Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Best of 2013

I hope everyone's having a good Christmas/New Years/holiday season.

Here's my 2013 'winners'. They're deliberately in a sort of scattered order since that's how they occurred to me, and to keep you on your toes.

Best senior:
Simone Biles

Best junior:
Bailie Key

Favourite senior:
Simone Biles

Favourite junior:
Laurie Hernandez

Best beam:
Luo Huan, 2013 National Games, TF. No question.

Best vault:
Simone Biles, Vault 2, Antwerp quals The block and form...

Best bars:
Yao Jinnan, Antwerp AA. Honourable mention to Ruby Harrold, Antwerp AA.

Best floor:
I need a better view of Victoria Moors' new floor to hand her this. There's one routine I enjoyed more than Ksenia Afanasyeva at Euros EF and that is Simone Biles at Antwerp AA.

Best bars dismount:
Koko Dobashi  This is Jamie Dantzcher's dismount, one of my favourites. Eythora Thorsdottir also did a beautiful double twisting flyaway.

Best bars mount:
Just kidding, nothing to see here. If you have seen something other than a glide kip or jump to high this year, please comment!

Best beam mount:
Natsumi Sasada being a total badass. Honourable mentions to the prettiness of Shang Chunsong's and to Danusia Francis for bringing back the Silivas.

Best beam dismount:
Simone Biles, Nationals Day 1. What is this, a Simone love-in? That was amazing though, the form, technique, height on stuck landing. I also love how the pointed toes and technique of Luo Huan's double pike, above under best beam, make it look stunning.

Best dancer:
Laurie Hernandez. Just fantastic. I'd like if she refined her movement just a little without losing any intensity or originality, but even if she never does, I'll always be glued to the screen watching her dance.

Best music:
See above. Engaging, magnetic sort of music, and original. Suits this firecracker perfectly. 

Best form:
Source- Getty images/AFP

Noemi Makra. Just beautiful, stunning work. A joy to watch. And let us not forget, the piked full-in in its pure form. Honourable mention goes to Luo Huan, again.

Best leaps:
Andreea Munteanu. So refreshing. Fellow Andreea, Iridon, isn't too shabby in the leaps department either, i.e. also glorious.

Best new skill:
i.e. named this year. The sideways side aerial, named for Silvia Colussi-Pelaez but performed by Danusia Francis at NCAA Nationals. The fact that she unleashed it after hiding it for months, and the moment she chose to do it. Amazing.

Best old skill reinvented:
The Zuchold, done by Ruby Harrold. Yao Jinnan and her Mo are stiff competition, but it was just not clearing the bar enough or hitting enough so... Both of these are linked above under best bars.

Most improved:
Simone Biles fo' sho' BUT a much more dramatic and subsequently heartwarming improvement was Mykayla Skinner between Day 1 and Day 2 of Nationals. Amazing turnaround.

Most elegant gymnast:
Eythora Thorsdottir, who I link to all the time. Getting lazy now.. 

Best newcomer:
Well Simone Biles, again. Sorry, but she's just the obvious pick for half of this. Honourable mention to Roxana Popa who has had ups and downs this year, but is definitely blazing a new trail both in Spanish gymnastics and on the European circuit.

Best comeback:
McKayla Maroney. What with her list of injuries, surgeries and growing a few inches on top of that, few expected her to be so solid and make such a strong case for herself to go to worlds. She has indeed deteriorated on vault, but still got that crazy yurchenko block, has ADDED difficulty to her floor, and placed 6th in the world at Antwerp prelims in the AA. Not to mention retaining her world vault champion title. Not bad for someone doing yurchenko timers into a pit in March.

Most solid senior:
Kyla "no falls" Ross.

Most solid junior:
Bailie "the machine" Key.

Best leotard:
UCLA - Copyright: AP Photo/Alex Gallardo



Maroney - Source: coolspotters.com

 
HKX. Copyright: A’Min, Guo Chen/Xinhua News Agency

Huang Huidan (on right). Copyright- rkwy1212
There are a few others I can't find. Can't pick 'one'. He Kexin's is more than likely a case of the gymnast in the leotard. I really don't like nude mesh but it was beautiful on her and made her look like an angel. Fitting, for the queen of the bars. I'm a huge fan of blue- GAGE leos this year, Danusia Francis at Universiade, more of UCLA's..the list goes on.

