Monday, 21 April 2014

What makes me a fan of a gymnast

Hi there! I should be able to resume more frequent posting shortly. Here's a few thoughts that have been bursting for a while.

As you might have noticed, I don't really cling to one particular team or other. I really enjoy aspects of each of the big 4, and other teams. My gymnastics obsession is based much more individually, which means I'm not in a frenzy during major team competitions :p

So, what makes me root for a particular gymnast? I have a mental checklist of sorts, more than one of which must be present.

Form Is it exceptional? That's a huge plus right off the bat and is exactly what attracts me to Soviet and other past gymnastic greats, and current gymnasts such as Eythora Thorsdottir, Noemi Makra, Noel Van Klaveren and to the sheer precision and technical brilliance of the majority of the Chinese girls. I may still really enjoy those who leave a lot to be desired IF they have other positive attributes. On the other side of the coin, it's not enough to just be clean if it's not standout amazing 'wow'.

Skill selection Oh they're bringing something retro back? Awesome. Throwing an old rare skill and doing it well, or inventing one is always going to make me sit up and take notice. Preferably done well. It doesn't have to be rare or new though, but if routines contain some really pretty skills, always a bonus too - for instance on beam I have a lot of love for Onodis, Kotchetkovas, Rulfovas, BHS/aerial-LOSO-LOSO series and straddle leaps. If a routine has good composition and isn't totally stock, the gymnast immediately has my attention.

Difficulty Gymnasts capable of throwing immense difficulty are super exciting to follow and always have been. Pushing the boundaries is a great thing for the sport, although it is a major pity that the code demands it as of course, the injury rate is shocking and many are just not built for it. But for those that are, it's so enjoyable to see what they can do. However, I am appalled by skill chucking. Failed Produnovas and any skill where the gymnast just doesn't have it down and is risking her knees/ankles or worse are absolutely horrifying to watch and I hate the fact that nothing is really being done to discourage this.

Artistry Can they capture the crowd during a floor routine? I don't suscribe to the idea that only elegant routines can be artistic or that artistry is dead. We see a lot of it, particularly from those with low difficulty..they have more time to really put a lot into the non-acro side of things. Gymnasts must SELL their routine, connect to the crowd, be in time with their music, and have interesting choreography. I don't want floppy hand waving that 'looks' elegant but the gymnast may as well be yawning with all of the spirit and thought behind the actions. And I'm not blinded by toepoint either, there are gymnasts who look the part but are out of sync with their music completely. I find artistry in unexpected places, sometimes you get power gymnasts lambasted for their leaps and build but they come out onto the floor and light up the arena. Fabulous to watch.

Dance skills We don't see enough gymnasts excelling at dance skills unfortunately, which means that those who do gain automatic brownie points before I even consider what else they have to offer. Textbook switch rings, oversplit on switch halves/fulls...what's seldom truly is wonderful. Not to mention the rise of turn combinations on floor and the number who can do triples and quads. So exciting.

Spark This ties in with artistry somewhat. Some gymnasts just have 'it'. I think it's personality combining with other factors, I may only have been introduced to their routines and I already love them. It can just be a huge joyful grin during a salute. A real connection to what they're feeling and BOOM I am sucked in. However, if their attitude doesn't come across well in some situations or even while competing..I'll find it tough to watch their routines.

Competitiveness If their work is lovely but needs to be watched from behind a couch due to a phenomenal headcase rate, I'm not really going to be able to sustain being a fan. Likewise if tears are oft to be seen. There's absolutely nothing wrong with reacting emotionally to the results of a huge competition, but when it happens more often than not..that's a different story and will put me off. If a gymnast walks out onto the floor and exudes confidence, even if a mistake happens, that's really attractive to this fan. If they nail routines like a machine and anchor your team around them, it's just wonderful to watch.

So, a little from column A...a little from column B. Some of my favourites like Simone Biles, Eythora Thorsdottir and Mai Murakami are fairly easy to 'diagnose' from my criteria. I'm sure most people have something similar to this at work when they become a fan of a gymnast, but it's not really something you hear much about, so I thought it would be interesting to discuss.

So, what makes YOU a fan? Other than patriotism that is. That's not allowed in this topic :)
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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Just having a Simoment





Pac Rims Beam

Copyright - Thomas Schreyer

Source - despositphoto

Not to mention Anastasia Grishina and her copious amount of knee injuries. Sigh.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A note on Team China

Making time for a quick attempt at clarifying!

