Friday, 28 December 2012

Hopes for 2013

I hope everyone had a good Christmas/holidays. I will be out of work soon as I messed up my back and have too many sick days to be kept on. Sigh. Still, better to have more time to heal. So I will be on this more I expect. Anyway, onto hopes for 2013!

A fair and balanced American Cup

*splutter*. This one is impossible of course. Regardless of who actually competes at it, it would be great if it wasn't a given that all non-American competitors will enter Madison Square Gardens with an 0.5 deduction for each event for their nationality. As for who I want to see at it, Kyla Ross if she has upgrades, and Simone Biles or Sarah Finnegan. I expect to see Elizabeth Price Vs Kyla Ross with Lexie Priessman as the exhibition. I don't expect to see any Russian or Chinese competitors. Russia are pissed and China have more important competitions to be preparing for. IF Russia send someone I predict Evgeniya Shelgunova. Romania will send one of Diana Bulimar/Larisa Iordache and a back-up of a new senior, Ana Maria Ocalisan or Stefanie Alina Stanila.

Original mounts and dismounts

Come on now, there are fabulous ways to mount the beam without running the (understandable) risk of taking up too much time/energy for little gain, or risking an acrobatic mount.  Much as I would love to see a fabulous planche into pirouette handstand, it does make sense not to do one thanks to the demands on time and difficulty. Aleftina Priakhina/Elena Zamolodchikova's mount should have a revival. As for beam dismounts, yawn I am SO BORED of the double pike. Not that I want them all replaced with full-in's and Patterson's as that's very demanding. More twisting dismounts, more gainer ones and some of the very rare ones that have a high tarriff would be nice.

As for bars, an arabian tuck mount would be lovely. A bit ambitious though I expect, with the margin of error and impending dead hang. Again, Aleftina Priakhina/Elena Zamolodchikova were onto something here, a gorgeous acrobatic mount without much risk. Bring it back! But I would settle for a little flair and originality- like jump to hang under the low bar in pike position to handstand- stalder. I'm sure it would have a catchier title than that though. As for dismounts, snore with all the double layouts and full in's. Bring back the arabian double pike and triple flyaways! I would also like to see Victoria Moors' dismount built on, it is straight from the old school and just lovely.

A return of great releases and transitions

The new code will allow for transitions such as the Mo Salto and Counter Kim to be performed without a deduction- which is what would have happened in the current code. Expecting them to instantly become popular would be insane of course, given how difficult they are, the stature required and the possiblity of it eating into time for other events, especially for all-arounders. However I do think we will see them this quad, in particular from China and North Korea. Contrary to popular opinion, both of the above were not just performed by one gymnast. Bi Wenjing, Mo Huilan, Kui YuanYuan and a good few other Chinese gymnasts did the Mo Salto. Zhou Duan did the Gaylord II. Quite a few did the Counter Kim aside from Kim Gwang Suk- Gina Gogean, Letitia Begue, Nadia Hategan and a few more- including an unnamed schoolgirl who did it from toe-on. As for more run-of-the-mill releases, more Church', Hindorff''s, Downie's and Ricna's would be great. And release combinations- which China are already on top of.

Transition wise, death to the Pak. Shap's are overused too, but slightly harder to replace. Bhardwaj's, Chow's and Ezhova's are absolutely BEAUTIFUL and I'd love to see them in place of the Pak. Shout out to Beth Tweddle for using the Ezhova. I'd like to see someone do the Delladio and the Strong, but both of them have that insanely difficult and therefore rare look about them.

More rare tumbles and combinations on floor

Why has nobody done the double front-half out since 1996? It has been upgraded to an F so is definitely worth doing now. I'd also like to see the double front in a pike positiion (which has been done by a few), and more proper punchfronts (changing direction), especially after harder tumbles like a triple full (Myzdrikova style). If someone did a back-to-back pass that would be AWESOME though I do know they are not worth doing these days. A double full-in would be out of this world, but I'd settle for a much more achievable full twisting double layout. Or a split-leg one like Gutsu. I'd like to see combinations like Aly Raisman's first pass, though I am pretty sure the need for a combination pass is now out of the code. Damn.

Turns wise, scorpion turns and attitude turns are my favourite. I like the Gomez too. Memmel turns often have a bent supporting leg and are also usually poorly performed, so I'd like to see them decrease in popularity in favour of the others. I want to see more old school choreography, like handstands in pirouette, beautiful leaps out of back handsprings, and turns into front walkovers.

More original connections and moves on beam

Beam has some nice scope in the new code for lovely connections. I certainly do not want to see connections like Jordyn's, or other connections that just look like they will never be truly connected- the sheep jump is a major offender. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Onodi's in combination, so would love to see BHS-LOSO-Onodi or something similar. And illusion turns, they are beyond beautiful. A return of Ruflova's in combination like Yang Bo would be very much appreciated. My favourite moves on beam are sideways elements (NOT side somi's), so a return of Luisa Portocarrero's side walkover, Yurchenko loops, the Teza, and Tatiana Groshkova's/Yvonne Toussek's flic-flac's from sidestand would be just unbelievable. I am also a big fan of Kotchetkova's, another great move which has been upgraded in the new code.

More variety in vault

I don't think the devaluing of the Amanar is enough to really promote other vaults, especially as all of the girls are so used to Yurchenko entry to begin with. Nevertheless, more Rudi's, more Double Twisting Tsukahara's and even maybe a new vault would be great. My favourite vaults are the layout front and the handspring pike front half-out, so if they could be built on and be difficult enough to be worth doing that would be a dream. I would of course be thrilled to see a Triple Twisting Yurchenko though.

The rise of Japan, Canada, Ukraine, Italy and Great Britain

I know I know, why not Australia? Mainly because I am not exposed enough to their juniors to really assess their future potential. I want to see one of these, or all of them, break into the Top 4. They certainly have the girls to do it. All five have huge potential and I want to see them building on that next year.

The rise of Mai Murakami, Gabriella Douglas, Heaven Latimer, Eythora Thorsdottir, Noemi Makra, Gabby Jupp, Rebeca Andrade and Lou Nina

This will go hand in hand with the continued excellence of Aliya Mustafina, Huang Huidan, Shang Chungsong, Rebecca Tunney, McKayla Maroney, Victoria Moors, Kyla Ross, Larisa Iordache, Yao Jinnan and Diana Bulimar. May they ALL shine.

A total lack of sickled feet

And choppy legs on LOSO's, flexed feet, leg seperations, helicopter legs and non-split leaps.

A wonderful World Championships

Not least because I will be there. I want to see a strong field for the all-around, and for each event final. No score inflations, and hopefully no controversy. Also, more than 4 countries on the medal stand. 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


I'M SO EXCITED....and I just can't hide it..etc.

I have not been to a gymnastics competition before. Squinting at the plan to try to decipher the best seats was tough. I am by the vault for the AA and EF Day 1, nice view of everything else. Day 2 is beam and floor, I'm sort of by beam for that but higher up. Oh and my boyfriend offered to come with me AND go to every competition, so yay. Total cost is €135 each for tickets for the 3 days. I think that's good! Flights are about €130 each return. And I just found the most perfect hotel, for €80 each for the 2 nights. cost is €345! (Or $456!) Excellent. I'm thrilled with that :D

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Resurgence of Mariya Livchikova and News

I will always hold a soft spot for Ukrainians and wish them well. Mariya Livchikova is no different from their typical strain, with beautiful, original and difficult work on beam and floor, not to mention FABULOUS leaps and toepoint. Happily, recovery from injury aside, she appears to be among the most consistent of the bunch. Last year at Worlds Mariya tore her ACL. The team performed so badly that they only earned the right for a single spot in London. At the Test Event, Mariya was too injured to compete for the spot, which went to Natalia Kononenko. Happily, despite that massive strain of bad luck, Mariya is now back to her prime. Here is her glorious floor from a competition recently and her beam from the Grand Prix at Brno, at which she scored 15.250.

Double fronts seem to be easier to stick than other tumbles, but still, WOW. So tidy too.
This needs to be tweaked and in all world finals...just a better dismount and maybe some code whoring, some nice connections in the new code that she looks well capable of.

Aliya Mustafina has been named Russian Sportswoman of the year. Not only of course is this a great honour for her, it also bodes well for the state of artistic gymnastics as a whole in Russia- is is completely overwhelmed by rthymic, and even names like Khorkina and Nemov are by no means household names.

Videos are beginning to emerge from Voronin Cup. You can see some here. First is Evgeniya Shelgunova on vault, second is a girl I haven't heard of before, third is Anna Pavlova on beam, fourth is Mariya Livchikova on floor, next is Pavlova on bars and last is Anna Myzdrikova on beam- another old favourite, though she is past her best. The one I most want to see is Anna Dementyeva on beam, as apparently it was awesome. Update: It scored 15.6 in EF- need a video immediately! Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova both qualified to the bars final first and second respectively, but neither actually competed- a late Olympians ball the night before! Demy won the senior AA, and Shelgunova the junior.
Edit: These are labelled as Voronin, but there is doubt that they all are. They ARE recent though.

