Monday, 1 July 2013

Antwerp musings

So the team for Japan has been named, and the elite season for the US has not even begun. Most gymnastics programmes are somewhere in between, but a picture of the main players is definitely swiftly emerging.

Teams

In America, the first elite meet, Classics, is just under a month away. Traditionally, this meet can often be a splatfest as the girls use it to test new routines in preparation for Nationals. The Olympic team plus alternates have already qualified through to Nationals and so have the girls who competed internationally so far this season- so Maroney, Ross, Biles, Price, Nichols, Priessman, Dowell and Ernst do not need to compete at Classics but more than likely will anyway. Katelyn Ohashi is presumed out as she is not training yet, Sarah Finnegan is still recovering, and the status of Peyton Ernst is not known as she too had surgery recently. We can pretty much assume that Simone Biles is a lock for Antwerp unless she's injured. Her biggest problem is consistency as she could blow everyone else out of the water for difficulty if she includes one or two upgrades this year, but not if she biffs a bar release. No, not the TTY which as we have seen is not yet ready (if you have not seen it- she gets it around enough to be credited, but it's slightly under. She does not have the height and lands in a deep squat, deeper than sitting- and then falls back. She states that it is scary because her upper body gets it around but her lower body twists slower and her feet don't get around, making it a recipe for ACL tears if she competes it before she masters it) but maybe the full-in double layout, double wolf turn on floor and/or arabian on beam. Simone is the strongest all-arounder that they have, and can potentially qualify for all 4 event finals.

With the more than probable absence of previous contenders Katelyn Ohashi and Jordyn Wieber, the composition of the rest of the team is up in the air. Kyla Ross I would call at this stage another lock, though she needs a hefty upgrade stick to beat off the challenges Brenna Dowell, Ebee Price and Lexie Priessman pose for the second all-around spot. Even if she loses out for the second AA spot in prelims, her bars and beam are definitely needed and should get her easily into both finals. Medalling is quite another matter- her bars would need to approach 6.6+ and her beam roughly the same, the latter is quite a tall order. So, spots one and two are thought to be nearly guaranteed as long as both girls stay healthy. There will be another spot going to be a vault/floor specialist, to complement Simone and potentially take home more than one medal in both finals. McKayla Maroney, Ebee Price, Lexie Priessman and Mykayla Skinner are all contenders for this spot. McKayla, as we have seen, has her amanar back and her old vault, the Lopez. She is also training a double layout which is new, and a double arabian which isn't new but hasn't featured in her routines in years. Her floor could definitely break 6.0 but the combination of her passes she plans on competing is unknown. 3.5 twist or double layout, 2.5-front layout, 1.5- double arabian (unfortunately the dance-through video appears to indicate a hurdle for a 1.5 for the third pass :( and which had so better have the 1.5 placed earlier in her run or she's sunk already) and double pike would probably be the best bet. I don't see her competing the 3.5 twist AND double layout as she was never one for killer endurance on floor, even though she has grown.

Mykayla Skinner has a 6.5 floor routine, and 6.4 and 6.3 vaults. She has trained a half-on double full (Cheng half) though it's unknown if it's something she played around with once or could actually be done this year- after all, her Cheng is explosive. All of which makes her very, very interesting. Lexie Priessman has a full potential on floor of 6.7, not yet competed, and her second vault is unknown. Ebee's second vault is supposed to be a Mustafina, so 6.3 and 6.0 difficulty. McKayla is the one with Olympics and Worlds experience of course, whereas gymnasts like Mykayla have no international experience at all. Should be a great battle. That leaves one spot left, and they don't really have any amazing specialists aside from vault and floor remaining unless Katelyn is back in time to potentially take gold on beam. If not, a solid back-up like Brenna Dowell, who MAY be able to take the second all-arounder spot is the best bet. Ebee too is another very strong contender for that spot. But we might get an unknown like Abigail Milliet, who has a very strong beam routine in training- proving herself capable of medalling at worlds. I do see a team of Biles, Ross, Dowell (insert healthy Ohashi here) and Maroney being the most likely. But I wouldn't bet on it! Nevertheless, my team consists of:

Simone Biles, AA, VT, FX and UB and BB attempts
Kyla Ross, battling for AA with Dowell, UB and BB
Brenna Dowell, battling for AA with Ross, FX and UB attempts
McKayla Maroney, VT and FX attempt.

Beam and bars are not THAT strong but not weak enough to be called a void. Vault, floor and the AA itself are bursting with potential medals.

Romania are only utilising 3 spots. This time I would put money on this team's composition of Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar and Sandra Izbasa. But don't be fooled by such lack of depth, as these three are fierce contenders for medals. Although Sandra placed an astonishing fifth in the London AA, it is expected she will do vault and floor only. I say 'only' but the fact is she would be a favourite to take medals on both. The other two will compete all-around. Larisa, with her swish new second vault and 6.9 beam difficulty should have no issues making a number of finals, though she could potentially be pushed out of floor finals if Sandra and Diana (with upgrades) score higher. She's the favourite for gold on beam and is expected to feature on the AA podium. Vault and floor are definitely much more uncertain, especially vault where her current difficulty is not the highest. Her biggest weakness, big surprise, is a weak and badly composed bars routine which lost her the Euros AA gold despite a huge lead after the other three events. She needs upgrades to in any way overcome the handicap her bars pose to her AA chances. Diana's bars are a little better, except for her releases, but her difficulty here is far too low. Her beam too is just 5.9. On a happier note, she is FINALLY getting a new floor routine this summer. Her best shot for a medal is floor, and even then she could get squeezed out of the final if she does not upgrade and if Sandra is back to her best on that event. Bad news for Ana Maria Ocalisan and Stefanie Stanila who once again are not being given a chance. They may not be ready to represent Romania in a major competition...because they don't get any assignments! So this team, barring injuries, will be:

Larisa Iordache AA, BB, VT and FX (battle with teammates)
Diana Bulimar AA, FX (see above)
Sandra Izbasa VT, FX (see above)

