Thursday, 11 February 2016

Me me me

I got a new job!!!

HALLELUJAH!!!!

It's a big relief, and I really love my new job. One of the fun parts is a much more straightforward commute which is already much less draining and more conducive to actually blogging more than once a month. There's always an aspect that makes you think fondly of the old job though, and for me it's the fact that the hospital chart room looks a bit like this:






It makes for fun times. I can't imagine electronic healthcare records...they are probably a solid 10 years away for us, and ain't and shouldn't gonna happen while inpatient and outpatient waiting lists are years (legit years) long.

Aaaaaanyway, gymnastics! I'm eagerly awaiting the start of the season and trying and failing to not get excited about random upgrade videos appearing everywhere. I've really missed blogging and not having the energy and time has sucked. Really looking forward to this Olympic season :D :D
Blogger Tricks

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Celebrating Underage Superstars

There's something so impressive about watching a thrilling routine from the past and absorbing the fact that the gymnast wasn't even of age at the time. Personally, while I don't condone breaking the rules, I don't allow it to taint or spoil the enjoyment of the routine in any way as political decisions were and are nothing to do with the gymnast themselves. The below either admitted themselves or were categorically found through investigation to fall below the age limit at the time.


Lavinia Agache - Romania

Copyright - Tom Theobald

Lavinia competed at the age of 13 at worlds 1981, with her date of birth altered from 1968 to 1967. Interestingly, she also competed at the junior gymnastics championships in Japan the same year. She came into her own when she was actually a senior later that quad, but still managed to shine at such a young age, with super strong beam and floor routines in typical Romanian fashion. Not elegant, but very energetic and fun to watch with some nice original elements thrown in. Lavinia was somewhat overshadowed by teammate Ecaterina Szabo but was a great gymnast in her own right and was a solid contributor at worlds 1983 and the Olympics the following year.



Olga Bicherova - USSR

 
Source- gymnast.bplaced.com

Olga is one of the better known underage gymnasts, having won the 1981 worlds AA with an altered date of birth. She had an abundance of the qualities that made Soviet gymnastics great, displaying fabulous extension, form and elegance - with a mature ease far beyond her years. A true all-arounder. Her win drew criticism thanks to her baby face, especially from the US who also mention Lavinia and others (unproven), but reserve the focus for the winner, of course. Olga competed through the rest of the quad and beyond successfully despite the killer depth, but was a victim of the Olympics boycott like so many others.



Kim Gwang Suk - North Korea



Kim is without doubt the youngest gymnast ever to compete at worlds. Her exact age when she emerged as a senior at 1989 worlds is not known, but she may have been as young as 9 or 10. 4'4, she unleashed the counter-Kim or Marinich, a ridiculously hard release and in combination that only a handful have competed. Her bar routine is one of my all-time favourites and she also had some quite nice work on beam. She competed through to 1992 Olympics as the reigning bars world champion and Detective FIG only managed to nab her when her federation submitted her as being 15 for 3 years in a row in the early 90's. Which is still mind boggling, at least put some effort into the swindle! Kim fell off the radar after a ban was imposed, which is tragic as she would definitely have had a good few years left had she hypothetically remained healthy.



Yang Yun - China

Copyright- AP/Amy Sancetta

Yang Yun, the beautifully classic performer, was a complete surprise when she admitted on state TV that she was 14 in Sydney as she always looked very mature and older than 16, certainly older than teammate and fellow underager Dong Fangxiao. Yang was a beauty to watch on all 4 events, even vault (watch this immediately) and was particularly stunning on beam also where she displayed fabulous originality with gorgeous lines and extension. Sadly she fell in the Sydney AA which she would have won otherwise (after Raducan's score was officially wiped) - although her admission of her age though dismissed by the FIG on investigation would have rendered that a controversial win also. Yang did manage to pick up bronze on bars but sadly disappeared off the scene nearly as quickly as she arrived onto it, the Olympics was her sole competition of note.


Olga Mostepanova - USSR

Copyright - Tom Theobald

Olga is IT as far as the personification of Soviet gymnastics is concerned - although sadly majorly lacking in the medals to prove it. One of the greats, who would have won all around her in LA 1984 Olympics (instead racking up perfect 10's at Olomouc), Olga was underage during the competitive season of 1983. An accomplished all-arounder, she was best known for her stunning beam, complete with that press handstand mount. Her extension stood out even amongst her teammates which is saying a lot. Of all of the gymnasts and other athletes screwed by the 1984 Olympics boycott, it seems like a particularly heinous crime in her case, especially as she peaked that year and wasn't quite the same at worlds the following year.