The Toyota Invitiational has just taken place. Than Ti Phan Thanh of Vietnam won vault and placed second on beam. Mai Murakami was second on vault and second on floor (with a fall). Her vault difficulties were 5.8 and 5.4, a step up from the FTY she performed at Stuttgart. A good day for the veterans, Koko Tsurumi won floor and Rie Tanaka won bars (with a fall). Yu Minobe and Yuko Shintake were first and second on beam. Asuka Teramoto seems to be at least somewhat back on form, it seems that she was the alternate for beam, with a score that would have put her in second in the final.

Just at the mention of Anna Pavlova, here she is wearing a version of the USA TF leo! I think it looks great. This was taken at the recent Larisa Latynina Cup.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Best of 2012

Ahhh review time. Feel free to give your own responses!

Best gymnast: A tough one but I'm going to go with Aliya Mustafina. After her long recovery and a shaky performance at last year's Voronin Cup, she had fallen off the radar. Fast forward to Euros and aside from bars, still very shaky and seemed certain to make the team but uncertain to shine in her own right and to be the shadow of Viktoria Komova. In London she was dominant on her team, performing on all 4 events, sparkling in the all-around where she snatched bronze and beautiful on bars and floor where she picked up medals. After leaving as the most decorated gymnast of the games AND of the quad, Aliya faced a shitstorm when her personal coach was sacked as head coach and her teammates mentioned her in their slandering, but staunchly refused to comment on the situation to the press. Classy.

Best vault: McKayla Maroney, Olympics Team Final.

Best bars: Beth Tweddle, Olympic Prelims

Best beam: Mariya Livchikova, Brno Grand Prix. Other contenders were Anastasia Grishina, European Prelims, Maria Kharenkova, Pacific Rim EF and Sui Lu, Olympics EF. Mariya wins due to her exquisite lines, originality, no wobbles AND a stuck dismount. Superb.

Best floor: Eythora Thorsdottir, European Prelims. Yes, a junior. Her floor is beyond exquisite and the most exciting one all year, which is why she trumps much more difficult exercises. Other contenders were Laurie Hernandez, US Secret Classic, Aliya Mustafina, Olympics EF, Larisa Iordache, European EF, Mai Murakami, Japanese Nationals and Aly Raisman, Olympics EF.

Most artistic gymnast: ^ Eythora.

Best music: Maria Kharenkova. LOVE it.

Best comeback: Aliya Mustafina

Most inspiring performance: Kieran Behan, Olympics Prelims in a tie with Yang Hak-Seon, Olympic EF. Screw WAG, nobody comes close to these stories.

Best leotard: Oooo. USA Olympic AA. Other contenders were Russia team Stuttgart World Cup and Britain Olympic Prelims

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Russian Cutiepie and News

The Olympic Hopes meet was held recently in Penza for girls born in 2001 and 2002. Varvara Zubova, who is 10 and won't be senior until 2018 stands out. She came third in the AA and won beam, floor and bars in the event finals. Scores not much above 11...but she is incredibly young to begin with. Anyway, she has an awesome beam and I can't wait to see more of her. Loving the Chuso style hair too. I can't embed it but here it is.

Elizabeth Price has stormed her second world cup, her AA total gave her the gold by just over 5 points. Her beam is still below the standard she would need to destroy proper international competition, but even so- extremely impressive performance, even with the two out of bounds on floor. Full results can be found here.

Rebecca Tunney would have been second had she not fallen off beam. She screams potential, I'd love to see her sharpen up her form and upgrade. With her long lines, her little form errors seem glaring. She could be exquisite! I'm happy to see she is looking slightly less waif like than in London and that her bars are seriously impressive and so fast. I do think she was lowballed on vault though, she got a very low d-score in comparison to Ebee, who also had some issues with her vault but was not deducted near as harshly. (8.566 Vs 9.4). Lesser vaults should not have different execution scoring systems.

My favourite routine of the day though was Wakana Inoue's bars. Glorious form and swing and perfect tension in her turns. Beautiful work.

All other videos are here.

McKayla Maroney has had her last surgery, which was to remove screws. We can expect to see her in rehab before the new year, and then gym. Certainly worlds next year are not out of the question for her, especially if she ditches bars and beam.Though her beam still has potential.

The roster for the Voronin Cup taking place soon is still not confirmed. There is a farce of a list floating around with Amanda Jetter on it, who is not even on the National Team so can't be picked. It would be great if there was an American contingent though. The Russian crew have been confirmed by Ksenia Semenova to be Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva and Anna Dementyeva which would be fantastic. For their juniors I would like to see some of the girls who aren't getting many assignments, like Ekaterina Baturina or Daria Spiridonova. UPDATE: Tatiana Nabieva has said she is not competing. The lineup remains most mysterious.

Congratulations to Anna Dementyeva and Evgeniya Shelgunova who have won the senior and junior AA at Voronin respectively. Anna Pavlova and Daria Elizarova completed the senior podium and Maria Kharenkova and Mariana de Oliveira of Brazil the junior. No need to worry over why Komova and Mustafina did not place, as I highly doubt either strayed beyond bars/beam. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

World Cup and Stuff

Qualifications for Sunday's team finals took place today. Surprisingly, Germany qualified first ahead of Russia! I would be suprised if that result repeated itself when it matters though. Highlights were Mustafina's bars and beam, Kristina Goryunova's beam and Anna Rodionova's beam and floor. Mustafina played it safe by not doing major leg events. She watered down her bars quite a lot- no need for the full 7.0 and her 5.9 was crisp, clean and beautiful. Beam was a bit wobbly but the skills look great and she seems very 'on'. If it's much steadier on Sunday that would be no surprise. Goryunova's beam was excellent, surprisingly so as she is not long back from a one-year ban and has not competed at that level in quite a while. Rodionova shows beautiful lines and precision in her skills. Mai Murakami was either having an awful day or is injured, she scored extremely low on bars and beam and only did a 5.0 vault. Floor, her signature, also had quite a few issues.

First up before the team finals is the AA tomorrow. Larisa Iordache and Victoria Moors have both dropped out, which pretty much hands Elizabeth Price the victory. Ebee has a new 6.6 bars routine which coupled with her amanar and high difficulty floor scream domination. What's annoying about her is that she wasn't really peaked for the right time..with a second vault (seriously WHY doesn't she have one), 6.6 bars and strong floor she would have been a much bigger contender for the Olympic team. Ones to watch are Elizabeth Seitz and Rebecca Tunney who are both very good AA-ers and interesting to watch.

There are vicious rumours circulating about the new code requiring 10 elements, just like the 2005-2008 code. This is unconfirmed and will hopefully soon make the journey to confirmed bullshit. While FIG can usually be relied on to fly in the face of common sense, this would be very uncharacteristic even of their own thinking on the issue.

Catalina Ponor has confirmed her retirement. We will receive further assurance of this in the new year one way or the other as she would need to confirm her status with the Romanian federation. Not a gymnast I particularly enjoy watching, but I appreciate and admire her achievements nonetheless.

I already said this but Shallon Olsen has won Top Gym. This meet is always well attended by star juniors and has been won by big names in the past. Shallon is the first from a non top 4 to win. She also won the vault title. Please don't burn out please don't burn out...anyway we won't be seeing her contend until the Olympic year as she is a 2016 senior.

 Elizabeth Price has convincingly won the Stuttgart AA, by 3 points. Elizabeth Seitz also had a very good competition winning silver, and Giulia Steingruber too with the bronze and who has also recovered her vaulting to its former excellent standard. Rebecca Tunney counted a fall and other errors, Vanessa Ferrari a fall and Niamh Rippin no less than 3 falls. Hmm. Kristina Goryunova who so impressed in qualification had a bit of a disastrous beam and was all over the place. Very strange. Let's hope for some glorious performances tomorrow. Price's amanar and 6.6 bars including full twisting double layout dismount predictably stomped all over the competition. I'd imagine other countries are in awe over how a girl with so much talent failed to make the Olympic team. Price still needs substantial work on her execution of course, but what a great performance. What will be interesting is seeing what this does to her status, and will it enable her to keep ahead of some of the 2013 powerhouses. Videos are here.

Yana Demyanchuk of Ukraine has retired. Yana was of the typical Ukrainian mould, gorgeous work and lines, awful consistency record. Good luck to her in whatever she chooses to do.

Russia have won the team competition. They are quite lucky that only two scores count, because Anna Rodionova only scored a 4.8 on bars. She fell on her Pak and cried, did not complete the routine and reportedly left the hall after. If she is injured (she did reappear for the medal ceremony which is a bit reassuring) hopefully it's nothing serious. As a result, Aliya Mustafina further added to her legendary status a bit by stepping up for vault- which was not supposed to happen and which she had not prepared for. Just a Yurchenko layout but seeing as she is carrying a foot injury, added impact is not exactly welcomed. There was no livestream so not near as much news and videos. Japan stepped up and got second, the only news about Mai Murakami is that she did not fully complete her triple full dismount so it got downgraded. Still scored a 14.050 on it! Very nice to hear. Will add more news and links for videos when they become available.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

New Post Schedule

New posts will only appear at weekends. I realise this one is breaking the new rule somewhat, but it's not requiring much from me. This is because I work too hard during the week, especially coming up to super-fun Christmas in retail. Oh and it's also because blogger are dicks and you can only check and post to your blog on your phone if you live in America. Thanks for that. So if anyone is worried (lol that seems funny to me) that I'm phasing out posting, not at all. It might even increase back to the June/July frequency if I don't get kept on in January. Hours will lessen if I do anyway, so good blogging news all round. Hurrah.