With the exception of Viktoria Komova who was injured at the start of this year, last year's Russian Olympic team have not taken a break from training. Which is just as well since this year's seniors are sadly not up to much- with the exception of steady but Sheep-pak'd Evgeniya Shelgunova who appears to be injured. Ekaterina Baturina is probably the second strongest new senior but her difficulty leaves a lot to be desired. If Viktoria Komova is healthy, then she is on this team. So too is Aliya Mustafina who has competed a few times already and will do so again at Universiade. Viktoria's AA scoring potential will be enormous if she's fully recovered, and she should quite easily qualify to bars finals, beam too. Aliya is having quite a few issues with her beam, but she did hit a completely steady routine this year and one or two others that were nearly as good. She's expected to add 0.4 to her bars to up them to 6.7, more than likely a carbon copy of her London routine as difficulty has gone down in the new code. The third spot will go to Ksenia Afanasyeva, who unlike most veterans who stay the same or go downhill, has actually improved. She added bars back to her arsenal but she won't compete them at Universiade. She also has an amanar in the works and is training a full-in double layout. Her floor difficulty is the highest yet competed (Mykayla Skinner competed hers this year in the JO code) so far this year and she stands a great chance of medalling there. If she can hit bars then she's also a very good AA backup. The fourth spot will I think go to Maria Paseka. Even if she just competes the DTY, she should qualify for finals. Anastasia Grishina on the other hand, even if she hits every routine is unlikely to qualify for any final above her teammates. If Viktoria is not ready in time, then Anastasia would take her spot. If Maria proves unable to hit her vaults then I'd take Alla Sosnitskaya instead. My Russian team is:

Aliya Mustafina AA, UB and BB and FX attempts
Viktoria Komova AA, UB, BB
Ksenia Afanasyeva FX
Maria Paseka VT

For the Chinese team, worlds falls just in between two other major competions- the first of which, National Games, is actually more important to them. There are a bunch of retirements of the Beijing and London Olympians expected right after this meet, but should any of them hit and win medals I think we can expect a little delay in their retirement plans. There is only one new senior of importance this year, Lou Nina, and she is out with an arm injury. Consequently, we can expect Yao Jinnan as a lock for this team. In particular, she needs more upgrades on floor to fulfil her AA potential. She is, however, training probably the most exciting upgrade we'll see all year- a Mo Salto! I'd also put Shang Chunsong on this team. Tiny Shang has impressive difficulty across three events, and may yet grow enough to execute a DTY. She has proven herself to be inconsistent however, though not nearly as much as gymnasts like Huang Qiushuang who made a number of important teams on the back of her difficulty. No matter who else goes on the team, they will be fighting amongst each other to make bars and beam finals. They do have a very good vaulter, Li Yiting, but her vaults are quite unpredictable and a bit scary. The third spot will I think be up for grabs between bars specialists Tan Jiaxin and veteran He Kexin, depending on who hits in September. I know Huang Huidan is the one who snatched gold earlier this year but she's very flaky and I don't expect her to hit again when it counts, sadly. Although Yao Jinnan and Shang Chunsong are top quality beamers, I'd still take a beam specialist like Sui Lu or Zeng Siqi for the last spot, due to the lack of floor/vault specialists.

Yao Jinnan AA, UB and BB attempt
Shang Chunsong AA, UB, BB and FX attempt
Tan Jiaxin/He Kexin UB attempt
Zeng Siqi/Sui Lu BB attempt

Japan's team is a bit of a no-brainer, seeing as it has already been named. Two-time Olympian Yu Minobe joins the girls long seen as locks- Asuka Teramoto, Natsumi Sasada and Mai Murakami. The question is, who will join Asuka in the AA? Mai is the obvious bet, but she has very very rarely hit 4/4. For that reason, Natsumi is the best choice. Mai will be looking to make floor and vault finals, Yu beam finals, Asuka bars, beam and floor and Natsumi beam and floor...though she's very very shaky and beam is unlikely for her. Their best hope for a medal is Mai on floor, whose difficulty ranges from 6.0 to a monster 6.7. The latter is very unlikely to ever be credited, as her tumbling and dance skills have unfortunately gone downhill compared to when she was a junior.

Asuka Teramoto AA, BB, UB and FX attempt
Natsumi Sasada AA, BB and FX attempt
Mai Murakami FX and VT attempt
Yu Minobe BB attempt

Canada have lost some of their best seniors to NCAA- Brittany Rogers, Peng Peng Lee and Kristina Vaculik which is more than a bit of a blow. Nevertheless, they do have quite a few promising seniors. Girls like Victoria Moors and Ellie Black are locks if they are healthy. Victoria, who is training a double double laidout, unfortunately had a disastrous time at Nationals as she was sick and had calf issues. Even with that, she has competed very strongly when healthy and her floor is really her ticket to the team as it has huge medal potential. Ellie is a fierce competitor and has made great strides on previously weak events, bars and beam. I'd add Gabriella Douglas and Maegan Chant to this team, the former for her spectacular floor and the latter for her vaulting- not super strong yet, but showing enormous potential there and both need the experience to improve. This team, like Japan, is fairly devoid of someone for bars but should do well anyway.

Victoria Moors AA, FX
Ellie Black AA, FX, VT and BB attempt
Gabriella Douglas FX and BB attempt
Maegan Chant VT and FX attempt

Britain are not exactly in a brilliant position, they have lost the excellent Gabby Jupp to an ACL tear, Rebecca Tunney had a disastrous comeback from injury recently, new seniors like Georgina Hockenhull and Angel Romaeo have not proven themselves yet, bars specialists Ruby Harrold and Becky Downie have fallen more times than they have hit and seriously strong gymnasts like Amy Tinkler, Tyesha Matthis, Ellie Downie and Catherine Lyons are all juniors. Beth Tweddle has refuted rumours that she is retiring but she is almost certainly not going to suddenly knock out a killer 7.0 bars routine as she's still taking a break. Rebecca and Hannah Whelan have definitely not had great competitions so far this year, but both have plenty of time to improve on what they have shown. I believe Rebecca aside from the long break with her recovery, has also grown a bit which will of course impact her routines. That said, I'd put both girls on the team to do AA. In a similar vein, despite the inconsistency of both Becky and Ruby, they are still good hopes for the bars final if they don't fall, so they'd be on the team also.

