Friday, 29 March 2013

Bulimar V Iordache- Updated with entire Doha footage

I was anticipating a great showdown on floor, but I'm a little surprised at the result. Delighted for her of course, who would begrudge the adorable Didi a spot at the top of the podium? But even so, Larisa Iordache had a 0.2 difficuly lead on Diana Bulimar. Larisa threw 0.1 of that away for going out of bounds on her double double, but it would not have given her the victory had she stayed in. Both girls bounced out of their landings, and both had strong leaps. I would have given it to Larisa though, as her tumbling was cleaner. Diana is absolutely strong on floor, but her double layout has quite the leg seperation going on and her piked full-in was scrappy to say the least. I would have thought the cleaner tumbler with the difficulty lead would have won. That's not to say Diana's floor wasn't great, it was, just in my opinion slightly overscored compared to the silver winner. Larisa's scores have sure been interesting- she was slammed on bars and execution was a little harsh on floor, but she was overscored on vault and beam..

Both routines are here, I'll try to embed them if it will work later on. Who do you think should have won? Scores were 14.625 for Bulimar and 14.425 for Iordache.

In other news, Larisa threw a tucked full and layout full for a monster 6.7 d-score and 15.5 total, easily winning gold. The layout full does pike, but later then Katelyn Ohashi's I think, it's also higher in my estimation. Strong routine, very steady and she still has the triple full dismount. Katelyn does have the difficulty lead, and execution I think too- Larisa does not point her feet near enough. But it should still be close and interesting later on at worlds, as Katelyn's routine varies from 6.8-7.3 and she's not as sure on her feet as Larisa. Diana and Gabby nailed strong routines, Diana penalised a little harshly on execution I thought. When Gabby's routine is on youtube, wait for the slow motion part of her BHS-LOSO-LOSO. It's just perfection! The star of the show was Zeng Siqi (or Ziggy as the commentators call her) who nailed a glorious set with beautiful lines AND high difficulty- 6.6. Unfortunately, her double pike saw her bent in half and she took a three-tenths step, handing Larisa the victory. She also managed to get through floor without incident, though I fear for her legs on every tumble, especially the piked full-in. Hopefully she can build up her strength, but all in all a great week for China, gold on bars, silver on beam and bronze on floor. Gabby Jupp was edged to fourth for another very nice routine, though she too fell victim to the bouncy floor and stepped out. She and her coaches will be happy though with her placing here, and her bronze on beam and bars. The floor is a new bouncier type and will be used in Antwerp so they had better get used to it..hopefully some more competitions will use it in the meantime. Last year the Karolyi Ranch outfitted itself in Gymnova especially for London, but that's very expensive to do and worlds is not as important. 

Ilaria Kaeslin, who is not a relation of Ariella Kaeslin, had beautiful work on floor and beam. Difficulty nowhere near enough to challenge, but so enjoyable to watch. Such a pity she fell out of bounds on floor, her Memmel and switch ring were just stunning. I also really liked Kirsten Beckett of South Africa, who had really nice dramatic choreography, and a great double arabian. Speaking of which, the slow motion of Gabby's one showed up how neat it is, it's Anna Myzdrikova neat.

It's been a fabulous two days of gymnastics- with the above and Tan Jiaxin's bars, Giulia Steingruber and Phan Thi Ha Thanh on vault and Gabby Jupp and Ruby Harrold on bars.

Who else watched? What was your favourite beam- Iordache, Zeng or Jupp? Bars- Jiaxin or Harrold? Vault? Floor? How awesome was Iordache's leotard today?

If you haven't seen any Doha finals- and certainly the timezone did not favour America, all finals have been uploaded. You can see beam here, floor here, vault here and bars here.

There's a cute video here of Larisa and Diana being interviewed. Check out Diana's great English! And her translation for Larisa was so cute. I also loved how as soon as she was finished beam, Zeng Siqi was straight over with congratulations and a hug. It's going to be so much fun when Zeng appears at an international competition like worlds, she looks so young which will definitely be picked up on.


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Introducing the new He Kexin


I'm exhausted just watching her. Hindorff-Geinger, Jaeger, Tkachev-Pak, full twisting double layout. I know that the new bars code will see sloppy release-release and release-combination connections but this routine, Ruby Harrold's and Becky Downie's make me absolutely not care at all. Now obviously her form is not exactly brilliant, she has nice lines but her knees are soft in some skills, her Pak is dumpy, some handstands are suspect etc. She essentially does not have the precision of her famous uneven bars specialist predeccessor, He Kexin. Maybe that will come- she's in the same coaching group as Wu Liufang and Huang Qiushuang so hopefully her coaches can work some magic on her form. It seems less forgiveable for a Chinese gymnast to have anything less than perfect form on bars compared to other nations somehow. She is also less useful than Kexin because she only competes bars, Kexin had a DTY and a somewhat decent floor. Word is that Jiaxin is training both events, so that would absolutely increase her likelihood to make major teams. As it is, if she performs like this all year then she should take a spot at worlds. She has a huge amount of strength and endurance, wherein her value lies as that doesn't come around everyday for China. For now though, let's just bask in a Chinese gymnast hitting..qualifying first and then taking gold, and with a spectacular routine at that. Edit- Jiaxin's missing transition from the video is a toe hecht to high, you can see an uninterrupted version here but it's a bit smaller and not as good quality I think.


Here is the excellent silver medallist, Ruby. Delighted to see her pacing working out..she's been named to the Euros team and her bars keep improving as it gets closer. Only a slight arch after the Zuchold this time, and she planted the troublesome double front, which was beautiful. Automatically I'm more forgiving of her form errors than Jiaxin's, and I'm not sure if it's my imagination but the leg seperations don't seem as bad as quals and British Championships.

Sadly, would-be bronze medallist Zeng Siqi crashed her dismount. She doesn't seem to have half the strength and endurance of her teammate, but hoping for a decisive beam victory from her tomorrow.

Vault gold medallist Phan Thi Ha Thanh showed two exquisite vaults. Minus some foot crossing they were beautiful in the air. She has improved quite a lot since her 2011 worlds bronze win I think.

Videos are going up here. I was hoping Diana Bulimar and Larisa Iordache's bars would be better. Larisa at least looks capable of a stronger bars routine, the composition is not her friend and leaves her open for deductions they should be able to avoid.

In other news, GB have named their Euros team as Gabby Jupp, Becky Downie, Ruby Harrold and..Charlie Fellows. Great to see someone new get a chance, but I thought Hannah Whelan would get the benefit of the doubt owing to her veteran status, despite being plagued with falls so far this year.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Breaking News

Larisa Iordache is in Doha! Go Larisa!
Copyright- Steven Price- @StevenPrice01 on twitter

In other good news, McKayla Maroney is training Yurchenkos. I don't know if they're fulls, halves or layouts, but progress is progress. Hopefully this means she can fight Ebee and Lexie Priessman for the vault and/or floor spot at Worlds. Simone Biles has definitely risen above the 'powerhouse' spot for one.

And Larisa looks to be in good form! Qualified second on beam and first on floor, excellent. Scores don't indicate enormous difficulty, but it's early days for her. She also did a second vault, worth 5.2. She was indicated to do one from when the roster came out, and it's great to see another strong all-arounder break out the second vault. It's believed to be a pike front half, my favourite vault. In even better news, Tan Jiaxin qualified first on bars and Zeng Siqi first on beam! Can't wait to see those routines in particular. Gabby Jupp and Ruby Harrold qualified for bars in that order, 3rd and 4th..Ruby stumbled on her dismount. But she hit the interior of her routine at last, delighted. It looks like Gabby qualified to 3/4 event finals. And Zeng Siqi qualified third on floor, great news. Had difficulty on bars, but she'll never be known for them. All in all it sounds like a promising day. Not sure if I'll be here to watch the stream tomorrow, hopefully.

Livestream for Doha is here right now.

Doha is a bit of a mess really, it's on a different channel and way later than it's supposed to be. Whoever is behind their Facebook is getting dog's abuse for no live scoring or videos yet, which is way over the top. I just managed to see Ri Un Ha who sadly crashed her Cheng, Jordyn Pedersen who also crashed one, Belak who brought her second vault to her knees and then happily at last...Larisa Iordache cranking out two great vaults! Gorgeous DTY from her. Her second vault is actually a Tsuk full, not a Podkopayeva. She was piking significantly even before preparing for landing, great effort for a first 'second' vault, but it does have a huge flaw. She was overscored on it, for 2nd place. I did not see Giulia Steingruber's vaults, who was relegated to third after that...but there's plenty of opinions that their places should be switched.

