Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Oh it's a good day ^.^

:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

Will definitely have my binoculars ready for day 3!

Monday, 29 April 2013

The best bar routines..

..are floaty, super-clean and dynamic. Noemi Makra never dissapoints. I'd love if she could upgrade this, she looks well capable of connecting a release to a transition or even two releases together. It's more difficult to push the boat out when she's not from a big gymnastics power with super-duper coaches but this routine deserves to medal in more than just a B-level World Cup. I am in love with her taps, the old school pike looks nicer than the straddle which breaks the line and much better than the ugly Russian bent-kneed mess. That will be harder when she grows of course, but so are they all.

Here's a favourite from last year, Wakana Inoue at Stuttgart. Glorious. She looked more laboured at Jesolo this year sadly, hopefully she can get back to this standard. And the third is the beautiful Gabby Jupp. It always sucks when someone is taken out with an ACL injury of course, but it seems extra sad when it's a first year senior just beginning to blaze a trail. Hopefully after her surgery she can, like I said before, work on her bars just like Aliya Mustafina so successfully did.

Why no Viktoria Komova? Mainly her tap swings really, they are absolutely hideous and it ruins the overall gorgeousness of the routine. She also isn't as effortless as the other three. I love agressive routines and high difficulty amazing routines, but nothing beats a floaty routine like the ones below.


STUNNING. It's worth noting that she's wearing a leotard Larisa Iordache has worn. Than Thi Phan Thanh also showed up in it and the cut was fine!

My favourite of the three is probably Makra's since her releases are just amazing into the bargain, which puts her just ahead of Inoue. Jupp's needs some attention to detail but it's so lovely and light.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Quick round-up- update Gabby Jupp :(

Maria Bondareva has won the Russian Junior Championships AA. Interestingly, Viktoria Kuzmina qualified in first and Maria in third- there must have been mistakes by one or both over the course of the few days. I am seriously excited to see Viktoria Kuzmina's bars- she is doing a piked double front dismount! Not to mention the interior of her routine must be great too- she scored a 15 during qualifications.

Australian gymnast Maddie Leydin is reported to have a Counter Kim- Gienger combination on bars, verified at a recent camp. I can't find this information but she must be either a new senior or became one last year- she did compete at Pac Rims and Gymnix last year but both incorporate juniors so that's no help. Anyway, WOW! I'm definitely not up with the mechanics of gymnastics but a Counter-Kim strikes me as being incredibly difficult to release out of as it's one of those built-in dead hang releases, so this girl must be amazing. I can't wait to see a video. Other reports from the camp are intriguing- several girls have DTY's, another has a Tkachev-Gienger combination and there's lots of interesting floor work- Alexandra Eade has a double layout, tuck full-in AND a 1.5 tuck full-in and Maddie Leydin has a whip-double arabian. Thinking about the Counter-Kim-Gienger again and I don't think it can be a direct connection as they go from different directions. What's far more likely (if the word Marinich is not a mistake- please let it not be a mistake...) is that she does an uprise like Becky Downie or something similar in between, that would also make more sense given the enormous difficulty in connecting a Counter-Kim to anything dynamic.

TripleTwist have compiled a list of girls at and not at the latest camp. You can find it here. I'm really pleased to see Kennedy Baker, Elizabeth Price and Sarah Finnegan back in the mix as well as of course...McKayla Maroney! There's no way she's at camp if she doesn't have something of substance to show. She said in an interview a good few weeks back that she has successfully vaulted a Yurchenko (full?) so maybe by now she the amanar back. What's arguably more interesting is what she has to show on the other apparatus. Strange that she is more ready than Jordyn Wieber who did not have near as many injuries to come back from. Jordyn does look well on her way though, with a new skill in the works- sadly for those who want her to ditch her Weilers on bars it is a variation- a Weiler full. Fascinating to think she could get a named skill on her weakest piece, but she would be far from the first to do so. It's unfortunately not a surprise that Katelyn Ohashi isn't there as she had shoulder surgery just a few weeks ago. I'm interested to see beam and bars work from new elite Madison Kocian who has been held back in the past with injury- especially bars, if they have upgrades she could be very valuable as a complement to a powerhouse gymnast. And of course, also intrigued to know whether or not Mykayla Skinner has gained in consistency now that she has an ambitious floor routine and vaults (laid out double double, amanar and Cheng respectively).Update: It appears that McKayla Maroney pulled out of camp at the last minute. If so, I still think it's positive that she was supposed to go, she must have solid routines to show.