Rebecca Tunney AA, FX, UB attempt
Hannah Whelan AA, FX attempt
Becky Downie UB attempt
Ruby Harrold UB attempt

Italy's Vanessa Ferrari has made noises about retirement but she's been competing so much this year and just won the AA at Mersin so I think she'll hang on until after worlds. Her presence alone is a huge motivation and boost for the rest of the team. Along with her I think Elisa Meneghini will do the AA and then some combination of Carlotta Ferlito/Giorgia Campana/Elisabetta Preziosa for the other two spots..but I think we'll see Carlotta and Giorgia.

Vanessa Ferrari AA, FX, BB, UB attempt
Elisa Meneghini AA, FX and BB attempt
Carlotta Ferlito FX, BB attempt
Giorgia Campana FX, UB, BB attempt

The All-Around

For a Post Olympic year, I don't think we run the risk of a weak field whatsoever. (In 2005, Monette Russo won bronze and in 2009, Koko Tsurumi). The top Russian and Romanian girls have not taken a break, and while some of the Americans are only getting back to training now, there are enough that the idea of them scrambling to field two top all-arounders is ludicrous. Currently, Simone Biles is the one to beat. She boasts huge difficulty- 6.3 vault and beam, 6.2 floor and 6.1 bars. It's quite likely she'll sneak some upgrades into floor and beam also. Aliya Mustafina has 5.8 vault, 6.3 bars, 6.4 beam and 6.1 floor. Similarly, she has upgrades planned for bars and her beam difficulty may reach 6.7 or higher. The key for both girls is to stay on the beam. That won't be an issue for Larisa Iordache who could well be dragged down by her weak bars instead, but her 6.9 solid beam is a huge boost for her. Her floor is 6.2 and her vault 5.8. Her bars were in and around 5.7 but she can upgrade there. It's far from concrete how USA's second all-arounder will be but we should, from past experience, except them to be strong. China's Shang Chunsong could well be up there if she gets a DTY- her difficulty is 6.7-8 bars, 6.6 beam and 6.1 floor. Yao Jinnan could be the slow and steady threat for bronze either. We are of course, far too far out to really pick the medals but this lot plus a healthy Viktoria Komova are definitely in the forefront for medals.


Vault

Astonishingly deep, potentially much moreso than the lacklustre Olympic final. Expect Simone Biles, a second American, Phan Thi Ha Thanh, Giulia Steingruber, Ri Un Ha, Janine Berger, Oksana Chusovitina, Noel Van Klaveren, Chantysha Netteb, Alexa Moreno, Jade Barbosa, Adrian Gomes, Mai Murakami, Hong un Jong, Ellie Black, Maegan Chant, Sandra Izbasa, Maria Paseka, Yamilet Pena, Fadwa Mahmoud and Larisa Iordache to bring all they can to the (vault) table.  Let us just hope the Produnova chuckers can get up afterwards..though Yamilet's coaching and injury status is unclear, so maybe she is sticking to safer vaults if possible. Last year has taught us that even the surest of sure things can crash a vault so I will not even attempt to divine a top 8 from this. I'd love to see the top 4 make the final though the latter two failed to do so last year. Giulia is upgrading her second vault- doubling it, but both vaults are in danger of being downgraded or heavily deducted due to piking, unfortunately.

Bars

Although Beth Tweddle has said she's definitely not retiring, but as mentioned above she's not in a position to shine this year. Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova will be expected to be in the front of the hunt for medals- and whichever two Chinese gymnasts qualify. Elizabeth Seitz is doing her Def again, newcomers Sophie Scheder, Jonna Adlerteg and Roxana Popa all have strong sets and the brilliant but inconsistent Ruby Harrold and Becky Downie will be pulling out all the stops to make finals. Kyla Ross, Kim Bui, Asuka Teramoto, Noemi Makra and Lisa Katherina Hill are all ones to watch too. There are also one or two Australians like Maddie Leydin who may be in with a shot. All of last year's routines are down about 0.3 in difficulty in this code so I would be surprised if we saw a 7.0 routine. Certainly the Chinese have a few approaching 6.8 though, and there are quite a few girls doing exciting release-release and/or release-transition combinations in their routine to boost difficulty. Whoever makes the final, it will definitely not be a snoozefest.

Beam

We've all been namedropping Katelyn Ohashi for this title when it emerged that her routine has a 7.2 d-score. Although she is very steady with it, her connections are too slow and consequently she has not yet hit past a 6.8 in competition. That's not saying much, since she only competed twice and is currently recovering from surgery. She may be able to get this event back in time and we shouldn't count her out of the running to make the team, but the focus has definitely shifted onto other high-scoring beam routines, or at least until Katelyn's ability to compete this year is clearer. Larisa Iordache is another favourite, and one who is definitely suffering from a few health issues herself that are hindering her usual precision if her recent performance at Anadia is anything to go by. Larisa's beam difficulty is 6.5, she competed 6.7 at Doha and has now competed 6.9. Certainly the latter is the routine she will be unleashing at worlds, and that will be hard to beat. Shang Chunsong remains a major threat, especially if she can improve her dismount. Simone Biles may increase her beam difficulty to 6.7, and Kyla Ross would be a contender too if she upgrades. We should expect an Italian or two, like Elisa Meneghini and Carlotta Ferlito and maybe a Russian if their routines are steady, but this looks like a clear-cut fight between the Romanians and the Chinese.

