olivas Santos Mynor
Hungary: (men) Krisztian Berki, Robert Gal, Marcel Hetrovics, Vid Hidvegi
Israel: (women) Vered Finkel, Tali Lyak; (men) Alexander Shatilov
Italy: (women) Francesca Benolli, Vanessa Ferrari, Carlotta Giovannini, Silvia Zanolo; (men) Matteo Angioletti, Igor Cassina, Matteo Morandi
Japan: Yosuke Hoshi, Yasuhiro Okamura, Kohei Uchimura
Jordan: (men) Mohammad Abu Saleh, Jad Mazahreh
Kazakhstan: (men) Sain Autalipov, Stepan Gorbachyov, Ildar Valeyev, Yernar Yerimbetov
Latvia: (men) Ivans Gorbunovs, Yevgeny Sapronenko, Denis Zbickis
Luxembourg: (women) Mandy Loes
Malaysia: (women) Fatiha Nurul, Ali Nabihah; (men) Ng Shu Wai
Mexico: (women) Maricela Cantu, Elsa Garcia, Erika Garcia
Netherlands: (women) Tahnee Masela, Lichelle Wong; (men) Yuri van Gelder, Jeffrey Wammes, Epke Zonderland
Poland: (women) Joanna Litewka, Paula Plichta; (men) Leszek Blanik, Emil Hulboj, Adam Kierzkowski, Roman Kulesza
Portugal: Luis Araujo, Felipe Bezugo, Manuel Campos
Puerto Rico: Angel Ramos, Jose David Ramos, Luis Rivera, Alexander Rodriguez, Luis Vargas
Romania: (women) Sandra Izbasa, Steliana Nistor; (men) Marian Dragulescu, Flavius Koczi, Daniel Popescu, Razvan Selariu
Russia: (women) Ksenia Afanasyeva, Anna Grudko, Irina Isayeva, Svetlana Klyukina; (men) Dmitry Gogotov, Anton Golotsutskov, Sergei Khorokhordin, Nikolai Kryukov, Vladimir Olennikov, Alexander Safoshkin
Slovenia: (men) Saso Bertoncelj, Alen Dimic, Rok Klavora, Klemen Rutar, Mitja Petkovsek, Ziga Silc
Switzerland: (women) Ariella Kaslin, Danielle Englert; (men) Nicolas Boescshenstein, Claudio Capelli, Daniel Groves, Claude-Alain Porchet, Mark Ramseier, Christoph Scharer
Sweden: (women) Veronica Wagner
Tunisia: (men) Wajdi Bouallegue
Ukraine: (women) Alina Kozich, Irina Krasnyanskaya, Olga Scherbatykh, Daria Zgoba; (men) Valery Goncharov, Andrei Isayev, Nikolai Kuksenkov, Alexander Yakubovsky, Roman Zozulya
USA: (men) Sean Golden, Kevin Tan, Sean Townsend
Venezuela: (men) Regula Carmona, Jose Luis Fuentes, Darwin Griman

Friendship Classic
March 23-25, Pottsville, Pa.

Belgium: Aagje Van Walleghem, Chloe Henry
Canada: Lisa-Marie Farley, Brittnee Habbib, Cynthia Lemieux, Gael Mackie, Laurie-Eve Pepin-Gagne
Czech Republic: Nicole Pechanec
Japan: Maniko Kakitani
Netherlands: Loes Linders
Puerto Rico: Leysha Lopez, Mariecarmen Rivera
Russia: Anastasia Grishina
Ukraine: Valentina Golenkova, Marina Proskurina
USA: Carol Byrnes (Girls In Cooperation), Austyn Fobes (Galaxy Gymnastics), Annette Miele (Lehigh Valley Sports Academy), Stephanie Seich (Rebound)