This is my favourite of Aly's dances. I think she's doing a great job of the ballroom dances but I'm more into this as it's quite obviously much more personal to her, as well as my not having a clue about ballroom dancing..except names really. LOOK at that leap at 4:00, I've never seen her do a leap that good. And the series right after it looked like it has better form than what she has usually shown in the past. The major part of the video is the choreography obviously, and not the gymnastics bits...it makes me very hopeful that she will do a floor routine at least at Classics next year choreographed by Mark Ballas, her partner (and Shawn Johnson's first time around). I wouldn't care if it just had back layout passes, it would be just so amazing to see her instil what she has learned into her dance. And it looks like she has learned a lot overall..starting with counting music which she stated herself..and more than likely, emoting and relating to music in sync.

Gabby Jupp's injury has been confirmed as a torn ACL. Devastating that she will out for about a year. Hopefully she can use this time like Aliya Mustafina did to build a spectacular bars routine on what is already a very promising foundation.

Catalina Ponor, Tommy Ramos, Marissa King and Ashanee Dickerson have been added to the Pro Gym Challenge roster. I mentioned this a while ago and I'm still excited about it..they're adding people by the day and the roster is very impressive now! As well as the above, Anna Pavlova, Oksana Chusovitina, Jade Barbosa, Jessica Lopez, Vanessa Zamarripa, Chellsie Memmel, Alyssa Pritchett, Noel Couch, Kat Ding and Jana Bieger will be there. The MAG side has bigger names too. This competition will have no routines, it is moreso a skill challenge which wouldn't be to everyone's taste but I find the format interesting. The competition takes place May 10-11th.

This is video of the week for me, (a bit old..) where Mykayla Skinner's coach states that Mykayla would have had the laidout double double named after her had she performed it at Jesolo/Chemnitz. Snort. I also found the high drama of the whole piece hilarious, it didn't seem like they were gearing up for a gymnast performing a skill (albeit a new, very impressive one) in her own gym, but rather a space launch of some sort. There is a lot of fuss on the gymternet over Mykayla's own arrogance but I don't like commenting on gymnasts on anything other than their own gymnastics, so I won't. I hope she doesn't end up in the 'bad personality' box in my head as that makes me unable to enjoy their routines no matter how great they are.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Event finals

Another dose of fabulous gymnastics and results in Moscow.

Vault

- A bit too splatty, with falls from Maria Paseka on both of her vaults, Taljana Tkalkec the same, and Chantysha Netteb on her DTY. Paseka of course, went in as the favourite, already vaulting a spectacular DTY in qualifying and saving the amanar. The crash is a surprise, as they were fine at Russian Nationals and last year she was vaulting them securely (if not fully rotated) at the Olympics, with her crashes coming a bit before then when she was still recovering from injury. As for the layout Podkopayeva, she used to just have piking issues with it. I'd imagine if she vaulted that first she would have landed it, but she possibly was not in the best state of mind after crashing her amanar in front of a home crowd. Chantysha got great power on both of her vaults, but it looks like she is hindered by injury. I can't wait to see her back at her best, and I loved her fast recovery for a very nice full-twisting Tsuk.

- Noel Van Klaveren is FIERCE. In my mind she is the rightful silver winner, but Larisa Iordache should not be tied with her and should have gotten bronze instead. Noel's vaults were just so superior form wise and I watch them over and over again to see the true laidout position on her FTT especially. I know her chest was a bit low on it but it doesn't alter how stupendous the vault is for me at all. We saw this as a second vault a lot- and even the very powerful Giulia Steingruber was very piked on hers. The Dutch girls have the best technique on it. It's only worth a 5.2 though, I'd like to see most of those who performed it upgrading it.