Floor

The girl to beat is Ksenia Afanasyeva who whipped out an almost perfect routine at Euros and an upgraded difficulty of 6.4. But Ksenia is inconsistent and there are quite a few snapping at her heels- Simone Biles, the second American, Larisa Iordache, one of Sandra Izbasa/Diana Bulimar, Victoria Moors, Mai Murakami, Giulia Steingruber and more. Full-in double layouts, double doubles, 1.5 twists to tucked full-ins and maybe even laidout double doubles will abound. Definitely not shaping up to be a weak floor final.

I updated the predictions that I did last November. You can see them, marked in blue, here.


Do you disagree with my 'teams'? Who I have missed factoring in for event finals? Will we see a laidout double double or TTY? What will Vanessa Ferrari wear?




48 comments:

  1. Hi there! I've been lurking around here for a while but this is the first time I've posted a comment as I finally got a google account. However, I love your blog! Your analyses are great and I check all the time for updates,

    I think your USA predictions are probably accurate, but I have a soft spot for Ebee and I'd love for her to take the second AA spot, with Kyla competing bars and beam (unless Kyla has majorly upgraded her FX, I don't see her as a real AA threat yet, but I guess we don't know her full passes yet). Also, I'm kind of excited to see Skinner compete her new routines - if she hits, she might be making quite an interesting case for herself.

    I'm so, so excited to see Afan and Didi's new floor routines. I adore Afan on floor, and I have such a soft spot for Diana - maybe remnant from her snub in beam finals this summer, and also because she's adorable. Also, I really hope Aliya gets her beam in order because I'd love to see her win big in Antwerp. What do you make of her beam falls recently?

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    1. Hi, and thank you! :)

      I did find it hard to 'pick' either Brenna or Ebee for that spot..not forgetting Kyla could upgrade and does have the superior execution. That said, I'm very impressed with Brenna's improved execution on bars. Considering Kyla is very unlikely to start throwing an amanar again, her floor would need to be above a 6, it was 5.5 last year and 5.3 this year with 3 passes. Usually for a gymnast like her that you can't envisage throwing double layouts or piked double arabians, we could say twisting passes but they're not her thing either, and neither are turns. Sigh.

      Aliya did hit her Zakharova routine perfectly, and one of her earlier ones was steady too. Technically she does not need the arabian which is where she usually has problems. I think her beam depends more on how healthy she is..ankle problems a while ago, back issues this year..rather than her actual readiness on the event. I think she could do a Patterson if her body allows her to.

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    2. True, and Aliya's Zakharova routine was gorgeous. I didn't realize she was having ankle injuries but I can see how that would be a problem on the beam where most of the pressure is on the lower legs and feet. Aliya's one of my favorites, partially since I've torn my ACL before and her comeback has been incredible. I'd love to see her dominate Antwerp, but I also really want Simone and Didi to take home some hardware, so who knows.

      Do you think Yao's Mo salto will be competition worthy?? That would be pretty incredible to see.

      (side note - I can't believe how deep the field is for a post-Olympic year!)

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    3. I think the ankle was last year- she was quite heavily wrapped. This year it's reported to be her back. Oh wow, yes she's an enormous inspiration thanks to coming back from it so strong. The bad news is she's spent a week in hospital and lost that training time from flu- she may still be there. She's not at universiade with the rest of the team- Kramarenko is taking the place I think. However there's quite a lot of pressure on her to compete and she herself really wanted to anyway because the location is important to her as as ethnic Tatar. She may just do bars if she's ready- hopefully she's not pushed to do the AA if she's not ready.

      No idea. We don't even know when that footage is from- it was rumoured at winter training and it could be from there.

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  2. Nice blog! Very well-written.

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  3. I wouldn't be surprised if you got 3/4 or even all of the gymnasts correct on your teams. I think this Worlds will be much better than 2009 (let's hope for no repeats of '09 or '05) because there are many more possibilities for medals instead of a 2 people race. I agree with your updated podiums as well.

    Simone Biles is definitely the one to beat. I really hope she doesn't tear her ACL training the TTY...I'm really hoping Ross will make it as well. If she can't get in through difficulty, she'll beat everyone in execution.

    I still don't understand why so many have such high hopes for Komova. She hasn't competed at all this year. Let's say she DOES have her difficulty back and goes to Worlds. I think she'll crack under pressure. Go Grishina!

    What's with Romania recently? Are their new juniors really not up to standards? At least utilize the final spot for experience, right? Does Izbasa have her full difficulty back on FX and VT? Let's hope Bulimar upgrades (why doesn't she?). Does Iordache have another injury or is she just growing up and adjusting?

    All I have to say for China is...NO Qiushuang!! Yes she can be valuable if she hits, but when does she hit? I think it's smart to leave her out. Are He Kexin and Sui Lu still competing? I thought they retired considering they became seniors in '08.

    I really hope Romania and China do well and win some titles. In terms of gymnastics, those two countries have always been my favorites.

    Anyways, keep up with your blog! Even though it's not well-known, it's really objective and keeps people informed. Thanks!


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    1. Yes, it's so deep considering the post-Olympic year that's in it.

      I get the impression both from the video, interviews and her ask.fm that Simone and her coaches have no intention of seriously training that vault this year. I think an upgraded second vault could be in the works though..her Lopez is new but already so strong.

      I got the feeling last year that she would be injured and/or recovering. Which is the case, and even though she's proven herself well capable of astonishing gymnastics considering a rush back to readiness for competition...I just don't see it? It would be nice if she could, but even with growth/recovery...her mental game is just not great. It's hard to factor her in at all since we haven't seen her compete in a whole year.

      Romania did assign Andrei and Stanila to a meet recently. Neither girl went and it's thought (but not proven) that Andrei might have left the national team. Ocalisan competed at a junior meet recently, despite being senior. Very very few videos have emerged of it- but the general impression was that there was nothing special about her gymnastics. They're quite secretive, both girls may have been injured I suppose. Izbasa said after Euros that she has floor back but not vault. That was a while ago now...I'd imagine she'll have both. She didn't compete at Euros because she lost training time due to college assignments.