Euros Predictions

Hopefully they will turn out better than my worlds predictions, which were done nearly a year out and already look hilariously wrong. Anyway, I want to do this before more teams are formally named. This is similar to Euros, 4 per team. It's important to note that several people, including Wyomi Masela, Celine Van Gerner and Elizabeth Seitz have bowed out of Euros contention due to exams and other commitments.

Teams

Russia

This is easy, since the first three have already been named. The last is between Anna Dementyeva, Evgeniya Shelgunova and Ksenia Afanasyeva.


Aliya Mustafina AA
Anastasia Grishina AA
Maria Paseka VT
Ksenia Afanasyeva FX BB

A strong team, which should be able to take home quite a haul. At least one AA medal, hopefully two, same for UB and BB and potentially two on FX too if Aliya pulls out all the stops there. Not 'adding the DLO' kind of stops, but her Russian Championships routine with the pauses fixed could still score very well.

Romania

Romania are only down as bringing three gymnasts. That might change but I'll have to go with it for the moment.

Larisa Iordache AA
Diana Bulimar AA
Stefanie Stanila BB FX

The first two are no-brainers, but we haven't seen Larisa at all since London so it's hard to judge where she's at. On the team is a certainty, but beyond that.. As for Stanila, hopefully she has upgrades or she won't make any event finals. This will mainly be for experience because if Didi and Larisa are on form, she can't beat them. However, she is better than Ana Maria Ocalisan I think. I would be surprised if Diana Chelaru was ready in time, and I doubt Sandra Izbasa is too pushed about going. I think she will be worlds or nothing.

Britain

Gabby Jupp AA
Hannah Whelan AA
Niamh Rippin VT
Becky Downie UB

Since Rebecca Tunney is injured and hasn't competed at a single qualifying meet, I don't see her appearing. These four all performed and won titles at British Championships. Ruby Harrold has lost the bars spot due to her inconsistency with her new (incredible) bars routine. She has one more chance at Doha but she messed up twice with it. Becky has had issues with hers but she has gotten it together more times so..

Italy

Vanessa Ferrari AA
Elisa Meneghini AA
Serena Bugani VT
Elisabetta Preziosa BB

This is the one that will prove the most 'wrong' I think. Carlotta Ferlito, Georgia Campana and Erika Fasana stand greater chances than my last two, but since this is a specialist Euros and I think these two stand better medal chances, I'm going for them.

Netherlands and Switzerland have named their teams. New faces from outside the major teams will be Noemi Makra, Darya Matveyeva, Sophie Scheder, Roxana Popa and Tabea Alt along with old reliables Vasilliki Millousi, Marta Pihan-Kulezsa (if she is not injured, she had a balked routine recently), Dorina Boczogo and Mariya Livchikova.

All-around Qualifiers- Top 5

1. Aliya Mustafina
2. Anastasia Grishina
3. Diana Bulimar
4. Larisa Iordache (I know I know..but I think if she was fighting fit we would have seen her by now)
5. Gabby Jupp

Floor Qualifiers

1. Ksenia Afanasyeva
2. Diana Bulimar
3. Mariya Livchikova
4. Larisa Iordache
5. Aliya Mustafina
6. Elisa Meneghini
7. Gabby Jupp
8. Noel Van Klaveren


Vault Qualifiers

1. Giulia Steingruber
2. Maria Paseka
3. Noel van Klaveren
4. Niamh Rippin
5. Serena Bugani
6. Dorina Boczogo
7. Chantysha Netteb

And I'm lost. No Chuso, Berger, Izbasa or Masela..

Beam Qualifiers

1. Anastasia Grishina
2. Ksenia Afanasyeva
3. Diana Bulimar
4. Larisa Iordache
5. Gabby Jupp
6. Vasliliki Millousi
7. Elisabetta Preziosa
8. Mariya Livchikova (wobbles, low landing double pike)

Bars Qualifiers

1. Aliya Mustafina
2. Anastasia Grishina
3. Becky Downie
4. Sophie Scheder
5. Darya Matveyeva
6. Lisa Hill
7. Natalia Kononenko
8. Gabby Jupp

Podiums

All-around

1. Aliya Mustafina
2. Diana Bulimar
3. Larisa Iordache (Grishina has a bad landing on her vault and stumbles forward in her double double..)

Floor

1. Diana Bulimar
2. Ksenia Afanasyeva (OOB)
3. Mariya Livchikova

Vault

1. Giulia Steingruber
2. Maria Paseka
3. Noel Van Klaveren

Beam

1. Anastasia Grishina
2. Ksenia Afanasyeva
3. Mariya Livchikova (Perfect routine and Bulimar has a huge break)

Bars

1. Aliya Mustafina
2. Anastasia Grishina
3. Sophie Scheder (Sophie improves and Becky gets slaughtered for her handstands)

Well done girls! :P

Medal Table

Russia 7- 3 golds, 4 silver (Mustafina GG Grishina GS Afanasyeva SS Paseka S)
Romania 3- 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze (Bulimar GS, Iordache B)
Ukraine 2- 2 bronze (Livchikova BB)
Switzerland 1- 1 gold (Steingruber G)
Germany 1- 1 bronze (Scheder B)

So the most successful country is Russia and the most decorated gymnast is Aliya Mustafina. I know I might sound odd counting Larisa Iordache out as a major contender, but I just think if she had together and was ready to go, we'd know by now. I think I will be more right than wrong with these predictions but feel free to violently disagree!

And just in time, the nominative participant list was out when I woke up, here. I just mentioned in the comments that there are issues with the list- first, France has a WAG team when they have just stated they aren't bringing any. Janine Berger is on the list when it was said she will miss Euros. Hopefully her inclusion is up-to-date and that she's good to go. British Gymnastics have said they will be releasing on who they're sending tomorrow..so that could be different too. I am most surprised with the addition of Sandra Izbasa. She will shake up my floor and vault podiums nicely. It's great that she's in shape and ready to go, I thought she'd hold off until closer to Worlds really. Sad that it's at the expense of bringing a new senior for experience, or Dana Andrei. They should have utilised all four spots. Britain are putting all their eggs in the bars basket, they have three who could qualify. But nobody for vault, and they'd be lucky to get a floor spot too. An ideal opportunity for Niamh Rippin wasted, unless they change that lineup tomorrow. It's not that I don't love the exciting bars of Ruby Harrold and Becky Downie but I think it's better if they spread the love around a bit..

Ukraine also have a slightly surprising team listed. Mariya Livchikova was a given, and Darya Matveyeva after she placed second at Nationals. Giving new senior Olena Vasylieva more experience is admirable, but Angelina Kysla's place is a little confusing. I hope Vasylieva is improved on last year, when she stood out as being an enormous headcase. I really thought they would send Kristina Sankova who's strong on beam and floor, in place of Kysla and then Natalia Kononenko if she's healthy and hitting in place of Vasylieva. Ah well. Predictions are a mug's game.


 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Weekend Highlights

I love when there's so much gymnastics going on that it's tough to keep up with everything. Jesolo EF videos are not up yet (Edit- They are now) and I'm missing some routines like Mariya Livchikova's beam which would surely be a highlight but I think I have enough to go on. Here's my thoughts on the highlights of this weekend's gymnastics feast.
Simone Biles' performance

Copyright- Gymnastike
 
Simone definitely made her mark as a junior last year when she won the Secret Classic and placed third as US Nationals and her explosive amanar and sky-high double layout attracted widespread attention. But I don't think anyone could have predicted the vast improvement she has made, not just on her pet events- but as an all-arounder, and America's most valuable one right now at that. Her new double-double on floor is done with such ease that a triple twisting version looks like a matter of when, not if. As it is she always has power left over landing that pass and it's SO high. Not content with the very dynamic 1.5 twist into double pike she debuted at American Cup, Simone busted out a full-in tuck in place of the double pike this weekend. Her last pass also looks like it could be upgraded to a triple and her routine is not making the most of the code, she needs more CV from leaps and/or punchfronts as she only amasses 6.2 from her incredible floorwork. The amanar is even better than last year, and she has stuck two so far that we know- one in warm-up at American Cup and the other yesterday. Again, the TTY is only a matter of time as we know for a fact she is training it.

