Christa Canary made it out of snow-struck Chicago with her coach and Mid-American Twister teammates to take this suburban Baltimore hamlet by a gymnastics storm today.
The 16-year-old high school junior bested a field of almost 80 gymnasts in the all-around competition this afternoon at the second annual Nation's Capital Cup, collecting 38.15 points of a possible 40 -- or averaging 9.537 in the valut, uneven parallel bars, beam and floor exercises.
Almost as encouraging as Canary's performance was to American female gymnastics hopes was the attendance of nearly 2,000 at Old Mill High. U.S. women's gymnastics usually doesn't draw well without the Olgas and Nadias of foreign teams to boost the gate.
Canary's performance tonight in the singles finals drew raves, although neither she nor Coach Bill Sands was particularly pleased.
Canary won the valut, earning 19.4 points from the U.S. Gymnastics Federation judges. The valut is her strongest event and the one she focuses on most in the 5 1/2 hours she practices, daily at the club in Northbrook, Ill.
The 5-foot-1 (that's stretching it a bit," Sands said) gymnast placed second in both the beam (18.30) and bars (18.9).Her preliminary score in the floor exercises gave her a definite advantage over her competitors, but she bowed out of the finals in that event tonight.
"She got a sore ankle from the valut this afternoon," said Sands, "So we took her out of the floor exercises. They weren't worth risking" a more serious injury that would sideline her in qualifying meets for the U.S. championship.
"I would like to win that championship, then hopefully go to the Olympics," said Canary, whose sweatsuit was adorned with medals obtained in trades with gymnasts from Romania, the Soviet Union and East Germany.
Canary was not the only standout in the meet sponsored by MarVaTeens of Rockville. The host club's Jennifer Huff presented a floor exercise that was exceptionally choreographed and executed.
Linda Kardos of the Gym Dandy's of Washington, Pa., a veteran of several foreign meets, won the floor exercises with 18.6 points, or.15 points over Huff.
Kardos, who is almost 17 but appears younger, won the uneven bars with 19.0, to edge Canary by one-tenth of a point.
"I didn't do as well as I wanted on the beam. I made some mistakes," said Kardos, who finished third (18.10) in that event. "But I guess there's always hope for improvement" before Olympic trials begin next year.
Kelly Garrison, 11, of the Oklahoma City Starlettes won on the beam with a dazzling set of double flips that earned her 19.40.