      Bulimar did compete a harder beam routine at LRSY world cup, but fell twice. But it wasn't harder acro upgrades, just dance. Iordache has definitely grown and Bellu alluded to having to show down her training prior to Euros due to some 'small injury issues'. It's not known if it's connected to her plandular fasciitis.

      HQS cannot even vault from the regulated distance now. I think they have outgrown the need for her. Yes. Retirements are set to take place after National Games, but if any of them look super-fit and beat younger girls to titles I think they might delay retiring just a bit.

      Thank you!

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    2. He Kexin, Sui Lu, and Deng Linlin have all announced their plans to retire after the National Games in September (along with Huang Qiushuang--good riddance!), but if selected for Worlds, they can probably be persuaded to persevere for another 4-6 weeks.

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  4. Great roundup! I'm definitely agreeing that Worlds so far is looking pretty good, fingers crossed!! In no small part that is due to the boatload of talent the US has and how there haven't been that many retirements yet from the other Big 4.

    US: I generally agree with you, except I too am quite iffy about Dowell vs Ebee. I think Skinner is probably going to be out now that Maroney is back - she's an unknown in competition and there aren't any major political factors working in her favour either. I think it's best that Simone doesn't do the TTY - frankly, there's no need for her to do it for difficulty, and she runs the risk of winding up like Mustafina. Sure it would be nice to have your name on it.. but still.

    Russia: Depressing as always, Grishy looked completely exhausted in FX in Arcadia. I agree with your team - there's not much to choose from in the Russian camp either!

    China: Shang did look quite good recently. She doesn't strike me as terribly inconsistent except for the Shap-half on bars. Would be lovely to see Yao Jinnan again, and I'm really hoping for Sui Lu to return. Out of those who are slated to retire she is the one who strikes me as having a lot more gymnastics left in her. But I'm biased, I like her style and she did get a lot more consistent with time as a senior.

    GBR is pretty depressing as well. Losing Gabby Jupp is a massive disappointment. It's pretty sad when I feel unsure about all top four candidates! I'm much more encouraged by their juniors, Amy Tinkler looks like a decent all rounder and Ellie Downie looks like she'll be a very useful power gymnast especially on FX.

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    1. Losing Jupp is awful, with one or two upgrades she had a chance of making 3 finals and placing top 8 AA. I'm sure Whelan and Tunney can solidify their routines but hitting 4/4 sounds like a tall order for them right now, though we've a few months to go and we'll see Hannah at Universiade soon. The other two are 50/50 with their bars. Tinkler, Matthis and Downie are looking fantastic- can't wait to see how they do in EYOF- I'm presuming this is the team.

      Grishina is heartbreaking. Things were looking up finally after Cottbus and Euros and now it seems like upgrades will never be possible as sometimes her current weak routines are too much for her.

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    2. Sorry for butting in, I've posted on here under Anon before.

      I think Ruby Harrold could potentially do AA especially if she gets her DTY and harder beam dismount back. She also seems steadier on beam than Tunney.

      Grishina breaks my heart too, so lovely to watch.

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    3. I'd like to see Ruby do it if she could. Her beam mount alone deserves to be seen more widely!

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  5. Interesting teams. I didn't know Sandra Izbasa is back training for Romania.

    "Also Canada have lost some of their best seniors to NCAA" - So does that mean those athletes can't participate in the big events like World's etc?

    USA has a deep field, so I am not sure who will make the team. China is going through a transition period so Yao is the only one I know at the moment

    Komova is back healthy from what I've read, I would hope they make her do at least 1 tourney before Worlds to get in shape for it. She will have to do FX as well, because Paseka sure can't do it.

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    1. She never really left, though she hasn't competed yet- Euros clashed with college assignments.

      I think it's moreso a case of won't, not can't. It would be tough to have the time to train elite, actually get back elite routines and endurance- and it would be running against what they're doing in NCAA at that time, which is the beginning of planning routines etc, nothing too heavy. It is true that Danusia Francis is about to compete elite again, but it's been made very clear that she's taking it easy and not pushing the boat out or anything. She can afford to do that for Universiade, but anyone going for worlds would need to be going above and beyond.

      Last I heard was she is 'mostly' back. It will be interesting to see her compete again, but I do hope they don't push her back too soon.

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  6. I don't follow gymnastics as closely as you do, but I love to follow your blog and read all of things you write. I am really in to watching gymnastics; I think it is an absolutely beautiful sport. I also love all of the leotards that the gymnasts wear. Gymnastics really are beautiful.

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  7. I've modified my worlds predictions.

    USA:
    Simone: AA, VT, FX
    Kyla: AA, BB, UB (with upgrades)
    BB, UB (without upgrades)
    Ebee: Fx, VT( If she has a 2nd vault that she can land safely) otherwise switch her with Skinner.
    Brenna Dowell: AA (If Kyla doesn't have upgrades) otherwis switch her with Lexie.

    China: Yao for AA and UB, Shang for BB and UB just so we can see the white socks and the kick ass triple to punch front lol. The remaining two should be two new seniors so they can get experience

    Russia: Afan for FX, Vika for AA and UB, Musty for AA and UB, Paseka for vault. Grishina can sub in for paseka if shes not ready.

    Romania:Larisa for AA and BB, Diana for AA and FX. I'm iffy about Sandra. She's going to face stiff competition for vault and floor. Imo Romania should just bring didi and larisa.

    Canada: Victoria Moors for Fx, ellie black for vault, meagan chant for fx.


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    1. Actually, China doesn't have any new seniors as such. There is Lou Nina but she's out with an arm injury.

      I'd take Sandra if she's ready really.

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  8. more questions than comments!

    1. how do brenna and ebee compare? brenna seems to have stepped it up but how is ebee doing?
    2. how has kaitlyn hofland been progressing? does she have a shot to be on team canada?
    3. can australia send a team to worlds given our abysmal showing in london, or just a couple of girls?
    4. do you know what injury is sarah finnegan dealing with?

    i'd love to be shocked by something surprising in the next couple of months gymnastics wise, like mckayla all of a sudden having a high bars difficulty, jordyn making a surprise return, romania finding a fourth star gymnast for their worlds team, he kexin wining worlds gold.. lol, wishful thinking.