Cutest Moment:
Songsong isn't having a half-hearted handshake! 

Best hairstyle:

Warrior queen Chantysha. Source- rtlnieuws.nl
Chantysha Netteb is fierce!

Best floor skill combination: 
Shang Chunsong's opening pass of 1.5 into triple full-punchfront. Fantastic. 

Best beam skill combination:
Norah Flatley. It's insane, in a good way.

Best bars skill combination:
Ruby Harrold. That is, the Van Leeuwen to immediate Zuchold. I had to disregard the Maloney-Bhardwaj, which was hard.

Cutest gymnast:
Source- Wu Jun
Wang Yan, AKA Yanyan, Potato, little bean. Powerful but adorable.

Best WOW moment:
Victoria Moors sticking the DDLO in Antwerp AA. I witnessed this live...the tension! You could have heard a pin drop in her run and then the explosion, just unbelievable.

Best OMG moment:
Mykayla Skinner landing really good Cheng's off ONE HAND. Shouldn't be possible.

Highlight of the year:
Source- Ling Jie's weibo
Shang Chunsong wins five medals at National Games in Liaoning. 4 individual medals- 3 gold (AA, bars, floor), bronze on beam....and bronze in team finals. It could well be a record. For her feat she received the approximate equivalent of $500,000. Shang Chunsong's family are extremely poor, so this money means a lot. No cars for her, it is being used to provide for her parents and her brother. She has also secured a top university place for herself, whenever she chooses. The ultimate victory, in the context of which, who cares how worlds went for her?

Best competition:
Um, worlds, since I was there :D There were loads of expected faces missing, no denying that, but some competitions were still deep and there was great gymnastics a-plenty.

Best medal:
Source - Yves Logghe/AP, Christian Thomassen, Zhou Lei/Xinhua
Huang Huidan is victorious in the bars final. Cleans up her form, doesn't let herself be affected by the favourite falling right before her- her teammate and friend at that. Great moment, and such a nice surprise for a gymnast who seemed like a total headcase at the start of the year. 

Who are your winners? I'd love to see other opinions. If you feel like answering each category, go for it!





Sunday, 22 December 2013

The New Girls

I just updated this again. Time for a more indepth look at the new girls turning senior in a little over a week.

Polina Schennikova USA
Amelia Hundley USA
Veronica Hults USA
Heaven Latimer CANADA
Brianna Clark CANADA
Aleeza Yu CANADA
Maria Kharenkova RUSSIA
Daria Spiridonova RUSSIA
Viktoria Kuzmina  RUSSIA
Yevgeniya Zhukova RUSSIA
Kristina Levshina RUSSIA
Alexandra Yazydzhyan RUSSIA
Darya Kloptsova UKRAINE
Tea Ugrin ITALY
Enus Mariani ITALY
Lara Mori ITALY
Martina Rizzelli ITALY
Emma Larsson SWEDEN
Louise Vanhille FRANCE 
Claire Martin FRANCE
Dayana Hryhoryeva BELARUS
Silvia Zarzu ROMANIA
Diana Teodoru ROMANIA 
Paula Tudorache ROMANIA
Miriam Arabisoiu ROMANIA
Andreea Munteanu ROMANIA
Ioana Nicoara ROMANIA
Eythora Thorsdottir NETHERLANDS
Mariana Oliveira BRAZIL
Julie Kim BRAZIL
Alexandra Eade AUSTRALIA
Yuki Uchiyama JAPAN
Chen Li CHINA
Wang Wei CHINA
Chen Siyi CHINA
Zhu Siyan CHINA
Xie Yufen CHINA

First of all, it's not near as exciting a bunch as the 2015 and 2016 girls. But there's some real gems nonetheless. I have to mention that Enus Mariani, the 2012 Euros junior AA champion whose debut has been long-awaited..is dealing with injury and her future in the sport is unclear as of yet.

My favourite of the bunch (big surprise here) is Eythora Thorsdottir, the Dutch Icelandic-born Soviet-reborn.

