RICHMOND, B.C. — Two-time Canadian senior champion Patricia Bezzoubenko of Toronto was in her familiar number one position after the first day of qualification Friday at the Canadian rhythmic gymnastics championships.
Bezzoubenko easily topped the field in both the ball and hoop events for a combined score of 35.350 points.
Carmen Whalen of Toronto placed second with 30.650 points and Katherine Uchida of Toronto was third at 29.050.
More than medals are on the line at this year’s championships with the top two seniors earning a berth on the Pan Am Games in July and the top three winning a spot at the world championships in September.
With Bezzoubenko, a virtual lock for the Pan Am Games, Whalen and Uchida have emerged as the top contenders for the remaining spot on the two-member team.
“I know the Pan Am Games are there but I’m not focussing on them,” says Whalen. “I don’t want to get hung up on it and then disappoint myself if something doesn’t go the way I like, but I’ll be happy if I do get a berth on the team.”
Since last summer Whalen has added difficulty to all four of her routines.
“Every year I want to make them more of a challenge and this year I’m just pushing to execute them cleanly.”
Whalen says the ribbon event is the one she finds the most difficult to find innovative ways to improve on.
“For some reason I feel it’s harder to make up really interesting, cool tricks with the ribbon compared to hoop or ball where you can do so many different things.”
In the junior competition, Ecaterina Cozma of Toronto placed first in both the hoop and rope events to take the lead with 28.950 points.
Defending Canadian champion Athena Tsaltas of Georgina, Ont, ranked second with 27.750 points.
‘I think I did a good job today,” said Cozma. “I don’t think about scores when I’m competing. I try to execute everything my routines they way I’ve been taught.”
In the novice competition, Natalie Garcia of Mississauga, Ont., jumped into the lead with a score of 25.050 points after two events.
Competition continues on Saturday with day two of qualifications.
Credit: Gymnastics Canada