Gina Gogean - Romania


Gina is remembered for a few things- somewhat safe routines (although she was not always boring) and collecting quite the stack of medals during deep quads, but competing underage in 1992 is not one of them. Her super lengthy career started off on murky terms, being officially too young during the Barcelona Olympics. At this point of her career she was far from the star of her team.  Despite competing strongly at Euros that year, she failed to make much of an impact at the games. Not that she was long developing into a strong all-arounder with multiple titles under her belt with the sole exception of, big surprise, uneven bars. A big help in her super consistency during her senior career was the unfortunate killing off of more difficult and unusual elements she had as a junior. Being boring really paid off for her!


Alexandra Marinescu - Romania


Alexandra, after huge success as a junior, had the great misfortune to a) be hyped as the next Nadia Comaneci and b) to be pulled from the AA at Olympics and worlds, the only two big competitions she competed at, in favour of teammate Simona Amanar. To be individually picked out for hype when she had such giants of accomplished teammates as Gina Gogean, Simona Amanar and Lavinia Milosovici shows how promising she was. Lacking the powerhouse tumbling of the others, she stood out for her elegance instead, with beam being her best event. The fact that her career was so short, especially when they went to the effort of changing her age in the first place is a tragedy, as is the fact that her name was blackened when the reason given for her forced withdrawals from the AA was that she was a poor worker.



Dong Fangxiao - China



Dong was another gymnast who had overshadowing gymnasts on her team to compete alongside with, in this case the likes of Ling Jie and Liu Xuan and the less accomplished but outstanding Yang Yun and Kui Yuanyuan. Dong was more of a team player than a star in her own right, but was a good all-arounder and strong on floor. Her investigation stripped China of their 1999 and 2000 team medals.


Hong Su Jong - North Korea

Copyright - Thomas Schreyer

Hong Su Jong is the infamous gymnast whose age falsification earned North Korea such a lengthy ban that they missed the London Olympics. Before the federation ban, she also earned a suspension for the use of Furosemide (a diuretic used to aid weight loss/combat fluid retention...which is downright odd in those circumstances when I type about it all the time in the context of cardiac babies!). Controversy aside, Hong was an extremely talented vaulter for which she earned silver at 2007 worlds, but she was also awesome on bars. Her handstands would earn her quite the battering these days, but such lovely clean work. Hong's career, by contrast to most of those mentioned here, was lengthy - she competed in the 2004 Olympics right the way through to 2010, although she missed Beijing through injury. She was, aside from the originator, one of the first to compete the Amanar vault, bringing it back mainstream along with Shawn Johnson. She is sister to Hong Un Jong who has not been involved in an age controversy. They may be twins, but the latter competed much later than the former.


Daniela Silivas - Romania

Copyright - Ellie Langsley

Daniela Silivas is regarded as one of if not the greatest all-arounders of all time and regularly tops fan polls of favourite gymnasts. Her battle during the 1988 Olympics AA with Elena Shushunova is legendary and thrilling to watch but....Daniela began her career by competing underage during 1985 worlds, at the age of 13. A true all-arounder, she was typical of her nation in that her beam and floor stood out, despite the horrendous choreography meted out to her that year. Super energetic and sparkly, she managed to nab the beam title but didn't come into her own until later in the quad. Certainly she was the best Romanian gymnast of the 80's, and there is seriously stiff competition for that.



It's strange these days to contemplate gymnast's passports and dates of birth being switched and manipulated on the whim of a federation coach. Not that I think the practice has been 100% eradicated (note: I have no interest in suspicions re: named, unproven individuals, ESPECIALLY those concerning a certain team from 8 years ago YAWN), it probably never will be when states like the above still exist and the age restriction remains punitive. Of course, we have no idea of the true extent of age falsification - FIG themselves only uncovered 3 - especially during the 1980's. There is just no way only a small handful of gymnasts competed underage the entire decade. My money is on Romania as the biggest overall offenders, the Karolyi's had no qualms about this practice at the time (despite repeat bellyaching post-defect to the US, which they really have a nerve complaining about every year), and clearly neither did another long-time head coach, Octavian Bellu. They also had much less depth than the super strong USSR (who definitely have several more skeletons in the closet all the same, which coaches have alluded to) and therefore greater motive to bend the rules. They also showed form for skulduggery when they actually had one gymnast impersonate another at a meet in the US in 1981.