- It's always great to see an all-arounder in the vault final, and Larisa Iordache is a newcomer to it, as her vaults would not have been allowed under the previous code. Romanians have often done Yurchenko and Tsuk entry vaults together in the past and done them well so obviously B&B are accomplished in this regard so it'd be great to see her second vault improve in form, and eventually upgrade.

- I love Giulia Steingruber. She had issues with her landings at Doha and was third after Phan Thi Ha Thanh and Iordache. She stated she would go all out working on her landings, and it paid off. Great to see determination like hers and I'd love to see her figure into the top 10 AA at worlds as well as upgrading her second vault to contend in the vault final there.

- I'm very happy with the podium of Steingruber with Van Klaveren and Iordache tying for second but as I said above I think Van Klaveren deserved that second spot by herself, even with the landings being a bit off. THAT form.

Uneven Bars

- Lovely to see another hit routine from Aliya Mustafina. Not sure why there was a dead hang in there..tiredness probably. It was always going to win but wow was it overscored. I love her line but I think she is sickling more than she used to and I HATE sickling. Because her routine is amazing I can usually ignore it, moreso than I can with average routines, but it seemed to stand out more in event finals. As well as the dismount there's a lot of room for connections in there like she had in her old routine, it looks like it will be a cinch for her to upgrade when she needs to.

- Very sad to see Ruby Harrold and Becky Downie come to grief with their routines, especially Becky as she stayed down for a few seconds and looked so heartbroken. Ruby has had numerous issues with her ambitious routine, but this time it was the fabulous Zuchold that did it. She usually hits it very well so I'd regard that as a fluke. Although Becky has flaked in a good few competitions I wouldn't count her out as the bars specialist in favour of Ruby..she has a better hit record this year and she has the superior form and line.

- Also very dissapointed to see Ida Gustafsson have to jump off the bar and for Sophie Scheder to incur a big deduction for not reaching handstand on a skill. I think her bail was the culprit but I could be wrong. Ida has been impressing with her clean and beautiful routine for a good while now but I prefer the composition and flow of Scheder's, the reigning junior Euros bars champion. I'd also love to have Roxana Popa as well as of course, Anastasia Grishina, both of whom had bad qualifying rounds.

- Maria Paseka's bars are a bit rough around the edges, but better than I was expecting judging on what she has shown on this apparatus in the last year. I really like her composition and the difficulty is there. It was great to see her bounce back from utter vault failure to take a medal here and it was deserved. Jonna Adlerteg had such beautiful form and it was so touching to see her reaction knowing she would medal. I was afraid Paseka would bypass her but the judges saw sense. A great podium.

Beam

- I live for Larisa Iordache's dismount series. It's quite rare to see a triple full so securely around with no shadow of a doubt remaining. I know her ankles cross on it but it's just so solid, like the rest of her routine. I think her form used to be tighter here, hopefully she can work on that too. I was wondering if the layout full would make an appearance but probably a wise decision not to bother as it wasn't needed.

- Anastasia Grishina was quite slow and hesitant. I was enthralled with the beauty of her routine as always and of course slow is a lot better than falling, but I hope she can build on its difficulty without sacrificing consistency.

- The snappiness of Diana Bulimar's routine is thrilling. Yeah she's not waving her arms around and picking up her foot and putting it down again excessively, but it doesn't take away from the brilliance of her routine at all. So solid. I know dance skills have caused her problems here, so I hope to see her acro getting upgraded first. This routine looks ridiculously easy for her. I'd like to see her doing more straddle split jumps, and her tuck front is very high so she can pike that. Either a tuck full or layout full would be great, and her dismount is very high and precise..I think she could do a full-in.

- While I was not particularly surprised to see Olena Vasylieva headcasing, it was still unpleasant to watch. She has beautiful form, I would love to see her become more consistent.

- Pleasantly surprised with Katarzyna Jurkowska's routine, wonderful to watch. And again Ruby Harrold's was great also. Her NCAA dismount needs to go though it was said it's because she is still recovering from ankle injury so it makes a lot of sense.

- Another great podium, and thrilled to see Grishina pick up the bronze in a final she only qualified for by pure fluke.