After a dissapointing beam at American Cup where she fell on the new layout pass she had nailed in training, Simone was much more confident at Jesolo with it. Thankfully she has ditched the terrible tour-jete leap too. Extremely powerful in her full in tuck dismount, yet another upgrade...and that could quite easily become a pike. Of anyone who has done a wolf turn with more than one rotation- hers is the best. She still flails her arms a bit like all the rest but she gets it around so fast that it manages to look great instead of a giant wobblefest. Bars really is the most surprising of all, with new releases including a great piked Tkachev straight into Pak. Her dismount is so high above the bar that it needs to become a Fabrichnova. All in all Simone is the most valuable all-arounder USA has, most valuable vaulter and probably most valuable floor worker- Lexie's potential routine has 0.5 more difficulty but it will lose some of the difference in execution and it's not likely that Simone's d-score is final for this year. It's really hard not to say we have found the 2013 World AA, FX and VT champion. And it IS ridiculous to say that, because it's still more than six months away and you never know what will happen in this unpredictable and injury-prone sport. Enthralled as I am with Simone's enormous improvement and potential, I am not blind to her faults. Her backhandsprings on beam could do with being a lot tighter in form, she flexes her feet on bars transitions and some releases, her foot form on vault could do with being tighter too and she's not going to win any rewards for her dance on floor..particularly the parts where she practically stops dead. But it doesn't change the fact that she is exceptional. The new Jesolo AA, FX, VT and BB champion is on a roll.

Anastasia Grishina's redemption

Copyright- RGF, Russian Gymnastics Federation
 
Anastasia hit a beam routine with absolutely NO wobbles. Not on the layout, not on her beautiful but incredibly troublesome Onodi-illusion. She gives us all hope that with her coaching change, more relaxed and confident demeanour and shiny new beam and bars titles at Cottbus that she will finally fulfil her massive potential. Check out the close-up of her feet on the perfect Onodi-illusion. Glorious. Her floor still needs attention and I'm not sure she will ever hit a perfect floor routine as long as the double double remains to exhaust her..but, baby steps. She has not fallen off beam yet so far this year, and that alone is incredible.

Bailie Key's domination

Copyright- USAG USA Gymnastics
 
Bailie, a 2015 senior, not only won the junior AA at Jesolo by three points, she also the VT, FX and BB titles already having qualified first into each. Something happened on bars where she 'only' got third, but the winner- Enus Mariani- is incredibly similar to Bailie on this event. This from a girl who is capable of far more than what she showed and who wasn't even the top ranked Junior in USA when she landed in Italy. Coach Kim Zmeskal has practically wrapped her in cotton wool in her preservation attempts. Long may it continue, with almost two full years until she (hopefully) explodes onto the senior stage. A great boost for this tiny young one.

Gabby Jupp's continued steadiness

Copyright- Alan Edwards

Gabby was not sorely tested as big rival Rebecca Tunney is out with an unspecified injury. However, she still had to beat veteran Hannah Whelan who has years of experience compared to her and has high difficulty. But it was a breeze for Gabby, as Hannah counted numerous falls throughout the weekend while trying out new bars skills. Say hello to the new British AA, beam and floor champion and bars silver medallist. If she can possibly get a DTY in time for Euros she would be a legitimate threat, but that's optimistic to the point of foolishness. As it is, hopefully she can break out into podiums this quad. This is a great start to her senior debut, she impressed everyone with her steadiness and confidence at American Cup and has continued the trend on home soil.

Routines-

Floor. 1. Simone Biles, Jesolo TF/AA 2. Enus Mariani, Jesolo TF/AA 3. Mariya Livchikova, French Nationals (??)

Beam. 1. Anastasia Grishina, Cottbus EF 2. Gabby Jupp, British Championships EF 3. Elisabetta Preziosa, Cottbus quals

Vault. 1. Simone Biles, VT 1 Jesolo AA/TF 2. Oksana Chusovitina, VT 2 Cottbus quals 3. Maegan Chant, VT 2 Cottbus quals

Bars. 1. Becky Downie, British Championships quals 2. Enus Mariani, Jesolo TF/AA 3. Brenna Dowell, Jesolo TF/AA (most improved!)

Skill/composition highlights-

Kyla Ross' backhandsprings on beam look even better now she's grown. Enus Mariani's floor choreography is beyond wonderful. Peyton Ernst's sheep jump was stunning, and surprising given the weakness of the rest of her leaps. Mariya Livchikova's Memmel was out of this world (and her double front and tuck), as was Anastasia Grishina's Onodi. The height of Brenna Dowell's front double pike was crazy, and the ease of it. I am still in love with Simone Biles toe-rises and Gabby Jupp's BHS-LOSO-LOSO. Spectacular to see such clean vaulting from Oksana Chusovitina and I'm really impressed with Maegan Chant's form on hers too, and she can obviously upgrade.

Great week for- Simone Biles- AA, TF, FX, BB and VT champion. Bailie Key- AA, FX, VT and BB champion, and bronze medallist on bars. Anastasia Grishina, flake extraordinaire- UB and BB champion. Gabby Jupp, AA, FX and BB champion, and silver medallist on UB.

Good week for- Maggie Nichols and Peyton Ernst. International competitive debut and although they both fell off beam they both showed some really nice work and coped well. Onwards and upwards. Brenna Dowell who snatched a medal on bars with a surprisingly strong and much improved routine. She's known as an extremely hard worker and it's good to see someone achieve a medal on a weak event through hard graft. Enus Mariani would not have won the AA even if she hadn't fallen, but she did well to take AA silver, bars gold and floor silver.

Bad week for- Vanessa Ferrari who was doing very well until her new upgrade on beam, the tuck full. Vanessa's injury is not thought to be much more than a sprain but it's not known yet if it will impact her inclusion in Euros and other competitions. Such bad luck for this tough veteran. Mai Murakami who had a disaster on 3/4 events. So gutted. She did show some lovely beam work and her quad spin on floor was great. But she lost it everywhere else and although Japan are not deep, they don't have to put her on major teams.. Lexie Priessman and Amelia Hundley who both performed similarly. Not just messy but sluggish too. Lexie came to grief on beam, with errors elsewhere and Amelia had some seriously dodgy landings on floor today. Hopefully they are not going to be resigned to the broken pile just yet. Lexie at least is recovering from an injury, but I don't know what the story is with Amelia- more growth maybe. Also Kyla Ross who has just had her irrelevancy if she doesn't upgrade thrown in her face. I get that she has lost training time and given her growth spurt, significant upgrades in that timeframe would have been tough but they'll have to do something with her routines if she wants to make a major team, especially if she expects to do AA. Huang Huidan's disaster at Cottbus took her out of contention so early that I forgot all about it in the wake of so much gymnastics. Thanks Annie for reminding me, though it's sad to remember. It is the first competition of the season but she doesn't have any kind of track record for consistency. This won't convince anyone that she's any more reliable than Wu Liufang and she could well be left high and dry when major international teams are being chosen. Such a shame she lost it completely as her routines are so beautiful.

Best leotard- Can't choose between Japan's two podium training leos and Italy A's team leo. I also liked Becky Downie EF.

Worst leotard- USA TF. I'm sick of this nauseating colour and not even the pattern redeems it, one of the worst hot pink ones which is very low to sink.

I can't seem to embed anything Jesolo, Cottbus or British Championships..yet anyway, it's either a delay on recent videos or an embed block. So I will link uploaders instead. The excellent Gympower has a ton of yesterday's Jesolo videos and will be uploading event finals there too. Gifwatermark has some of the missed ones, and a different angle on repeated routines. Ninalfee has routines from French Nationals, including Mariya Livchikova's floor. Javier Collados has everything Cottbus, Xoxociara has some Jesolo EF routines and BGTV have all of the British Championships routines. I'm sure people have seen videos around the place, but it's handy to collect uploaders in one place here for convenience.

Who and what did you enjoy most?



Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bailie and Simone sweep Jesolo

Ugh I'm really sorry but that download link I gave is useless. It has about 13 Italian channels and they all work fine but the one I thought it is on isn't correct- it doesn't have the channel Jesolo IS actually being broadcasted on.  So, no Jesolo I'm afraid. For a whole hour and a half I thought I could watch it! I'm sorry if I got anyone's hopes up and wasted their time. Quick hits and youtube it is!