Anyway, I'm a big believer in appreciating the performance and the performance only. I find it very sad that there's a lot of people who call themselves gymnastics fans, but who spend far too much time condemning gymnasts from 2 quads ago, and current gymnasts of the same nationality, because why not. If it's really the biggest deal ever to them, then they should also spend their time blackening the names of the likes of Silivas and Gogean too, which will never happen. Nationality (read: of Asian extraction with absolutely zero thought given to the fact that some ethnic varieties have the good fortune to look younger than others with slighter frames to boot) and the identity of who the suspect beats seems to be all important.



Who's your favourite? Does the inconsistency of FIG action and fan reaction annoy you too? Can't we all just get along on the Gymternet? ;)










Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Senior Day!

In good news, my laptop is my own again rather than shared which is great and will make blog posts much less rushed. I'm also firmly on the jobhunt and the fatigue is definitely starting to lift. Happy new year to me!

In much more exciting news, it's 2016-year of the Olympics AND a whole bunch of new seniors are eager to make an impression in time. I can't believe that we are in the Olympic year, although I can well believe as seen on twitter and tumblr earlier today that Simone Biles has won 27% of available WAG world medals this quad.

Anyway, today is all about the new seniors. I have an incomplete list here. A slightly depressing document given the sheer number that have retired, injured out or faded away already but anyway, it's a super exciting new bunch!

The USA of course are going to net quite a few, Laurie Hernandez, Norah Flatley, Emily Gaskins, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Jazmyn Foberg, Abby Paulson, Ragan Smith, Christina Desiderio, Margzetta Frasier and Rachel Baumann. People have been waiting for the first two to turn senior for years as they've been well known since or nearly before turning senior. The power of youtube! Of course, several of the others have been making waves for quite some time too, like Ragan Smith and Sydney Johnson-Scharpf. Rachel Baumann is more of a newcomer to the scene, qualifying elite in 2014 although having an elite older sister in the same gym did mean she had a following. Jazmyn Foberg has been one of the quiet types, firmly in Laurie's shadow until she surprisingly won Nationals in 2014 and had a very close-fought silver last year.

As regards Rio, all eyes are on Laurie Hernandez, Ragan Smith and Norah Flatley for a look-in, but for all of them it's a super tough ask even with their talent. It all depends on what the team needs once the core of the team is built and that's impossible to call at this time. I will say that I think it will be easier for people outstanding on one/two events like the latter two rather than Laurie because even though she's so strong in the all-around, she's not as high-scoring as some of the others they already have.

For other countries, it will be much easier for the new seniors to slot in to the Olympic picture. Catherine Lyons is poised to be a major asset to Team GB, she complements the powerhouses they already have in spades perfectly. They could definitely do with a fabulous beam but I think what will be most helpful is her execution scores, she is significantly cleaner than the others in general, and messy execution is what's holding GB back a bit. Teal Grindle is a major prospect too, but I think the size of the team could be against her. I'm unsure about Georgia Mae Fenton, she's always been lovely to watch but hasn't seemed to improved much. There will always be surprises though.

Russia will be hoping for some super-consistent beamers to join their ranks! Angelina Melnikova is a no-nonsense all-arounder that hopefully will make a big splash in the senior ranks, she gives off the impression also that she has a lot more to give. Daria Skrypnik has been well known for years, she's got beautiful lines and is typically Russian in style. Best on bars, DTY under her belt like Melnikova and potential on beam...overall I'm not convinced about her though. Maybe with more time. Natalia Kapitonova is outstanding on bars, but like Skrypnik will struggle to make an impact there when they already have such strength on the event. She's nice on floor too but not very high-scoring. Ekaterina Sokova has been dealing with injury, hopefully she'll be back in fine fettle this year. She's built like Melnikova and is similar, a good all-arounder and beamer.