I'll give you a hint- 12 year old Canadian force of nature Shallon Olsen has pretty much embarassed Romania by winning the AA at Top Gym well ahead of the latter's two biggest 2013 seniors who are 3 years older, Diana Teoduru and AnaMaria Ocalisan. Wow. Also news about the fabulous DTB Pokal World Cup which is taking place at the weekend. But no Shawn DWTS news. I like her and she was a great dancer this year but I just couldn't care less.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Lineup of Dreams

Mai Murakami and Aliya Mustafina will both compete at the upcoming DTB Pokal World Cup. I'm so excited I can't bring myself to remember the rest of the lineup, though the Japanese team is much the same as it was for the Asian Artistic Championships. Asuka Teramoto is not listed and wasn't at Japanese Nationals either so must still be dealing with her arm injury. Rie Tanaka and Koko Tsurumi have both made noises about retiring (personally, I think 25 year old Rie Tanaka moves with the ease of a 15 year old and looks to have a lot left in her, but then that doesn't mean she has not struggled) so the Japanese world team next year will be interesting. It's nice to get a good look at who's in the running. Some lovely moves from the Japanese too, such as Risa Konishi's 3.5 twist on floor! It was previously thought that Mustafina would not compete at all for the remainder of this year, so this will be exciting to see that even if she has watered down out of season, if her steadiness on beam in particular has improved. Both gymnasts will feature in the team competition segment..along with Oksana Chusovitina who has taken back her retirement AGAIN and is looking to Rio.

Vanessa Zamarippa will be making another shot at elite. I don't believe she would do so with any real expectations of going much further than Nationals, especially considering that the huge depth of talent is going nowhere fast. However, she had a glorious Cheng last time she tried, so it would be great to see that again.

Here is the lovely Mariya Livchikova of Ukraine at a recent meet. Mariya has been showing the typical inconsistent Ukrainian streak lately, but this is a glorious return to form with her trademark unique combinations. This scored 15.250. Looking forward to seeing her make an impact in the new quad.

Victoria Moors was slightly injured at Massilia as I thought, she had some muscle tears in her back and consequently watered down her tumbling. However it's not going to be an issue for long thankfully.

Rebecca Bross and Catalina Ponor are headlining an upcoming gala in Mexico. Should be interesting to watch, can't help but think it's a swansong for both- I am one of those who think Rebecca is done. Here are some highlights; both looking in great shape.

Cata fights back against high-cut leotards for once and for all!

The Kelloggs Tour is over, but Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber are all going on a second tour, which incorporates cheerleading. This of course also means that we are pretty much guaranteed not to see any of them at Scam or Jesolo or somesuch meet. McKayla Maroney as previously mentioned still has a few weeks left before rehab. We of course all hope that Kyla Ross is busy upgrading like a beast.

Polina Schennikova also known as mini-Nastia has been added to the junior national team. No word on other additions or on upgrades. Laurie Hernandez has some nice ones, impressive given that she's still only 12. Nice Hults, the most likely addition to the national team did not attend camp due to injury. It appears that Sarah Finnegan is also injured, having been pictured recently with a heavy splint on her elbow.

Spare a thought for Jacoby Miles, a 15 year old Level 9 gymnast from Washington who paralysed herself from the chest down a few days ago. Jacoby was in the middle of a double back dismount off bars into a pit when she got lost in the air and landed on her neck on a mat. The nerves are not severed, so there is some hope that she may walk again. Given how absolutely insane the cost of medical care is in America (which I have myself experienced firsthand), donations are sorely needed. You can find ways to donate or help here.

On a more positive note, Simona Amanar's new baby girl is nicknamed 'Amanar vault'. D'awwwwww. I've forgotten stuff, but I'll add to this.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Massilia Elite News and videos

Russia won the team event by quite a margin, helped by the fact that China only submitted 2/3 bars routines and consequently placed last. The reason for this was that the visa for the lovely Mei Jie was not received in time. You would imagine Lou Nina could jump up and do an extremely basic routine but obviously not.

Evgeniya Shelgunova won the AA, a nice boost for her entering her senior year shortly. When I think of her I think of the proverb 'Slow and steady wins the race'. I do see her possibly taking AA spots from the more fragile and headcase type gymnasts Russia have at the moment, not to mention how many injuries they are dealing with. We'll see. She really needs work on her form though, and she did fall in event finals. Hmmm.

Chen Siyi won bars. She and several others including Viktoria Kuzmina and Evgeniya Shelgunova fell on beam, whose title went to Gabriella Douglas of Canada. Floor was won by Maria Kharenkova, and vault by Emma Larson of Sweden. Sabrina Gill of Canada placed third on vault and Heaven Latimer also of Canada placed second on floor. Viktoria Kuzmina salvaged bronze on beam with her fall and second on bars.

Victoria Moors unleashed a new floor routine. Either she is pacing herself for the upcoming world cup events or maybe nursing a small injury since she had trouble with her double double in warmup and watered down. Watered down means a double layout opening pass and a double twist, so still very impressive. The choreo is really nice, she has tons of expression. There was dissapointment with Maria Kharenkova who seemed lacklustre, has gotten weaker on bars which she already needed to improve on and did not perform her signature turn on beam. Again, possibly injured slightly or just dealing with growth. Viktoria Kuzmina certainly stepped up to the plate and performed strongly however. There was great excitement over the bar routine of Ida Gustaffson of Swededn, though she fell on her Jaeger in bars finals. Gabriella Douglas also impressed, with an attempted quad turn into double turn combo on floor (which was a triple to double in the end- still awesome) and some lovely work on beam.

I can't embed videos because it takes blogger a while to catch up with recent uploads. But the channel is here. I recommend watching the Chinese routines after the Russian ones. Shelgunova's Pak, double layout and shap are very poor form-wise, but Kuzmina's and Kharenkova's routines need huge amounts of work too.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

2013 Worlds Predictions. Now updated July!

This post, and the July updates, were made before I realised that only three girls can compete each event in prelims. This wrecks my USA and Russia teams in particular. 
Is is too early? Yes but sure why not. I am going to attend it, hence excitement. Without further ado, though I'm not doing countries I'm not familiar enough with.



Yao Jinnan
Shang Chunsong
Zeng Siqi
Li Yiting

Alt: Huang Huidan, Wu Liufang and Jiang Tong

July update- Switch out Li Yiting for He Kexin or Tan Jiaxin

All-arounders will be Shang and Yao. Li Yiting for vault finals of course. Shang and Yao for bars finals, Zeng and Shang for beam finals, Shang and Yao to attempt for floor finals. A very nice team though quite a few upgrades needed for floor and AA contenders.


Evgeniya Shelgunova
Viktoria Komova
Aliya Mustafina
Maria Paseka

Alt: Yulia Tipaeva, Anna Rodionova, Ekaterina Baturina

July update- Switch Evgeniya Shelgunova for Ksenia Afanasyeva. I though Afan would have retired...Vika or Grishina for the second AA spot.

This is tough, and may be considerably wrong in the end. All- arounders will be Shelgunova and Mustafina. Not Komova because I have a gut feeling against that- she is always injured and has zero mental game. Shelgunova may well be the safer bet, she is underrated, but so assured and always does well. Paseka for vault finals, Komova and Mustafina for bars finals, and attempts made by all except Paseka for beam and floor finals. 


Diana Bulimar
Larisa Iordache
Stefanie Alina Stanila
Anna Maria Ocalisan

Alt: Raluca Haidu, Maria Rauta

July update- They're only using three spots. Take Stefanie and Anna Maria off and replace with Sandra Izbasa. Larisa and Diana for the AA. 

Hindered by the incredibly small senior national team and the fact their best juniors will still be juniors. Iordache and Stanila for the AA. Iordache for floor and beam finals, Bulimar for floor and beam finals. Ocalisan could well be replaced by a vault specialist- even Izbasa just for that if she is actually going to continue that long.


Lexie Priessman
Simone Biles
Katelyn Ohashi
Kyla Ross

Alt: Sarah Finnegan, Elizabeth Price, Madison Desch

July update- Switch Lexie for McKayla Maroney and Katelyn for Brenna DowellSimone and either Kyla or Brenna for the AA.

WHAT a strong team. Priessman and Ross for the AA. Ohashi for bars and beam finals, Ross for bars and beam finals, Biles for floor and vault finals and Priessman for floor and vault finals. All bases covered.


Mai Murakami
Asuka Teramoto
Yuko Shintake
Risa Konishi

Alt: Wakana Inoue, Natsumi Sasada

July update- (actual team) Switch Yuko and Risa for Natsumi Sasada and Yu Minobe. Asuka and Natsumi for the AA.

This will be interesting. Murakami and Teramoto for the AA. Teramoto and Shintake for beam finals, Murakami for floor and maybe vault finals. Teramoto also for floor finals.


Gabby Jupp
Angel Romaeo
Rebecca Tunney
Niamh Rippin

Alt: Ruby Harrold, Imogen Cairns

July update- Ooooo. Gabby is injured, replace her with Hannah Whelan. Angel and Niamh are replaced with Becky Downie and Ruby Harrold who have a much higher chance of qualifying for a final.