The best floor worker is either Wang Wei or Andreea Munteanu. Special mentions go to Silvia Zarzu, Yuki Uchiyama,Mariana Oliveira, Maria Kharenkova and Amelia Hundley. And Emma Larsson.

This lot have a few interesting bars routines. Louise Vanhille shows potential, as do Martina Rizzelli, Nica Hults and Amelia Hundley. Nobody to make you go wow. It's a weak year for China with no bars queens amongst them and Viktoria Kuzmina does not look up to much anymore.

Beam is a runaway victory for Andreea Munteanu. Eythora wins the pretty award with her originality, Nica Hults has some lovely work also and Maria Kharenkova is solid.

Vault belongs to Mariana Oliveira so far anyway. There's a few other DTY's, but this is the best and the most upgrade-able looking.

Dance elements wise - Andreea Munteanu and Julie Kim have stunning leaps. Heaven Latimer is the current turn queen.

Russia and China are getting one new standout senior each. Romania should be able to eke more out of Silvia Zarzu and the others and net themselves much-needed promising new seniors. An off year for the USA surprisingly- Polina Shchennikova doesn't appear to have much to offer, Amelia Hundley is likely to be injured (she is at the moment) and Nica Hults is not really an all-arounder or a stand-out, though her bars and beam could be very useful. I'm hoping Eythora Thorsdottir will work well with Chantysha Netteb when the latter recovers, that Italy's new kids will rejuvenate their programme (and that Enus will be fine) and that Yuki Uchiyama continues to hold her own amongst her older compatriots.

Who do you like the look of? Who's your favourite?

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Mish mash

First, here are some of the Chinese juniors I was discussing. Google images doesn't have a clue who they are...yet.

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Luo Huan, master beam and bars technician.

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Liu Tingting, the light and floaty all-arounder.

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Lv Jiaqi, old-school fabulousness. How striking is she?!

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Wang Wei, tumbler extraordinaire.

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Wang Yan, the star.

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Yuan Xiaoyang (on right. Lv Jiaqi on left), diver turned powerful all-arounder.

We will hopefully see some of them at Pac Rims.


Moving on to (somewhat) recent competitors before it gets too hazy in my mind..

Ebee

Back to the AA with a bang.  Really great to see her in action after US Nationals where she just wasn't ready. The amanar looked great in the training video, at Stuttgart and...at Glasgow too. She looked to me to have the height to land it there also, but I'm sure it will only improve. Lovely open double double, some awesome bar work especially the Church to bail but I think she most surprised me on beam. Her routine at Glasgow was just awesome, I don't think she even betrayed a flicker. Interesting composition also. The battle between her and Larisa Iordache was very interesting to see, however, I thought they would be closer. Ebee gets hit for her switch half leap I believe, and she was penalised on bars at Stuttgart for not hitting handstand in her bail, but other than that I thought the scoring was a little harsh on her. Or maybe not, but in comparison to some others.

Fantastic comeback performances and I'm very interested to see where she goes from here. Her bars alone are very valuable, though she is committed to Stanford starting next year. She could always defer..but then maybe conservation for college is better than staying in elite and getting injured.

Larisa Iordache

What a heartbreaker this girl is. The last time she hit in the AA was at Euros. At worlds of course she hadn't returned to training long enough to be consistent. But since then she has fallen more than once, with one fall at each of Stuttgart and Glasgow. Bars has majorly improved, when she doesn't rush through the routine. But consistency has dogged her before the injury that nearly kept her from worlds, and the plandular fasciitis that dogged her Olympics. It's strange, she doesn't seem like an inconsistent gymnast but when you look back at her record..

Anyway, I'm very pleased with how her bars are looking, and it looks like the 6.7 beam if not the 6.9 is well within her reach. I thought her vault was noticeably worse at Glasgow but then she went right after a balk so maybe she just got a bit nervous. All in all, she did very well to beat Ebee at Glasgow and looks to be set on course for a good year. Especially if she can gain more consistency.