Romania could do with about 15 or so new seniors to replenish the ranks. Asiana Peng who was a big deal a few years back seems to have faded from the equation gradually so we can pretty much count her out, sadly and she's probably not the only one given Romania's recent-ish track record with junior/premature retirements. Andreea Ciurusniuc and Andra Stoica were the ones I had my eye on, but I haven't heard anything about the latter lately. Ciurusniuc competed quite a bit in 2015, she's solid..not outstanding but has good potential. Good floor. I've definitely fallen out of touch with Romania's juniors/new seniors this last year, Maria Holbura who's a new senior is a relatively new name to me, whereas others on my list seem to have fallen by the wayside.

China has gained a LOT of fresh faces to the senior ranks, although for now they can be roughly divided into those poised for Rio selection and those who are focused more towards next quad given their lack of upgrades. Among them are Liu Tingting, Lv Jiaqi Luo Huan, Zhou Linlin, Liu Jinru, Lu Yufei, Fu Yuyao, Gong Kangyi, Wu Jing and Zhang Jin. Some names are much, much more familiar than others and I've got some catching up to do. Not much has been heard of Lv Jiaqi or Luo Huan lately- they could be dealing with injury etc. but hopefully they'll be in the mix this year- I've been awaiting them for years, along with Liu Tingting. The latter shines on beam with some fantastic connections but she's super solid everywhere. Very sparky and energetic, as well as super-clean. Still has a good bit of future potential to unlock and difficulty to improve throughout the next quad, but I would definitely say she's one to watch for this year too. Fu Yuyao is fabulous also with massive potential. Another great beamer but in general her difficulty is so low that it's all about the future with her. Likewise Zhou Linlin although hers is higher- beam is her strong event so she'd need to improve elsewhere and/or pile on the difficulty to stand out, at the moment her bars and floor are a bit uninspiring however. Gong Kangyi breaks the mould a bit- she excels on floor where she's got some very nice tumbling already and an ambitious first pass. She's got a nice beam to her name but is surprisingly super weak on vault and bars are not her thing, but her floor is quite valuable. She's falling somewhere between the two groups. Firmly in the first camp though is Liu Jinru who is developing nicely into the powerhouse she showed flashes of years ago- she was interestingly once coached by Cheng Fei, albeit briefly. Her floor is strong but vault is the main attraction with very difficult vaults already under her belt. Rudi and DTT I believe, although I am hopeless at differentiating Tsuk and handspring vaults. All in all seems like exciting times ahead for China.

Shallon Olsen is finally a senior! Her floor and vault should be a great boost to Canada, there's video proof of the amanar in training that she has looked capable of for years and she HAS competed a Silivas. Definitely one to watch. Canada will also net Rose Kaying-Woo and Megan Roberts.

Elizabet Vasileva of Bulgaria is also a senior. She's always exciting to watch just for the fun of her ridiculous flexibility.

And last but not least, I'm excited to see Koko Dobashi of Japan who is really lovely to watch on all events.

Who are you most excited about? Which country/team will be most impacted in your view? How long until off-season is over??


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Draft COP 2017-2020

Ugh, another long break without posting. I've been dealing with minor but intensely annoying health issues...after a long, long time of my hypothyroidism being stable to the point I'd forget about it, it's now not at all and the solution of decreasing meds was an absolutely terrible one so now I'm very very very hypothyroid (ic???) and the fatigue is a total killer, not up for much other than work and work is a nightmare with it. Complete nuisance when med changes take so long to take affect. Moving on...the draft COP for the next quad!

https://www.docdroid.net/J5HZsI1/wag-cop-2017-2020-draft-1.pdf.html

Anyway, this will be short! In good news...

Note: Handpsring fwd on- tucked double salto fwd off: If the 2nd salto is not completed because the gymnast lands on the feet and bottom simultaneously, then the vault will be recognised as Handspring fwd on- Tucked fwd Salto off


This had better make it to the final version OR ELSE. They'd want the wording watertight also. Another good bit of news lurking is that the forward element will be scrapped from floor, meaning no daft front or side aerials. It wasn't ever something I felt really strong about, but it was definitely jarring to choreography and for that reason, it's welcome.

The 2 point penalty for vaulting with one arm is back, I'd be interested to know how strict that will be followed in practice..must true propulsion be in evidence from both hands or will touching the board be a grey area?

The arabian double layout, the Dos Santos II, is now a H. YES finally! Maybe it will encourage someone to actually do this skill.