Another very interesting potential team. Tunney and Jupp  for the AA. Jupp and Romaeo for beam finals. Tunney for an attempt to qualify to bars and floor finals. Rippin for an attempt to qualify for vault finals.



1. Larisa Iordache
2. Aliya Mustafina
3. Lexie Priessman

July update-

1. Simone Biles
2. Aliya Mustafina
3. Larisa Iordache

Hmm, that was tough. A Mustafina with a potential Amanar and an upgraded beam is a big threat. Priessman has monster start values which could win out, but the scoring at the start of a quad tends to be harsh so I'm predicting her execution will suffer accordingly. Iordache is first not only for her high start values, but also her motivation after a crap Olympics. Ross I think will still have lower start values than the top 3 or 4 so that's why she's not appearing.


1. Mai Murakami
2. Simone Biles
3. Lexie Priessman

July update-

1. Ksenia Afanasyeva
2. Simone Biles
3. Diana Bulimar

I think the difficulty of these will mean Iordache and Moors will miss out. Another podium very open to correction.


1. Zeng Siqi
2. Katelyn Ohashi
3. Larisa Iordache

July update-

1. Larisa Iordache
2. Shang Chunsong
3. Yao Jinnan

I'd love if this happened. I think Zeng's precision and execution would be able to win out over the higher difficulty of the other two.


1. Aliya Mustafina
2. Yao Jinnan
3. Katelyn Ohashi

July update-

1. Aliya Mustafina 
2. Yao Jinnan
3. Shang Chunsong

I am seeing Komova make a mistake here. Maybe I am just too gloomy and negative about her prospects, I will say I moreso see her struggling due to injury than her mental state.


1. Li Yiting
2. Simone Biles
3. Hong Un Jong

July update-

1. McKayla Maroney
2. Simone Biles
3. Giulia Steingruber

Seeing as it's not even known that Simone will have a second vault by then, this is a bit optimistic. Hong if she lands both of her vaults will still have the difficulty to beat the other 5 I think. Li wins due to her great execution.

Feel free to disagree, we are of course a bit far out to really assess the state of the potential competitors. Fun nonetheless.

The Problem with Irish Gymnastics

I like the way my enjoyment of gymnastics is not tainted, influenced or biased by nationality. That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see Irish WAG on the rise, even with success at Europeans, if nothing else. Why haven't we managed this? So. Many. Reasons.

1. Lack of Population

An obvious one, but important. The entire population of Ireland including the North is about 5 million. That is just tiny in the scheme of things. This is also a factor in some of the below problems, but first and foremost having a shallow talent pool to begin with is quite the obstacle.

2. Lack of Interest

Gymnastics is practically end of the line as regards national interest. With such a small population, public interest can only go so far. Top of the list are our national games, Gaelic Football and Hurling. Rugby and Soccer are big too. As regards Olympic sports, we are good at boxing and canoeing and have been good in the past at athletics and briefly at swimming. There is precious little funding devoted to Olympic sports, and those that get it tend to be in the spotlight in the first place. Lack of interest also means there isn't a huge amount of people putting their children into gymnastics. In fact, Irish dancing which is a BIG export and carries a lot of expense with training and costumes and competitions I feel takes quite a lot of children etc. who might otherwise have fallen into gymnastics.

3. Lack of Funding

As I mentioned, funding is a big problem with Olympic sports here, and it will go first and foremost to those we stand a chance in.

4. Lack of world-class Gyms

The whole island contains the princely sum of 3 gyms of world standard. Two of which are in Northern Ireland, only one in the Republic- and it isn't near the biggest centre of population.

5. Lack of Quality Coaching

Not that the coaches are crap or anything, it's moreso there is no incentive- which funding contributes to- to attract an international calibre coach. Consequently, the elites that we do have are more of a Level 8 standard and lack precision of form and flexibility.

6. Lack of Motivation to Continue to Elite

There is no fallback of NCAA, no guaranteed endorsements- especially as gymnastics is very much so under the radar here, no chance of the government providing funds, a house, a car. In short, why continue devoting so much time to a sport where success is out of reach and gains are pretty much non-existent.

7. Lack of Difficulty

Sadly, for those that ARE elite, difficulty is very underwhelming. Understandably so, but it still sucks to see a routine with a double pike, double tuck and 1.5 twist all with landing deductions at Europeans.

Countries like Australia, the UK and Canada have done wonders to their programmes even in the last decade. But there is I think too much of a turnaround needed here for any international success in at leats the next few quads.

News and USA upgrades

Pretty old news by now but Chellsie Memmel has officially retired. Chellsie is a certified judge and is due to be married next summer, but is in excellent shape throwing very hard tumbles during the tour, so expectations were that she might try to continue. However, I think she would have had such little hope of making any team, so that coupled with the toll gymnastics has taken on her is enough to call it a day. Her 2003 worlds performance, 2005 AA win, 2006 single-handed team silver medal and 2008 Olympic Trials floor exercise will live on- what a legacy.

Simona Amanar has given birth to a baby girl, who she intends to be a gymnast. Just about elegible for the 2028 Games!

McKayla Maroney has one cast off- the one from the tour injury, and a few weeks left on the other one. Then rehab, then back to the gym.

It has emerged that Li Yiting was injured during the Asian Artistic Championships, the reason behind her underpar performance. She has proved herself quite a few times in internal competitions, so expect to see her form a part of pretty much every team.

The upgrades for Lexie Priessman are phenomenal. Not sure whether these are competition ready, in the works, or in the pipeline. They are slated to include a second vault with Tsukahara entry, a shaposhnikova 1/2, piked Tkachev and piked stalder hecht on bars, front pike and an acro line of BHS-BHS-laid out full-BHS on beam (WOW I will take that even with the inevitable fugly form) and a full twisting double layout and 1 and a half into tucked full in on floor. Crazy stuff. Amelia Hundley, Mary Lee Tracy's other most promising gymnast other than Lexie, also apparently has upgraded all 4 events, but no details that I have seen. Unlike Lexie she has another year to wait as a 2014 senior. Simone Biles also has crazy upgrades listed but as they are not from a source like Lexie's- which are from an interview with her and one with Mary Lee Tracy her coach, I will leave it.

Elite Gym Massilia is underway. Canada have already done extremely well, I am most looking forward to videos of the Russians and Chinese, as well as the individual performances of Victoria Moors, Eythora Thorsdottir and Chantysha Netteb. Mei Jie, a lovely gymnast will not be competing as her visa did not arrive in time, sadly.

The team from Deva unsurprisingly won the event at the recent Romanian Nationals. Although the AA was not contested, Andreea Iridon continues to impress by having the highest AA total. Asiana Peng, Silvia Zarzu and Laura Jurca also had strong performances. Videos are starting to emerge, I'll probably dump my favourites from Massilia and this in one post.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Joys of Youtube

Ah youtube, the bastion of misinformed fans and outright halfwits. I am beyond thankful for such a wonderful resource, but the comments often frustrate me. So much so I pretty much signed up just to correct people.

Nadia and Olga forever!
Did you know that every list of someone's personal favourites MUST INCLUDE Nadia, Olga and Khorkina? Like, must. No exceptions. Extra bonus points if the commenter calls the uploader retarded. Everybody realises the above gymnasts were greats, but that is not to say that they had a monopoly on excellence, that their style appeals to everyone and that it's impossible to prefer other gymnasts. For instance, I prefer Teodora Ungureanu to Nadia. I expect to be taken out and shot for that. Teodora was not as fluid as Nadia, but she was far more exciting to watch. To me. The whole personal opinion thing just doesn't fly on youtube of course. As for Olga, I really do love her but I still prefer Elena Mukhina. And not just because Mukhina had a tragic end. She was a better trickster gymnast, and a better all-arounder. As for Khorkina, I realise her prowess, but I can't stand her and I usually fast forward over her performances. She is one, as I've said before, whose attitude taints her performances. Also, gross looking vaults and I never liked her beam. If you are one of those people who feel physically sick when you see a list of gymnasts without the legends on it, then get over it and make your own list.

Greatest Soviets: Where's Khorkina?
What's even better is when the above attitude is played out in lists where it's not even applicable. I always laugh when I see people practically crying over the cruel exclusion of Svetlana Khorkina from a list of most successful/favourite Soviets. Because the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 isn't a clue at all. Likewise, it's always fun to see people DEMAND that Nadia be bumped to the top of lists of most successful Romanians which are based solely on medal count and not on legendary status. Nobody is ever able to point out when and where Nadia outmedalled Gina Gogean.

Nobody is ever able to do a skill better than the originator!
The best part of this one is how selective it is, and only really used in the case of big names. There are quite a lot of people who insist that McKayla Maroney's amanar is not better than Simona Amanar's, because Simona INVENTED it. I think the woman herself, who saw McKayla's at least once in person at Jesolo this year and who is actually working on a thesis on the subject, would give that accolade away. Yes well done on divining the fact that Simona did hers on the old horse and did not have the benefit of others doing the vault before her. It does NOT mean that it can't be bettered. We should have respect for originators using crappy early DTY's, the amanar, full in's and double tucks on floor etc. It doesn't mean you can't prefer one done better though. But nobody is ever outraged that plenty of gymnasts have done the Def better than its (WAG) originator, Snejana Hristakieva.