Junior Competition

Bailie Key scored a huge 58.1 to dominate the Junior AA at Jesolo today. Second was the reigning Junior Euros champion Enus Mariani of Italy who scored 55.2, and in third was Amelia Hundley who scored 55.05. Amelia beat Bailie at camp immediately before they left for Italy, but this isn't exactly a surprising turn of events as Jesolo is known for harsh scoring for gymnasts who are that bit messier in their gymnastics. Aly Raisman for instance had her execution scoring slammed last year. Who knows, it may have been part of what spurred her on to improve her form for the international competition that really mattered- London.

Enus fell on beam, but it appears Amelia's problem was just execution. Her vault score was definitely in line, and her floor was not that far behind the leaders. Her beam and bars were both low 13's but that is to be expected when fair judging is applied to them. That's not to say that I don't enjoy Amelia Hundley's gymnastics, she's very dynamic and powerful and I really hope she does not join the ranks of MLT's broken gymnasts...but I am glad that Jesolo rewards clean, beautiful gymnastics. Looking at a photo of the podium highlights another issue for Amelia- she has shot up. Hopefully she can improve when she gets used to her height.

This is a great win for Bailie- and decisive too with a 3 point lead. Slow and steady wins the race, she's being paced correctly. I will add videos when they arrive- most excited for Bailie's floor and bars and Enus' floor. I have only seen a dance-through of the latter's new floor and a very far away look at it in competition where she fell- but it is obvious even from those glimpses that it's brilliant. Epic, dramatic, beautiful. Update- The excellent GymPOWER1 and piibunia are uploading already. I'm not sure if they can be embedded or if it's just that they have embedding disabled but either way it's not working. In the meantime, check out videos here. Bailie and Amelia certainly have upbeat music! I like Amelia's. I'm a bit undecided about Bailie's though..there's a lot going on with it, but I think she can own her routine more in time..this is the first competitive debut. GORGEOUS tumbling from her. I'm so glad that she's not flinging double arabians and so on. I am impressed with crazy tumbling from girls as young and younger than her I'll admit, but it's still better to see someone being developed nice and slow. Amelia can certainly improve from what she showed today. Enus was glorious to watch as usual, though she's piking down quite considerably on her DTY and her double layout bars dismount. Her floor deserves its own link (a different uploader). Stunning.

Senior Competition
I think we can expect that Kyla Ross will be similarly rewarded and Lexie Priessman will have her execution slammed. It will depend on how much of a difficulty lead Lexie has. Not forgetting Simone Biles but she's harder to pinpoint- she should be somewhere in the middle as she is not spectacularly clean but nor is she sloppy. Except her leaps, which will surely be dealt with harshly. The question is how much of a lead can she get on the others with her vault..and can she beat Kyla's bars if she has higher difficulty there? Should be extremely interesting! I'm really hoping Mai Murakami, Elisa Meneghini and Asuka Teramoto can make their mark too. And how impressive that Vanessa Ferrari has actually upgraded- adding a new tuck full. Maybe she will continue after she is done saving money..let's hope.

Not hearing a whole lot of great news from the senior competition. Vanessa Ferrari has been taken to hospital after falling off beam on the tucked full and not being able to continue. Hopefully it's very minor and this is just a precaution. Mai Murakami landed her double double on her knees and scored so low on vault that she either fell or did an FTY instead of the DTY. Dissapointing, but hopefully it won't continue to be the story of her senior career. Her bars score was 10.55 so clearly mishaps there too. Girl is such a heartbreaker. Lexie Priessman and Maggie Nichols fell off beam. In good news Simone Biles scored a whopper 15.9 for her amanar- 9.6 execution. She must have stuck that thing, can't wait to see a video. And in a surprise twist Brenna Dowell scored extremely high on bars- 14.7- which was definitely not expected. I've just gone back and read the more detailed quick hits from L'International Gymnix on facebook. It definitely appears that Brenna has improved, good for her. Sadly Peyton Ernst fell victim to beam too. She seems to be showing nice work, I hope she and Maggie can show off hit beam routines at Chemnitz. And confirmed, Simone did stick her amanar. And her bars dismount. She is leading the AA after 3 rotations and scored higher than Kyla on beam. WOW. Kyla outscored Simone on bars 15.4 to 14.85 and Simone outscored Kyla on vault by 0.7 and beam by 0.05. On to floor, a pet piece of Simone's if she can only control her landings. Interestingly, the facebook quick hits are referring to USA's layouts on beam as whips. I would tend to agree if they all look like Simone's and Bailie's. This would be a downgrade if the judges took it- there's no amplitude. Simone's second vault is the Lopez- which was Maroney's second vault in 2011. It's also known as a laidout Podkopayeva I believe. Ahhh can't wait for videos..

And Simone nails floor! Excellent. Not to mention she has actually upgraded it already, the 1 and a half to double pike became a full-in tuck and she has added a leap after the double layout. Scores a 14.9, a full point and a half above Kyla's low 13.35- she went out of bounds on two passes and did not show upgrades. Great boost for Simone after a slightly dissapointing American Cup. Her AA total breaks 60- by 0.4 to be exact, a fantastic result especially at a competition known for harsh judging.
 
Other Stuff

FIG have in fact gotten rid of their new vault scoring. R.I.P..it sure was tested well, with its only outings at LRSY and some very few national competitions. It appears that the old system now reinstated will be a bit different in that neutral deductions will be taken away from the averaged total. The 0.5 deduction is no more but this does mean that misdirection errors and steps could be equally as damaging as a nice 0.5 averaged fall. It appears that the sight of 11-12 range winning scores at LRSY was more offensive to FIG than having gymnasts who splatted a vault winning medals. Nice going.

Unfortunately, I got a little confused with British Championships livestreaming schedule. The senior AA is taking place soon but will not be livestreamed. Tomorrow's apparatus finals will be livestreamed instead. AA finals routines from today will be uploaded to youtube swiftly by the very efficient and commendable BGTV though.

Anastasia Grishina won bars finals at Cottbus! She is continuing her lucky streak of hitting. Hopefully she can get the beam title too. It's so great that her coaching change is clearly the right decision. Even if she does remain a little flaky, she looks very happy and that's the main thing. Not surprisingly, Oksana Chusovitina took the vault title.

USAG are uploading old American Cup's. I spotted 1984, 1986 and the inaugural one, 1976. Don't be fooled by the 'full broadcast' title- it's about as full as NBC's Olympic coverage. There were only 6 female gymnasts and they managed to show just 3. There is enormous Nadia Comaneci hype of course, and you get to see all of her routines. It's interesting to see her compete in great quality pre-Montreal. And how Kathy Rigby pretty much dismisses Elena Davydova after she fell off bars, 4 years before she became Olympic AA champion. Contains fluff where Nadia walks around sightseeing with Bela chewing gum and wearing flares. And a bizarre showdown which NBC would love, pitting Nadia against Olga Korbut on all four events. And a two sentence but nevertheless great interview from Nadia. 
 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Larisa in strike #5- Updated

Larisa Iordache has been pulled for the fifth time from a world cup, Cottbus. So too has Diana Bulimar but she doesn't have quite the same track record. Sigh. I get that if Larisa is injured then she has to be preserved for Euros and it wouldn't be smart to pull out of all of the March competitions in one go. It does look pretty bad on the part of the Romanian gymnastics federation though and I doubt the meet organisers are enjoying the last minute cancellations. As for Diana, it's possible she tweaked something when she fell off the beam awkwardly, or in training but I think it's more likely they want to work on her beam before she competes again. Who knows. Coming up the week after is Doha which both girls are signed up for still, so we'll have to wait and see what happens there. This meet clashes with Chemnitz- the USA-Romania-Germany friendly and it's quite possible if both girls are healthy that they might be transferred to that instead as the competition is a lot stiffer with USA's a-team and the meet itself being in Europe, preferable to the middle east.

The good news is that Cottbus still has great competitors- Anastasia Grishina, Anna Dementyeva, Evgeniya Shelgunova, Kristina Goryunova, Huang Huidan, Chantysha Netteb, Noel van Klaveren, Sophie Scheder and Roxana Popa. Not to mention Jesolo taking place this weekend too. This meet will hopefully showcase a consistent and strong Simone Biles with more controlled landings on floor, Lexie Priessman's incredible 6.7 floor routine, Bailie Key's upgrades and general fantastic all-around work and a sneaky little upgrade or two from Kyla Ross. I don't expect Kyla to knock out upgrades like Simone has been doing, especially as she lost training time recently, but it would be nice to see her floor at least approach 6.0 and some little adjustments to her beam and bars. I'd like to see improvement on beam and bars from Amelia Hundley and I'm looking forward to her floor. Probably Bailie's the most after Simone's though- she has a new floor routine at last! Not to mention beam and bars upgrades. As for Maggie Nichols and Peyton Ernst, I'll be eager to see what they come up with as they are definitely unknown quantities at this stage. Brenna Dowell's amzing front double pike is always welcome too. Sadly Katelyn Ohashi has pulled out of both Jesolo and Chemnitz, due to a back injury. Hopefully she can recover quickly but I'm happy she is getting a rest from competition anyway, as she looked exhausted at American Cup. Mai Murakami and the rest of the Japanese team will be competing though, and there's an enormous pile of Italian talent on the roster. Can't wait!

