Thursday, 8 August 2013

Countdown to competitions

First up, there's a rumour that there won't be too many big names at Russian Cup. Aliya Mustafina and Ksenia Afanasyeva are supposed to be no-shows, along with Anna Dementyeva and Kristina Goryunova. Evgeniya Shelgunova is also still dealing with an injury, her elbow. In a way, I'd be very happy with the first two in particular getting a break as they've competed a lot this year and there's no real need for them to prove themselves further, and they still have a closed internal competition before worlds selection anyway. But on the other hand, it would be pretty gosh darn useful for Aliya to compete beam as much as possible to really get the routine (whichever of the many she has done this year) steady. Likewise, Afan could do with more competitive vaulting experience. Even if they just did those events, no need for the all-around. Update- Tatiana Nabieva will compete! It's more set in stone now that she and Vika will be the main attractions. Also, Ekaterina Baturina will not compete- injury :(

So, the stage could well be set for Viktoria Komova, who interestingly enough has never really had a showdown against Aliya, even internally. We haven't seen her compete healthy with no prior injury recovery since 2010, and even then she flagged with endurance issues. I, along with everyone else, am eager to see what her routines look like. She's supposed to have everything back and even though blindly trusting what Valentina Rodionenko says would be foolish, I'd imagine she's very close to what's being said about her. Her old BHS-LOSO-LOSO combination is worth more this code, I hope they've brought it back but it's really her bars that draw me in. I'm not a major fan of her as an all-around gymnast for some reason but I'm so looking forward to seeing what she can do on these two events.

To recap, here's my Russian Antwerp team.

Aliya Mustafina AA, UB, FX (?), BB (?)
Viktoria Komova AA, UB, BB (?)
Ksenia Afanasyeva VT, FX
Anastasia Grishina UB (?) BB (?)

If Komova proves herself not ready, insert Grishina into her spot and leave the team at 3 since they can't take Maria Paseka either way.

It's almost the ninth here, so 6 days until US Nationals and even less to podium training, which will again be streamed. The more I think about it the more set Kyla doing the all-around seems to me. I don't really think she can be ousted at this stage, unless Brenna Dowell or Elizabeth Price bring it like Chellsie Memmel 2008 Trials and make it so that they cannot be ignored. That would make it very, very interesting. If you look back at Brenna's execution scores from Classics though, they ain't pretty and I can't help thinking that they are a little harsh- which helps keep her that little bit behind. She did indeed have errors and lost connections dragging her difficulty down, but even taking them into account she should have done better I believe. I'm not ignoring McKayla Maroney but she will need to be really exceptional on previously non-spectacular events to factor in to the all- around at this stage. Can she score 58 in the all-around, yes I think she could. But can she do enough to sneak in and grab an Antwerp all-around spot? Highly unlikely. I don't believe Peyton Ernst has the difficulty yet for an all-around spot, but I think she'd be in contention for a specialist spot. I find her gymnastics quite odd, some of her leaps are beautiful and some really awful. She'll need to be much more 'on' with them on beam to get that spot, and she'll definitely need the dance series which was inexplicably credited at Classics.

All eyes will be on Simone Biles. I'd quite frankly be devastated if she cracked under the pressure. She could, if she hits, smash the 60 barrier and cement herself firmly as number one. If she doesn't hit I've no idea what they'll do. Use her as the wildcard having the much more reliable Kyla as medal back-up, or take her out entirely of the running as an all-around? If that happens, I'd struggle to see her on the team at all as she'd be vying with McKayla Maroney for the VT/FX spot and even if her difficulty is higher (she will have more of a difficulty gap on floor than McKayla has on her on vault), I don't think McKayla's veteran and world and Olympic vault medallist status can be beaten by a slightly flaky first year senior.

Has your opinion on the US team changed since Classics? Who are you rooting for? Podiums?

28 comments:

  1. It's sad that the Russian Cup won't have any top competitors besides Komova. Although, I do agree that Mustafina and Afanasyeva need a break. Question: what if Komova DOES prove that she's "back", but also flaky/inconsistent at the same time? Will Russia still accept her on the team? Don't they have anyone else to fill a spot besides Paseka?

    My opinion of the U.S. team has changed since Classics even though it was a splat-fest. At first, I thought of their team as unstoppable, but after seeing how inconsistent Biles can be, Kyla's refusal of upgrades, the team's overall lack of execution and artistry, and Ohashi's surgery, it makes them seem not as dominant as last year. Even if Biles epically fails at Nationals, I don't believe Marta will replace her because Dowell, Ernst, and Maroney aren't great as all-arounders even if they do hit (in my opinion).