We never see this stuff in the Olympics
 YES YOU DO. Fabrichnova's, Patterson dismounts, Def's, Arabian Double Pikes, amanars and full-in dismounts were all performed at the Olympics. Skills like the triple back bar dismount may never be seen again because of the incredible height and power needed, and of course, only 2 ever managed it. Lots of people whine about the lack of Mo Saltos and counter-kims without looking up the fact that to do one would be penalised by the code. (But not the new one! HOW exciting). You'll be waiting a long long time for someone to do the arabian tuck bar mount too...nobody ever seems to cop the insane risk in some of the bar and beam mounts, and why then they may not be seen very often.

Shawn Johnson is the best beam worker EVER!
Sure you can have her as your favourite if you want, but no need to shove it down everyone else' throats. I always get the impression that the people who say this know no gymnastics before 2004ish and have no interest either. Objectively, she is not the best. I would struggle to put her in a top 15ish list. She has very low flexibility and no innovation. A hit routine from her contains not quite 180 split leaps, and a really low standing full- which is perplexing given her power, and that pixies like Douglas and Priakhina get it far more upright. Certainly she was very strong on beam and her acro line IS great. But Li Li, Tatiana Groshkova, Yang Bo and Olessia Dudnik at the least leave her in the dust and anyone who can't see that isn't worth arguing with. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Asian Championships and news

Introducing team North Korea! Hong Un Jong is the one looking fierce third from left. I would imagine the three new girls who were only recently registered with FIG are the one on the left and the two on the right. WAG competition does not start until tomorrow, so these are just podium training leos. Interesting that they look straight from the wardrobe of Nastia. In more exciting news, Hong Un Jong unleashed an Amanar and Cheng! Seeing as both still have their 6.5 values, China's Li Yiting has some stiff competition.

I will update this with more news as the competition unfolds..and hopefully some videos. China's CCTV are covering some of the comp, so that will help. As of now, I predict that China will win team, and Zeng Siqi and Shang Chunsong will medal in the AA. Li Yiting and Hong Un Jong will place on vault, China will dominate bars and beam, while Japan and North Korea will have more of a say on floor.

China are a bit up and down in team finals, though since they can drop a score, they should still win. Shang Chungsong fell on bars, it looks like Luo Peiru fell on beam judging by her e-score, Huang Huidan fell on floor and went out of bounds, Luo Peiru fell on her DTY and Li Yiting crashed her second vault. Hmm. Vault and floor d-scores were very low, with the exception of Shang Chunsong on floor and Luo Peiru and Li Yiting on vault. Bars seems to have been exceptionally strong, with Huanh Huidan in particular scoring a huge 15.4 there. Likewise, Zeng Siqi put up a monster 15.3 on beam. Very interesting!Zeng Siqi has an AA total of 57.4, which will be hard to beat. Shang Chunsong is not far behind, with 56.45.


1. China
2. North Korea
3. Japan
4. South Korea

China's lead was sizeable, something like 10 points, but well done to North Korea for placing second in their first outing in quite a while. They also had very impressive vaulting on the mens side, as well as two Cheng's on the women's- a vault that was not seen this year in competition.


1. Zeng Siqi
2. Sung Ji-Hye (South Korea)
3. Shang Chunsong

Event finals results are not out yet, I am a bit confused about time and I'm not sure if they are underway/have taken place/yet to take place. In any case, as mentioned before, vault is a toss-up between Li Yiting and Hong Un Jong, beam should be easily won by Zeng Siqi and Huang Huidan should do the honours on bars. Floor is a bit more undecided, but Japan's Risa Konishi had the highest score there today. Shang Chunsong will place too. Great competition for China, and for Zeng Siqi in particular who is cementing her place as a top AA-er (certainly in Asia, but she obviously needs to get her DTY back to really contend elsewhere). Wonderful to watch, and cute as a button. I think I'm not alone in waiting with delight (not) for all the 4 year-fans to claim she's 5 years old once she gets on the scene internationally.

Here is most of today's competition, with the sad exception of Huang Huidan's bars, but we'll see them in EF anyway.

Event finals are a bit shocking! Phan Thi Ha Thanh won. Ri Un Ha, Hong Un Jong and Li Yiting all had falls. So did Risa Konishi. Also, Wu Liufang won bars! Huang Huidan had some form issues and problems with her dismount it seems. Hong Un Jong's vaults were both underrotated, but it looks like she can fix it. Ri Un Ha's first vault is a DTY and not an amanar as previously reported. She's a little sloppy but quite powerful. Zeng Siqi appears to have fallen (must look up videos soon) off beam, as she only managed a 7.9 e-score in EF. Enough for bronze though! Shang Chunsong won gold in both beam and floor.

In other news, Anastasia Sidorova who has no luck at all has partially torn her ACL. It seems she will be out for only a few weeks, but she is missing the Massilia Cup anyway. Hope to see her fighting fit soon! She is being replaced at that event by junior Viktoria Kuzmina. It also appears unlikely that Yulia Inshina will compete as she is scheduled to do, but no word on why there is suddenly such doubt about it.

Danusia Francis is learning one of the most awesome and incredibly rare beam acro moves..a free sideways cartwheel. The second one looks ready to go.

You can see Mai Murakami's floor from Japanese Nationals here. I know I know, I mention her a lot. Too bad, she's amazing and how could anyone NOT like her after watching that? If you got a fright over how much older she looks, I think anyone would. I do have favourites but they're not influenced by my nationality at least.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

News :)

Not as new as I would like, as I am working all the time and am permanently wrecked. (Okay not all- but 37 hours in retail feels like 90).

Japanese Nationals have just been held. (Asuka Teramoto is injured, and possibly did not compete at all). Rie Tanaka was 2nd on bars and third on floor, Koko Tsurumi was first on bars and second on beam and Mai Murakami was first on floor and sixth on bars. Beam was won by Yuko Shintake and vault by Wakiko Riyu. Risa Konishi who is down for the Asian Artistic Championships looks pretty valuable, she came second on vault and floor- which are Japan's weak points. A news clip of the competition is below. It heavily features Rie Tanaka, who everybody loves (like duh). That is Mai Murakami at around 5:30! She has grown so much, although her landings are a little unsure on her double double and triple full..hey, she has a double double and triple full, and they look great in the air.

Lavinia Milosovici will give birth to a boy early next year. This is fantastic news, seeing as Milo lost her daughter Denisa Florentina at the age of 4 due to a nervous system disorder. Simona Amanar, the godmother of Denisa, is due to give birth within a few weeks also.

McKayla Maroney who has played up her obnoxious ham side in interviews recently, gave an excellent interview the other day. The fact that she is so comfortable doing both types of interviews and can be very articulate points to the possibility that she could well be a very good actress. This interview is gold, probably the best I've seen by a gymnast- past or present.

Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland won the recent Arturo Gander Memorial. Mariya Livchikova of Ukraine had a bit of a meltdown, falling on her beam dismount and going out of bounds on floor, to finish 6th. Very dissapointing for her, from her injury at worlds making her unable to attend the Test Event and take the Olympic spot for Ukraine, to winning Ukrainian this. Hope to see her back on form soon.

The Swiss Cup took place just today, and was won by Elizabeth Seitz who continues to prove herself as a strong all-arounder...and didn't even have to unleash her Def to win. Giulia Steingruber was second and Kim Bui of Germany was third. Mariya Livchikova fell off bars. Probably tired from the Gander Memorial, as Niamh Rippin of Britain must have been too, she fell on 3 of her 4 floor passes.

Glasgow World Cup roster has been added to. Not sure about Stuttgart. Kaitlyn Hofland of Canada is competing, and Victoria Moors isn't on it. Hmm. I was sure she was doing both, but the links I was using for the rosters before no longer work, so can't say for sure. If she's out of both, her floor is a great loss. Wakana Inoue of Japan who is also competing at the upcoming Asian Artistic Championships is on the list, which means Mai Murakami has recieved zero international assignments this year. Get that girl some consistency and luck! The last place is Niamh Rippin of Britain. (Niamh is pronounced Neev and is an Irish name). She is pretty good on vault and floor. On a British note, get ready to watch Danusia Francis be totally awesome at UCLA this season. I feel like Peng Peng Lee is getting a lot of attention, Danusia deserves just as much hype. Excellent beam and such a great dancer on floor. Not to mention her bubbly personality, anytime I think of her I see the photo of her holding Komova!

Anna Pavlova has won the International Tournament. She competed a very solid DTY, whip to triple on floor and a beautiful beam. She did have to jump off on bars, but got through the rest of the routine fine. Some endurance issues and some of her leaps weren't great, but her turns and elegance were out in spades. You can see videos here.

Not much going on, and I've very little energy to construct blog posts in my head- feel free to give me ideas.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Hong Un Jong and Grandi return! More news

The roster for the Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championships has been announced for Japan..and North Korea! (China already covered). North Korea's team consists of Hong Un Jong, Kang Yong Mi, Kim Un Hyang and three much younger total unknowns- Kim So Yong, Pak Sin Hyang and Ri Un Ha who all have birthdates of 1995/6. How exciting! First of all to see what Hong Un Jong and the other two are still capable of, and what the other 3 have up their sleeves. I am dissapointed not to see Cha Yong Hwa of the superb bars, but even so. Fantastic stuff.