Sadly, Huang Huidan had a disaster on bars today in her attempt to qualify to Cottbus bars finals, though she apparently did not fall on her dismount, just a big stumble. She also came to a stop halfway through. Evgeniya Shelgunova suffered the same stop, and had other errors- her Pak sounds as unique as ever, and she scored higher. Must wait for video to judge how big an error Huang's dismount was. She lost the tiebreaker for the eighth and final place to Jessica Lopez so she won't get redemption there. Hopefully she nails beam. Next week we will see Zeng Siqi, Tan Jiaxin and Zhang Qing at Doha. The Chinese are barely out of winter training and I don't expect amazing things from them just yet, but hopefully some lovely work materialises. The good news I got from the quick hits is that Anastasia Grishina performed beautifully on bars, earning the top score by a mile- 14.9. Apparently Oksana Chusovitina has cleaned up her form? I thought when I saw her vaults recently that she had downgraded, as they looked much cleaner. How amazing that they're the same vaults. I wouldn't be surprised if she suddenly emerged as a top all-arounder capable of scoring 60+. Well I would, but she keeps defying logic. Beam and floor finalists at Cottbus will be determined tomorrow. Hopefully video emerges soon, or even just of finals.

Interestingly enough, Cottbus is not using the new vault code. As a world cup., it really should be, unless FIG have reneged on it since LRSY. Evgeniya Shelgunova fell on floor in quals. That, her bars error and her scary second vault should be enough to seal the deal for Afan to go to Euros. Anna Dementeyeva scored well on floor but fell off beam. She is capable of such beautiful work but I doubt they will trust her with a spot somehow. I'm so happy that Anastasia Grishina hit beam. That's two in a row and top qualifier for both I believe. Huang Huidan sadly grabbed the beam and then fell off trying to regain her balance after that. Looks like she will be joining Demy in the inconsistent lovelies box so far this year, but Grishina has clawed her way out so hope remains. Let's hope Shang Chunsong, Tan Jiaxin, Zeng Siqi and Zhang Qing all produce stellar work in their upcoming meets. It will also be interesting to see how Wu Liufang competes nationally this year. They may actually need He Kexin and Deng Linlin to hang on for a while, particularly if Yao Jinnan is not on top form.

In Jesolo news, Simone Biles second vault was very high. I have no idea what it is. I'm guessing a Mustafina. If it is that will be amazing to see, especially as it hasn't been done really well by the handful that have already done it. Even Maroney's was a little low every time she did it. Always great, but could have done with more height all the same. Mai Murakami apparently trained very well, high double double (generally it's been low recently) and a DTY. So excited to see her routines. Loving their training leo, it's showing up USA's (hideous bright pink, black bit and obligatory swirl) leos as extra tacky.

As well as Jesolo and Cottbus, British Championships are taking place this weekend. I'm not sure if Becky Downie is competing, I hope so, for a chance to redeem herself after her unfortunate performance at LRSY. Or Rebecca Tunney, who hasn't emerged yet. Ruby Harrold and Gabby Jupp are both going to Doha next weekend but will still have to give British Championships their all as it's a major qualifier for Euros. The senior AA will be livestreamed tomorrow! Last year it was not region blocked whatsoever, they're good like that. The clocks have not gone forward yet so please bear in mind that normal time conversions to GMT are out. Currently we are 4 hours ahead of EST, not 5. I made this mistake when talking about Russian Championships, apologies. Rebecca Tunney is out with an injury so won't be there. This was mentioned on TCG as well as my comments. Hopefully she will be back on form for worlds if not Euros but Gabby Jupp is competing so all is right with the world. It should be a good battle between her and Hannah Whelan all the same. And hopefully there will be more fantastic bars routines from two certain seniors and some more nice displays of corner dance with which British juniors have paved the way. Tyesha Matthis, who very impressively won the AA at AYOF, repeated her feat in the junior competition. Amy Tinkler and Ellie Downie were second and third.

Alla Sosnitskaya, a new Russian face, has some extremely beautiful turn combinations in training. Neither materialised at Russian Championships though, but nobody was pulling out all the stops there. She had some very out of control landings on floor at Russian Championships, but she does have a nice double layout and triple full so hopefully she can gain more consistency with her landings in time- they're not bad in this video, except one. Check out the BEAUTIFUL illusion-Memmel-double turn, and later the triple turn which starts as an l-turn, graduates to a Moors turn (I don't know what that position is called) and then down to being held at ankle height. Exquisite stuff, hope to see it again soon. Alla turned senior last year but doesn't appear to be on the radar as of yet. I'm not sure what's like on the other events, they could certainly do with a strong clean vaulter if her strengths also lie in that direction. Video is here.

I'm trying not to get excited about the training video of Aliya Mustafina doing a double layout. Granted it's definitely not appraching competition surface and she has a whole bunch of extra backhandsprings in, but wow is it beautiful. As a sidenote, I'm sick of hearing on places like gymfanconfessions (good for a laugh) that Aliya has terrible form. I wasn't aware that her triple fulls and amanars are all that her routines consist of. It's hilarious and yet infuriating when people submit confessions acting as if she is Aly Raisman, Evgeniya Shelgunova or Shallon Olsen in the form department. Yes, she has creepy fans and yes, there's quitea lot of hype around her even now on the gymternet- but no need to blast her as having crap form. There was even one that said she was the worst gymnast ever. LOL. Nobody is acting like her triple fulls and vaulting are Cheng Fei-like objects of beauty, but no need to get delusional. Anyway, I wonder where the DLO would fit in? I hope not to replace her first pass, which is so well done. I'd like to see her do the double arabian-stag, DLO, 1.5 into double tuck and then a 2.5-front layout last pass. No triple full in that routine, and she's generally very solid on dance elements too to bump up that d-score. Hopefully it will appear and isn't just a tease like Jordyn Wieber's. The link is here, it refuses to embed.

I'm busy lately so I can't post or comment as much, but it's temporary and I'm still using my phone to keep up to date :)


Friday, 15 March 2013

Quick round-up

Sadly the rumour is true, no Larisa Iordache at LRSY this weekend. This makes it her fourth missed world cup. She is still slated to compete at Doha and Cottbus world cups, and is expected to be a certainty for Euros. I'm not sure why they bothered overloading her with assignments as now they face more indignity in pulling her out of this one- and at a very late stage too. A slight injury was cited as the cause, I'd be more inclined to believe her March and April schedule is packed enough moreso than an injury. If it is, then hopefully it's a very swift recovery. We have to see her this year sometime..she can't withdraw from everything...right? Maria Paseka is not there either, the reason seems to be another visa problem- which makes it the third in quick succession, Mei Jie could not attend Massilia and Andreea Iridon could not attend Gymnix for the same reason. Sort it out, major gymnastics federations...

The good news is, Diana Bulimar has been added to the LRSY floor line-up. She is also down for Cottbus, Doha and is another almost-certainty for Euros. However she has less pressure on her and is not as of yet a brilliant all-arounder- though she has upped her game on vault. Really looking forward to her floor. The impressions from training report states that she is using her choreography and music from London. Fine by me. You can read it here, in French. I'm proud I understood without translating. Finally!

