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 GOT MY WORLDS TICKETS!

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. Soo..total 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.