Japan's team consists of Risa Konishi, Wakana Inoue, Sakura Noda, Erica Danko, Shizuka Tozawa and Mirai Sekiguchi. Like China they are not using Olympians, but they also seem to have gone one further and are using a bit of a b-team lineup. Very dissapointing not to see Mai Murakami and Natsumi Sasada, but perhaps they are being saved for bigger competitions. Hopefully. The competition takes place from 7-15th November and has an AA, TF and EF's. YAY!

In other news, John Orozco is the 3rd victim of the tour, injuring his knee on a dismount. Ridiculous! High level gymnastics is obviously more appealing as a draw, but so not worth it. It is confirmed to be a torn ACL and meniscus, which puts him out for at least a year. This tour is terrible.

The Russian teams for the upcoming Massilia Cup and next July's Universiade Games have been announced. Massilia's line-up will be Anastasia Sidorova, Yulia Inshina, Maria Kharenkova and Yevgeniya Shelgunova. Universiade's will be Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva, Ksenia Afanasyeva and Kristina Goryunova. Great to see Kristina get a bigger assignment of more note, and of course, to see Nabs again. Maria Kharenkova is arguably Russia's best junior, so hopefully she can make even more of a name for herself.

The Chinese team for the upcoming Massilia Cup will be Lou Nina, Mei Jie, Chen Siyi and Liu Zhilin who all had strong performances this year at Nationals. Bars and beam should be a highlight and hopefully they can dominate there. The competition takes place from the 17th-18th November.

Romanian Junior Nationals have just taken place. They were split up into 4 categories from girls born in 2001-2002 down to girls who are already on the junior national team. Sadly, plenty of the most promising did not compete- Madalina Blendea, Adela Florea and Andreea Munteanu were all injured and Laura Jurca only did bars due to an injury also. Other girls were also injured, but quite a few only doing 1 or 2 events. Andreea Iridon who is great on bars (not a qualifying statement- she is!) dominated her age category and won bars, beam and floor. Silvia Zarzu did well but is hindered by her terrible bars. Laura Jurca took silver on bars. Sad to see so many absences, especially as the purpose of this competition was to add more to the national team. The big excitement was Andreea Iridon's bars and Asiana Peng's triple full on floor.Their team for Massilia has not been announced yet, but since they have a plethora of injuries it will be tougher than expected. Individuals and other teams have been announced. Of note are the two super exciting and very different Dutch girls- Eythora Thorsdottir and Chantysha Netteb. The former is glorious on beam and has a floor fresh from the 1985 Soviet team. The latter is powerful with her speciality being vault on which she is the reigning Junior European Champion. From Canada, Victoria Moors who is already down for both world cups and Victoria Woo and Gabriella Douglas (LOL if she competes against Gabby at some stage) are among the contingent.

Bruno Grandi has been re-elected. Yawn. New blood please. He will be 82 when his term ends. So has Nellie Kim which is less of a surprise given she ran unopposed. Nellie continues to be biased in her decisions, no longer a direct judge but having the power to sway their decision.

Anna Pavlova will compete at the Tournoi meet. In USA news, there is a big furore over comments Anna Li has made and some sort of (maybe not at all) reply Nastia made. ie accusations of bullying by Anna followed by 'Let it be' tweet from Nastia. Suspicion has been planted firmly in Alicia Sacramone's corner, with 'victims' being Gabby, Anna and Nastia. Personally, it would not take much for me to believe that of Alicia who does appear from several instances to have a mean side. Bullying is quite a step further though, despite the fact they have been cooped up together for quite a while, and dumping girls in their teens and early 20's together and expecting no drama is ludicrous. However Anna should never have posted any comments. It smacks of immaturity, and she is definitely old enough to know better. It's one thing doing something like that on facebook between school friends, but it's definitely worse when these girls have a substantial fanbase and attract a lot of attention from the gym community at large. Not impressed.

2013 Ones To Watch: Part 1

Following on from my posts on upcoming seniors in the new quad and the list of most notable juniors in their senior year (Links to posts on all countries/regions here and non-exhaustive list of senior year here), I want to focus on those that will turn senior next year, and also current seniors who haven't yet had their chance to really shine. This part will be on 2013 seniors, second part will be on the latter category. NOTE: Competitions are not exhaustive in the case of juniors from non-English speaking countries, because it's much harder to find results not in my language! Videos of all of the below are in my first link. Also easily found on youtube. (Read: I am way too lazy to embed them all again).

2013 Seniors- Ones to Watch

Have to start with the two with the most hype and the greatest sense of 'if only x was born a bit earlier'.

Katelyn Ohashi, USA

Katelyn Ohashi created a storm around her when she unleashed her monster beam set in 2010. She also has fantastic bars, an area USA still need improvement on.

Trains at: WOGA, Texas
Competitions: US Classic 2009-2012, Visa Nationals 2009-2012, Pacific Rim Championships 2012, Jesolo 2011-2012
Notable Achievements: 2011 Junior National Champion, 2012 Pacific Rim All-around Champion, 2012 Pacific Rim Beam, Floor and Bars Champion, 2012 Junior National Champion on bars, silver beam and floor, 2011 Champion on bars, beam, floor. Katelyn has won the national bars title 3 years in a row.
Best event(s): Bars and beam
Worst event(s): Vault
Needs to: Fix her vault. Has had a scary time with DTY's this year, needs to either get it back safely or a similar difficulty vault to stay as a strong all-arounder. Katelyn showed signs of overtraining at Nationals, so should possibly hold back on upgrades for the moment.
Weak point: Power a bit lacking
All-around potential? Pretty high. Huge with a fixed vault.
Event final potential: Gold on beam and bars
Why the fuss? As well as being a potentially very strong all-arounder, Katelyn has gold medal world/Olympic titles written all over her bars and beam.

Lexie Priessman, USA

Lexie barely falls short of being a 2012 senior. She has created a stir for being a powerhouse in the style of Raisman and Wieber- she has an amanar and a double double on floor.

Trains at: CGA, Cincinnatti
Competitions: US Classic 2009-2012, Visa Nationals 2009-2012, Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup 2010, Japan Junior International 2011, Pacific Rim Championships 2012, Jesolo 2011-2012
Notable Achievements: 2012 Junior National Champion, 2012 Junior National Champion on floor, second on vault and bars, 2012 Pacific Rim vault champion, second all-around, 2012 US Classic floor champion, 2011 Japan Junior International Champion, 2010 Supergirl Cup Champion
Best event(s): Vault and floor
Worst event(s): Beam
Needs to: Work big-time on her form, it shows up most noticeably on beam. Presentation and choreography a bit all over the place on floor too. Get a second vault.
Weak point: Form, and flexibility to a lesser extent.
All-around potential? Massive.
Event final potential? Vault medallist with a second vault. High on floor.
Why the fuss? This girl is a powerhouse and with a consistent decent beam could blindside the rest of the competition.

Simone Biles, USA

With a phenomenal amanar under her belt, as well as a difficult floor, Simone looks like a very valuable gymnast for USA's collection.

Trains at: Bannon's Gymnastix
Competitions: US Classic 2011-2012, Visa Nationals 2011-2012
Notable Achievements: 2012 Junior National Champion on vault, 3rd place in the all-around, 2012 US Classic Champion, 2012 US Classic Champion on vault
Best event(s): Vault
Worst event(s): Bars
Needs to: Upgrade her floor, a very strong event for her already. She could be a great all-arounder with a decent bars and beam- they need a lot of work. Needs to get and upgrade a second vault, she has plenty of power.
Weak point: In general, not great on non-power events. Lack of finesse.
All-around potential: Yes, not the top one or two but definitely she could be a good one.
Event final potential? Gold on vault, could qualify to floor
Why the fuss? Her amanar is so powerful that she is one of two girls in the world capable of doing a TTY. (Prize for guessing the other). She could quite easily medal in vault, has a strong energetic floor that's valuable and might be able to be a valuable all-arounder too.

Noemi Makra, HUN

Noemi is the great hope of Hungary, and certainly has what it takes to become a great all-arounder, she is the full package gymnast.

Competitions: 2012 Junior European Championships, 2012 Eva Sanyo Memorial, 2011 EYOF, 2010 Top Gym
Notable Achievements: 2011 EYOF champion on bars,  highest all-around total at Eva Sanyo,  qualified 10th to all-around finals at Euros 2012, and qualified to vault event finals.
Best event(s): Floor, bars
Worst event(s): Only because it lacks difficulty so much- vault
Needs to: UPGRADE. Noemi is the full package, everything she does is such a high standard. She just needs more difficulty.
Weak point: Lack of difficulty.
All-around potential: Certainly, especially at Euros. She could make quite a mark at Worlds and maybe even Olympics if she brings her difficulty up to scratch.
Event final potential: Hard to tell, her difficulty is too low at this stage.
Why the fuss? Such great execution, and she does not have a weak event. As I say so many times here, with more difficulty she is a major contender. Remarkable considering she is from outside the top 4.

Gabby Jupp, GBR

Gabby heralds the exciting new age of British gymnastics. She is strong and consistent, showing a nice mix of power and execution.