Roxana Popa

I was absolutely thrilled when she won Mexican Open AA. And not surprised at all. This girl is on fire with three events out of four, and beam, her weakest, is getting stronger I think. Floor is just fabulous, her second pass is fantastic and her Memmel is surprisingly good. Bars have some technical issues letting them down, they really are so strong otherwise. On the back of that win over not one but two Americans (granted..both of them fell), I had high hopes she could hold her own in Glasgow and fight for bronze. But it wasn't to be when on her first event, vault, she balked and threw a layout yurchenko worth 4.4 instead of her usual dynamic DTY. A very smart decision since she obviously felt something was wrong in her block or approach, but still very sad. Her bars score was I felt criminally low, but I'm no COP expert and apparently there are deductions there and quite a few. Maybe the angle isn't the best for me to tell as well.

So quite an up-and-down few weeks for her. Hopefully beam and bars can be further worked on, and the latter upgraded. I feel she has a lot to show and can make an impact on the world stage as well as Euros.

Asuka Teramoto

That Rudi came out of nowhere at Glasgow! She had been having issues with the DTY and a video was shown of her training a DTT..but a Rudi was totally out of left field. No, it was not super clean but it looked serviceable and a good foundation for further improvement. Sadly, she injured herself on it at the Toyoto Chunichi World Cup. Hopefully it's minor and she's back on track with the vault and her other upgrades, like beam, in time for Pac Rims at least.

Asuka in general is not as clean as the typical Japanese gymnast, but so very impressive nonetheless and her form doesn't stand out as bad on the international stage. Hopefully she can sparkle next year, like she did at her international debut (to the mainstream) in London.

Bailie Key

Is reassuredly human. I begin to think she's a robot of consistent clean routines, but she has counted two falls now this year, beam at Japan Junior and now floor at Mexican Open- though both off-season, of course. Not to mention that she seems to have grown a lot. Nonetheless, she managed to win the Junior AA Mexican Open, remaining undefeated in the AA for the entire year. What a gymnast this girl is. It's thrilling to think of what she will be like as a senior. In particular, I'm looking forward to seeing her bars develop, she's well capable of more, though I do admire her pacing so easy bars from her now isn't a bad thing.

Peyton Ernst

Peyton has been dogged by falls this year, and Mexican Open was no different, with one on beam and a fluke fall on floor. It's always hard to know, especially with the injury rate, who can make a major team but I can't see Peyton on one. She does not stand out enough on any event except maybe beam, but her execution lets her down somewhat.

Maggie Nichols

I see more hope with Maggie though. I'm not sure exactly why...she's cleaner and more solid but still doesn't stand out. But sometimes it's the quiet ones.

Zeng Siqi

Why is she getting assignments. She needs serious conditioning and excellent coaching to be of use again. In fairness to her, she is hindered still by an ankle injury she picked up two years ago. But her beam going downhill to the point that she now can't stay on it at all is a separate issue. Her beam at Mexican Open was not exactly surprising, but so sad. She has a beautiful beam and is a lovely dancer, but I can't help but write her off. 

Edit- I may have forgotten Stuttgart's team competition...

A win for Team China is always going to be fabulous news in my book. Unfortunately, it was very much an A team against a lesser calibre from Russia..minus Aliya Mustafina of course, and she only competed one event. A little bit of 'who can fall less' was in evidence. Yao Jinnan and Tan Jiaxin's falls were heartbreaking though the latter was not surprising. Good news lies in the fact that Huang Huidan and Tan Sixin hit some beautiful routines on beam. Speaking of beam, Aliya Mustafina appears to have been fired up by her new worlds title there, producing yet more steady routines. Which have been changed, again..it's like she gets bored having the same routine for more than a few weeks. BUT I'm really loving the new front aerials..they're very precise and well done. An Onodi is classed as a front element so she was credited for a CR in team qualifications that she didn't do. I hate that..it's happening a bit too often in my book. Thankfully she snuck in a BHS in team finals. This little team showdown highlighted the fact that I think Nanning is going to be a very scrappy team finals since depth is non-existent except for the US, and I don't believe even their team will be really stellar.  


Glasgow was the only competition that I was able to watch from start to finish. And what a splatfest it was. I suppose that is not surprising given the time of year, but it was so disappointing. Ruby Harrold and Raer Theaker coming to grief in front of a (pretty much) home crowd, Asuka on beam when it was all going so well and she looked like she could snatch bronze, Roxana and the troublesome vault, Ebee and the amanar, Larisa on beam...