Floor

- It wasn't Larisa's day for landings, she's had better. I was wondering if Diana could pass her out but I wasn't surprised or dismayed that Larisa's higher difficulty gave her the edge. I love how energetic Larisa's routine is, and I think while it isn't elegant or even stylish it's very engaging and charming. I keep expecting the start to turn into Radiohead- Street Spirit though. I also like how she dances into the corners.

- Afan was incredible to watch. A pity she dropped her foot early on the second spin combination but the rest was flawless. So impressed with her tumbling and the height of her double pike- one of the best I've seen. It's as if she runs into that tumble angry at how it failed her last year and uses that to get extra height. I love her music so I'll be sad to see it go in a way..she is cited to have a new routine for Universiade.

- It's odd to see the very powerful Diana land a bit short on her double pike, which she has done before. She seems to have boundless energy until that pass so maybe she is better off upgrading her other three tumbles and dumping the fourth one. Whatever works for her. Long overdue a new routine, and the full-twisting DLO looks very achievable. I'm not a fan of the piked full-in, it's so scrappy looking and I wish she could tighten her form on the double layout. It's the small things!

- I really enjoyed watching Roxana Popa in action. Beautiful Memmel turn! And very nice tumbling too. Another very solid and impressive routine by Giulia Steingruber. She has great technique on her opening full-twisting DLO and her follow-up DLO is fabulous too. She's another I'd like to see sharpen up her form on tumbles. Her double tuck which was a double twist earlier in the competition seems much too easy for her, needs an upgrade.

- Gutted to see Kristina Sankova put her hands down on her last tumble after a very good routine. I'm also annoyed to see she was the replacement for Mariya Livchikova and not there in her own right- she's much more powerful than the other girls they have, and valuable too as her consistency (though not shown here) is better too. She's capable of arabian double pikes! I hope she can continue to show her beleaguered federation that she's fully deserving of competition spots.

- Anastasia Grishina's luck was further in evidence as her spot was given to her by Aliya Mustafina's withdrawal. I've seen Aliya being called kind and loyal for this and while I have no doubt she can and does have wonderful team spirit- this is more down to Aliya's own exhaustion and endurance. She did pull out of the last two floor finals she qualified to also. Her floor needs to be reworked. Anyway, while Grishina had a dissapointing large stumble out of her first pass, the routine was gorgeously floaty and continued without further error. It's just amazing to see her hitting another routine! Out of 10 competitive routines, she hit 8..that has to be a record for her. Fabulous coaching.

Favourite vault- Noel Van Klaveren, VT 2
Favourite bars- Sophie Scheder
Favourite beam- Diana Bulimar
Favourite floor- Ksenia Afanasyeva

Favourite leotard- Oooh. Tough one. Larisa Iordache BB-FX leo was stunning, but I'm striking her off for it having an obscene cut, again. I really loved Katarzyna Jurkowska's- simple but so lovely. The Dutch girls' one was very pretty. I'm not sure what to think about Roxana Popa's? Looks like she robbed it from some of the 90's worst offenders. It was nice to see something go against every single leo I've seen in forever all the same, so props to her for keeping it interesting!

NCAA Nationals

I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert on it, I'm really not. But I was hoping for a Florida or Oklahoma victory and it did come down to the wire for the two, which was great. Well done to Florida for winning their first title! They have such a well balanced team, powerhouses like Kytra Hunter and Ashanee Dickerson, elegant bars and beam workers like Alaina Johnson and Mackenzie Caquatto and then workhorses like Marissa King and the awesome rebirth of Courtney Kupets- Bridget Sloan. Seriously, so in awe of how the nobody from 2008 whose world AA victory in 2009 was so unexpected and reviled and whose elite career ended disastrously with an injury right before Olympic Trials has gone on to take NCAA by storm. She was expected to be a very strong recruit but freshmen are generally not the ones to carry their team and take the AA title! Not to mention beam too. Incredible! I was gutted Lloimincia Hall did not make floor finals. I understand her routine is jarring but there's a reason why everyone was waiting and waiting for her to take the floor during Super Six- it's just electric. And I am so blown away by Danusia Francis who teased everyone with a training video of a transverse aerial at the start of the season..which never appeared again until last night! Wonderful that she actually landed it, such a pity she came to grief on a forwards one shortly after but that and Bridget Sloan dominating are what I take away from this year's NCAA.