I haven't delved fully into it to see changes to combinations/connections etc. on beam and bars but will be doing so. Looks like Netherlands are being punished for underuse of acro skills on floor, floor will need 3 dance skills and 3 acro skills and 2 extra skills...not 100% about these two skills, if they are compulsory or allowed or what. If they're not compulsory, they might as well be since everyone will use them to drive difficulty.

What I definitely don't like is devaluing of vaults. I don't really see the point of trying to bring it more into line with other events, by its very nature it's very quick so execution will always be much higher than others. It just seems unneccessary and will for me take away from the excitement of ranking and scoring a little bit.

I definitely have some more reading to do. While it is the draft, I'm sure a lot of it will end up finalised. What are your thoughts? Favourite change? Worst? What have they overlooked? Who should get a raise for FINALLY seeing the danger of the Produnova?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Highlights of Glasgow

Yup, definitely still wishing worlds was yet to come instead of finishing a few weeks ago.

Location

Glasgow is a great city, I really enjoyed it. Not exactly spectacularly different to Dublin...certainly they have the same mild at best-wet and cold at worst weather systems, but that's okay since I don't have much time for the sun anyway. I'm getting good at picking hotels and always aim for an old one that's not a dump. Our hotel was not only a spectacular Victorian behemoth of a building, it was right in the centre and above the train station, which was a whopping 2 stops away from the arena. Seriously convenient. Glasgow seems to have a bad reputation here, most people made a face and suggested Edinburgh instead, a very nice city which spectacularly lacked the main reason for going in the first place. I get the impression it used to be a rough place but you can tell a lot of work has gone into regenerating it and I always felt safe, even on Hallowe'en night which is a spectacularly dangerous night back home. Very friendly place.

The arena itself is fantastic, very fancy. The seats are tiered quite high and I'm not happy that the 'priority' seats released first afforded me seats in the upper tiers only, despite buying a few hours after release. Clearly I am dedicated, do not shaft me on this. I'll know next time not to go ahead and buy, I just thought that was the availability. Lol. Antwerp was very, very different. Anyway, the view was fine, I just suffered jealousy of the people with seating much lower down. But it WAS good to get a great overall view, and our best seats were for the AA which was most important to me.

Stage

I never realised that introductions were missing from worlds, but it really added a lot to the atmosphere and it was wonderful to see teams and individuals recognised like this, with their huge flag behind them and some very catchy music-sometimes even matching the gymnast in some way. Nice bit of hype-building and I really hope that's not the last we've seen of it.

Diverse finals/better depth

It was just great to see much more diverse finals than we are used to, echoing MAG almost. This hasn't been an overnight change, but was more noticeable than in past worlds I thought. It's a big jump from the last Olympics and will be interesting to compare to Rio's finals. Vault was as usual the most diverse, but beam wasn't far behind for once. Two Dutch girls. While beam itself has suffered bigtime this quad and inconsistency even among the best is still a major issue, the fact that it's less deep than last quad is balanced out for me by the refreshing different styles on display, afforded by the diversity of the finalists. If only they could stay on the beam.

Floor and bars are stronger than ever, which is very exciting and bodes well for next year. And that was a floor final without Aly Raisman. Considering the quality of this year's floor final, there were quite a few big names missing. When you think that next year we'll be expecting Simone Biles, a second American such as the aforementioned Aly though medal-winner Maggie was certainly a worthy finalist, Ellie Black, Giulia Steingruber, Shang Chunsong, Ellie Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Larisa Iordache/?? Catalina Ponor ??, Vanessa Ferrari, Sae Miyakawa, Ksenia Afanasyeva and more to be vying for places...

On bars, the standard has definitely been raised. There have always been routines of the calibre the 4 gold medallists showed (what a sentence) but not quite so many. And there are plenty that are right behind them. The fact that most routines are fairly similar and shap-heavy is a bit of a drag, but some managed to stand out, such as Shang Chunsong with multiple releases, and Ruby Harrold for her unique skillset. A great routine to cap off the final.

