Monday, 7 October 2013

Worlds experience/competiton part 1

It's a little difficult to fully process the 177 routines I saw over the weekend (okay, not exactly..ignored some in the AA if something more exciting was going on..) but I'll give it a go! Here is my (painfully) long worlds experience, and thoughts of course. The actual gymnastics bit probably won't be as detailed as I'd like as it's hard to differentiate everything at the moment.


4AM alarm unfortunately but thankfully it was way more exciting to wake up to the realisation that my flight was actually finally leaving in a few hours than Christmas morning growing up ever was. Antwerp inexplicably does not have an airport, or if they do it's a Fisher Price effort, so had to go via Brussels. Because of this we had to go for the safe option of a morning flight, but it was great having the security of arriving very early (09:30). The two cities are just 40 minutes apart by train, so it was fine.

Here's how convenient the location was:

This is Koningin Astridplein, or Queen Astrid's square.


The beautiful building in the middle is the train station where we arrived from. To the left is the zoo, which has King penguins! Killed time nicely there. At the other end facing the station was our hotel, which was a huge behemoth of a thing and looked down on everything.


We were bumped from a 3 star to this 4 star, which was great :D To the right of the station as seen here were streets filled with great places to get lunch and dinner. The street to the left of the hotel in this photo was a Chinese district, where we had an unbelievable meal. Worth feeling left out for eating with forks and having Western dishes. RIGHT UNDERNEATH the hotel was the metro station for the subway to the arena. On the same street as the Chinese district we could have gotten trams to the arena either. Transport to the arena with event tickets is free, because why not.

Anyway, on with the show. Met up briefly with some people I know which was great and.......wait for it......Andreea Raducan crossed the street right behind us! I am in the green jumper, nicely in height order - how very Romanian of us. She was very gracious about being pounced on (nicely!) thankfully.


Our tickets for the all-around were slightly beyond the vault table, and for row 13...which ended up being row 5, presumably because rows were chopped out to make room for the podium. Amazing feeling to sit down in INCREDIBLE seats, though they should be as I booked them on day 2 of release :p I can see us in some footage already, and I haven't seen much. Here is the view straight ahead, floor and beam were perfect. Bars were far away but still fairly clear. Each seat had a shiny card on it, made to be folded into a fan. The noise of everyone using them for clapping was great, really added to the fun of the music they used between rotations and as marching in/out music. In fact, I basically loved all of the music they used.


Group 1 started on vault which was so exciting. The sheer noise in warmup of Simone Biles hitting the table and then the mat is awesomely loud, and she was doing her usual trick of throwing DTY's and amanars while the rest were just doing timers still. Having the perfect side view means things like leg separation go unnoticed, and foot crossing. It was such an experience to see Simone Biles launch towards the rafters just a few feet away. The others vaults I enjoyed the most were Giulia Steingruber's, Roxana Popa's, Kyla Ross' (legs looked perfect on the block from my angle..), Noel Van Klaveren (so so clean and beautiful) and Larisa Iordache. Almost immediately it was tough to know where to point my eyes. I wrote out the start lists as I wasn't going to be ripped off for roaming data prices and there was no wifi in the arena, and that definitely helped, but I had lots of pink underlining for routines I wanted to watch clashing with others throughout the competition which as expected, was tough to manage.