Bring on next year :) Especially March and April which look to be crammed with competitions...

Who stood out in a good or bad way from the recent competitions? Should Ebee and Larisa have been closer like I thought? How annoying were the Glasgow announcers?

Friday, 20 December 2013

Hi! :)

I swear I do plan on discussing competitions or at least some highlight competitors of the last month soon. I injured myself a bit, nothing bad, but it would have made non-phone typing a bit much but it has improved so yeah..back to business shortly.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Spread the Love for China

China are a little mysterious. A lot of news is closed, the juniors tend to only compete in internal competitions of which videos are hard to find if Piibunina isn't there...and there is just a general lack of news about them in the public English language domain. Not to mention that the mass retirement of China's veterans leaves a gap both in knowledge of the ones to watch in the next generation and also interest since the next generation are relatively unknown quantities. In this post I will look at who I think are the star juniors (thankfully I now know a LOT more about them than when I tried to do it more than a year ago :D ), starting with the list of the new National Team. I haven't forgotten the Mexican Open and Stuttgart but they will be amalgamated with Glasgow and inspiration has struck due to one or two posts I have seen wondering about the juniors.

Here's the new national team. I omitted the girl's provinces for clarity.

1. Coached by Xiong Jingbin and Zhang Xia
Shang Chunsong
Chen Siyi 
Lu Qiuying
Deng Yalan
Liu Ying 
Lv Jiaqi
Wu Jing 


2. Coached by Wang Qunce and Xu Jinglei
Yao Jinnan
Huang Huidan 
Liu Tingting 
Wang Yan
Zhou Linlin
Zheng Lin
Luo Huan


3. Coached by some male coach and Sun Haiou
Tan Jiaxin
Zeng Siqi
Xie Yufeng
Hong Ke 
Liu Jinru
Chen Chaohui
Bai Yawen 


4. Coached by some male coach and Zhang Haiyan
Tan Sixin
Zhang Jin
Zheng Wen
Yuan Xiaoyang
Zhu Xiaofang
Li Ziqi
Gong Kangyi


5. Coached by some male coach and Sun Ping
Wang Wei
Qin Chang
Li Haiming 
Fu Yuyao
Zhang Yuxin
Lin Jinyu
Zhao Wei 


Obvious missing girls from the above are Mei Jie, Fan Yilin, Liu Zhilin and Xu Chujun. That doesn't mean all hope is lost, for one reason or another it may not have been in their interest to attend the selection camp, they may be recovering or injured, having routines restructured or it's just thought they might do better training provincially for the time being. But, some have fallen off the radar like Zhu Siyan and Xie Wenwei.

In my last post but one I detailed China's new bonus system. Obviously it aims to strengthen areas in which they are weak as a country; but as I said then I think it will be fairly messy or not really that effective in the short term. Quite frankly they do not have the body types necessary. But change has to start somewhere and hopefully they become more accepting in that regard. Huang Yubin is the (still fairly new) head coach and he is starting as he means to go on.

Recently, the MAG and WAG seniors were given a challenge. For the women, they are expected to show a 3.5 twist on trampoline at the end of winter training next spring. Trampoline will be incorporated more into training, and this is of course a good idea since it does help in developing new tumbles, spatial awareness etc. But I'd have to question a 3.5. It's not a viable option on hard surface for the vast, vast majority. Only one gymnast ever did it justice, it's so difficult to get fully around. Of course, a double layout or piked double arabian could be a little cruel since there are definitely more twisters than tumblers. Never fear, Shang Chunsong was straight off the bat and received the prize of an iphone for being the first girl to successfully complete the task. She gave it to her mother, of course.

China do not have much depth this quad. The 'old guard' are all at university. The current seniors that would make a team are: Yao Jinnan, Shang Chunsong, Huang Huidan, Tan Sixin, Zeng Siqi (maybe?) and Tan Jiaxin. There is also Lou Nina, a new senior, but she has been injured so is MIA at the moment. Next year, Wang Wei is the only new senior of note. And that's the problem, since their home worlds is next year. The quad is far from a write-off though as there is a glut of amazing juniors who will make their debut in 2015 and 2016. It doesn't appear that Russia or Romania are in an enviable position either, so who knows, 2014 may be fairly evenly matched in that sense.