Recently, news, videos and gifs emerged of fantastic upgrades from some of the girls. Shang Chunsong landed a beautiful and secure 3.5 twist on floor, Wang Yan threw a triple off beam and Chen Siyi either a triple or 3.5, Tan Jiaxin threw an amanar, Deng Yalan a 2.5 (!!) Tsuk and Yao Jinnan a full twisting DLO bars dismount..and other skills were on display also. No double doubles which I know I saw mentioned somewhere.

The key word is display. Many of the above skills were on trampoline or into a pit. The quad twist, if Shang Chunsong actually threw one, definitely was.

This was an internal verification of upgrades, not a competition. Essentially, kickstarting their new internal code previously detailed here - emphasising floor and vault, and harder skills in general. No full routines were shown. Songsong's 3.5 on competition floor does look good indeed, but ALL of the upgrades have to be put into full routines and it's worth bearing in mind also that basically, the girls are not really built to be able to massively up their difficulty and endurance. Not that none of the upgrades will appear or anything, but just to be aware that they were performed singly. The 3.5 in particular was a skill assigned to the girls over winter training to accomplish on trampoline. Other combinations were probably assigned individually.

Tan Jiaxin's amanar looks serviceable. In her case, she has a lot of adjusting to do from her previous status as a one-eventer. Hopefully she can perform well on bars, floor and vault as she is very, very valuable.

Yao Jinnan IS AN ALL-AROUNDER at this point in time. She had one upgrade to show, and showed it. There is nothing to read into what events she will drop in the future. Don't get me wrong - she could indeed drop vault and floor, but she will not be able to do that this year. They are going to have a horrendous time scraping together enough girls and alternates for Nanning and the vault rotation will be an issue - there is just no way a guaranteed DTY will sit on the sidelines during it.

Tan Sixin and Huang Huidan did not appear, which indicates no upgrades to show or none to show yet. No need to fear, they'll be back in action when appropriate.

Wang Wei may retire. If she does, hopefully she'll be very happy in what she chooses to do. She would have been very valuable on floor this year and possibly vault, so it's a blow if she does :/

Upgrades are good news, but should be treated with caution! :) I have noticed a lot of certainty in the reporting of them and also about Yao Jinnan's status so thought I'd try to make it a bit clearer (hopefully).

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Brb!

Source- worstsimpsonspageever.tumblr

Not actual technical difficulties but I love this. Just very busy at the moment but never fear (if anyone's fearing), I'm around and will post again, probably around Easter. I'm watching some videos but unable to follow full competitions and streams unfortunately.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

'Quick hits' from Jesolo podium training videos

I am confused as to whether Day 2 is open access or not, it was then it wasn't. Day 1 is definitely not. The below is a combination of both.

Kyla Ross' routines are the same. Very clean on bars and beam, although one or two wobbles on the latter and her front tuck-wolf jump was lacking due to energy it seemed. Stuck a lovely DTY. All in all, she looks good but not her best I think. Ankles had some hefty bandaging/support on beam. Lack of upgrades are the constant theme with her but since she is recovering from a back injury, it's not very surprising and definitely understandable.

Edit- Floor is up. Double arabian-stag, double pike, 1.5-front full, double tuck. She's not following the pass direction rules for which the cut-off is approaching fast. I forget if others are :p Very clean and controlled routine.

Mykayla Skinner's amanar is back! And although it's a significant squat on landing - 90 degree knee bend, it looks quite secure and 'on'. Nice form too. The Cheng was great in the air and landing...her block usually needs a screenshot to see if she used both hands and I can't do that on my phone. It looks like she used both hands (she did not at the Level 10 a while back) but barely. Her tucked double double was shown (her d-score is reportedly 6.8 now although dependent on getting full credit from dance elements) and it was nice, seemed very easy for her. Bars have such an ease in the swing but too many form errors bringing them down, it's a shame.