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    1. They're both very similar. They both have amanars, steady good (but not medal-worthy) team-final-esque bars like Jordyn. Both excel on floor, and beam is not brilliant for either. Brenna has upgrades on all 4 events. Ebee looks to have upped her beam difficulty by quite a bit but it's a very weak event for her regarding leaps and execution so that remains to be seen. Brenna could equal her on floor depending on skill selection- double layout, full-in double layout, front double tuck and pike.

      She did okay at Nationals. I think Douglas could edge her out..maybe. It's quite a one-sided team anyway.

      Well 'teams' are 4 girls anyway as there's no TF. I don't know if they can send a team! If not they will probably send someone like Simpson, Monckton or Bonora (not sure about Mitchell's status but I know Ashleigh Brennan retired) but I'd love if they sent Maddie leydin as she has a stacked bar routine.

      More than one- one is shoulder I think.

      Ha I would not be really surprised if HKX won bars gold- she only lost the National games prelims title due to a mistake, and not from being outshone. Still has killer difficulty, it's just endurance and how much she herself would want to go to worlds IF she nails it at national games in september again. She amazed everybody last year hitting so many times in a row after all.

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  9. Hi Catherine! I love your predictions! I found out at rewritingrussiangymnastics that Mustafina is undecided about competing because of the flu. The head coach says she most likely will, but Valentina says that she will just be there to support her teammates. Since Brenna has been doing really well at camp, I think she will make it over Ebee. I agree with you on the US team predictions. For Russia, I agree as well even though it would be sad if they left off Grishina. IMO Anastasia Grishina is the most artistic gymnast on floor. It is sad that Romania is not letting some girls get valuable experience. Otherwise, I agree with the 3 girls. I'm not sure about China though because of all the retirements.

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    1. Yeah I saw that not long after I published this. I hope they don't rush her to do the AA. Bars maybe if she can, she's lost a week of training after all. Such a shame with the timing, especially as she herself really wanted to go as it is an important location for her Tartar ethnicity- it's in that territory.

      Brenna is slightly edging for me right now, but really Classics will tell us a lot. I'm sure there will be falls though.

      I think in the case of China- I heard this elsewhere and it makes SO MUCH sense- that they are all saying they'll retire after national games and not saying worlds because that sounds really arrogant as if they're sure of making the team. If Deng suddenly kicks ass on beam or HKX beats Tan Jiaxin and Huang Huidan on bars then they are in if they want to be.

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    2. I agree with you. They shouldn't rush Musty unless she's ready. It would be nice to see her just do bars because she doesn't need another injury. Aw, that is a shame.

      Yes, Classics will tell a lot. Even the consistent performers fall a lot. I think Nationals will tell a lot as well, but Worlds will really show the girls mentality and ability. For example in 2011 after the splat fest Nationals, the US girls hit everything in the team competition.

      Oh, that makes sense! I would love if Deng and He are going to Worlds!

      Catherine, are you getting footage in Ireland or are you going to watch a live stream for Worlds? In the US, it's delayed for about a week on NBC and I can't watch the stream because of school.

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    3. I'm going to worlds! Not the whole week, but the AA and both EF days. Flights within Europe are extremely cheap so I'm taking advantage of any worlds that are within easy reach (western europe). Flights, hotel and tickets is about 330 euro which is really good.

      If BBC only broadcast prelims, then I'll see if I can watch them on the eurovision stream, which is europe-wide but no commentary. Then I'll either go back and watch the finals on that, or watch on the BBC website- which requires changing IP, but so worth it.

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    4. That's so amazing! My parents would never fly me to a National competition. If I wanted to go to Worlds, it would have to be in California and they still wouldn't be willing to pay unless I used my own money.

      To watch prelims, I would have to skip school and download an IP changer. I've never downloaded one before, so I choose not to and am not allowed to skip school. The gymnastics schedule is not in my favor. Nationals are on my first week of school as well.

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  10. I feel like Kyla has more competition within the US National team than internationally! Does that make sense? Her difficulty isn't so far up there but she's got some of the best execution in the world. I'm really hoping she'll be doing AA.

    I think I read on Gabby Jupp's twitter that she's back in training at the beginning of August. Here's hoping for Worlds 2014! :)- Annie

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    1. Haha yeah, it does. I'm just not sure how can she get her floor up to where it needs to be? She's not strong at tumbling, or twisting, or turns. Hopefully she can do something with it and balance it out with harder beam and bars. But...quiet now...I'm kinda of rooting for Brenna or Ebee to do the AA. Their execution certainly isn't the same but I just enjoy them more. I find Kyla stiff and dull and in her own way, just as bad a dancer as the other two. That still means I want Kyla to do beam and bars though. Awaits lynch mob...

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    2. I've not seen much of Brenna, to be honest. I loooove Ebee. I would pick Ebee and Kyla for AA. Simone is ace, and she seems lovely and her skills are exciting - but I guess I feel a bit about her like you feel about Kyla. Just don't enjoy her gymnastics AS much. Plus she bounces so much out of skills sometimes that I genuinely get a bit anxious!

      I'm glad I don't have to pick the team! - Annie


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    3. Well, I don't think anyone will take the AA spot from Simone. Unless she is injured or performs exceptionally badly this summer. I do think she's a little inconsistent still, but not really enough to say 'no way'.

      She controlled her landings much better at Jesolo. It's the double double and the last pass are the issue there, and the last is getting upgraded. She could add a leap to the first maybe.

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    4. catherine i think you're right about kyla lacking in the dancing skills, but she's lucky she has that lean body to give the illusion of style and she IS graceful, which i still find beautiful to watch. i definitely can see why kyla would be considered boring especially as she doesn't seem to be upgrading, which would give her some more pizazz. i must admit i just like the kid and want her to live up to her potential and be known more as that 5th member of the fierce five.

      i would love to see ebee make a worlds team though, especially if it came down to her and brenna. i suppose their gymnastics are similar but ebee has more spunk somehow.

      it really is subjective though!

