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.