The AA rankings both in qualifiers and finals were certainly an unusual mix, it was great to see Giulia Steingruber qualify 2nd behind only the untouchable Simone Biles and even though a fall on beam put paid to a repeat in finals, it really bodes well for how far she has come as an all-arounder. A shaken Romania clawed back to great places in the AA, from which they were completely out of the top 10 in qualifying-Larisa Iordache of course admirably clawing her way to bronze and Laura Jurca showing her potential finally to finish in 8th after qualifying 22nd. The best though was seeing Mai Murakami completely unexpectedly finishing 6th. It will be great to see Russia have more of a presence in the AA next year hopefully, with Seda's inconsistency putting paid to any glory there, but it was nice to have the focus more spread out.

GB Bronze Team Final

I don't think anyone expected that, and it blew the roof off. To get their first ever team final medal on home soil is just incredible. Seeing their reactions when the score came in and the realisation that their vault scores had been enough - it looked like they didn't let themselves believe it could be even after Russia imploded- was just such a great moment, historical and heartwarming. I didn't think it was possible-they are still a team that are on the way, having made huge strides but still affected by issues such as depth and messy form lowering scores, and of course it's a team final that didn't have Romania in it and had Russia counting no less than 4 falls-but it comes to the same thing, it doesn't matter what you CAN do, unless you can put it together when it counts like in the team final, and GB certainly accomplished that.

Netherlands qualifying for team final

Up there in terms of achievements with GB's medal. Who'd a thunk it? Doubly fantastic since it means they've qualified a team to the Olympics. Their greatest achievement to date on worlds and Olympics stage was Celine Van Gerner placing 12th in the London Olympics. Competing singly for her country, since NL haven't qualified a team to the Olympics in a long, long time, if ever. And this isn't even through the Test Event, but directly through worlds. This is a team who I was hoping would individually make a final or two, so that I would be able to watch them in person, but I never anticipated team final. One of those elegant types to enjoy watching but withhold hope from. They definitely had some issues in team finals, which was perhaps not surprising, but were nevertheless glorious to watch from the very moment they came on stage and performed their stunning and elegant salute, encompassing all they are as a team.

Netherlands individual qualifying and finals

Staying with the Dutch girls, I was flabbergasted to see Lieke Wevers qualifying 5th into the all-around. In the best way. Considering her start values, it highlights how vital execution and expression can be to scores, and how seriously FIG can take it. Sadly, Eythora Thorsdottir was just barely knocked out of the AA herself, but snuck into the beam final. Of course, she proceeded to have the oddest fall there but she was in good company with 50% of the finalists falling and it was still great to see her in person. I didn't dare hold out hope that Sanne Wevers would hit in the beam final, after qualifying second but having a nightmare in team finals-no outright disaster but failing her connections and thus a composite requirement, but lo and behold, beam silver! Brilliant result!

US steadiness

When you see teams with enormous potential dealing with enormous flaws- such as mass inconsistency from Russia, chronic lack of depth, political issues and abysmal bars from Romania, lack of depth, politics and power from China, form issues, lack of depth and minor inconsistency from GB etc. etc....it is just so GREAT to see a team nail everything. 12 solid, hit routines. Not only do they show power and consistency, but confidence, and the skills are always secure, you never have to hope the gymnast will rotate it fully. It's refreshing. Their qualifications performance was just so jarring and odd, but never fear, they were back to their robotically solid selves when it counted.

Watching Simone Biles in person

History in motion, she is fascinating to watch and it's fun to think that I've so far been able to see her in action twice, considering she will go down as one of the most legendary and talented gymnasts of all time. It's just bizarre to be blown away by her routines and know that she still has more to give and the potential for yet more difficulty.

China

Getting their act together for team silver. I've become too used to falls and mistakes from them, and qualifications did not inspire confidence, so I was thrilled to see them so solid in finals. Not perfect, (why can you never stay on the beam Wang Yan??) but 11/12 and a really quite super vault rotation of all things is still not to be sniffed at.

Shang Chunsong 4th AA, general hit record

She has previously stood out at worlds for all of the wrong reasons, so to witness her hitting again and again (yup, fell off beam after waiting far too long for the judges in quals but...just quals) and coming so close to beating Larisa Iordache was wonderful. She'll always be let down as regards AA as long as she carries a flat FTY, but to come so close is impressive. It's also nice to see her become the face of her team, and gain a ton of fans. The spread of her story has definitely helped, and has helped explain her circumstances etc, but I do feel a bit uneasy about it considering how detailed it is, just wondering does she know or did she give permission for all of it. Anyway, to come away from worlds with 2 4th places and one of them undeservedly low is disappointing, but she still has great performances and showed more of her potential than she has previously on the international stage.