Beam was...wait for it..watchable! The wolf turn from hell is gone and she has calmed down on the ambitious connections to increase consistency. The BHS-arabian was impressive, lots of height on the arabian and a great upright landing Nia Dennis would approve of. Sadly the BHS is reminiscent of Dominique Dawes on beam. Other acro skills like punchfronts and the side aerial were very nice. Her basic leaps seemed to be hit or enough to be declared 180. The switch half HAS improved thankfully. There's an L-turn-single turn combination, her leg dips up and down a bit on the L but it's fine. She did not do the upgraded dismount she's training - Patterson I think? I don't believe she did the Fabrichnova either. I'm curious to see how she will do, she has definitely put the effort in for more than just d-scores.

Edit - Her full floor just went up. Same tumbles - Moors, Silivas, double arabian - stag, 1.5 to 2.5. The middle passes have switched around. Energy to spare on the first 3, bounced a bit out of the Silivas. Her first pass is really quite laid out for nearly all of it, nice. I'm not sure we will ever see it fully perfectly laid out though. On her last pass she was short a bit. The switch half was..good! Double L turn was okay also.

Peyton Ernst did a dance-through on floor. I watched it without music so not very helpful. Some nice poses showing off her back flexibility and her end pose is great - combines Viktoria Komova's 2011 one and Anna Pavlova's in 2008! Rachel Gowey also did a dance-through. Very elegant arm movements and her lines look lovely, but it didn't seem very expressive or outstanding. Will have to judge both in competition when they're in performance mode. Peyton's beam was solid.

Edit- Full floor went up. Solid tumbling including lovely double layout and double arabian, a little low on the former.

Rachel Gowey did a triple full and made it look like a single twist, so effortless. Hopefully she can nudge the 3.5 back into her routine. Gorgeous form on it. Her bars are not quite there yet, issues with handstands and little form things - her Pak for instance was over arched with oddly flexed feet. Fabulous straight double layout, same as Norah Flatley's. No shap full. Beautiful beam! Floaty BHS-LOSO-LOSO with perfect form and her leaps have improved since last year. Really promising.

Edit- full floor is up. She's doing tuck full in, front double full-front tuck, triple full, double tuck. She landed the first two very low, big stumble on the first and almost sitting the second. Dissappointing but hopefully she'll improve for the competition. She looks great movement, I'm not sold on expression or performance/choreography yet but it's just training.

Bailie Key looks like..Bailie Key. Great DTY. Her bars have been reworked a bit - she has the Church in (or Ricna? Sorry I don't know which) but the Jaeger is still there - petition to dump it and replace with Gienger please! Beautiful Pak, perfect shape and form. Stunning lines. Stalder half might be new also.

Edit - Beam is up. Fabulous, just stunning work. The arabian is in, deep landing but very secure. Aerial-wolf-straddle is very nice.

Nia Dennis showed off a huge DTY. Hit the ceiling on her Tkachev, no piked Tkachev and she did a double pike. Not sure if warm-up or downgrades out of season as she fully bounces back from injury. Nice shape in her Pak too but a little far forward on catching.

Jordan Chiles looks good. Yet another good DTY and her bars are taking shape nicely. She is not hitting handstands but at her age, I wouldn't be concerned. She has step-downs like Kyla! Nice ease in her swing.

Edit- Great floor. Double Arabian and front double-layout front to start. Too much energy on the punchfront and stepped OOB but really a lovely routine. She has a lot of presence I think. Beam is up too, a little bit wobbly but has the makings of a great routine.

Alyssa Baumann was wobbly on beam and broke a few connections. Lovely Onodi but her arabian was landed very low. Emily Gaskins was quite hesitant on beam, a little nervy looking. Gorgeous line on bars but little form issues.

Madison Kocian's bars look cleaner I thought. Bent elbows are her enemy still but the routine looked sharper in general.

Norah Flatley had two beam routines uploaded. Stunning. Just, the full package on that apparatus. She did break the really long connection both times but meh, it's so hard to connect it all. Her bars looked good but not great, still getting there. She's so tiny, I think she needs to grow to really fulfil her potential. FTY did not look like an upgrade will be forthcoming any time soon, fairly piked down.

Edit- floor is up. Nice dance, suits her. Some issues with landings, stumbled out of her triple full sideways and she landed the double pike bent in half, bouncing backwards and putting her hands down. Both she and Rachel are doing a turn combination which has me baffled - double L to single L, in opposite directions. Can they be the same type of turn for CV? Hmm. Norah is definitely lacking power anyway.