Update: What a splatfest. Really sad to see gymnast after gymnast come to grief at the hands of bars, vault and beam. Not to mention Janine Berger and Kristian Thomas who injured themselves on vault. The prognosis on Janine is that she will be out for two weeks. I was most dissapointed to hear that Becky Downie had a disastrous time on bars and that Diana Bulimar fell off beam twice. Bars and beam were a case of whoever doesn't fall, qualifies. Well done to Ksenia Afanasyeva for hitting both of her routines. However, I am disgusted she was wrongly awarded 0.5 CR for a front/sidewards element on floor as she did not perform it, she left out her front aerial. Her turn combination was beautiful though. I was a little dissapointed with her beam as she left out a very pretty connection from Russian Nationals. The routine seemed like a fight, it wasn't anywhere near as graceful as it could have been, but there's plenty of time to iron that out, hopefully. Ugly dismount too, sigh. Afan's floor being judged incorrectly means that Diana Bulimar should have won floor by a landslide. Which would have been nice considering her beam. I didn't see anything wrong with her leaps, two of which failed to get credit. Will have to rewatch. Although Anne Kuhm's beam was a meltdown, her BHS-LOSO-LOSO looks like it will be absolutely beautiful. Carlotta Ferlito's beam was another highlight, very strong and it looks like she has absolutely nailed the new arm-swing rules. Her acro line was totally Li Ya-esque in its lack of arm swing, brilliant to see. I've no idea how this rule physically affects gymnasts, but it seemed like it set Marine Brevet off balance..


Our winners are:

UB- Giulia Steingruber
VT- Giulia Steingruber
BB- Carlotta Ferlito
FX- Ksenia Afanasyeva

Afan fell off beam, handing the title to Carlotta. I haven't seen Afan's floor yet (issues with the livestream..) but she did have an aerial in apparently. Didi scored just one-tenth lower, I don't know yet if she had her leaps credited. Her tumbling was a little scrappy, especially in slow-motion. Bit of a dissapointing competition given all the falls and some odd judging. Here's to Jesolo being better!

And for the day that's in it (it's a disaster zone and I avoid it like the plague here. Tip: If you're ever visiting Ireland, don't coincide your trip with Paddy's Day); here is Kim Zmeskal with the best example of an Irish music floor routine that I've seen yet. I really love this music, and it works so well. She even has little movements inspired by the dance..not many, just the ones after her second and third passes, but still. She changed this routine for nationals and had different music. Boo. This one rocks.

I'm too late for the old news that Beth Tweddle has won Dancing on Ice. I wonder if the gymnasts lucky streak will continue for Aly Raisman though. Really looking forward to seeing her first dance. I think she will at least initially face the same criticism Beth did- too much focus on technicality, not enough on losing herself in the dance and her presentation. I think it's hard for gymnasts to do the opposite of what they do so much of- keeping the body tense and being incredibly focused on technicality. Obviously not that hard, since they're winning everything they enter, but still..

I am so thrilled at the vast improvement of Andreea Munteanu. Andreea is a 2014 senior, whose strengths are floor and beam..no surprise there for a Romanian. Thankfully, she also has superb toepoint, leaps and extension. She stood out on beam in particular last year at Junior Euros but has really come on since then. I could look at her 1/4 straddle all day long. And she already has a (nice and high) tuck full! Much as I enjoy Larisa Iordache's superb beam work, her toepoint is severely lacking and her leaps aren't a patch on Munteanu's. So I'd have no problem for her to be surpassed on beam by the girl with superior form. Really great to see her comeback after a vastly dissapointing TF and AA and take the beam and floor titles and a bronze on vault. Hopefully Laura Jurca can recover quickly, she aggravated an old injury on floor and then scratched vault..the reason why they finished last with 2/3 in their vault rotation. Andreea herself would have easily claimed the AA had she not had a disaster on bars. A modest score of 12.8 would have given her a generous lead. Sigh.

This is the greatest thing I have seen on twitter, ever.

There's a meet in May that I've never heard of before, but it sounds very interesting. The Professional Gymnastics Challenge will pit two groups- USA Vs The World- of mixed gymnasts against each other. Gymnasts will compete head-to-head in an offence against defence format where the first group devise a skill or series and the other team must better the originators effort in order to be the new offending team. Tumbling is one category, there are plenty of others. I can't wait to see how it pans out. It's not new, but it is to me! On the US side will be Jana Bieger (still training..?), Anna Li, Kat Ding and a whole bunch of big enough MAG names. The international team includes Oksana Chusovitina, Anna Pavlova, Jade Barbosa, Jessica Lopez and Lisa Mason. Jade's gym has dropped their professional programme and fired a whole bunch of staff, leaving her, the Hypolito's and a few more in the lurch. (It's not clear how this affects Rebeca Andrade who is too old for the recreational programme for younger kids which is being kept, but is not a senior pro and is not named as being affected. Nevertheless, the coaching situation will impact her if nothing else). So if Jade has not withdrawn as of yet, hopefully that's good news and she has somewhere good to train. The website is here, for a better explanation of how the competition will work. I'm most excited about Anna Li as there is an uneven bars bit..and Jade Barbosa anything.

Chantysha Netteb and Noel van Klaveren will compete for the Netherlands at Euros. Absolutely thrilled Chantysha rebounded quickly from her scary fall at her first attempt to qualify, but dissapointed they are not sending more. After all, they're sending six MAG. Sanne Wevers (queen of turns) still scores high on beam and Daphne Slingerland could do with the experience. Hmm. Elizabeth Seitz, Tabea Alt and Sophie Scheder will compete at Chemnitz. Sophie is the reigning junior Euros bars champion, looking forward to seeing what she has up her sleeve for her senior debut, and Tabea too. Mariya Livchikova and new senior Darya Matveyeva placed first and second respectively at Ukrainian Cup. Presumably both will be headed to Moscow. Darya was very flaky last year at Junior Euros, though very promising as is usual with Ukraine. Let's all pray to something that Mariya can stay on the beam as her original and daring routine is probably worth more in this code...

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Jesolo lineup and stuff: Updated

I can't contain my excitement that I booked the flights and hotel for worlds! The whole thing with tickets costs 360, or $470. I think that's great, though I'd probably pay twice that if I had to I suppose. :D :D :D :D :D

Anyway, on to actual news. Jesolo's lineup has been completed! USA are sending Lexie Priessman, Simone Biles, Kyla Ross, Katelyn Ohashi, Peyton Ernst, Maggie Nichols, Amelia Hundley and Bailie Key. Italy are sending just about every gymnast they have- including Elisa Meneghini, Vanessa Ferrari, Serena Bugani, Elisabetta Preziosa, Erika Fasana, Georgia Campana, Enus Mariani and Tea Ugrin. Japan announced theirs ages ago- Mai Murakami, Asuka Teramoto, Wakana Inoue, Natsumi Sasada and Wakiko Ryu. Switzerland are sending a full team which includes Giulia Steingruber.

So, who are Maggie Nichols and Peyton Ernst? They are new seniors who have been impressing at camp. I need to see more of Maggie to judge her, but although I liked Peyton Ernst's floor last year, she didn't seem to stand out on any event. I'm glad to hear she has improved though I believe both girls are moreso there for experience rather than as the a-team that the other senior girls comprise.

The team competition is a foregone conclusion. The top contenders for the all-around title will be Simone Biles, Kyla Ross, Lexie Priessman and to a lesser extent; Mai Murakami, Vanessa Ferrari and Asuka Teramoto. Hard to pick the best two of USA's all-arounders. I believe Simone Biles will take it in the end. But it will be interesting- Jesolo tore apart Aly Raisman's execution last year, and all of the US girls in contention have form errors- either leaps, sloppiness, piked layouts (I include Priessman in that) and incredibly deductible bars or else lower difficulty like Kyla.

For vault, it will be a Priessman V Biles powerfest if both have their second vaults ready. Giulia Steingruber will hopefully shine here too. Again, this should be handed to Simone Biles. Floor will be much the same story, Priessman V Biles, with strong additions from Mai Murakami who needs more upgrades to take higher than bronze, Vanessa Ferrari and hopefully Elisa Meneghini and Asuka Teramoto. I think Priessman has this in the bag with her 6.7 difficulty no matter how much execution she loses, though I would prefer Biles again as she is cleaner, and more artistic. I'd be so happy if bars was won by Wakana Inoue who has a beautifully fluid swing, style and form on the apparatus. It's much more likely to go to an American- I wouldn't bet on Ohashi though because if Jesolo's harsh execution scoring continues this year then her e-score could plummet below 8 quite easily. If Biles doesn't fall then she has a great medal chance, but I'm thinking Kyla Ross will take gold. Beam is just as certain as the team title- it's Ohashi's if she doesn't fall.

