|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.