Maggie Nichols looks solid. Opens her beam with a Barani, nice! Wobbled on it but I'll overlook that, love this skill. Looks to be working a front aerial-split jump-scissone-side somi series, hmm, interesting. Head too close to the beam on her LOSO in BHS-LOSO series. I would put her a little ahead of Peyton without seeing floor, although Peyton's beam was more solid.




Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Zeng Siqi has retired

I've been expecting to hear this news for a while, and although hope dwindled entirely last year that she would truly get it together and shine, it still sucks when someone so young and with such talent retires.

She had a great beam routine at Doha last year but then declined throughout the year, falling on almost all beam routines and struggling elsewhere, culminating in a spectacular meltdown at the Mexican Open.  Zeng suffered an ankle injury in late 2011 and never fully bounced back from it, rapidly losing her DTY and making no progress on floor. I would imagine that it's a big factor in her decision, coupled with general loss of enthusiam for her sport. Edit- another factor I keep forgetting about is the loss of her coach, He Hua was fired last year. It's probable she did not adjust well to the coaching group she was subsequently placed in.

I don't use weibo/baidu myself or as a source for obvious reasons but here's some backup.
Disclaimer - No, not a 100% verifiable bavkup but I think it's the only one saying anything about her return to her province. However, I do not make stuff up or state explicitly when I am unsure. Many people in the know have confirmed this, and they are the source. Not a forum.

Wonderfully expressive dancer. 

Quality beamer too.

Copyright - sports.sohu

 Farewell and hopefully she will be happy in whatever she decides to do.





Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Bits and stuff



Don't buy all of your Nanning tickets at once now. Not that I'm going but I'm extremely disappointed that Glasgow's website for 2015 is fully functional with tickets going on sale soon apparently, but Nanning's for 6-7 months hence is a bit of a mess.

The nominative Jesolo list was released by the Italians, bearing in mind that it is nominative it's still very exciting.

Seniors- Kyla Ross, Peyton Ernst, Madison Kocian, Maddie Desch, Maggie Nichols, Rachel Gowey, Mykayla Skinner, Alyssa Baumann

Juniors- Nia Dennis, Norah Flatley, Bailie Key, Jordan Chiles, Emily Gaskins, Ragan Smith

Some of this lot are not on the National Team - Rachel Gowey for one, although with her super impressive video released recently, it would be utterly unsurprising were she to be added at the March camp. The lack of upswing on the Maloney and shap full is a little odd, but it is just practice after all. Jordan Chiles is a great little gymnast, but I'm thinking her place could have Alexis Vasquez' name on it, since the latter turns senior next year and Jordan is an '01 born who does not as of yet desperately need the experience.

It will be VERY interesting to see Mykayla Skinner's scores. I'm thinking maybe 2 replacements in this team if any but no great upheaval. McKayla Maroney requires knee intervention according to Marta, she suffered an avulsion fracture to the patella at some point late last year and rest has not worked, unfortunately. Lexie Priessman and Amelia Hundley are probably both not quite recovered yet, though Lexie was back at camp. Don't forget Jesolo will be livestreamed this year!

Simone Biles, as we all know, has moved from Bannon's Gymnastix, where she has been since at the age of 6, to an as yet unknown location with her longtime coach, Aimee Boorman. She is dealing with shoulder strain also. Quite frankly, I'm not really concerned. She's got her coach and interviews with Simone, her coach and her family give off only the very best of vibes. I've seen rumours as to the location but nothing concrete and I'm sure we'll know for sure soon enough. Given her status to Marta and on the National Team, I highly doubt there is any risk of her falling through the cracks. Hopefully she will bounce back from the transition and injury and be ready to go maybe for Pac Rims and if not, then Classics.

Elizabet Vasileva, the Bulgarian rythmic turned artistic gymnast, showed up at AOGC Legends recently. Check out her beam immediately. She has really improved her acrobatic skills I think, and really it is such a special routine. She's elegible for Junior Euros so hopefully we'll see her there.

GB continue to push the boundaries on bars. Definitely going to do a round-up of their stuff there at some point but in the meantime, Rebecca Tunney competed a new routine at Welsh Championships (Open Competition as she's English) with a stunning Church-Bhardwaj connection - it's so clean and awesome! It makes her loose form on much easier skills sort of suspect, and it's quite a long routine so hopefully it can be refined for her, although no dismount is no big deal for what is essentially an exhibition. I'd almost forgotten what a non-glide kip mount looks like.