For anyone who watched it, do you agree with those who took the titles? Is it a disgrace Florida won with a fall? It sounds crazy to me that there's a lot of controversy over that given how many routines counted towards the final score but I know that scoring is so tight, not like elite. Personally given Alabama's slight flop in the last rotation and Florida's utter destruction of the other three apparatus', and Oklahoma's lesser difficulty...I've no issue with it. How mental is it that 23 girls qualified for the 8-place vault final? That is just hilarious. Such a pity Vanessa Zamarripa was not on top form for her final hurrah too.



Sunday, 21 April 2013

Friday, 19 April 2013

Mustafina V Iordache

What a great competition!

Highlights:

- Aliya Mustafina recovering so well after a shaky beam routine and not once having the lead to confidently winning after an exquisite bars routine. European champion in front of a home crowd two years after THAT injury is delightful to see.
- Anastasia Grishina hitting 4/4 and nailing her routines at that. Seeing her mount a beam is so tense, and her routine blew me away. Fabulous bars too, though the Russian tap swings make me cry. Not to mention the best DTY I've ever seen her do. She was so thrilled with her performance, let's hope onwards and upwards to challenge for an AA spot at worlds.
- Larisa Iordache and Diana Bulimar on beam. I see Larisa's shoddy toepoint and Diana's lack of difficulty but I just want to score impossibly high on the basis of their incredibly solid work. Just awesome to watch them in action.
- Ruby Harrold's beam mount. I'm disgusted I haven't even seen her beam before..I was of the opinion only her bars were worth looking for. Anyway, fabulously original- a lovely press to handstand, followed by a Healy turn to one foot onto the beam. Amazing! And very reminiscent of Liu Xuan's crazy backbreaker mount. The rest of Ruby's routine was great too. It's easy to see now why she made beam finals.
- Giulia Steingruber's performance. Another who has absolutely made a case for herself as an AA gymnast, rather than a specialist. Giulia has had issues with her beam this year, but that was not in evidence today, both beam and bars have caught up with her very strong vault and floor. Great bars releases, fabulous vaulting, and a full twisting DLO and normal DLO in the one floor routine! It's almost baffling to see her follow those tumbles up with a double twist, presumably she has plans to upgrade that. Rough around the ages but a very exciting gymnast nonetheless. And I am so in love with her beam dismount, looks deceptively easy compared to the usual fare but it requires a lot of power and finesse.
- Noemi Makra's piked full-in is so so pretty. This girl has exceptional execution but is not rewarded for it, her scoring was quite harsh I thought.
- Anastasia Grishina's Onodi-illusion was perfection. It was great to see how in line to the beam it was too.
- A very confident major competitive debut from Elisa Meneghini, who is really nice to watch on beam and floor in particular. Hopefully some upgrades are in store for her.
- Larisa Iordache and Diana Bulimar nailing their bars after disastrous sets in qualifications. Clearly never going to win prizes for them, but good to see nonetheless. Except for Larisa's Shelgunova-Sheep-Pak which was horrifying. Hopefully a fluke.
- Really great day for Roxana Popa. Beautiful DTY which I thought was underscored. Hopefully she can continue to make strides and upgrade a bit.
- Ilaria Kaeslin's bars. Gorgeous body line.

Anastasia Grishina's enormous smile after that glorious beam routine to end her competition made my day. I know she fell twice in qualifying but she has hit so much this year, can't help but think she will continue to improve. I hope her difficulty can be worked on a bit too to keep her up with the best, especially when Viktoria Komova returns to competition. Diana Bulimar too could not but be happy with her performance, she's a lot of fun to watch and even her bars were not painful.

Not-so-highlights

Tough actually, as most gymnasts especially those nearing the top of the leaderboard had no major errors.

