10.0 Spotlight: Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs

Nov. 20, 2008

Freshman Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs is the featured gymnast in 10.0 Spotlight, which will profile a member of the UCLA Gymnastics squad throughout the season. Hopfner-Hibbs came to UCLA directly from the 2008 Olympic Games, where she earned a Top 16 finish in the all-around. The Toronto, ON native made history in 2006 when she became the first Canadian woman ever to win a medal at the World Championships, earning a bronze on the balance beam.

What has been the biggest adjustment for you coming from elite gymnastics to college gymnastics?
The biggest adjustment would have to be training for a team.When I was at home preparing for the Olympics, I was training for an individual competition, which is a different experience altogether. Now everything is team-oriented, and I love it!! It's something completely new and exciting for me. My UCLA Bruin family is so supportive, and it makes training so much fun!

How has the transition been between living in Canada and living in Southern California? What do you miss most about Canada?
The transition from Canada to California has been the hardest part for me so far. I really love living in Canada, so moving away from home was difficult for me. The things I miss most from Canada are the seasons. I love autumn and winter, and here in California, they don't really exist! I'm not complaining about the sun, that's for sure, but its just one more adjustment I need to make.

Talk about your Olympic experience a little bit. What was the highlight of your Olympic Games?
My Olympic experience was a memorable one, to say the least. Unfortunately, I didn't have my best competition, but I still had some amazing routines in Beijing.I have two main highlights from my experience. First were the closing ceremonies. We got to march into the Bird's Nest (the stadium where both the opening and closing ceremonies were held), which was packed full of spectators, and all the athletes celebrated the closing of the Games. Secondly was the fact that both my mom and my sister were able to come to China and watch me compete.They have never travelled to one of my international competitions before, so for them to get to come to this one was a big deal for me, as well as them.

Do you have any plans to continue competing elite?
In December, the World Cup Finals are being held in Spain, and if I'm invited to those, I am ready to attend. Gymnasts get invited based on the points accumulated over the past few years at the World Cup competitions.

How would you describe your gymnastics style?
I would say that my style is powerful and aggressive. Those are the two things that help me train and compete successfully.

What is your most favorite skill to compete, and what skill do you most wish to perfect?
A lot of the skills in my beam routine are unique, and not many gymnasts compete them. These are the skills that I enjoy competing because they tend to catch the eyes of the spectators. I do an aerial cartwheel, layout step-out that is world-original, and I also compete an illusion turn and a spin double on the beam.The thing I need to work on the most is being able to say in bounds on floor when I compete.

What was your most memorable gymnastics moment?
My most memorable gymnastics moment was when I won a bronze medal at the 2006 World Championships in Denmark. It was the first-ever medal at a World Championships for a Canadian female gymnast.

What is the best thing about being a Bruin?
I love training with my Bruin team. We have a lot of fun in the gym (and outside of it too), and we all get along awesomely!!!

What do you like to do outside of gymnastics?
Outside of the gym I love to read, dance, and most of all shop!

We hear that you're obsessed with the Christmas season. What is it about Christmas that you enjoy so much?
I love anything and everything to do with the Christmas season! What I love most is the atmosphere of Christmas-time, as well as the decorations, lights, and the fact that I get to see my entire family (something I don't get to do too often because of my busy gymnastics schedule!).When I was traveling for elite gymnastics, I got a Christmas tree ornament from every country I went to.

Lightning Round
Favorite Christmas movie?


Tim Hortons or Starbucks?

Sun or snow?

What are you addicted to?
All of the Friends episodes

You've just been given the task of recasting Friends with your Bruin teammates. Who would you cast as Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey and Phoebe?
Monica - Mizuki Sato, Chandler - Allison Taylor, Ross - Aisha Gerber, Phoebe - Alyssa Pritchett, Joey - Vanessa Zamarripa, Rachel - Kristina Comforte

Favorite event to compete on?

Describe yourself in one word.

Describe your team in one word.

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