Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Update on Russia

Evgeny Grebenkin, the new Russian head coach, has just given an interesting interview. You can find it in English here. The first interesting, but perhaps not surprising, point he makes is that he does not have gymnasts to replace the London team..unlike America, who can. The girls will have to compete, except of course Komova, who will be out for about the first half of this year. He also states that they have four good junior gymnasts born 1998-1999 who will be prepared for Rio. They have more than four, but perhaps his words should be taken to mean great, or with great or star potential. Undoubtedly these include Maria Kharenkova, Maria Bondareva and Viktoria Kuzmina. The fourth is harder to pinpoint- I kind of hope it's Daria Spiridonova. Evgeniya Shelgunova, who is now a senior, will be given experience in world cup events. Interesting to see if she lands a Euros spot or not.

Russia's most important senior gymnasts are of course, Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova. Komova is out of Russian Championships and Euros, and too young for Universiade. She will be gunning for worlds. Aliya will probably compete one or two events at Euros, more fully at Universiade and with all guns blazing for worlds. She has said her main priority is Universiade, though that doesn't mean she won't be at Euros..she probably will. She does say other competitions depend on her availability, which I read as doesn't want to say worlds when it's so far away. Ksenia Afanasyeva and Anastasia Grishina could still be core members. It's really hard to know where they are at, especially Grishina. Anna Dementyeva could definitely be a part of major teams if she continues to cope with her growth spurt and really overcomes her former inconsistency. Especially valuable on beam, while Afan if she just continues to be a beam and floor specialist could really compete throughout the quad. Grishina could be right up there as an all-arounder and capable of medalling in three out of four event finals. Hopefully her new coaches can prepare her to realise her full potential.

Who else is there? Anastasia Sidorova, who was injured before London. She's one to watch at Russian Championships to see how useful she could be. Likewise Anna Rodionova, who looks to have grown quite a bit. Maria Paseka is definitely still in the mix, especially as it looks like she's training a much more difficult second vault. Tatiana Nabieva is still on the National Team and a strong prospect for Universiade, but I don't see her making other teams. Maybe as alternate. New seniors Ekaterina Baturina, Yulia Tipaeva and Evgeniya Shelgunova are certainly in the mix, depending on difficulty. Shelgunova remains the brightest prospect, because although she needs a lot of work on her form, she has very good difficulty and a lot of fighting spirit and determination. She could be the Aly Raisman rock for her team this quad I think.

I think at Euros we'll be seeing Aliya Mustafina, Anna Dementyeva, Ksenia Afanasyeva and one of Anastasia Grishina/Evgeniya Shelgunova/Anna Rodionova. Right now I'm leaning towards Shelgunova for it. At Universiade..Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva, Ksenia Afanasyeva, Anna Dementyeva and Ekaterina Kramarenko. Worlds is very tough to say, though I know I already did predictions for it.

Who do you want to see shine for Russia this year? This quad? Do you see Viktoria Komova fully regaining her 2010 self? My own favourites are Mustafina, Demy, Rodionova and further on in the quad, the trio of Bondareva, Kharenkova and Kuzmina. I think Russia will struggle in collecting hardware until 2015, when they have their full battalion.


  1. "She has said her priorities are Universiade and worlds"
    I remembered I read the news whcih omly said that her priority is Universiade ?! :-O
    But I like Aliya and I'm willing to see her on more major comps. :)

    What do you think about Paseka? Your prediction is no where to see her.
    I think she will be at Euros and Universiade, Idon't want to see that consequence though...

    I don't think Demmy will get a certain spot in Euros due to her inconsistency. Universiade is more possible for her.

    I want to see Kharenkova shine this quad ♥(in Senior, not this yeat as I hope she won't get hurt badly due to upgrade her difficulty too fast.)
    And I want GRISHINA shine this year and this quad!! (Aliya shine this year as well:P)

    p.s. I decided to use my English name to comment here:P (due to see some impolite anonymous comment:( )

    1. You're right. I went back and translated it again, what she actually says after Universiade is 'participation in all other competitions will depend on my availability at a particular moment'. I must have read too much into that the first time, though it does seem that she would be gearing towards worlds but not counting her chickens because it's sooo far away.

      I'm on the fence about Paseka. She is only useful on one event, and her amanar when it was needed was not even that high scoring. Now more than ever with the amanar downgraded, a fabulous DTY would score almost as well. It depends if she can bring another useful event back and improve on vault. Certainly I wouldn't count her out, but for the moment I'm not sure she will make major teams.

      I think if Demy continues to show improvement (KILLER beam routine!) at Russian championships then she could be a very good bet for a Euros spot.

      I really like Kharenkova but she seems a little fragile to me which is worrying. Still, she's young. Her bars are getting worse, but she's great on the other events so very valuable. I hope she can improve her bars..she still has another year before she's senior. And yes it would be glorious if Grishina performed to her full potential!

    2. Compared to Komova, I guess Aliya has less desire for more comps, and whether her coach will go to Brazil is an important factor to her decision.
      But I doubt Russia has other gymnasts who can replace her this year or even next year...
      IMO last quad if Russia didn't have Aliya in team comps, they won't get gold or silver except for 2011 when Romania is rebuilding their team by B&B and China is awful all last quad even if they have Komova and Grishina.

      I agree your point to Paseka.I think she couldn't improve her form much due to her injusies.(It's impossible that she can get back her form to 2009 when she was still gorgeous on FX and VT.) But after watching recent training video, I think coaches have lots of expectation on her, so she will have many chance this year maybe.
      I don't think it's wise to upgrade Paseka's vault difficulty. That just put her in a high risk of getting serious injury, but it seems no other vaulters in Russia can use like her now.

