Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Orchard with Hopfner-Hibbs

The Couch Gymnast was happy to find a news article this morning announcing the appointment of Carol-Angela Orchard to a specialist coaching job in England.
For those of you who aren't acquainted with her, she was a Canadian gymnastics coach, in fact she was the women's technical advisor for Canada. Orchard was responsible for many great gymnasts, including upstart Peng Peng Lee and Canada's first female World Championship medallist, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs.

After taking Hopfner-Hibbs to Beijing and preparing Lee for her senior career (cut short by injury), Orchard moved to England to be with her husband.  Now, as MoreThanTheGames reports, she has been given a grand new spanking job out of it, as beam specialist for the British team.

Orchard has been handed the role of women's national coach - beam and artistic preparation and joins the British team with 30 years of coaching experience, including four Olympic Games, 11 World Championships, four Pan-American Games and three Commonwealth Games.
Arguably the highlight of her coaching career, where she was until recently Canadian national technical advisor, was aiding Canadian gymnast Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs to her countries first ever World Championships medal - beam bronze in Aarhus in 2006.

This is certainly good news.  Orchard is clearly great at her job, and one of the things that stuck out in her well-known gymnasts was the originality of the move/combinations in their beam sets.  Hopfner-Hibbs was known for her illusion turn and for connecting a side aerial to a back step-out- a notoriously tricky combination, and Peng Peng Lee was known for executing flares, usually the province of men's floor and pommel as part of her mount sequence.

This is only going to make a markedly improved Great Britain team even better.  If their beam rotation during the team finals were anything to go by, they need help in this department.  Certainly, they were missing Danusia Francis, one of their stronger beam workers, but still.
Hannah Whelan has great potential on beam, and Nicole Hibbert needs work if she is going to be used there.  The Brits, although very talented, are not really known for the elegance required to become strong beam workers.  With her flair for originlaity, Orchard could certainly help give them an edge.  I am looking forward to seeing what she does with them.


  1. Didn't Carol-Angela Orchard also coach Luisa Portocarrero from Guatemala who competed at the 1992 Olympics? If so, then I think Orchard is AMAZING! Luisa looked really great at Barcelona. I believe she was an alternate for the beam final and finished in the top 20 in the AA. Those are really spectacular results for a relatively unknown gymnast from a country with absolutely no reputation in gymnastics.

  2. yes Carol, you did coach her

  3. I hope things go better for Carole in Britain then it did when she was in Canada coaching beam in 2003 worlds. Six quick falls off beam later and Canada was almost knocked out of the olympics. As it was three of the falls were by her own gymnast.

  4. No Luisa Portocarrero was coached throughout her ENTIRE career by Alix Bard and Val Kondos. They did a GREAT job on her! I think Louisa was also an alternate to finals on bars in 93 worlds.

  5. Thanks for mentioning that article, Couchy. It inspired me to rewatch the beam final, and I had a beam love moment. It was an awesome final. Hoppy won that bronze fair and square. Krasnianska was impressive, and the rewatch reminded me of that.

    A kiwi fan

  6. Oh God...please don't let Britian also import her jerky, awful choreography as well! Not to take anything away from what either Elyse or Christine can do...but omg...seriously? please...not the choreography!!!