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Senior Rhythmic Group makes international debut at World Cup in Baku

The senior group, composed of Kallemaa, Diana Noskova, Vanessa Panov, Alexandra Udachina, Whelan, and Alexandra Zilyuk – all of Toronto, performed two routines at the competition and finished 25th overall with scores of 14.150 with their 5 balls routine, and 10.550 with their 3 hoops and 2 clubs routine. Japan took gold in the all-around, followed by Russia in second, and Bulgaria in third.

“We were really looking forward to our first international competition of the year,” said Panov who has been a member of the senior group since the 2015 Pan American Games and is the captain of the group. “Unlike other teams who began the competitive season a lot earlier, this was just the beginning for us. As more than half the group joined us from individuals this year, this was also their very first World Cup competing specifically in the group discipline. We were quite disappointed that we were unable to fully deliver what we had to offer here in Baku – this was definitely a learning experience for us.”

Panov added: “It takes time to adjust competing as part of a group and perfecting two new choreographies with a new team. There is a lot that goes into it including synchronization, timing, fast reactions, precision, coordination, artistry, recovery from errors, etc. We will keep pushing ourselves and ensure that we fully master our collaborations and exchanges and work on managing the nerves that come with these events. We’re looking forward to gaining the experience competing internationally as a team.”

Crane and Uchida both struggled a bit at this competition after a busy season that has seen them compete in three World Cup competitions this month alone.

“My performance this weekend was definitely my weakest out of the three World Cups, but it was a reminder that I’m still human,” said Uchida who posted some personal best scores at the last two World Cups but struggled particularly with her clubs routine in Baku. “Of course it’s disappointing – I really wanted to end the circuit on a high note but the most I can do now is move forward.  I definitely need to improve my consistency in competitions and having stable confidence in my abilities. When my confidence waivers it is hard to bring myself back to reality and I think that showed this weekend.”

Crane also struggled a bit at this competition, but posted a really strong score of 17.30 with her ball routine on the first day of competition, and was generally pleased with her performances: “For me, the first day with hoop and ball went really well, and my ribbon today was also decent, but unfortunately clubs didn’t go so well. Overall this competition went pretty well for me but there is always room for improvement. Moving forward, I want to improve my consistency at competitions, and to be able to produce four clean routines – I’ve yet to show that this year. I also want to work on recovering quickly if I make a mistake, as I find that mistakes throw me off easily.”

Russian twins Dina and Arina Averina took gold and silver respectively in the individual all-around competition, followed by Vlada Nikolchenko of the Ukraine who took bronze.

The senior group will now travel to Guadalajara, Spain for a World Challenge Cup competition next weekend where they’ll be joined by Polly Krivchun of Vancouver, BC and Natalie Garcia of Mississauga, ON who will be competing at their first senior international World Challenge Cup. All athletes will then return to Canada to compete at the Rhythmic Gymnastics Canadian Championships at the Markham Pan Am Centre in Markham, ON from May 17-19.

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