    I find the same problem with Russia. If Komova, Mustafina, Grishina, and Afanasyeva retire, who will replace them?

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    1. Yes I think they would, no question. They would be hoping if that happens that she would iron out issues before Antwerp, and no they don't have anyone waiting in the wings to replace her.

      No, but then it would be highly unusual and a bit worrying if the team was as good as last year, as this is the most unimportant worlds of the whole quad, typically an off year.

      Russia are sunk if they do. Ekaterina Baturina, Yulia Tipaeva, Alla Sosnitskaya, Evgeniya Shelgunova and Anna Rodionova are in no position to step up.

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    2. I think the US is a bit weak going into Antwerp, but I wouldn't count out Kyla upgrading before Worlds. She's been working the upgrades and may simply not have had them ready for Classics yet. That said, depending on Komova's level of preparedness, this could be the year for some Romanian and Chinese gymnasts to sneak back into the AA.

      The thing about Komova is - I just don't know. A lot of people are already banking on her being back in Olympic form just off of some random VK postings and Rodionenko's statements. I could totally see it all being true; but, I can also see it not. I'm very, very curious to see the Russian Cup performances, even more so than US Nationals at this point.

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    3. Oh absolutely, I keep qualifying my AA doubts about Kyla with 'if she doesn't upgrade'. I've heard she will and I'm hopeful, but to be honest her routines have been static for years now so some doubt will remain until I see them. As for the US being a bit weak- I'm not sure I agree. Sure, they don't have anyone that can snatch a bars medal (without a lot of luck) and they've lost a guaranteed beam medal with Ohashi out but they should be able to dominate vault, take a floor medal and place in the AA which isn't bad at all. I would be quite worried if they were really super strong going to win EVERYTHING because that would not bode well for remaining steady throughout the quad. Nobody wants to peak at a post-Olympics worlds.

      She's obviously 50/50 until we see her. I myself think that she will have her routines back, but I'd question her ability to execute them perfectly consistently. I'm much more curious about Nationals myself- the major interest at Russian Cup is one gymnast and despite how interesting she is, there's a lot more gymnasts at Nationals to watch.

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  2. Does Peyton not have any planned upgrades? I feel she's the Mac Caquatto of this quad hoping to sneak her way on a world team. I like the team of Ross, Biles, Maroney, and Ernst or Price or Dowell as beam/bar specialist. Frankly we have no one else who can fill beam and bars. Imo without ohashi were not gonna medal on beam and bars anyway so why not take someone for experience.

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    1. I heard she does on floor but fecked if I can name them. I'm not sure about her, but still thinking she factors in for a specialist spot rather than a potential all-arounder.

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    2. Kyla's scored 15.4 or above three times this season. That's the best average in the world. Second highest score period. Not only is she a medal threat. She could win gold on bars. Brenna would never be a Bars/Beam specialist. Beam is her weakest event. Vault, bars, & floor are her events.

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    3. Sure, but that score is completely skewed because of how harsh the Chinese score routines, hence none of them are in contention. Kyla cannot win gold unless she upgrades by a few tenths or there are a few falls- she does of course have excellent execution but none of the top contenders have bad execution either.

      Yes, her beam being weaker is why I don't think she'd really be a contender for that spot, unless just bars alone. But then, her bars used to be weak and her vault used to be nothing special. She's the most surprising and the most improved gymnast I've yet seen and for that reason, I could never count her out- even though the 3 per event screws her over.

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    4. Yeah, I agree about Kyla's bars. I think she has a real shot at a medal, but I'd be very surprised if she got gold. It seems pretty likely that the two Russian and the two Chinese gymnasts will have the difficulty to best her, which could put her in fifth. But it also seems likely that at least two of those gymnasts will have some kind of error, and that Kyla will go clean and get a medal. I don't think there would have to be falls -- just big steps on landings, multiple missed handstands, etc, might be enough for Kyla to sneak onto the podium.

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    5. I think Kyla needs a boost to get right up there with the top contenders- and I believe they do have some upgrades that will add a few tenths so hopefully they will finally appear and make her bars more exciting. Don't forget there are some European girls with bars at about the same difficulty Kyla has, or almost, and they also have great execution- like Sophie Scheder and Roxana Popa, and both are planning upgrades.