I found vault and floor quite calm to watch, beam was so nervewracking. Most gymnasts were held for at least a minute before competing, which I really hated to see. It's not an apparatus you want to be standing around waiting for, giving yourself time to freak out. There were moments of glory a-plenty, Simone Biles nailing the 2.5 wolf and planting the dismount, Kyla Ross' lines and being perfectly and gloriously in line with the beam on everything, Roxana Popa hitting a very solid routine for her weakest event, Anna Rodionova, Noemi Makra and Ilaria Kaeslin showing off their perfection, form and elegance, Aliya Mustafina staying on and Natsumi Sasada's insanely difficult mount, the layout full. But such heartbreak, and so many tense moments. Every time there's a big wobble everyone holds their breath and the atmosphere heightens completely, and such disappointment for someone when they fall. Ruby Harrold, Rebecca Tunney, Victoria Moors, Larisa Iordache, Shang Chunsong and Yao Jinnan...horribly long list of such fantastic gymnasts. Ruby's routine is quite exciting so it was such a downer when she fell, and of course Rebecca has had a very tough time with injury, recovery and growth so had she succeeded here at last it would have been such a boost for her. I found Victoria's routine one of the most upsetting as I had a clear view of her sitting apart from everyone else looking absolutely miserable afterwards. And of course, the 3 girls who had the difficulty to contend right at the top. Yao's fall was infuriating because the tucked full should have been dumped long ago. As soon as I saw her prep for it I was gutted, pretty sure I called out 'Noooooo!'. Shang's was another super disappointing one, she's usually very solid on beam, or at least not prone to actually falling. And of course, Larisa, who when you think about it aside from Euros 2012 has had a pretty bad time as a senior. It's funny, you think she's been around for ages and everyone knows her and her routines...but she hasn't accomplished much and has been so unlucky. The competitive fire seems to be lacking a bit too, sadly.

Not that floor didn't have its moments. Right before Victoria Moors went for her skill, there was total, terrified silence. And then BOOM an explosion of joy when she not only landed it but stuck it too! Simone Biles' much better landing (than quals) of HER own skill also got a great reaction. It's so different to hear floor music booming live. Shang Chunsong's gunshots seemed louder and weirder than ever, but the ending few seconds of her routine were absolutely endearing and totally worked. Elizabeth Seitz' routine was great even just for this reason, the beat magnified in the dance bits was infectious and really got the crowd involved. Happily I did not notice one single fall on floor and the number of out of bounds was very, very low - lower than would have been expected with such a bouncy and newly - launched floor, but of course that's what practice and podium training was for. One strange thing I noticed is the speed of gymnasts runs- for instance, Asuka Teramoto and Natsumi Sasada seemed to be taking their ease, compared to the power and attack of others. It instantly explained the difficulty they are apt to have with underrotating skills like the triple full. Ilaria Kaeslin and Anna Rodionova stood out a mile for their beautiful gymnastics here, and my eyes were out on stalks thanks to the perfection of Noemi Makra's piked full-in. I'm so glad I got to see that live. It's great to see stunning lines and form etc. amidst all of the scary and sloppier difficulty. Not that immense difficulty isn't exciting, it was awesome to watch, but noting the amount of crazy skills performed and the legions of injured gymnasts is still worrying.

Highlights and Favourite Routines

- Yao Jinnan's Mo Salto. It was breathtaking, and the entire routine besides was amazing to watch.
- Elizabeth Seitz' Def. It looked way cooler than I expected, seriously impressive skill.
- Natsumi Sasada's layout full beam mount, previously mentioned.
- Aliya Mustafina's PRESENCE. She radiates it even walking down the steps after saluting. She holds herself very regally and beautifully, and while it wasn't exactly a surprise, it was still great to witness her at her queen-liest.
- The Biles and the Moors.
- THAT shap full. Fabulous.
- Simone Biles' smile. Lit up the arena and while obviously her choreography is lacking, her routine was still electrifying and she expresses the hell out of it, particularly in the dance bits before the corners. For this reason, I see no issue with her seemingly not getting any artistry deductions. It was just a great routine.
- Aliya Mustafina's floor, especially the first pass. She left no doubt at all, the whips looked fantastic and she went for the stag and totally nailed it. Her determination blew me away completely.
- Roxana Popa, what a competitor she is. Highlight would have to be the whip-whip-full in. Because WOW, it's just jaw dropping.
- Again, Noemi Makra's piked full in. Love...
- Larisa Iordache's speed and fluidity. Seamless movement and it's especially great on floor, her floor works very nicely for her.
- Stuck landings, especially the really planted ones. It's just such a thrill.
- Ruby Harrold's bars. It's just so much more interesting and exciting when original moves are performed, and Ruby did two, and they were great. The Ooooo!! after the Zuchold..great moment.
- Vanessa Ferrari still being so strong. Veterans are great to see, no matter their motivation to continue!