Picture interlude! I have a feeling this post will be loooong..

Shang Chunsong receives her prize. Source - Che Li's weibo
He Kexin kisses a dolphin. Source - weibo.com/haiyanjidiguan


The bed of a (UB) world champion. Source - weibo.com/xujingleiticao


And back to business with the upcoming seniors.

Name: Wang Yan
Turns senior: 2015
YOG elegible: Yes
Best event: Vault or beam
All-arounder: Yes
Skills: DTT, Rudi, Shawn Johnson's acro line on beam - BHS 2 feet, BHS 2 feet, layout.
Notable D-scores: 6.7 BB, 6.2, 6.0 VT
Why Wang Yan: Wang Yan is tiny and compact, but powerful. She has huge vaults, SERIOUSLY huge for China let alone a junior, but is far from a one-eventer. Her full beam d-score is 6.7 which I'll admit she hasn't hit this year, though she did get 6.5 at Chinese Nationals Prelims in May. Floor is not anything to get excited for yet, though her landings on tumbles are nice and high. Bars show potential, not great flow or handstands currently. She has had some issues with injury this year so didn't have a good National Games but thankfully looked a lot better at the Japan Junior, placing second behind Bailie Key in the AA, with 14.950 on vault and 14.7 on beam. At this competition she placed higher in the AA than Laurie Hernandez, Andreea Munteanu, Maria Bondareva, Maria Kharenkova and Kim Janas, amongst others. Little bean, as she is now known, also placed second on vault and third on beam. Not bad for one who seemed to spring up out of nowhere in the midst of well-known juniors. She's more than likely going to be China's representative at YOG next year so hopefully she will show more progress on floor and bars there.



She's had better landings than this (wasn't fully healthy here), but I can't find any others :( Youku is for obvious reasons impossible for me to search.

Name: Liu Tingting
Turns Senior: 2016
YOG elegible: No
Best event: Floor I think
All-arounder: Yes
Skills: Nothing worth mentioning so far. Her d-scores have increased dramatically since last year but it's moreso the potential at the moment.
Notable D-scores: 5.8 BB
Why Liu Tingting: Aside from lovely long lines and extension, despite being very short, Liu Tingting shows massive potential in the all-around. Her legs seem quite springy and powerful so she looks well capable of a good standard of difficulty in time, yet she's also very graceful. Fabulous execution on everything except twisting, where she unfortunately sickles a bit but even her double pike and tuck look amazing. It's so interesting how perfect execution on a skill can make it look quite different in a way to the norm. She had the highest beam execution score at Chinese Nationals Prelims this year and also the highest execution on bars last year at Nationals, where she scored 9.0 which is basically 9.7. She has a lovely swing on bars and the makings of a great routine there, and is similarly stunning on beam but I do think she shines on floor. Hard to pick really. 

Bars Beam Floor


Name: Luo Huan
Turns Senior: 2016
YOG elegible: No
Best event: Beam
All-arounder: Beam/bars specialist but..maybe
Skills: Lin, Lin 1/2 and Ling pirouettes, BHS-BHS 2 feet-layout, Onodi-sheep
Notable D-scores: 6.2 UB, 6.3 BB
Why Luo Huan: For this. The best beam routine of the year, without question. Such a pity she was three years too young for Antwerp. Luo Huan is another princess of technique, execution and extension. Just look at that Onodi and double pike, and the layout which hangs in the air..I think there's a tiny skip there but it's still massive. She has the same precision on bars, with no less than three lovely pirouettes and a sky-high Jaeger. Ignore the silly fall. She is essentially a joy to watch and amongst a nation of bars and beam queens, still manages to stand out. 