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  11. I love all of these!

    USA - I want to put Dowell on the team but can't with 100% confidence until I see those upgraded routines in competition. Same for McKayla - she's looking amazing but will it be enough? Can we safely assume that Ebee is back to the form she was pre-injury? But I agree - barring injury, Simone is 100% on that team.

    Romania - They've been so quiet on the Izbasa front that I'm wondering if she's really training. I think everyone asks why 3 spots instead of 4 and forgets that these things cost money. For a program that's struggling, can't pay coaches, can't motivate a senior team (financially), it's hard to dish out the money for non-EF worthy routines. It's a double edged sword, however, because what incentive do these other seniors have to stay on the team if they're never to be sent anywhere? I think Russia is starting to realize that when they mentioned keeping the older athletes. They may never go to a Worlds or Olympics but at least they get international exposure and serve as motivation and competition for the other seniors.

    Russia - I think we can all agree those are the 4 that are going with a healthy Komova. I really wish Paseka was not, to be honest, but I understand her medal chances are higher. I hope Grishina can come back and reinstate this "troika" as Afan is quickly taking her spot as an AA-er and everyone seems to have more confidence in Afan than in Grishina. Paseka's performance at Universiade will help me decide how I angry I'll be if Grishina doesn't go to Worlds. If Paseka has a performance like Euros at Universiade and goes to Worlds, I may just be crying in a corner...

    China - mostly agree. I think Huang Huidan is a more likely option that HKX just because HKX has mentioned a September retirement for quite some time now. I'm curious who their team will be because although they have no new seniors, they had a lot of new seniors last year who just weren't ready in time and should be able to shine now. No one's really showing dominance like Yao Jinnan has but the potential is still there.

    Canada - Moors, Black, and Chant are locks. I think it will come down to Ella Douglas and Kaitlyn Hofland. Both have great potential but both are wildly inconsistent - inconsistent enough to make me think Canada would only send 4 athletes (again, for the financial reasons). Right now, I'm leaning towards Hofland just because she seems to have had more international exposure. She also has the "international lines" albeit a bit awkward at times while Douglas is a stronger gymnast but an excellent dancer that can spin like a top!

    GBR - Agree. Think I'd add Niamh Rippin to the list of potentials. Niamh will add diversity since she's stronger on FX I believe. Oh, how I wish Downie and Harrold could nail their bar routines! Imagine 2 British in event finals. Imagine 2 with chances of medaling!

    Italy - I feel like I only know Italy in passing but is Menighini a consistently better AAer than Ferlito to warrant the spot? Sadly, I think we have reached the end of the road for Preziosa. She was taken to the Olympics simply for beam where she fell in prelims and team finals. They have a good crop of new seniors and a strong crop of juniors waiting. Although Preziosa is a beautiful gymnast, the inconsistency and the comparatively lower D-score isn't helping her case. Barring multiple injuries to other competitors/Ferrari retirement, I don't see her making major teams this quad.

    Great post!

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    1. My comment was too long. Here was the last bit:

      I'm so excited for vault finals but also terrified! Steingruber tried the Tsuk double in Olympic prelims and fell and that's what cost her a chance in the finals! Does she not do it in prelims at Worlds to avoid the same situation? But there are actually lots of strong vaulters this year that she might not make it! Moreno's Tsuk 1.5 looks good but it's new and her Rudi is very hit or miss in terms of execution. Black had some troubles with her Rudi at Canadian nationals but upgraded to a beautiful Tsuk 1.5. What will she do?! Seeing Steingruber's name as a potential in FX finals makes me happy!

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    2. Thank you!

      USA- Dowell is one of the hardest grafters they have. Not that any of them slack off or anything, but really I think she'll do very well. Her and Ebee are very evenly matched and very similar. Interesting! McKayla will I think at least do vault at Classics, and be looking to add the rest for nationals. I don't see her as a viable AA threat this year at least, but vault and floor and with her experience, she has the edge over girls like Lexie. Ebee did fantastically in the world cups, so looking forward to her.

      Romania- there was footage of her training recently, but I think it was removed. She said herself around Euros that her floor is back but not vault yet, and that she lost training time due to college. I don't think she'll go on much longer than this year but I could definitely see her doing vault and floor this year at least. You're dead right about funding, but it comes after neither girl getting ANY chance before now to compete internationally (except Trnava for Stanila, which she was pulled out of). It speaks volumes that even for the meets that Iordache and Bulimar were pulled from, neither were sent in their place. They have zero motivation to keep training unless Iordache gets injured. They could have and should have sent Stanila/Ocalisan even just to tiny meets. They'll never suddenly be amazing with no competitive experience.

      Russia- Afan said before that she was not going to compete bars at Universiade (WHAT is the deal with her dismount? It's bizarre!) but I'd imagine if Mustafina is definitely not competing that might chance. Nabieva is doing AA I heard? Really must read up on what's going on. I also heard Paseka had added back floor, but she was never amazing there...but who knows.

      China- Huang Huidan is in the Huang Qiushuang school of flaky gymnasts. She hit and got one title because HKX made an error. She usually falls, and even though Tan Jiaxin and Shang Chunsong have issues with that too, I'd put both of them ahead of HHD on bars. HKX is not going to come out and say 'I'll retire after worlds' because that sounds incredibly up herself. BUT if she's in shape, wins the title and wants to go..I think she'll be there.

      Canada- They could choose not to send 4, because it's already such a floor-strong team. It would be great if they had a bars and/or beam specialist but they don't really. I'd send Douglas as she has a better chance of making finals I think, but I don't trust her on beam. Hofland to me screams 'helpful, team gymnast'...I don't believe she could make a final, without upgrades.