Russia

Coming back from being a complete nonentity in the all-around and a meltdown in the team finals to shine in event finals, with no less than 3 golds and 1 silver. Despite some qualms about colours of some of those medals, there's no doubt they were impressive and it's great they were able to make a comeback.

Harsh scoring

I definitely have some issues with individual scores but overall, I felt the scoring was harsh and fair. It was reassuring to see them come down hard on things, on a relatively equal playing field.

Last but definitely not least..

Meeting the Biles

Still feels bizarre to have been invited to meet them, and very flattering to have my blog recognised. I had a great morning to start off event finals day 1, lovely people.


I'll probably do a part 2 to this, with lowlights, routines, things like that. Definitely still more to talk about this worlds. What were YOUR highlights? Favourite unexpected hitters? Or moments from off the competition floor? Best hair bow?


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Event Finals

I'm definitely still in the post-Glasgow slump. Hard to believe it's been and gone, when I've been waiting for it since the moment Antwerp worlds ended.

Anyway, last things first! How about those event final podiums?

I've gone through vault already, and my opinion hasn't really altered. I think the top two were deservedly close, but the edge was with Hong un Jong. When they are both performing the same vaults though with their own set of flaws, it's so hard to call. I'd like if the podium was slightly reshuffled, but I'm definitely not mad or anything. It was really sad to witness Giulia Steingruber injuring herself after already fearing the worst when she put up 5.8 for the second vault. Thankfully, it looks like she avoided doing any major damage and will still be good to go for Rio. I really love how diverse that final was- USA, China, Russia but also Mexico, Switzerland, North Korea, Great Britain and India. Another low point was Dipa Karmarkar's Produnova- looking forward to the day they are either removed or no longer worth the risk-and also Alexa Moreno Medina's lack of mastery of her vaults, they were really just about rotated and a complete scramble.

Bars though, definitely had crazy judging. A tie was justifiable, but not 4-way. The podium to me should have been Viktoria Komova-Gold, Fan Yilin-Silver, Daria Spiridonova-Bronze. Daria had a few too many handstand errors to be further up, while Madison Kocian is possibly justifiable for a tied bronze. I think that while she is very dynamic, she has too many tiny form errors adding up such as leg separations/bent elbows. I'm not sure if this was visible on any streams, but each time a score came in, the big screen showed it against the current highest score, which was pretty cool. For bars they used a different 15.366 every time as current highest, but when Vika's score came in, she showed up against herself as the score to beat. Highlighted how very weird the whole thing was. Interesting podium ceremony to witness too! Very curious to know if there will be repurcussions from this...hopefully not future tie-breaking at worlds.

I went into beam without any high hopes, knowing that most finals these days have a ridiculously high number of falls. Even with that though, I held out for Wang Yan to medal and the Dutch girls not to fall. Eythora had the unwelcome draw of first-up, and had such a strange fall. Looked from my angle and from watching it back that it was salvageable, but I'm glad she even made the final and it was still a glorious routine, though a bit frightening when her head veered back near the beam after dismounting. The biggest shock from Viktoria Komova's routine wasn't that she had a major error, but that she didn't jump off in resignation like we are too used to seeing time after time. A nice routine otherwise with the usual gorgeous form, although it was overly hesitant. I can't enjoy watching her beam because it's too nerve-wracking and she rarely flows anymore. What was somewhat funny was the shock and negative reaction to her score from the crowd around us when her score came in, who seemed to have forgotten the major save and how costly they are. I've seen some comments around that the best part of the final or the 'real victory' of it was her not falling, which is really quite sad. Anyway, back to business of beam finals with more actual falls, from Ellie Black on her full twist, Wang Yan on her layout and Seda Tutkhalyan on her layout full. None of these were a surprise, all 3 have been splatting regularly all yearThey all seem fully capable of their high difficulty, but seem to get a bit lost in landing of their hard skills in a competitive setting. Hopefully they can rework things a bit, even downgrade, to get proper consistency.

