Alberta Pandas Gymnastics Dynasty Celebrated with CW Hall of Fame Induction

Pandas Gymnastics won four national championships from 1988-1991. ​

April 15, 2024 - One of the most underappreciated and oft-forgotten dynasties, the University of Alberta Pandas Gymnastics team enjoyed a remarkable run of dominance, capturing four-straight Canada West titles and four-straight national titles from 1988-1991.

Now their legacy will be forever enshrined as part of the Canada West Hall of Fame's Class of 2023-24.

The Pandas are the third member of this season's CW Hall of Fame class to be inducted. A pair of Manitoba Bison inductees were announced earlier this year, including the Bisons Men's Volleyball 1977-85 Dynasty and Bisons women's volleyball star Kathy Preston. Additional members of the 2023-24 class will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Gold Standard for University Gymnastics
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Led by head coach Stephanie Bishop, who herself won four National Coach of the Year Awards, the Pandas were the class of university gymnastics in the late 80’s.

A trio of dynamic student-athletes led the way and have their names forever written in Pandas history. Dianne Rusnak (nee Patterson) was the 1988 National All-Around Champion and the 1989 Bakewell Trophy Winner as the most outstanding female athlete at U of A. Michelle Hannemann was twice named the National All-Around Champion, capturing the award in 1989 & 1991, and was also the Canada West All-Around Champion in 1988 & 1990, while Kim Shore was the 1990 National All-Around Champion and 1991 Canada West All-Around Champion.

While the team sported no shortage of great individual champions who were capable of jaw-dropping scores, the secret to the Panda Dynasty was truly about contributions from the entire team. To win team gold, every event and every athlete mattered – and the Pandas sported no weakness down the line.

Star gymnasts like Rusnak, Hannemann and Shore were bolstered by great performances and internal competition from teammates like Monica Kmech, Lisa Jefferies, Liane Yee, Michele Graham, Michelle Maltais, Shelly Stark, Debbie Galas, and Erin Heximer.

The 1988-91 Pandas Gymnastics team enjoyed a run of competitive dominance rarely seen in university sport. It was a type of success that lands at the feet of hard working, talented student athletes who love their sport to bits. They leave behind a championship legacy that will forever be etched in University of Alberta athletics history, as recognized by the team's induction into the University of Alberta's Sports Wall of Fame in 2022.


For the last century, organized university sport has been a central part of the student experience at institutions across Western Canada. Beginning with the University of Manitoba capturing the first Western Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union (WCIAU) men's hockey banner in 1919-20, student-athletes have been competing to reach their full potential in sport and the classroom, while enriching campus life. 

To commemorate 100 years of university sport across Western Canada, the Canada West Hall of Fame was created in the spring of 2019. This year's induction class will be unveiled throughout the 2023-24 season.


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About Canada West

Since 1972, Canada West (CW) has been a leader in Canadian university sport, working to provide our student-athletes the opportunities to excel in sport, the classroom, and their communities. CW and our 17 members from across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba collectively carry on a legacy of competitive excellence, as our champions proudly go on to represent the conference at U SPORTS national championships.

Canada West – training leaders, building champions.