'Podium' of favourite routines

UB 1. Yao Jinnan 2. Roxana Popa 3. Ruby Harrold
VT 1.  Simone Biles 2. Giulia Steingruber 3 T Noemi Makra and Roxana Popa
BB 1. Ilaria Kaeslin 2. Noemi Makra 3. Simone Biles (tough, so many falls..)
FX 1. Victoria Moors 2. Elizabeth Seitz 3 T Simone Biles, Aliya Mustafina and Roxana Popa

Favourite Leotards

Carlotta Ferlito's sparkly turquoise and black leotard, it looked so well in the arena. Victoria Moors' black with pink maple pattern. All of their new leotards are stunning but the contrast of this one is particularly amazing. Yao Jinnan, just stunning, and I really liked Rebecca Tunney's too. Least favourite...hmm. I'm not sure about Vasiliki Millousi's, I don't think it worked. Also, the top button at the back of her neck was undone, so noticeable.

Longines Prize for Elegance

I felt this was a bit of a letdown, since Kohei Uchimura has already won it and while Kyla Ross IS elegant, I felt they should have rewarded one of the unknown but stunningly beautifully elegant gymnasts. Ah well. 

Not-so highlights

- Beam falls. Oh so many. 7 that I remember offhand, I'm sure that wasn't the grand total. It's such a fraught apparatus and the groan all around you just makes it affect you more and feel the gymnast's devastation more.
- Natsumi Sasada's bars. She had to come off three times, it was heartbreaking.
- Overscoring. Yes, Simone Biles' scores, notably vault and floor, were that little bit too high. It wouldn't have done anything to the standings however. I don't think she was the only one but I'd need to have a good think about it.
- The waits for beam. Let them on!
- Vault execution scoring in general. Too generous.
- The stupid switch ring rule. It appears quite a lot of beautiful ones got downgraded, sigh.
- The really hard twisting leaps on floor, like the Gogean. Ugly on screen, uglier in person.
- Aliya Mustafina's contouring/bronzer skills. What was that about? Looked like someone put it on like that out of spite. Same for Vanessa Ferrari's lipstick, which looked to have been done without the aid of a mirror.

This is hard, there were soooo many highlights compared to things that sucked!

The Podium

Simone Biles has firmly shut the haters up. It has been obvious for so long that she was capable of this kind of domination, if she could just get her head and new skills together in time..and sure enough, she was untouchable. I was already a big fan but seeing her compete in person...just, wow. The scary thing is, it doesn't seem like she has peaked at all. Both vaults, her floor, bars...she's definitely not done. What a thrilling performance by a first year senior, and a well deserved gold. No arguing with the validity of that result, for once.

Kyla Ross had a great day, but all of the naysaying 'her best is not good enough' etc. came to pass, as predicted by basically everyone. I don't really hide the fact that I'm not a big fan of hers, but that doesn't mean I didn't appreciate her gymnastics, or aspects of it. Her lines were great, bars were smooth and so solid, floor choreography has much improved and I got a fabulous view of her super clean vault. I really would like to see her keep improving, adding sensible upgrades- beam and bars. So no, I am not converted but wow is she solid, strong and totally earned this.

Aliya Mustafina has depths of reserve like no other. When all looks bleak - knee pain, general tiredness and looking off-form, dodgy beam and/or floor, the stress of carrying her entire team on her back again...have no fear, because nothing like that seems to matter when hitting is the most important. Her fierceness and elegance everywhere was dazzling and I'm delighted she was able to get it together. It would probably be too much to ask that she gets a break now..

What were your favourite routines? Moments? Skills? Leotards? Worst? Can anyone step up the plate next year and beat Seamoney?

"Tune in" for part 2 (and 3 probably) soon which contain a picture I prize even more than the one included here and a thrilling story about who I met at breakfast on Sunday..(not very thrilling, but still a fantastic sighting)...