In the junior rankings, I'm looking forward to the Japanese girls as I don't have a clue about them. The all-around should be interesting, it will more than likely be a Hundley V Key V Mariani showdown. Key has some upgrades in the works and a new floor routine. She has a good blend of power and artistry and is very clean, and more than likely able to increase her difficulty over the next year or two as she grows. At the moment it should be a close enough battle, Hundley might be a little more harshly scored due to her execution than the other two. Enus Mariani has the most exciting floor routine this year, though she is competing a bars routine she is struggling with, though her coaches see competing it as a neccessity. Hopefully she can emerge the victor over it this time. I would prefer Mariani-Key-Hundley on the podium but it's more likely to be that in reverse.

Evgeniya Shelgunova won beam at Russian Championships event finals today, and Ksenia Afanasyeva won floor. Yesterday's winners were Maria Paseka on vault and Anastasia Grishina on bars (Mustafina made a mistake.) Mustafina pulled out of beam and floor finals to protect herself, good move seeing as she has more than proved herself and needs to be in good shape for Euros. Sadly, Demy did not shine, finishing fourth on beam and sixth on floor. I think this means she won't take the fourth Euros spot, which she, Afan and Shelgunova are in contention for.

Jordan Chiles qualified elite at developmental camp with a score of 52.150. I live for the thought of her competing at Classics and Nationals.

Andreea Iridon is sadly no longer competing at Gymnix this weekend. No idea Lewhy not. She's Romania's brightest hope on bars. They should make a strong impact on beam and floor in particular, no surprises there. Maria Bondareva is scheduled to compete, and both her team and the Romanian team will have strong competition from the home team, Canada.

The Doha World Cup roster is out. It was already known that Larisa Iordache and Diana Bulimar would compete at this, but there are several other good names. China are sending Zeng Siqi (FINALLY), Tan Jiaxin and Zhang Qing. GB are sending Ruby Harrold and Gabby Jupp and it will be a battle of the vaulters- Janine Berger, Giulia Steingruber, Thi Ha Thanh Phan and whatever vaulters North Korea pull out of their hat- they are sending Hong Un Jong, Ri Un Ha and Kim Un Hyang. Beam will be very interesting, a Iordache V Zeng battle, with backup from strong beamers Bulimar and Jupp. And bars too, with tricksters Tan Jiaxin and Ruby Harrold. Tan is known only for bars and will need a second event to make major teams (even He Kexin could crank out a DTY), but her bars are very dynamic and exciting. She could be to the forefront if the old amazing releases of old are brought back. Let's hope Harrold can nail that amazing routine of hers too.

Gymnix is taking place now. LRSY is March 16-17th. Jesolo is March 23-24th, Doha is 27-29th and Chemnitz is March 30th. I think that's it?

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Everything else :) Updated!

 Even Afan can't make this abomination work- Copyright RGF- Russian Gymnastics federation
 
Lots of other fabulous non-American Cup gymnastics going on! First and foremost, Russian Championships, which still have event finals to go. The AA was predictably won by Aliya Mustafina, who did not have Viktoria Komova present to challenge her. Anastasia Grishina was second and new senior Evgeniya Shelgunova was third. Sadly, Anna Dementyeva seems to have continued her inconsistency, placing sixth, just in front of Anna Pavlova. Maria Paseka landed an amanar in team finals. It was by no means great, but better than London and a very valuable addition for their Euros team. I was so hoping that Demy would step up and be counted, but it's far more likely to be either Ksenia Afanasyeva or Shelgunova taking the fourth spot- I would be inclined to believe Mustafina, Grishina and Paseka are locks. Unfortunately, Shelgunova is still displaying notable form issues, especially with her Pak which truly is horrifying. She does have a very competitive level of difficulty though, and Afan was having endurance issues, so it could go either way. EDIT- Rodionenko named Mustafina, Grishina and Paseka to the Euros team. Last spot is between Afan, Shelgunova and Demy.

LOVE- Both copyright of the RGF- Russian Gymnastics Federation

My observations here come from videos from a mix of all three events- quals, AA and TF. I missed the quals and AA livestream and gave up on the TF one because it was too laggy on my laptop. There seems to be suprise that Tatiana Nabieva did not do her named release. I'm not surprised, she has not done it in a good while. Good bars from her though and she scored well on vault. New face (to me) Alla Sosnitskaya had impressive difficulty on floor- a DLO (almost to her knees in the video I saw, but still) and triple full, looking forward to seeing more of her. Watching her TF floor now, her landings were out of control. Nice to see someone with a lot of power all the same! As for Mustafina, at this point of the year she is wisely not stretching herself too much. There's a lot of dissapointment that she's not selling her floor routine as well as she has her old routines, but I see no reason to do that this early. I'm sure it will be improved by Euros and stellar by the time Worlds rolls around. Her vault, DTY, was great- well landed and controlled. Bars were a delight as always, very clean and crisp. Totally watered down from London as expected. Aliya's beam was the highlight for me, she has some great new connections. She didn't connect them in the AA but they were much better in the team final which was great to see. My favourite is the Onodi-double turn. Glorious. Her arabian looks pretty solid too and it's nice to see a double back dismount in place of a twisting one. It looks like the new beam connections were designed for her, I'm sure she will have more up her sleeve. As expected, she debuted a new floor routine. At some points, she isn't selling the routine and looks disinterested. Again, not to beat a dead horse, but she's not in London and doesn't need to go all out. I do like the music though and it looks like it will be great. The double arabian-stag and triple full looked very solid though she had a deep landing on her second pass and lots of (now deductible) long pauses in corners. Really excited to see how this routine develops this year. Grishina did well to place second. Her first floor routine looked exhausting for her, low double-double and a double pike to her hands and knees. Thankfully she performed better in team finals- watered down with no scary passes or falls. She seems more mentally ready to compete, more confident. Bars were improved, and she has brought back her beautiful Onodi-illusion beam combination. Not many creditable connections present in the routine as of yet though and she's still shaky. It is a big victory that she stayed on beam all the same. She did crash a DTY, but she was still improved on what we saw of her all last year, and it's only just begun. I am surprised to see Afanasyeva compete AA. I thought she would specialise on beam and floor, but maybe she is planning to do that in the very near future.Nice new beam work from her apparently though the video has been taken down before I got to it. Thankfully someone described it- switch half (new), aerial (2 feet) to jump (dunno what one- split leap? scissone?), Kotchetkova- tour-jete 1/2 (fell in between), aerial-1.5 L turn (awesome!), Onodi-side somi. Now she did have major issues with the routine and barely qualified to EF but it seems like she was trying out a whole load of exciting connections. It sounds like a very interesting routine, especially with her execution. Her floor is the same from London, still with very strong tumbling. She is EF worthy on both events, excellent stuff.

I will always have a soft spot for Anna Myzdrikova who was just phenomenal on floor 2009-2010. She has resurrected her floor from that (perfect) time, and her double arabian is still great. She is still captivating to watch. Ekaterina Kramarenko seems to have improved, good for her. I didn't see any Ekaterina Baturina videos but word is she wasn't great and is recovering from an injury. Missing were Viktoria Komova, Yulia Inshina (back problem), Anastasia Sidorova (back problem) and Anna Rodionova (foot..I think)

Videos and more after the jump!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

American Cup- updated with more from my brain

What a weekend! I missed Russian Championships quals and AA from forgetting to set my alarm but will be catching up during the week. I blocked out English Championships due to their conflict with American Cup but there are some very interesting videos up- especially bars! Exciting stuff. But first, on to the elite debut and first post-London return of 8 fabulous gymnasts.

Highlights:

Gabby Jupp WOW! I knew she was going to be a treat on beam and floor as I've had my eye on her for quite a while now, but her bars and her confidence were unexpected. You would think she was the seasoned Vanessa Ferrari and not a brand new unknown senior at her first big assignment. She absolutely attacked her beam and bars though never sacrificing finesse or polish. Beautiful lines, fabulous toepoint, astonishing elegance. And SO underscored. The best part of the whole competition was that there were no overscores except one- Ohashi's vault- but there were underscores. Gabby's vault got nearly three tenths below the decent but quite flawed effort of Ohashi's, which was mind boggling. Certainly the dynamics of it were not brilliant; too low and too short a distance travelled. But it was truly beautiful, floaty and light with a great landing. So while it did have deductions built into it, it didn't deserve THAT much compared to vaults with other obvious problems. Her vault knocked her out of medal contention straight away but hopefully she can crank out a DTY in the future when she grows a bit. I can't get enough of her beautiful bars and her gorgeous BHS-LOSO-LOSO on beam which was fresh from the 90's and rightfully earned appreciation from the crowd. Floor was another treat, nice dance with such a lightness to her work and she already has substantial difficulty with her first two passes. She will need to work on her leaps and increase her difficulty, but it's great to see a gymnast excelling at her own pace instead of fighting to beat the code too early. Lovely elegant gymnast who is on her way to excelling outside of the Euros field, and I'm glad to see her gaining a lot of new fans.