Thankfully, we were graced with some hit routines. Simone Biles pretty much nailed everything, I was particularly pleased her 2.5 wolf had no wobbles and her Barani-once a vulnerable part of the routine-was completely secure, everything after that especially the super-flighty BHS-LOSO-LOSO series and practically stuck dismount was a bonus. Considering how sadly used we are to seeing several wobbles, broken connections and really hesitant work if not outright falls from top routines, it is such a relief to see such clean, difficult work in a flowing routine. Lieke Wevers, as the second qualifier, stepped up to the plate and delivered a gorgeous routine. Not quite as steady as she can do it, but it was much closer to her lovely quals routine than the messy TF one. Pauline Schaefer also had a nice routine -plenty of little wobbles-but nothing serious. It's well composed and impressive even without her own skill in it. I love this podium, but that was a rough final. Far too many falls and major errors. I'm over this quad's beam and looking forward to whatever FIG have in store for it after Rio.

Floor was such a great final routines-wise, so deep. But the podium...not happy with it at all. Simone Biles had yet another great routine and claimed gold by a mile, no arguments there, but silver and bronze are questionable. Ksenia Afanasyeva completed her tumbling and leaps with ease, not so much her turns though. She received 0.3 in d-score for a turn she did not complete, bearing in mind Shang Chunsong did not receive credit for a turn she did not complete. Both were obviously not around, so where was the consistency there? Afan's routine was a bit lacklustre by her old standards, little expression or enthusiasm and just dull, but it was the d-score that I had the major problem with. It didn't deserve to be in the top half of the scoreboard as a result. I would have put Sae Miyakawa in second- she had a glorious routine, super clean tumbling with only 2 slightly short landings to mar it and really and truly deserved a medal. Shang Chunsong had the floor routine of her life-such a pity she didn't complete the turn, but even with that, she deserved a slightly higher score. It seems like they are killing her for her legs/knees in twisting passes (which isn't even clear in real time), but not killing Maggie Nichols, whose leg form is much looser/untidier in her tumbles. Both were great, I would have had them tie or Shang barely ahead.

What does your floor podium look like? Who would you have put ahead on bars? What are they going to do with beam to fix it? This time exactly a week ago it was all over....aghhh the realisation that the next European worlds are FOUR YEARS AWAY...

I definitely have more stuff in my head to post, moreso reactions rather than rehashing competitions, in the next few days.


Saturday, 31 October 2015

What a day

Just a short one because I only have my phone and blogging on it is a bit painful in terms of long posts. Having a brilliant time at worlds and I have a LOT to write about but today gets a special mention.


First of all, I was invited to breakfast by none other than Ron and Nellie Biles, Simone's parents! They are fans of my blog. I am a big Simone fan so it was a great experience to meet such lovely people, I feel very grateful and honoured. Worlds is even more fun when something completely unexpected like that happens.


Secondly, what a competition! I don't even know what to say and I'm really looking forward to watching the broadcasts. It was obvious vault would be close, but I'm not sure what to think about the podium order. Both Hong un Jong and Maria Paseka had excellent vaults, but I thought Hong would have just edged it. Not quite as dead centre as Paseka perhaps (I'm a need the stream to verify that) and she did have deep hips on one vault, but they were overall much neater as Paseka's vaults are definitely marred by the huge straddle-like leg split she has on blocking. One of those results that could go either way I suppose, but a tie if not an outright win for Hong sits better than me. It was great to see Maria's emotion though after a so-far worse than mediocre showing for Russia.


Simone was always going to have her work cut out for her for gold, given that she has 0.8 less difficulty than either of the other two, so she would really have needed sticks for both vaults, or almost sticks. Although she managed it in qualifying, I think her ranking was fair this time around given her landings.


And bars. LOL bars. On the one hand, this was another that was always going to be close so a tie was not hugely surprising. However, a record-breaking tie like that is beyond bizarre. To me, Viktoria Komova seemed to be just that bit slightly ahead of the pack. Most of the rest had more tiny errors, less dynamic, flattish releases, flexed feet, shallow inbars, bent elbows. Madison Kocian is a fabulous bars worker, very zippy and precise but I do think she has more of these tiny flaws than the rest and falls slightly below their level. I don't think too many would have pegged her for gold. Not that anyone would peg 4 girls for gold anyway.


On the one hand, ties are fun. Gold for everyone! All of the amazing routines are world champion routines! But it does scream of inadequacies in the judging system that so many couldn't be separated. The debate about that will rage for quite a while I think..