  1. Thank you for always doing such a beautiful, classy, and informative commentary. Your website is awesome and I think a lot of us appreciate the hard work you put in to maintain it.

    Favorite routines: lari on floor, lari on beam qualifications, Mai on floor qualifications, Chang beam, gulia on everything, Agnes suto from iceland being so wonderful on her tumblr asks.

    Moments: this may sound bitchy but my favorite moment was when all 8 were lined up for beam final and everyone was clapping each time everyone was announced but the only time Aliya clapped was for Anna.

    Skills: the moors!!!

    1. Thank you so much! It's a lot of fun to blog this. I can't wait to get stuck into event finals next :)

  2. Leo: I'm always a sucker for raspberry

  3. Worst: lari- so much unfulfilled potential, Vanessa- seriously labored looking routines

  4. I'm glad that you had such a great time! I'm planning to go to 2015 Worlds and am already excited! Thanks for all the information!

    I loved Ferlito's leotard too, so pretty. My other favourites were Aliya and Anna Rodionova's beam EF leos. My favourite moment was probably seeing Shang and Larisa coming back with great AA floors after those unexpected falls on beam. Aliya's AA floor was gorgeous too (twisting form aside obviously), I hope we get to see it again next year. It was also so lovely to see Simone hit everything and put all the inconsistency talk to bed. Unless she gets injured I really can't think of anyone who can challenge her unless Komova returns to full strength. I don't think any of the girls turning senior next year, either in the U.S. or elsewhere, can match her.

    As for not so favourite moments in the AA it has to be the beam falls. I agree with you that the Longines prize could have gone to a less well known gymnast, Noemi Makra definitely deserved it.

    1. I'm going to Glasgow worlds too! No excuse not to, the flight is well under an hour and will cost half nothing - so I'm looking forward already.

      Yes I'd agree. And Komova is an enormous doubt anyway even when she is competing!

  5. Wonderful blog and thank you for writing. I'm sure it took quite a while but I am greedily looking forwards to part 2 and 3. I love the pictures you posted in the beginning! Also I love that you posted about things we didn't get to see on t.v., even if it was about Moors' devastation over her quals fall. I can't imagine what it was like to watch all this live, I think my heart stopped a couple times just watching it on the computer! Especially during the Mo Salto which may very well be one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Just like Ruby Harrold, I've had to watch it a couple times on youtube because she does such a unique routine that I wasn't even sure what I was seeing a couple of times, or at least how it was done. I loved vault finals and kind of wish Giulia Steingruber could have medaled. It seemed she really nailed her vaults. I hated that Larissa fell on beam but was glad she bounced back for a floor medal and loved watching her routine. And I agree, you just can't help smiling during Simone's floor routine also. And for the love, why didn't Vasiliki Millousi button that button! There was even a close up of it before she went on floor. I'm not generally an OCD person but that was driving me crazy. Well, I could go on and on but I'll just sit back and wait for you to instead. Glad you had fun, Catherine, and can't wait to hear more!

    1. Thank you so much! I can't wait to write more, it's a lot of fun to recount.

  6. My favorite, by far; was kyla Ross. A true gymnast. She was consistant ly underscored. But never let it get to her. She was solid.,I feel Simone was really overscores on bb and ub. I feel that made a big dif in no way was she a point higher than kyla. If the scoring was fair across the board: she only beats kyla by about .10 tenth. Kyla for me was the true classy and elegant gymnast that didn't let the scoring mess with her. a true champ

    1. I'd have to vehemently disagree with the notion that Kyla was underscored I'm afraid. Her scores were fine, if a bit generous by comparison to others. Vault especially.

    2. I agree about her scores being fair. Don't know about the overscoring part because I haven't really watched a lot of the other routines. Kyla's vault did seem high though it was higher than anything she got at Nationals and when that happens something is wrong. Hear people saying Simone was also overscored but I don't really care she's so adorable. Once again we saw Team Aliya pull a hefty medal haul considering all the illness/injury/politics she's endured.
      So jealous of you right now that you got to see everything up close and personal.

