Skill Change Leads To Big Scores For Santerre-Gervais
AMES, Iowa - Subtle changes to a gymnast's routine may seem insignificant and often go unnoticed but coaches are always tinkering, looking for that perfect blend of difficulty and grace. Iowa State junior Camille Santerre-Gervais' recent ascent up the national bars ranking after a slight alteration to her routine is a prime example of how one change can be the key to unlocking the door to big scores.
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Santerre-Gervais has a proven record of being one of the top bars workers in the Big 12. During her freshman campaign, the Quebec, native earned All-Big 12 honors on bars and registered a 9.9 score on three occasions.
However, a series of injuries during her sophomore campaign stymied a career that seemed poised to emerge on the national scene. When Santerre-Gervais returned to the Iowa State bars lineup for the 2013 season her performances did not live up to the standards she set during her freshman season. Santerre-Gervais fell on her first two performances in 2013 on the same skill and her confidence had clearly been rattled.
"We decided to make a change to her routine during the off-season to try to protect Camille from getting reinjured," Iowa State head coach Jay Ronayne said. "She started working on having the pak salto in her routine when she transitions to the low bar instead of the overshoot she had competed for years. She looked great during preseason, but she had never competed (the pak salto) so I did not know how it would look once she got under the bright lights. I could tell she wasn't confident with it after her first couple meets back, so it was great when she was open to going back to the overshoot."
After a discussion with Ronayne, Santerre-Gervais was elated to give the old skill a new chance.
"As soon as we decided to try going back to the overshoot, I knew I could hit my routine," Santerre-Gervais said. "Since then, I have so much more confidence and I can concentrate on the little things during my routine instead of worrying about whether I will fall."
The results have been astounding. Santerre-Gervais has scored at least 9.8 on every bars routine since the change, highlighted by a 9.875 effort against Northern Illinois on Feb. 15. Santerre-Gervais owns Iowa State's top bars score in 2013 and is tied for the highest score on any event by a Cyclone this season. She has been a key reason why the Cyclones' bars lineup has gone from a concern to a strength. Since she debuted the overshoot in her routine on Feb. 8, the ISU bars team has improved 10 spots in the national rankings on the event.
"Making little changes to a routine is not uncommon and we have a number of gymnasts who we have done that to," Ronayne said. "With Camille, it has been extremely rewarding to see how big of an impact one little change can make."