Name: Yuan Xiaoyang
Turns Senior: 2015
YOG elegible: Yes
Best event: Vault
All-arounder: Edit: Maybe. The 2.8 bars routine is not hers actually!
Skills: DTT, BHS-BHS 2 feet-Layout, switch ring leap.
Notable D-scores: 6.0 VT, BB
Why Yuan Xiaoyang: She's powerful, basically. Has a better build than quite a few of her fellow national team members, which is always helpful. Not quite as clean as the two above who are really quite textbook, but could be just as useful if not moreso since of course, vault is an issue with this team. Her inferior execution is explained by her late entry to the sport, she started off a diver no less, so hasn't had as much grounding in basics as the others. Her floor hasn't reached the same level as vault and nor has Wang Yan's actually, but I'm optimistic that both have the goods and the power to build difficult routines. Surprisingly, Yuan Xiaoyang is also good on beam, with a high difficulty solid routine. She may not be the most stylish or with standout execution but I have a feeling she might prove the old adage 'slow and steady wins the race'.

Beam Floor Unfortunately her DTT is not to be found, but it exists I swear..

Name: Lv Jiaqi
Turns Senior: 2016
YOG elegible: No
Best event: Beam
All-arounder: At the moment UB/BB but..I think she could well be
Skills: switch ring leap, BHS-BHS 2 feet-Layout-wolf jump-scissone, BHS-LOSO (go on, add another!), Lin
Notable D-scores: 6.0 UB, 6.3 BB
Why Lv Jiaqi: She's oldschool, I always feel like I'm watching a Chinese gymnast from the 90's glory days. There is an elegance and presence in the way she moves and performs that is beyond her years. Another who shines on beam and bars, but in a different way I feel. I thought last year she might be one of the fan favourites whose gymnastics is great to watch but who doesn't really get anywhere, but she has definitely shown this year that she means business. I'm hoping her floor and vault can progress too. And if your eyes watered at the killer dead hang below, the good news is she's in a good group to learn some shaps.

If you're looking for her on youtube, her name is Lv, or Lu with an umlaut (which stubbornly refuses to paste correctly..). Writing Lu will find the Lu (umlaut) videos though.


Bars Beam


Name: Wang Wei
Turns Senior: 2014
YOG elegible: No
Best event: Floor
All-arounder: Bars are not her thing..I'm going with no
Skills: DTY (?) DLO, tucked full-in, triple twist, round off-layout
Notable D-scores: 5.8 VT (?), 6.0 BB, 5.6 FX
Why Wang Wei: Two main reasons; she can tumble AND she's turning senior next year, when she is badly needed in the small pool of girls China have for Nanning. It's quite an impressive skill selection she has on floor, with some connections either from tumbling or dance, it would boost her difficulty higher still. Her vault, as seen above, is in question. There WAS a DTY. It has not appeared in a good while and has caused some issues with bad landings, so she has reverted to a FTY. She's still classed as having a DTY and it may well reappear (safely, hopefully!) so I will leave it as a mystery. Leaps are not Wang Wei's friend and they're in sharp contrast to the girls above, but I wouldn't write off her beam either.

Beam
Floor

Other juniors to nerd up on: Fan Yilin 1999, Qin Chang 1999, Mei Jie 1999, Xu Chujun 1999, Zhou Linlin, 2000. It might be difficult as youtube is not overwhelmed with videos of Chinese juniors. But, names to keep in mind. Fan Yilin is glorious on bars, Qin Chang's event is beam, Mei Jie beam and bars, Xu Chujun beam and floor and Zhou Linlin leans towards AA.

There is quite obviously a dearth of floor workers and vaulters, and a gap as the glut of new seniors will be 2015 and 2016 - next year is lacking bigtime. Of course, China spend longer on and care more about basics and flexibility, so skills are added later, compared to other countries.  I don't think they will be able to pull off great results next year under the circumstances. But I do expect the gymnasts mentioned here to make their mark. It's not unusual for teams to have off years and while China has deeper problems such as filtering by body type still, they can be up at the top again. 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Rebeca Andrade fixes the lights

Clicky.

I know the camera is not steady but that IS McKayla Maroney-high. It's not her first competitive one, she seemed to lose it for a while. But it's back with a bang! :O This netted her 15.850 in team finals/AA and she also unsurprisingly took the vault EF title. Her other events, especially bars, are being whipped into shape so she isn't quite showing her full potential anywhere else yet, not that that's a bad thing as a 2015 senior.