Cottbus Cup
March 23-25, Cottbus, Germany

Albania: (women) Ornela Cuka; (men) Alon Hasa, Valter Mishova
Argentina (women) Virginia Deluzio;
Australia: (women) Hollie Dykes, Daria Joura, Chloe Sims; (men) Prashanth Sellathurai
Austria: (women) Sandra Mayer; (men) Fabian Leimlehner, Marco Baldauf, Andreas Höller
Azerbaijan: Sabuhi Aslanov
Brazil: (women) Jade Barbosa, Daiane dos Santos, Lais Souza; (men) Diego Hypolito, Mosiah Rodrigues, Luiz Augusto dos Anjos
Belgium: (women) Gaelle Mys; (men) Donna-Donny Truyens, Günther Couckhuyt, Koen Van Damme
Belarus: (men) Igor Kozlov, Alexander Tsarevich, Dmitry Kasperovich
Canada: (women) to be named; (men) Adam Wong, Ken Ikeda
Chile: (men) Tomas Gonzalez
China: (women) Fan Ye, Jiang Yuyuan, Liu Hou, Zhang Xin; (men) Teng Haibin, Zou Kai, Feng Zhe, Du Wei
Croatia: (women) Tanja Delladio; (men) Filip Ude, Robert Seligman, Marizo Moznik
Czech Republic: (women) Jana Sikulova, Eva Verbova, Adela Pavoukova, Martina Strnadova
Egypt: Nourhan Ahmed Saad; (men) Waleed El Deriny, Kareem Aly
Finland: to be named
France: (men) Gael Da Silva, Thomas Bouhail, Danny Rodrigues
Great Britain: (women) Marissa King, Emma White
Germany: (women) Anja Brinker, Kim Bui, Oksana Chusovitina, Marie-Sophie Hindermann; (men) Philipp Boy, Matthias Fahrig, Marcel Nguyen, Thomas Andergassen, Robert Juckel
Greece: (women) Stefanie Bisbikou, Despoina Grigoriadou, Maria Parsantanian, Viktoria Tsakalidou; (men) Vlasios Maras, Konstantinos Barmpakis, Christos Lympanovnos, Eleftherios Kosmidis, Vasileios Tsolakidis, Dimosthenis Tampakos
Hungary: (women) Enikö Korcsmaros, Laura Gombas; (men) Krisztian Berki, Robert Gal, Vid Hidvegi, Marcell Hetrovics
Iceland: (men) Runar Alexandersson
Israel: to be named
Italy: to be named
Jordan: (men) Jad Mazahreh, Mohammad Abu Saleh
Japan: (men) Kazuki Mizutori, Yuto Hayami, Yusuke Tanaka
Kazakhstan: (men) Sado Batsiyev, Maxim Patrishko, Stanislav Valiyev
Latvia: (men) Yevgeny Sapronenko, Yevgeny Zorins, Dmitry Trefilovs, Vitaly Kardashovs
Luxembourg: (men) Sascha Palgen
Mexico: (women) Maricela Cantú, Erika Garcia, Elsa Garcia
Netherlands: (men) Yuri Van Gelder, Jeffrey Wammes, Epke Zonderland
Poland: (women) Joanna Litewka, Maria Frandofert; (men) Roman Kulesza, Kamil Bulboj, Leszek Blanik, Adam Kierzkowski, Krzysztof Mucborski
Portugal: (men) Manuel Campos
Puerto Rico: (men) Luis Vargas, Luis Rivera, Jose David Ramos, Angel Ramos, Alexander Rodriguez
Romania: (women) Sandra Izbasa, Steliana Nistor; (men) Marian Dragulescu, Razvan Selariu, Daniel Popescu, Flavius Koczi
Russia: (men) Alexander Safoshkin, Nikolay Kryukov, Alexander Balandin; (men) Samuel Piasecky, Alexander Benko
Slovenia: (women) Adela Sajn, Sasa Golob; (men) Mitja Petkovsek, Saso Bertoncelj, Alen Dimic, Rok Klavora, Klemen Rutar, Ziga Silc
Sweden: Veronica Wagner
Switzerland: (men) Christoph Schärer, Claudio Capelli, Nicolas Böschenstein, Claude-Alain Porchert, Mark Ramseier, Roger Sager
Turkey: (women) Göksu Üctas; (men) Ümit Samiloglu
Taipei: (men) Huang Yi-Hsueh
Ukraine: (women) Irina Krasnyanskaya, Alina Kozich, Olga Scherbatykh; (men) Valery Goncharov, Vadim Kuvakin, Nikolai Kuksenkov, Alexander Yakubovsky, Roman Zozulya, Alexander Vorobyov
USA: to be named
Uzbekistan: (men) Anton Fokin
Venezuela: (men) Regulo Carmona, Jose Luis Fuentes, Darwin Griman
Yemen: (men) Nashwan Al-Hrazi, Mohammed Saleh Al-Husali, Mohammed Al-Sanea, Mohammed Wahib Sharif


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