      Russia lacks steady beam workers,(uh... maybe lacks consistent gymnasts :P) it's a good chance to Demy. Good luck to her.

      This year is very important to Kharenkova's Senior career...btw, do you think she can do Y900 in the future? and it's just me or do you also think her toepoint is somewhat strange?

    3. They need to have more fire in their gymnasts as a whole, they refuse to have a sports psychologist but I think it's a good idea. Aliya has said that gymnastics is her life at the moment, I doubt she will consider retiring before Rio unless circumstances dictate, like a string of injuries. I don't see her being at world cups or competitions like Jesolo or whatever, really just internal Russian Championships and major competitions. The other comps are for the rest to gain experience.

      Paseka has been so unlucky with injuries. I like her, she could maybe get a usable floor together and on bars she was training a release combination last Septemeber which is awesome. In the most recent video it looks like she's preparing for a Rudi or Cheng..though of course, it may be for floor and not her second vault. Yes, aside from Aliya and Vika and Maria herself, their best vaulters are probably Myzdrikova and Pavlova.

      Yes, and for Sidorova too I think if she is fully recovered and has upgrades. Komova being out of Euros is a good thing for both of them. And Rodionova.

      Yes! It's like she can do it perfectly but is lazy! It makes her look slightly unpolished. Actually, it reminds me so much of Rebecca Tunney when I see that. As for an amanar...hmm. Her FTY is great and looks ripe for a DTY but I'd need to see that first.

    4. Yes!! They really should have had a sport psychologist since many years ago as they always made serious mistakes in big comps... (even in minor comps like world cups, jesolo etc.)
      I see, anyway I'm willing to see her in competitive form more years:P

      Actually I knew few about her injuries. I just watched her form from gorgeous to ugly and then I guessed she must get serious injuries... What happened to her? :-O
      I think she seems to have less potential on bars as she wasn't fluid on swing and have a few form issues while she is 18 this year. Most of all, I really doubt if she has enough engery to complete a full bars routine but have few mistakes especially when she add the release what she trained last September to her routine.
      As for her floor,it is the same problem as bars.Iwatched the FX routine (this, and I don't think I should expect her to upgrade on floor... this was definitely a waterdowned routine though.
      Yes, and there has no chance to Myzdrikova and Pavlova obviously.

      Oh, I forgot Sidorova.Hope she can get a spot in this year as well as Demy, Rodionova etc.who were born before 1997, or there will be much less chances for them after this year.

      That is really a bad habit:( I hope she can improve that before next year:P I think Tunney's problem isn't same as Kharenkova's but more like Larisa's.

      Yeah, maybe we can see her DTY in the latter half of this year.

      (p.s. sorry for my poor English. I so want to connent in Mandarin Chinese :P )

    5. I know little about it too...there was an article that I now can't find. Essentially, leg injuries in that she was lucky to be okay in time for London and for Euros before it. She did have surgery at some point. She switched from artistic to aerobic gymnastics and then back again and got injured..and then only emerged as an Olympic contenders a few months before the Olympics, so not much on her compared to the others. You can see at the Olympics that she quite unusual curved tape supporting her.

      I don't hold out much hope for Paseka on other events..but it would be nice to be surprised.

      Yeah I picked Tunney not so much for her toepoint but because she too is a long lean gymnast who has an unpolished quality that lets her down. In Iordache's case, I'm not sure she can improve her toepoint. But Kharenkova looks like she can but isn't bothered..

      Your English is great! You would not want to see me writing outside of my native language :P

  2. I am rooting for Grishina.

    A healthy, in shape, confident, consistent grishina with faboulous bars, beam, and floor is a big threat. I really Hope she gets her act together. I think they should have grishina focus in bars, beam, and floor as they have plenty if solid vaulters.

    1. I hope so too. It's so sad that out of the 3 of their strongest gymnasts, two are headcasey or fragile.

  3. am i living in fantasy land that i want anna pavlova to come back? i wonder if she was able to up her vault difficulty she could seriously challenge paseka.

    i really want to see grishina succeed. poor thing had a horrendous olympics, and she's got so much good gymnastics in her still im sure!

    1. Haha yes a bit. She is winning vault titles and minor AA titles everywhere and competing so much...but she ain't getting back on the national team, ever. Without that, she'll never be able to really challenge the other girls. She is pretty much blacklisted. Her passion to continue and for the sport itself is incredible. Full of admiration for her. There are a few on the national team showing less Anna Myzdrikova who was once fabulous but has deteriorated badly, sadly.

    2. Why is Pavlova black listed?

    3. For Beijing, being old, injured and still inconsistent. Apparently she also had a falling out sometime in 2009, but don't know exactly with whom or why. She's still strong on vault, floor and beam so there's no reason not to add her in..except a grudge, which appears to be the case.

    4. i knew she was blacklisted but never knew why! for her beijing vault disaster, is that what you mean?

      i feel like it's such a slap in the face to her to not even be considered for anything. we need to add her to the "we want a tell all book from her!" list ;)

    5. In general. She is blamed for Russia coming away with no medals, because she was the one who should have been able to pick up a few in her own right. The vault 0, falling off beam and messing up her second pass and running out of bounds on floor in TF, missing an element and small errors in beam finals, stumbling on one pass and falling on her last one in floor's a sad litany. AA was fine, but her difficulty wasn't enough and she was only decent on bars, in a code that demanded either spectacular bars or insane difficulty. She qualified to the AA, anchored her team in TF, and qualified to 3/4 event finals. They were relying on her to deliver.

      No, but she is still competing and doing well. I think it's great that she has such passion.