    3. Catherine I'm not sure what world championships you were watching. But to feel kyla wasn't overscored. And Simone's scores were fine. Means you either need glasses or you got something against kyla. She was def underscored. Especially on bb and ub. So I don't know what you were watching maybe a soccer game

    4. Yes, I took a photo of my own view of the AA, and then I left.

      Actually, I don't allow bias to overshadow my view of the scoring. Kyla was not overscored- but she was by comparison to others. If she was underscored to you- then what on earth were Noemi Makra and Mai Murakami? THAT is underscoring. I'm not sure what you were watching - some other world where Kyla's routines shouldn't get any deductions at all?

    5. You don't make any sense. You must need bifocals because if you can't see that she was underscored and Simone was overscored by a lot on ub and bb you must have been watching a dif meet or need your glasses checked. Because I know what I was watching. Maybe you need to go back and watch the meet your bias is getting in the way

    6. Please do inform me where the girl with the highest execution scores on beam, bars and vault in the AA and second highest floor, highest bars and floor event final execution scores and second highest in beam event final was underscored?? Or do you think they should have thrown a few tenths more difficulty score that she didn't do or something?

      I said Simone was overscored IN THIS POST. If you're expecting Olympics or Nationals scoring, then you'll always be disappointed. Worlds is always much harsher. You can't just take one person's scores out of context- look at everyone else's first. I don't know what you were watching if you expected Kyla to get 15.250 on beam again.

    7. Once again your bias ; is making you sound like your uneducated. Kyla was the most consistant and hit her bb all three times with virtually no issues. I never said it should be a 15.25 on how these judges were scoring. However, a 15. Is justified. If lord ache got a 15 on qualifying. Your statement makes no sense. You think thorwing out Kyla's ef of 8. 'S is right yes under these in il scored Judges. However maybe you need more common sense on gymnastics . Because your reasoning for Kyla's scores are ill thought. Even a lot of other media claimed her scoring were underscored. On qualifications we can keep going back and forth: but you are not worth it anymore; because I'm writing to a mirror with bias

    8. That would be 'you're uneducated'. We can all be petty and rude if we want. What media- NBC, espn? I don't have a bias towards one country, so I can actually tell who's being underscored and newsflash, it was athletes like Noemi Makra, Ilaria Kaeslin and Roxana Popa etc. who were being slammed.

      There is another issue other than execution, and that is that the judges will score more generously if you take risks, have a harder routine. I'm not saying it's right, but it's a fact. This is why Iordache gets the benefit of the doubt more, since Kyla's routine is super safe by contrast. Iordache even without her full difficulty has a buffer anyway since she has quite a few tenths on Kyla, and her flexed feet etc. and crossed feet on twisting aren't enough to close the gap. You should notice that judges are more inclined to be generous with amanars than FTY's, this carries over to other events, but not as dramatically or obviously. See Simone's scores on FX vs other beautifully hit but lower difficulty routines. Can you honestly say Noemi Makra deserved below an 8 in execution on floor?

      I'm not sure why you're so outraged about Kyla? With her current difficulty, she could not have changed her medals into gold. And 3 silvers is a fantastic achievement. Huang Huidan and Simone could not have been beaten by her and as for beam, Kyla would have needed a stuck dismount. Mustafina's routine didn't give Kyla any foothold to beat her really.

    9. Once again you sound like a uneducated broken record. First if you a mustys bb better you must be on something or really need glasse or your glasses checked. Kyla's routine on bb all three times was near flawless. With one slight balance check. Plus don't tell me lord ache deserved a 15.6 at the Romanian nationals with balance checked, miss connections, and a dismount: not only way back, but to the side. Dif wouldn't counter that. You must be on something or just clueless

    10. Newsflash, you don't get any bonus in an event final for also having hit your routine in the all around and prelims. So what if she did? They're only scoring one routine.