Competitions: 2012 Junior European Championships, 2012 British Championships, 2012 English Championships, 2011 Gymnix, 2011 British Championships, 2011 Junior France/Great Britain, 2010 Espoir (Hopes)
Notable Achievements: 2012 Junior European third on floor, fifth in all-around, 2012 Junior British Champion, 2012 Junior British Champion on bars, 3rd on vault, 2012 English Champion, 2012 English Champion on vault, beam and floor, 2011 Junior British Champion on beam, 2nd all-around, floor and vault, 2010 Espoir Champion on beam, third on floor
Best event(s): Beam and floor
Worst event(s): Bars
Needs to: Clean up her bars and upgrade across the board.
Weak point: I don't really see one besides some issues on bars.
All-around potential: Yes, she could quite easily go one better than Rebecca Tunney and really challenge the top 4 countries. May have to move gyms to really get her difficulty up to scratch, but she screams potential.
Event final potential: Beam medallist, could qualify to floor
Why the fuss? Major player on beam and floor where she has already beat off strong competition before. A mistake cost her a medal in Euros this year on beam however. With upgrades, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Evgeniya Shelgunova, RUS

Russia arguably have 3 stronger juniors in the works, but Evgeniya is a strong, steady worker who could contribute quite a lot, and not just in team situations.

Competitions:  2012 Junior European Championships, 2011 Jesolo, 2011 Spartakaide, 2011 Top Gym
Notable Achievements: 2012 Junior European Championships, 2nd all-around, 3rd bars. Qualified to 3 event finals. Spartakaide 2011- 5 golds, 2011 Top Gym Champion, 2nd on vault, 2011 EYOF, 3rd on floor
Best event(s): Hmm. Floor and beam
Worst event(s): Bars
Needs to: Clean up her form and execution. She has the consistency and is building on difficulty, but she's a bit sloppy form-wise.
Weak point: Form
All-around potential: Yes, though I do see her being eclipsed not only by current Russian seniors continuing but also by 2014 and 2015 seniors.
Event final potential: Possibly on vault with a second one, and maybe floor finalist.
Why the fuss? Evegeniya is consistent and has decent difficulty. She could well become the workhorse team figure and possibly shine in her own right too.

Stefania Stanila, ROM

Stefania is a welcome addition next year to the much depleted Romanian senior rankings.Not the strongest junior, but a valuable team member.

Competitions: 2012 Junior European Championships, 2012 Cholet, 2012 Jesolo, 2011 Top Gym,
Notable Achievements: Junior European Championships, 2nd on vault, 2012 Cholet Champion, 2011 Top Gym, 3rd on floor
Best events: Floor, vault
Worst event: Bars
Needs to: Work on her consistency and form and get all of her events up to a higher standard.
Weak point: Consistency
All-around potential: Low. She will be outranked by other juniors and continuing seniors.
Event Final potential: Also low. Stefania's greatest asset is being strong in a team situation.
Why the fuss? Arguably Romania's strongest 2013 senior, but will have quite a lot of work to do to keep up with the rest into 2016. Stefania has a lot of potential and should be able to help her team quite a bit.

Elisa Meneghini, ITA

Elisa impressed at Euros this year and shows huge potential. Definitely one of the brightest stars of Italy's future.

Competitions: 2012 Junior European Championships, 2012 Serie A, 2012 Italian Nationals,  2011 Jesolo, 2011 EYOF, 2011 TAM
Notable Achievements: 2012 Junior European Championships, 4th all-around (with a fall), 3rd on beam. Elisa was the only one to qualify to all 4 event finals. 2012 Italian Nationals, 2nd on beam, 3rd all-around
Best events: Beam, floor
Worst event: Vault, purely for lack of difficulty
Needs to: Upgrade across the board, and improve her consistency. She would have medalled in the AA at Euros had she not fallen off beam, and would have done much better in bars finals without the fall there. Needs to work on her toepoint.
Weak point: Slight consistency issue, and toepoint.
All-around potential: Could be a big threat at worlds. No real weak event, and usually very steady.
Event final potential: Has shown herself to be exceptional on pretty much all events. Could continue qualifying to all. Medals possible on beam and maybe bars.
Why the fuss? Such a high place in a strong AA with a fall, and no weak event! Needs more difficulty and better extension, but she really has what it takes and could definitely shake up a few podiums.

Others to watch: Anna Maria Ocalisan (ROU), Roxana Popa (ESP), Angael Romaeo (GBR), Sophie Scheder (GER), Olesya Sazonova (UKR) and Chantysha Netteb (NED), Maddie Desch (USA) and Peyton Ernst (USA).

Saturday, 20 October 2012

1983 Worlds EF in HD and "news"

I thought I'd share this, and it's not too long. I LOVE seeing an old competition in high quality, and this is perfect. Check out Boriana Stoyanova's leotard! I am in love with it. This video contains Natalia Yurchenko (getting injured..), Boriana Stoyanova, Olga Bicherova, Ecaterina Szabo, Lavinia Agache, Maxi Gnauck, Olga Mostepanova and Hana Ricna.

This is of course extra interesting because it is the worlds before the Olympics boycotted by the Soviet bloc. Not only were the Soviet Union not in attendance the following year, but neither were Bulgaria, Eastern Germany and other states who all had fabulous gymnasts. The idea that Mary Lou Retton would have been able to take AA gold had 84 been fully attended is almost laughable. Olga Mostepanova would have swept the board without a shadow of a doubt. Check out the results from the Friendship Games, where she scored 12 perfect 10's. Friendship Games She scored 10's on every event in the all-around. I know, I know- what about overscoring seeing as she was the favoured gymnast of the Soviet team who couldn't compete in the actual Olympics? But I don't think any of them were undeserved, she was absolutely at her exceptional peak at that time. And WHAT a Soviet team, there's no way they wouldn't have taken team gold either. I do find the boycott annoying still, just for the waste of massive talent that were denied their chance. Anyway, back to drooling over her beam. HD is amazing of course, yet it has a tendency to pick up not so obvious flaws from the traditional bad quality of the same routines- like Maxi Gnauck's flexed feet on bars for instance. Vault scores are slightly hilarious too, with 9.9's and 9.95's being handed out for loss of leg form, seriously deep landings and steps. Still, wonderful gymnasts at these worlds.

And yes, there is no real news to speak of. It appears that nobody was added to camp at the National Camp that is just over. Waiting until January when it's a total neccessity. Don't see any good in drawing it out that long but anyway. Kim Bui of Germany has been added to the line-up of the Stuttgart World Cup, which also contains Elizabeth Price, Vanessa Ferrari, Larisa Iordache, Rebecca Tunney and Victoria Moors. Excellent stuff. Still one place left though. The dream is Mai Murakami but I think Anastasia Sidorova is more likely. Elizabeth price will also comepte at the Glasgow World Cup, also in December. I haven't heard anything about the rest of its lineup though. UPDATE: Glasgow roster released here. It is pretty much the same at this stage, not a surprise as they are so close together both in time and in location. The Price V Iordache battle which I assume will take place as long as Iordache is healthy will be very interesting. It's a very strong field otherwise also. I am now finally employed so won't be posting quite so frequently I'd imagine..but it means I can't go to either, and they are so close to me! Damn...

Silvia Zarzu and Stefanie Stanila of Romania both competed at a gala in France yesterday. Stanila turns senior next year, Zarzu in 2014. Both are definitely ones to watch. Zarzu in particular is one of my favourite juniors, I hope she is able to get her bars to an acceptable level because she looks well capable of a good vault and already has stellar beam and floor sets. (My other favourite juniors are Rebeca Andrade, Eythora Thorsdottir, Maria Kharenkova, Madalina Blendea, Bailie Key, Laurie Hernandez, Simone Biles, Maria Bondareva, Lu Jiaqi and Angel Romaeo). Here is Silvia's beam, (can't embed it) nothing else up yet. Extremely solid set, she's very comfortable up there. Hopefully she can get more flow to her movements in time, I doubt upgrades would be an issue.
Silvia Zarzu beam

Monday, 15 October 2012

Medals with a fall

You would think, given the furore over McKayla Maroney's vault silver and Mustafina's tying for third (and eventually winning) in the AA, that these gymnasts had somehow cheated and deductions had not been applied properly. Given the open-ended scoring, relying on the gymnast's own difficulty, medals with falls were literally impossible in the old perfect 10 system- despite the deductions for a fall being much less. The current COP has sought to offset this by upping the fall deduction to a full point. It was 0.8 last quad. But there have been several medals with a fall since the new scoring, 2006, and possibly even before then. Certainly there are more than most people think, yet only a few inspire uproar!


McKayla Maroney, Vault Event Final- Silver

McKayla's fall on her second vault took a full point off in the execution score. However, vault is easier than other event finals to bounce back from, because the fall deduction averages to 0.5 when the two vaults are averaged. McKayla had the highest difficulty and there was extremely little to deduct in the second vault except for the fall and lack of height. Interestingly enough, had she landed her amanar in bounds (she received an 0.3 deduction for not doing so)- she would have taken gold. Her medal is testimony to what an excellent vaulter she is, and also how weak the rest of the vault field was. If a girl with a fall and an out of bounds can beat you, then something is wrong. Izbasa's vaults were extremely weak for a gold winner, and Paseka's should have received a boatload of deductions, not least for not being fully around.

Yamilet Pena and Janine Berger both qualified to vault finals with a fall.