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  3. The three-per-event thing is annoying. Ideally I'd love for Ebee to do vault, but if Simone and Kyla do AA and they take McKayla as well, then obviously Ebee won't vault and that makes her significantly less useful, although she still has usable bars and floor (and beam, if I recall correctly). That's if she competes and isn't injured.

    I miss Sarah Finnegan. Sigh.

    Also, in regards to Russia, I'm pretty bummed to not see Dementyeva since we haven't really seen her at all since 2011, except for Universiade. But I feel like Aliya and Afan need a rest, Aliya especially. It'd be interesting if the Afanar has spurred Paseka to improve her vaulting form, but I feel like that's unlikely. I just hope that if Grishina gets the Antwerp spot she doesn't headcase again, because she is a beautiful gymnast and could be awesome if she would get her mental game together.

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    1. I don't think they will take both Ebee and McKayla, unless it is a situation where Kyla does not do the AA and Ebee does, because besides the fact that Ebee's bars are great, they're too similar as specialists.

      I like Demy's beam and floor but I get why she's not used much, she's way too inconsistent and doesn't have glory moments or AA capability as much as Grishina does. I think Paseka's vaulting at Universiade showed a good improvement on last year, but then last year she was just about recovered from injury.

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  4. I thin are k there might be a possibility of either Abigail Milliet or Brenna Dowell sneaking onto team USA as a bars/specialist, because of the irritating three per apparatus issue. I was thinking of the line up most likely beign something along the lines of:
    Kyla Ross AA UB BB
    McKayla Maroney VT FX
    Simone Biles AA VT FX

    Agreed about Sarah Finnegan, this worlds would have been a great opportunity for her.

    I'm also holding onto a sliver of hope that Dementyeva might get to go as a beam specialist, since she and Grishina are equally inconsistent and Demy has the higher DV. I'm not sure Grishina would be much use as a bars specialist either, because Mustafina and a healthy Komova can both easily outscore her.

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    1. Or Peyton Ernst, though she won't be given 6.3 on beam like she was at Classics if she doesn't a) have a dance series and b) improve some of her leaps. It's interesting as some of her leaps are just lovely. Her bars are not particularly high difficulty wise, and neither are Abigail's- though she does have a creditable and lovely 6.3 beam. I'd like to see Desch focus on beam too, she'd be a contender for that alone. But Brenna's beam is not great, though her bars are awesome. I find it fascinating that a weak event for her is now a strength, and a fierce one at that.

      There's no way Demy will go. They don't like using her, she's too inconsistent, and Grishina HAS been consistent this year, at Euros and Cottbus. Russia's team really only needs 3 girls for maximum potential, but I think they will give Grishina the nod. Anything to boost her as a gymnast.

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  5. I don't think Marta will take Brenna for execution problems alone. I don't think her execution will be able to withstand an international stage, but maybe she'll prove me wrong at P&G's.

    Kyla is a lock, even if it's for her bars alone but I think there's a good chance she'll do AA if she places in the top 3 at P&G's. I am really rooting for Peyton Ernst personally. I think Marta might try to give up on bringing a second bars gymnast and just leave it at Kyla because the US really does not have anyone else who has medal potential at this point so she'll probably just focus on getting someone with really good beam potential to complement Kyla, McKayla, and Simone (as long as she doesn't headcase at nationals).

    I think the front runners for the beam spot right now are Peyton Ernst, Madison Desch, and Ebee Price. Both have enough international experience for Marta to consider potentially using them and all have the potential to do well on beam. If Maddie desch can perform a beam routine close to her last year's difficulty I think she may have a chance. Peyton is decently strong on all events so could be used incase of injury as a back up AA or back up on any event.

    Depending on what shape Elizabeth Price is in , she has the potential to change the course of the meet. If she can show some of her potential from last year, she could steal an AA spot. Otherwise she could still fight for a specialist spot.

    This really would have been a good year for Sarah Finnegan...it's a shame. I hope we'll see more of her in the future

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    1. I feel like people have been beating the 'poor execution' drum for years, but it has never stopped Aly Raisman from being chosen or from scoring well- only her abysmal bars have prevented medals. Brenna has better execution on all of her events than Aly bar one, and her weakest event is still stronger than Aly's weakest event. That said, Brenna's scores were harsher at Classics than they should have been- just a bit, and I feel like that could indicate they're not going to take her for the AA over Kyla full stop. But then, she has been winning the AA at camp over both her and Simone so it's hard to know.