      GB- I thought they might send Niamh to Euros. The fact that they didn't said to me they're not going to turn around and give her a bigger assignment, even with Gabby out. After all, Euros had Rebecca and Hannah out, as well as the absence of Beth. But I think they'll maximise the chance of Ruby and Becky to make finals, and still have 2 in the AA.

      Italy- Meneghini did the AA at Euros and did very well. This I think will boost her chances of doing it at worlds, but we'll see. That really is just a 'best guess'.

      And you're terrified for vault finals?? What about me- I'll be sitting by vault! What if a produnova makes it to finals? Ughh the thought of seeing that live..

      I hope Giulia does not do the DTT unless she can nail it consistently. It sucked last year when she and Phan Thi Ha Thanh didn't make finals.

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  12. I think it would be too bad for Katelyn Ohashi not making the team for Worlds (whatever the reasons may be), at least for the sake of the BB competition. Hopefully Kyla Ross or, why not, Simone Biles will be able to pose a serious threat to Larisa Iordache, as the Chinese Siqi Zeng and Chunsong Shang failed to do that so far. As for the two Romanian rookie seniors not again being given a chance to compete, I would't put it that way. Yes, it makes sense to give the chance to gain experience to somebody that is valuable and promising and not to use a world event for training sessions as the Olympic Center in Izvorani is good enough for training. Coach Octavian Bellu clearly stated earlier this year that "Stanila and Ocolisan are not yet ready to be medal contenders". For them, it looks like there is a long way up to the status of "medal contenders".

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    1. Ohashi could still verify her beam in September and be chosen. Simone's beam is currently 6.3, with an upgrade planned to bring it to 6.7..but it's not clear whether she'll do that this year. I don't think an American other than Ohashi can really threaten for a beam medal, unless Kyla's routine has gone up significantly.

      It's not so much that they're not being given this chance..it's the fact that they haven't been given any, at all, not even competitions that Iordache and/or Bulimar have pulled out of..not even Trnava, which Stanila was pulled from. They cannot suddenly improve miraculously with no real competitive experience. And they'll get swallowed up by Munteanu and the 2015 girls. It's a crappy situation. Yes, funding is certainly an issue but if they're not careful, they won't be able to make up teams at all if they won't give anyone other than the stars competitive experience.

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    2. http://fangymnastics.com/2013/06/20/nationalele-junioarelor-i-si-ii-onesti-2013-scurta-analiza/

      I agree with you completely on the Romania situation. In one of your previous blogs, you said there weren't many videos of Rom. Nationals. If you follow the link, you can see some videos (don't know if you've seen them) of Iridon, Ciurusniuc, Teodoru, Peng, Blendea, and others at the meet. There are some videos on the page but also links to others in the text. The site is in Romanian, but links are clearly defined.

      Ocolisan is at the bottom of the page on beam. Like you said, there wasn't anything really special about her gymnastics...at least not for me. Solid, though. From the looks of things, her and Stanila really will be swallowed up like you said.

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    3. Oh thank you, I've seen a few linked but not the whole bunch!

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  13. Great post! I think most of your predictions will turn out to be dead on. One thing I'm hoping for is Anna Dementyeva on the Russian team. We won't know until after the Universiade what kind of shape she's in, but she was once one of the most consistent Russian performers on beam, and might have a good chance of getting into that final.

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    1. Nice blog name, and thanks. Demy is making herself into a permanent alternate I fear. She is stunning and I love her beam and floor but wow is she incredibly Huang Qiushuang-esque inconsistent now. We'll see how she does at Universiade but I've kinda learned not to expect hit routines. I think the team is too small for her, for that reason.

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  14. It's probably a pipe dream *sigh* . At the moment I have serious doubts about Komova's ability to recover in time for worlds since we seem to have heard nothing about her training since the first injury report. In my mind, that would leave a team of Musty, Afan, and two specialists, who could be any combination of Grishina (bars), Paseka (vault and bars), Nabieva (bars and possibly vault) and Demy (beam and floor). My prediction in the likely event of an injured Komova, would be Musty, Afan, Paseka, Grishina. If Vika's healthy, scratch Grishina. I haven't seen any video of Alla Sosnitskaya, a youtube marathon is obviously in order.....
    I also have high hopes for Shang Chunsong, Vanessa Ferrari, Elisa Meneghini, Asuka Termamoto, Noel Van Klaveren and Kyla Ross. I think it's shaping up to be the most exciting post-olympic worlds we've seen in recent memory, especially the AA final.

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    1. She's reported to have 3/4 of events back. I do think she will be there, but able to really be fully strong and 2010-AA-esque on all 4 is another thing entirely. What's perhaps more of a handicap to her other than her injuries is her mental game.

      Alla turned senior last year. Her strengths are floor and vault. She was completely out of control (much worse than Biles at american cup) on her landings on floor at Russian cup, but she's better than that. She also has awesome turn combinations in training, though I think that video is on vk and not youtube. She crashed a vault at Anadia..nerves moreso than actual talent. So far she's scrappy but I think there's potential there.

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    2. Hi Catherine! What are your thoughts on Universiade?

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  15. Oops, I accidentally wrote that comment in the replies. Anyways, are you going to do a post on Universiade?

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    1. Yes, although not today! It's 28 degrees- 82F- which happens about every 10 years here. Summers are a rarity and if it hits 21 degreed- 70F- it makes the news..not even joking.

      Also, I'm hoping for more videos to emerge. We only saw one subdivision and there were key routines missing even from that!

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    2. Wow! I was mad about the key routines missing as well! I wanted to see Aliya's beam, since it scored 15.2! I watched the FISU feed, which didn't show it. I watched a replay of the Russian Feed, which also didn't show it!

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  16. Aliya's beam from Universiade! It was solid! http://vk.com/video175850425_165790615

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  17. Wait, is there a video of Simone's TTY? I need to see it, does anyone have the link?

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    1. Unfortunately it's not up anymore. I put it on youtube in a closed group with a warning but it spread and that was that. I MAY reupload it but I cannot really broadcast it which is the problem. If you want you can email me and I'll tell you why, then I have your email if I put it back up.

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