Aliya Mustafina, AA- Bronze

This is a bit of an odd one, because she did NOT win bronze with a fall. She tied for bronze with a fall. The medal was determined by her and Raisman's top 3 scores, so the beam of both was dropped. Therefore her beam had nothing to do with how the medal was determined- so it wasn't won with a fall. Nevertheless, Aly had a huge mistake on beam so she couldn't drop her weak bars. So she was left with counting a weak event. Mustafina did not count any weak event, and had 7.0 bars. Not a gigantic surprise there. Only 4 gymnasts were capable of vying for a medal. Mustafina was able to be one of those 4. In what world are Sandra Izbasa, Deng Linlin and Huang Qiushuang top AA-ers?


Yao Jinnan, AA- Bronze

Yes, this one flies well under the radar. Yao fell off beam and would have ended the eternal Komova V Wieber controversy by beating them both had she stayed on. She was still able to score a 13.933 for an excellent beam, which was well able to beat Raisman's disaster of a time on bars where she received a 12.9. This was another fairly weak field, with Ana Porgras dropping well down due to her FTY and Huang Qiushuang once again being a bit of a headcase.


Rebecca Bross, AA- Bronze

Rebecca also fell off beam. She received an extremely high score- 14.1, which was an overscore given the rest of the routine, which was not perfect. However, Huang Qiushuang whow as 4th had a bit of a nightmare on floor so the placement is probably correct. Another win with a fall that is totally blanked.


Rebecca Bross, AA- Silver

Rebecca missed her tuck full in her last pass and put her hands down- which is technically a fall, and received an extremely low 12.875 for it. She had very high difficulty and only lost to Bridget Sloan by half a tenth, in yet another example of a desperately weak field.


Cheng Fei, Vault Event Final- Bronze

This is the other medal with a fall that people remember, not just because of the fall but because she still managed to beat Alicia Sacramone, who vaulted cleanly. The reason behind this was that Cheng Fei had so much more difficulty than Alicia that the fall made very little difference. The difference in difficulty in Cheng's favour is 0.45. The fall (worth 0.8 in this code) averaged to 0.4.Alicia hopped on her landings and great as her form is, Cheng's is second to none. Controversial- but understandable.

Nastia Liukin and He Kexin both qualified into the uneven bars final despite falls in prelims because of their extremely high difficulty.


Jade Barbosa, AA- Bronze (tie)

Jade brought a full-in pike to her knees and touched the floor with her hands, receiving a score of 14.00. Her high difficulty across her events still brought her up higher than 4th and 5th place finishers, Nastia Liukin and Yang Yilin. Her beam and vault really sealed the deal, and the high bars scores of the other 2 were no match.

Vanessa Ferrari, AA- bronze (tie)

Vanessa fell on her Comaneci on bars, literally a few seconds in. Similar to Barbosa, her high difficulty was enough to keep her ahead of Liukin and Yang. 

Li Shanshan, Beam Event Final- Silver (tie, no bronze awarded)

Li's beam was so flawless (fall aside) and so difficult- 0.6 and 0.7 more than the other medal winners, that this result was pretty much a no-brainer. She would have received a monster 16.7 without the fall and would have wiped the floor with Nastia and Steliana easily.


Vanessa Ferrari, AA- Gold

The only gold medal with a fall! Vanessa fell off beam, and still received a generous 14.9 (15.7 without the fall). She exploded onto the scene these championships, and coupled with ehr high difficulty was just about able to steal the scene from Jana Bieger, who also had very high difficulty. Her bars won the day for her, as Jana was weak there. This still does evoke controversy, but Vanessa was still clearly the better gymnast that day. Sandra Izbasa who came third had such a low bars score I thought she had fallen too. But nope, just very sloppy.

So, 10 falls taking medals (or tying for bronze, as the case may be before tiebreakers) since the introduction of the new code. And at least four qualifying into event finals with a fall. Bear in mind this is only covering the major competitions- Worlds and Olympics. Clearly it is more common than what the average fan thinks, yet the majority of the above are not remembered and not talked about! It's a shame to lambast some with falls and ignore the rest. It is possible there are falls with medals in the old perfect 10 code, and I will investigate that- though it is much harder then of course. If anyone knows of any, let me know!


It appears that Sabrina Vega has moved to GAGE. She is as of now training at GAGE and although twitter exploded with the news that this is a permanent move etc., there is another train of thought that maybe she is just training there temporarily in preparation for the Kansas City stop of the Kellogg's Tour. We'll see. Sabrina's longtime coach is probably my favourite Romanian ever, Teodora Ungureanu. Sabrina has nice presentation and choreography and is lovely on beam and floor in particular. However, she desperately needs more difficulty if she wants to contend in the elite scene in the new quad, so a gym change is not exactly surprising if that is what has happened.

Stuttgart World Cup roster is out! See here Larisa Iordache, Vanessa Ferrari, Victoria Moors, Elizabeth Price, Elizabeth Seitz and Rebecca Tunney make for an AMAZING floor lineup. Hopefully none of those pull out. Larisa will I'm sure only compete if she is fully healthy and not in pain. The two empty spots will be interesting too I'm sure but Russia have effectively ruled out any of their Olympians competing. Maybe Anastasia Sidorova or Yulia Inshina might be in line for a spot though. I'd like to see representatives from Asia and South America. Mai Murakami and Jessica Gil Ortiz would be my picks. The men's lineup is equally impressive as it stands at the moment. The competition takes place 1-2 December and consists only of all-around, no qualifications. If back to her best and depending on who fills the other two spaces, Larisa should win. If she's still a bit off, then Price should be able to take it.

Diana Chelaru has left the national training centre and returned home to her local club to train. It has been stated that she is unsure of whether or not she wishes to continue. It is sad to see Romania lose talent, or in this case potentially lose it depending on Diana's decision, especially when they are not bursting with top gymnasts. Diana's pet piece is floor, on which she has won world medals as well as team medals in general. Hopefully she makes whatever decision is right for her.

Dityatin Cup results are out. For Juniors, Alexandra Yazydzhan of Russia took first in the AA. Kim Janas of Germany took second and Mariana Oliviera of Brazil was third. Senior AA results don't seem to be available yet. Ekaterina Kramarenko won bars EF with 14.5, Anastasia Cheong of Russia won floor with 13.9, Alina Sotnikova took first on vault with 13.813 and Anna Pavlova won beam with 14.275. Anna also took second on vault with 13.313 and second on floor with 13.725. Those scores are not that high and the competition was not not what you'd call deep, but still a great outing for Anna. Hoping to see videos of her especially. Evgeniya Shelgunova of Russia was second on beam with a 13.75. In the more junior category (2013 seems to count as senior), Kim Janas of Germany was first on floor and second on vault. Alexandra Yazydzhan, the AA champion, was first on bars and beam. Not sure about the senior AA yet as no PDF is opening from that page, but all in all it seems like a bit of a Russian domination.

Danusia Francis, former British gymnast (check out her great beam and floor) and current UCLA 1st year has a (newspaper hosted) blog. The first one is here. It's not very interesting and is just talking about how she came to be there. Future ones discussing training and of course competing will I'm sure be more worthwhile. She is a very sparkly gymnast and is just as exciting as new teammate Peng Peng Lee. 

Not exactly news, but I was waiting for Dityatin Cup results that are still not forthcoming. Brenna Dowell won the Mexican Open, Essenia Estrada of Mexico was second and Anna Dementyeva of Russia was third. Brenna, despite being quite sloppy, convincingly won due to her high difficulty. Her opening pass on floor, a front double pike is awesome. Demy was hampered not only by her scary FTY, but also by a fall on beam. Coming only third is not going to do her case any good for future Euros/possibly Worlds teams any good, unless she vastly ups her difficulty- her bars were lovely, but so weak in difficulty. Alexa Moreno of Mexico performed a piked Deltchev and a double arabian piked! Great stuff. The gala performed after is also available on youtube. Highlights are Anna Dementyeva's charming floor routine, and Daniel Purvis of GB's pommel routine wearing a kilt. Brenna did a sort of ballet class barre routine using the beam, which was puzzling given how unsuited she is to ballet work. Jessica Gil Ortiz and Jorga Giraldo swapped apparatus, competing on the parallel bars and beam respectively. Here is the whole competition in 4 parts: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 And the gala and award ceremony: here.

At the Eva Sanyo Memorial, Team Russia (Anastasia Sidorova, Anastasia Dmitrieva and Maria Kharenkova- senior, junior, junior) took the team title by about 16 points. The other teams were mostly Hungarian. Maria Kharenkova beat Anastasia Sidorova for highest AA total..but Hungarian junior Noemi Makra beat them both! She is going to be an interesting senior. Sidorova took vault and beam in event finals, Dorina Boczogo of Hungary took bars and Maryna Kostivchenko of Ukraine took floor.

McKayla Maroney will be on crutches for another 8 weeks. The boot for her toe will be for another 5 weeks, and the stabiliser for her other leg another few weeks after that. As expected, she is just appearing at the end of the tour shows and waving, and signing autographs. Kyla Ross is headed to camp! Hopefully with some planned upgrades in tow if she wants to compete at SCAM and be seen as an all-around threat next year. Elizabeth Price and Kennedy Baker are also headed, along with the vast majority of juniors. As before, it is expected that some juniors will be named to the National Team. The major suspects for this would be Nica Hults, Nia Dennis, Arianna Guerra, Alexis Buecler, Laurie Hernandez and Polina Schennikova.