      Ebee's event isn't beam either, or it wasn't last year as her leaps were very poor. I know she has upgrades there and is aiming for 6.7 I believe but she could have a good few downgrades from leaps alone. Hard to judge when we haven't seen a full routine since December but she doesn't strike me as in the forerunning for beam. I think Milliet has a better chance since her beam is beautifully executed and difficult.

      I'd love to see Ebee do the AA, but Kyla's looking fairly untouchable, the more I think about it.

      Yep, also Katelyn Ohashi of course.

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  6. srly, do u think,there's any gymnast right now, in the world who can beat a healthy komova?

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    1. A fully healthy Komova who has the difficulty of last year and hits everything? No, that would be unbeatable. But that is a lot to ask from her!

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  7. I read in a Couch Gymnast article, I think, that Komova had a major growth spurt and that she's as tall as Afan now. Have you heard this or seen any pictures?

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    1. She has instagram, v_komova. Here's one http://instagram.com/p/cBaGIBiKof/ Vika is closer than Afan to the camera, but they do look the same height. Mustafina is closer still and is tallest- she's 5'4 isn't she? Afan is listed as 5'2. http://instagram.com/p/czBorQiKpd/ Here with Nabieva, they look around the same, and she's listed as 5'3. This means no BHS-LOSO-LOSO doesn't it!

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    1. Don't be sorry! It's a beam combination, back handspring-layout stepout- layout stepout. Shannon does it here starting at 0:45 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmtcnoHa66U These days layouts to 2 feet are more common in a series like that (think Shawn Johnson) as they're more difficult, but layout stepouts are still around in combination, usually just one. This quad, the BHS-LOSO-LOSO, which was everywhere in the 90's and often done to 3 LOSO's is making a little comeback as it's now worth more.

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  9. I believe it's backhand spring, layout step out, layout step out. It will definitely be interesting to what adjustments she makes due to the growth spurt but really, I suppose this was the best time for it to happen. She was listed as 4'11" at the Olympics so that's a good little jump.

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    1. Hmm really? That is Gabby's height and you can see here that she was taller than her. http://stmedia.startribune.com/images/LONDON_OLYMPICS_ARTISTIC_GYMNASTICS_WOMEN_20914929.JPG

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    2. Komova was listed as 4'11'' at worlds too and i don't believe really in any of the FIG info because they update it once in the athletes careers. and I've always heard this weird thing about the american metric system were there can be like short 5'5'' and tall 5'5''???
      anyways, mustafina is the tallest girl in te russian team with 1.65 m rn and i think vika should be in the 1.58-1.6 m

      ALSO HI BC I JUST DISCOVERED THIS AWESOME BLOG

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    3. I find the American systems confusing myself- don't they have different weights for pounds too? It's slightly lighter/heavier than the British etc. pound which is madness.

      Mustafina is or was 5'4. McKayla Maroney is also, in her own words. She's listed as 5'2 everywhere. Kyla and Amelia are both taller than her too!

      Haha greetings- from tumblr? I actually made one last week but I can't really devote enough time to it and it'll flop completely when I go to college in a few weeks.

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  10. I've been having THOUGHTS. Dangerous.

    I agree that the US team will be Biles and Ross for AA, Maroney for VT and FX and then there's a spot for BB/UB. I thought Price might be going for it but nooo. After that, I'd maybe pick Kocian but she got injured I think? Depends how serious it is I guess! I love Dowell's bars and Milliet's beam but don't think they're competition-consistent enough yet. I've developed a soft spot for Kennedy Baker but that's not going to happen this year... Ugh!

    For the Russians... I was wondering (before Komova withdrew from the Russian Cup) if Komova was preparing for BB/UB at worlds and that was why they weren't rushing her back into competition. I thought of two lineups (one of which is based on my opinion that they don't like Grishina much, which is annoying because she's my favourite :P )

    Option one: Mustafina, Afan for AA and all the finals between them. Komova for BB/UB. Maybe even floor? (I keep reading that vault was what she was struggling to get back.) And then you have a spot for Paseka as a backup on VT. They seem desperate to compete with the US on vault, even gambling with Afan's knees (the amanar scares me). Argh. I know Afan isn't SO strong AA but they seem to like her more than Grishina :P (I may be reading more into it than is actually there!)

    Option two: Mustafina, Grishina AA. Komova BB/UB. Afan VT/FX. But then you have Komova who is untested in competition this year and Afan who is new to vault competition. And Grishina is wobbly.

    I don't actually like Mustafina as an AA gymnast but eh, there's nothing I can do about it.

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