      I didn't bring up Romanian nationals, which are just as hilarious as US nationals with scoring. Are you done? I'm sooo biased because Kyla clearly deserved perfect 10's everywhere, and of course should have won everything, no question. I'm sure you'll find lots of blogs that agree with you.

    11. Kyla's beam routine is flawless? Do you really know what is flawless? That's her biggest disadvantage. She even needs to pause for about 1.5 sec before doing a single turn. Catherine you know I'm such big fan of Kyla so I don't have bias toward her hehe.
      ( I haven't commented here for a long time. :P I should comment something serious later haha. )

  7. Favourite routines: anything with Aliya in it. LOL yes I'm that big of a fan. Biles fx even if it is overscored.

    Favourite moment: Aliya on top of the podium singing her national anthem/Aliya calculating what she thinks her beam d score should be found it so funny. How many gymnasts actually know how to do that?

    Favourite skill: Yao's Mo Salto, the Biles on floor not bars, Aliya's Seitz even if it does need work

    Favourite leotard: didn't really pay attention probably something the Americans wore don't know

    Worst: Aliya without her ponytail, Aliya falling on floor and not making finals, Iordache falling in beam finals, Yao falling in bars final felt so sad for her. Pretty much all the falls

    I'm sure someone new will come along by next year to challenge Simoney. If its the same players I hope they're all in peak form and competition ready.

  8. Gymnastics is real beautiful if done under proper guidance and with interest and the perfect set of gym equipments. Student rentals in NYC

  9. Great writeup. I am glad you enjoyed yourself.

    Favourite Routines - Iordache floor and beam (qualifications), Yao's bars, Aliya's bars. However, most of all - Kenzo Shirai 's floor. That was amazing to watch and he is just a sweetheart.

    Moments - anything with Aliya in it to be honest. Whether it was her calculating her beam difficulty, just cheering her teammate on or just her presence, it is always great seeing her.

    Skills - Mao's Mo Salto - Victoria Moors doing the floor pass, Aliya's bars (forgot the name of the skill)

    Leotards - didn't pay attention to them.

    Disappointments - Iordache not winning beam gold. Aliya is my favourite gymnast but for beam I was hoping Iordache would win it after her disappointing 4th place in AA.
    Another disappointment - Larissa's 4th place in AA. Yao falling on bars finals.

    Also - The enquiry's going on, the judges need to do things right so people won't have to be inquiring.

    In terms of being Seomaroney - I liked the 3rd place gymnast in the vault final, she might be able to.

    Wishes - I hope she gets a real break for the rest of the year. She needs and deserves it. Then she can kick ass next year. I hope Larissa bounces back next year. I don't know sometime earlier this year I became a really interested in her and she is my second current favourite gymnast after Aliya.

  10. It's funny to me that you say "Kyla Ross had a great day, but all of the naysaying 'her best is not good enough' etc. came to pass, as predicted by basically everyone." The reason I find that funny is that the naysaying predicted her not getting on the medal podium and she won three silvers, including in the AA... I don't think that means she wasn't good enough. THREE SILVER MEDALS IS A HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT! And she beat Musty in the AA! I think she proved the naysayers who said she couldn't get an AA medal or a bars medal or a beam medal, quite wrong. Because she did.

    Worlds was great. I loved Simone's smile, Kyla's consistency and elegance, Mustafina's competitive nature, Larissa's redemption on floor and Maroney's redemption on vault. Very great!

    1. Not really. I admit she had a great day, but what I'm referring to is not being able to beat Simone, not anything else. I'm only talking about the AA in this post.

    2. Not beating Simone is not in my opinion, or a lot of people's opinion, saying that the naysaying came to pass. A silver in the AA is still an accomplishment and is still past the naysaying.

  11. Catherine, lovely write-up! I'm looking forward to hearing about EF :-) Will you post this on Tumblr?


    1. Thank you! Part 2 is on the way, should be up tonight. Saturday only. It's longer I think, it's a lot easier to process it into a blog post when they kindly compete one after the other instead of all at once haha. Yeah actually I'll post it on tumblr now. I often forget about going on tumblr, but hey.

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