The "under renovations" sticker has been removed from their home and the Sudbury Laurels' athletes representing the GymZone are hopeful that it translates to even better results as the bid to qualify for provincials continues.
The local crew entered the Country Hoedown Qualifier last month knowing they were dealing with a less than ideal stretch of training, their New Sudbury facility out of commission for about six weeks due to smoke damage from an untimely electrical fire over the Christmas break.
Still, adjusting to a smaller than usual floor area for their pre-event preparation was not about to throw Abby Dupuis off a whole lot.
"At most of my competitions, my highest score is usually on the floor," noted the Level 7 15-year-old gymnast.
"I just find it a lot easier than bars or beam. You don't have to worry about as much, or at least I don't worry about as much. It just comes more naturally. And I feel like I have really strong legs, which helps a lot as far as punching off the floor."
Throw in the fact that Dupuis' confidence appears to increase, every year, as the season progresses, and one can see why the grade 10 student at E.S.C l'Horizon is apparently undaunted by the switch to her typical training regimen.
"I feel that the second qualifier is easier, for me, because I tend to gain back the strength that I lost (over the summer), so it's easier now for my endurance," she said. When all is said and done, she travelled to Alliston with a specific goal or two in mind.
"I want to hit all four events (floor, bars, beam, vault) at one competition," she said. "Hitting is no wobbles, and being really confident, just knowing that you did well on it. And I want to get my hand-stand on bars in competition."
Dupuis' second qualifier would be highlighted by a fifth place finish on the floor. For teammate Emma Hinschberger, the second qualifier of the year is still almost a starting point for the 11 year-old who decided to make the jump to provincial caliber gymnastics in 2019-20.
"I wanted to try new skills and do more competitions," she said. For instance, the introduction of a back hand-spring on the beam is relatively new territory for the grade six student at R.L. Beattie Public School.
"They are tough," Hinschberger admitted. "You want to jump straight back and make sure that your hand lands on the beam." And given the three foot drop to the floor if the hand misses the intended target, it's no wonder than training for this skill is done in incremental steps.
"We'll do it on lines, on the floor, and then keep moving the beam up and up," said Hinschberger. "And we put mats under the beam. I do get a little nervous for bars or beam, because you can fall."
Still, despite her trepidation for the event, Hinschberger suggested that if she could decide, on her own, the order of the apparatus on competition day (these are determined by meet organizers, and not the gymnasts themselves), it's still the beam that would be #1 on her list.
"I would put beam first, just to get it over with," she said. "And then I would say bars, because it's my second hardest. Then I would probably do vault. Vault is not scary, for me, but it's not one of my favourites. I would probably keep floor for last."
As is the case for a good number of young gymnasts, the floor routine is where they are most in their element, for a variety of reasons. "I like doing all the dance moves and stuff - you kind of get to show-off," said Hinschberger with a smile.
"I also like doing tumbling, because it's really fun doing flips." Joining Dupuis and eight other Laurels' representatives at the second qualifier of the season, Hinschberger would earn a 6th place ribbon on vault, beam and floor, leading to an eighth place all-around aggregate finish for the Level 6 Age 12 competitor.
Following are some highlights for the remaining local participants:
- Rachel Uguccioni (Level 9 Age 16+) - Rachel competed two new skill combinations on bars and beam for the first time this weekend. She narrowly missed the podium on vault, placing fourth, and then added top eight placements on bars (6th), beam (7th) and floor (8th), earning her a 6th place ribbon in all-around aggregate
- Dylan Watts (Level 6 Age 14) - Dylan put up a personal best bar score of 9.075 this season, finishing 4th on that event, also scoring particularly well on the floor (9.325 - 5th), helping her to 7th all-around
- Naomi Lake (Level 6 Age 11) - Naomi had outstanding routines on bars (9.10 - 5th) and beam (9.125 - 4th), as well as 8th all-around
- Avery Roy (Level 6 Age 10) - Avery enjoyed her greatest success on the beam (9.225 - 5th), while remaining more than competitive, as well, on bars (7th)
- Abby Managhan (Level 7 Age 14) - After experiencing some nerves on beam, Abby was able to pick it up for the remaining three events, taking home a 5th on vault, 5th on bars and 6th on floor
- Yasmine Larouche (Level 7 Age 14) - Yasmine stuck her beam routine, taking home a 6th on that event
- Chanelle Lazure (Level 7 Age 16+) - Chanelle would earn her best placing on the floor, sliding into 8th
- Melina Doiron (Level 6 Age 12) - Another newcomer to the provincial scene, Melina excelled on arguably the toughest event, placing 8th on bars