Longer post about the weekend's gymnastics is..in the post.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

China's New Bonus System/COP and Superhuman Simone

China are set to introduce a new bonus system and COP changes for all of their internal competitions. This system aims to boost innovation and difficulty, particularly in areas where they are weak as a country. The source is here- unsurprisingly, it doesn't translate well in google, but luckily I had a perfect translation of it :)

FLOOR

- F skill +0.1 G skill +0.2 H skill +0.3 (no super unrealistic provision for I skills I see. G and H are very optimistic already. G is the Dos Santos 2, H are the double double tucked and full twisting double layout).

- Max +0.5 for good artistry

- + 0.1 for E dismount or above

- Bonus for D+B turn combination (not sure amount)

VAULT

- Female junior gymnasts cannot choose basic front tuck/pike vaults.

- +1.0 for vaults worth 6.3 or more (*coughamanar*)

- +0.3 for DTY, DTT etc, +0.5 for Rudi

BARS

-  +0.3 Pak full (Bhardwaj) or Shap full (Seitz). Extra 0.1 if either are connected to another skill.

- -0.2 deduction for each extra kip-cast-handstand for more than three kip-cast-handstands.

- +0.1 for E bars dismount, +0.3 for F (Example- Fabrichnova. Presumably if someone does a G rated dismount they'll get this bonus too).

-0.1 for flight series of D+D, 0.2 for D+E or more.

BEAM

- +0.2 triple twist dismount, +0.4 full twisting double back dismount. (The latter is almost funny but Chinese gymnast Jiang Wei invented it in 1980).

GENERAL

- +0.1 stick bonus.

- -0.3 Double front salto cowboying, except on vault. Not sure of the correct term- knee and leg separation?

- -0.2 Crossed legs in twisting.

- Female juniors in their last year before turning senior may not compete at Junior Nationals or the Intercity Games. This is a great move, discourages peaking at the wrong time and lessens the risk of burnout and inopprtune injuries. aids burnout and. For instance, as an old China hand pointed out to me, Zeng Siqi has never fully bounced back from an ankle injury she sustained at the 2011 Intercity Games, her last year as a junior.

- Female senior gymnasts must compete at least two events to qualify for event finals on any one event. Their 2 event total must be higher than the total of 85% of the rest of the gymnasts. Juniors must compete three, and their total must be higher than the total of 80% of the rest of the field. Essentially, MOAR all-arounders please.

- The format of team finals is changing to 6-4-4 for senior nationals and 4-4-3 for junior nationals. Each team should have 4 all-arounders.

So China says death to the one-event specialist, the ubiquitous double pike beam dismount and double layout bars dismount. What do you think of this system? I like the sound of it, in parts it's fairly unrealistic, but it should hopefully encourage innovation as well as drag them up in power events. I do think it's expecting quite a lot, particularly ambitious with dismounts, vault and tumbling. That just won't happen overnight, though I trust they're fully aware of that. The Bhardwaj and Seitz are strange skills to pick out. They are both so rare, and while I love both of them, I think I would have preferred if it was more general in terms of transitions. China are not ones to bring out half-arsed skills so I'm not afraid of that, but I am afraid of greater risk of injury, especially when you have girls with frames that are quite frail and injury-prone, in comparison to for instance the American gymnasts who ARE throwing the hardest tumbles and dismounts that China want to reward.


Speaking of superhuman Americans, a video of Simone Biles throwing a double double off beam emerged last night. It's here. You think her current skill set is exciting enough, until you're blown away by the skills she has thrown/is throwing in training. These include, but are undoubtedly not limited to: the above, triple twisting Yurchenko, triple twisting double back, double arabian full out, standing double tuck and double double laidout. Not to mention the more mundane Cheng, Bhwardwaj, double arabian piked and double arabian tucked. I know I have recently written a post complaining about extreme difficulty, but in this case I have faith in Simone's coaches not to overload her. She only does what she is capable of truly mastering. Check the landing on that double double though, her chest is fully upright. There are issues of course, 1) stamina to do it after a full routine and 2) In this video it's not into a pit but it is lower than the floor. Still, I think she could include at least one of her madder skills in the future. I fully understand how and why a good portion of people do not favour her gymnastics, but wow is she exciting.