Simone Biles I don't think we've ever seen anyone this powerful? Except Daiane Dos Santos whom she absolutely channelled on floor. It's not that we haven't seen these skills before, it's that it's very rare to see someone do them with such ease and extra power. First up, the amanar with a large extra hop. It's improved on last year's explosive effort, it's now getting more height and distance. It gets about the same height as McKayla Maroney's, but she gets more distance. I haven't seen it from enough angles yet to really examine Simone's leg form on entry etc. but I do think her legs are straighter and her hip angle is better than McKayla's, but her foot form is pretty loose with maybe a bit of crossing going on. What is obvious is that a TTY is just around the corner for this girl. Onto bars, where she surprised everyone by catching both of her difficult new releases and her Maloney with ease- skills she fell on over and over in training and warm-ups. Her form looks much better though could still be tightened up and I'm not sold on her Wieler kip. Her dismount is so high above the bar, incredible to watch. She had much less trouble with her beam in training, but it's where she came to grief in the end, on her new layout pass. In a post-meet interview she stated that she was nervous and her legs were buckling a bit. Her face was heartbreaking to see but she came back strong, nailed her incredibly hard dismount and managed to smile widely. Great recovery. And fascinating to see her land her dismount with her chest higher than everyone else with their double pikes.

Floor was where I most excited to see her- and she didn't dissapoint tumbling wise, with an enormous double double, great easy double layout, a very unusual 1 and a half into double pike and lovely twisting. Her floor music has really grown on me, and she sells it very well- nice choreography. Sadly she gave away numerous tenths with every pass on her landings, short on the second and way over on the others- just like Dos Santos who lost plenty of floor titles for the same problem. Hopefully Simone can rein in her power, or else upgrade her passes. All in all a wonderful debut for her, with what looks like a fluke fall. She has definitely made her mark as one to watch in the US.

Upgrades I'd like to see for Simone- Bars: Double double- either tucked (Fabrichnova) or laidout (Ray). Would love to see a video of her doing a triple back into a pit, the only person I would confidently say could nail that. Floor: Triple twisting double back, DLO- punchfront-stag (Atler style!), 1 and a half into full in pike and a triple full. Overkill? If she could do that it would greatly help her landing errors though..Vault: TTY Beam: Chuck the Strug, not working. I'd have her doing straddle leaps and wolf jumps since they're so achievable for her- with a much more convincing straddle split than side split- and for a more difficult one, a switch ring leap- they look much easier to achieve now. More connections, something out of her layout.

Katelyn Ohashi Great to see her hit 4/4, especially after all the doubt surrounding her last year. Her beam was another high point, her layout full was improved on what she showed in training (I'm going to harp on and still advocate it being scrapped though) and the routine flowed really well- although there's incredible difficulty present it never felt like skill-skill. She missed the connection on her lovely Onodi-aerial-aerial-sheep, but still great to watch. Always nice to see her land the more difficult vault totally safely, I'm just hoping her technique will improve on it as it's still quite messy- and undeserving of a 9.1 e-score... Nice to see her back in the hunt for AA though, she really proved herself capable. Bars were a let-down, she leaves herself open for massive deductions on every pirouette but especially the Healy, and it looked like quite a struggle for her to get through the routine. I'd advise cutting it down a bit until she has more of a hold on her skills and better form and precision. As for floor- I love it! Fabulous music, nice choreography. Her tumbling is a little untidy I think but it's solid, her Memmel turn is beautiful and she had the quick twitch reaction to water down her punchfront on the last pass. It will never be amazing or her main strength, but she has definitely improved here. A convincing win, though I would have liked to have seen more fight for it!

Victoria Moors Victoria really paced herself brilliantly for this event, she wasn't looking great at Canadian Nationals and she was having quite a few issues in training but no worries, she had a stellar meet. Decent DTY from her, and looks like something she could easily improve. I don't see her making it into an amanar but she's one who will benefit from its downgrading. Her beam was an utter delight, floaty but so confident. Lovely smooth movements, so fun to watch. There's enormous potential in the routine as she doesn't really connect anything yet, looking forward to seeing it develop this quad. Her bars too have improved, nice and precise and even though she released too early on the dismount it was still great, lovely in the air. Onto the important bit- that floor. Everybody had big expectations for it and Victoria went above and beyond. Kept it to three passes and showed off her dance. Absolutely love the dramatic bit in the middle when the music quietens, and her turn near the corner is just fabulous. I'm running out of adjectives here! She will need another pass to contend for floor medals, and some upgrades but for the moment we should just rejoice at the perfection of this routine. A really confident start for Victoria who is still only 16.

Best routines:

1. Victoria Moors- floor
2. Gabby Jupp- beam
3. Simone Biles- floor (flawed of course- but the potential!)

Boo: 

- Underscores. There was, as previously mentioned, only one overscore- a welcome change for American Cup, known for insanely high American scores. Gabby Jupp and Victoria Moors were in comparison to others, screwed a bit. I understand Gabby's vault score to an extent as she had less height than most and little distance, but it was still slightly too low- following the usual trend of scoring more difficult vaults higher in execution (not cool.) Her beam had a three tenth step, but had no business being only at 8.1- when Katelyn's had 8.533 with more errors. Similarly, Victoria's beam execution was too low. And again stories for both gymnasts on bars and floor- especially Victoria's floor, only one tenth higher than Katelyn's execution.
- Simone falling off beam. That was a real 'nooooo!' moment.
- Maegan Chant's debut, hopefully she comes away from this competition with a lot of determination and more confidence.
- The fact that Simone would not have been the leader after three rotations without the fall. Sorry, what?

More thoughts:
- Really surprised to see Vanessa Ferrari push for high difficulty on floor- great double double and full-in to back tuck- one of the fastest connections she's had on that. Amazing, and a great routine. I'd also like to add that her leotard choices are entertaining, not disgusting. She has her own style and she couldn't care less about what the fans think. Good for her.
- I am still not a fan of the new switch ring rule. In my woeful physical gymnastics ignorance it looks easier now, since it's now easier to get your back leg as high or higher than your head. I'm predicting a little surge in these.
- Katelyn Ohashi is struggling to keep up with her difficulty. Either she's at an endurance low point as far as the year goes or it needs to calm down a little- all of her routines look very hard for her, she does not portray anything as easy. This is something that struck me afresh in podium training and the actual meet confirmed it.
- Simone Biles has made a strong claim as USA's number 1 powerhouse. She doesn't have the difficulty of the others (Ebee and Lexie) yet- but more ease, height and better choreography and form.
- I'm really liking the workarounds for not pausing in the corner before passes on floor. They are still cheating the pause but it looks way better and lots of the little dance bits near the corner are pretty dainty. Asuka Teramoto had a very zippy one I thought.
- That thing Chellsie Memmel did- straddled toe-rise from floor (name..?) appeared in two routines. Loving it. Simone Biles also had interesting toe-rises- especially the beam one. It's the little things.
- I liked Jon Horton and Shannon Miller commentating on the first half. Kept it interesting, good chemistry and knowledge was imparted without snark. The summer baby twinsies thing was cute. My second half was commentated by Phillip Boy and Marie-Sophie Hindermann who may have spent the whole time viciously slandering all non-German gymnasts and I would not have noticed.
- The MAG splatfest was a bit heartbreaking. Lots of new upgrades being ambitiously added which will hopefully be smoother later on- and obviously, Danell Leyva won't be sick forever. Poor guy.
- Even with the moaning about the underscoring above, I was really impressed with its general sensibility. No crazy 9.5's handed out for Americans etc. So I will continue not calling it SCAM.

Best leotard: Gabby Jupp. It's not new (none of them were except USA) but it's a classic with great incorporation of the flag.

Video highlights:


And a bonus:


What/who was your highlight? I also really enjoyed Maegan Chant on vault, Asuka Teramoto on floor, bars and beam, Elizabeth Seitz on bars and Vanessa Ferrari on floor, bars and beam but you can't fit everything in!

Edit- Ugh, apologies for my sentence structure. It's really gone downhill, I think I'm too tired when writing posts. I was much better at formal writing such as essays but I'm still relatively new to blogging...err yeah, less than a year so that still counts.