- Gabby Jupp not competing. Again, hoping they are just being very cautious and that her injury is very minor.
- Noel Van Klaveren having a dissapointing day, with a lot of steps back on her strong DTY and then a very awkward bars dismount, which I believe she put her hands down on. Hopefully she can redeem herself in vault finals.
- Non-broadcast of Noemi Makra's routines and 3/4 of Ilaria Kaeslin's. I know they can't show everyone and neither are near being a medal threat but I am a huge fan of the beautiful gymnastics both girls showcase so I will continue to irrationally complain!
- BBC commentary! No Matt Baker and no Mitch Fenner. Whoever commentated with Christine Still was a bit annoying. Big emphasis on small gymnasts being powerful, a surprise every time he witnessed it when we all know that huge skills tend to come easier to stocky short girls. The state of Mustafina's triple was also completely unexpected for him, I could hear the exclamation marks in his voice. Plenty of 'what do you think about that then!' after strong routines which grated on me. I did want to scream at Christine at one point when she said in the first rotation that Elisa Meneghini is the reigning junior Euros champion. Her male co-commentator repeated this too. The champion is actually Enus Mariani who not alone was not competing, but is actually not elegible as she's still a junior. Now we all make mistakes but she said it again in the fourth rotation..I was hoping someone corrected her in the meantime! I do like commentary but I found today's distinctly mediocre at times.
- I did think that Aliya Mustafina was a little overscored, it seemed that other gymnasts had to work harder for their execution scores. I know she had a high d-score on beam to cushion her but 8.0 execution for that was a bit excessive, and her DTY's sloppy second twist went completely under the radar of the judges who must have let the fabulously stuck landing cloud them. Lesser known gymnasts in other rotations were absolutely not given the benefit of the doubt, by comparison.

Best beam: Anastasia Grishina, followed by Larisa Iordache and Diana Bulimar
Best bars: Aliya Mustafina, followed by Anastasia Grishina and Ida Gustaffson
Best vault: Roxana Popa, followed by Giulia Steingruber and Anastasia Grishina
Best floor: Larisa Iordache, followed by Diana Bulimar and Anastasia Grishina

Favourite leotard: Giulia Steingruber. A variation of an old favourite but the design is a classic and the colour was beautiful and suited her down to the ground. Stunning. Aliya Mustafina was gorgeous in red, I am still fussy about the shape of the mesh at the neck but it's much nicer in red I think. I also liked Noemi Makra's, simple but lovely.

Worst leotard: Larisa Iordache. I'm a sucker for the Pikachu leo, but while it was skimpy on her last year it's absolutely obscene now. There's no excuse for her to be channeling Catalina Ponor on this and being able to see it ending above her tracksuit bottoms at the side was just a bit gross really.

I was so excited about being able to see it on TV, makes a change from foreign-language streams. It does not look like the event finals will be broadcast in full on BBC though so it's back to the UEG stream for me for tomorrow and Sunday. As expected this stream is not working outside of Europe but there is another stream that works worldwide. You can find the Europe-only stream here and the worldwide stream here. Onto event finals we go! Larisa Iordache for beam, Ksenia Afanasyeva for floor, Giulia Steingruber for vault and Aliya Mustafina for bars methinks. Maria Paseka will put up a hell of a fight for vault but I think if Giulia stays clean and has good landings she should edge it. Hopefully. The other events are much more certain.

Here is the entire AA final! I love youtube.



What did you like/dislike today? Favourite routines? Picks for EF? How on earth is Larisa comfortable wearing that monstrosity?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Euro Qualifications and NCAA Nationals begin

Really nail-biting qualifications! First and foremost, I am devastated that Gabby Jupp is injured. She hurt her knee on her double pike beam dismount and was carried from the arena. She has been pulled from competition and is being flown home shortly for medical examination. Really really hoping that it's a very minor thing she has done, it would be awful for this bright young star to be sidelined in her first senior year by an ACL tear. Awful for anyone of course..I'm really missing the presence of the glorious Mariya Livchikova.

I expected the Russian battle for the AA to be a good one and it ended up being much more tense and shocking than any scenario I could have thought up. Who would have thought that Anastasia Grishina with her two falls would be the highest Russian qualifier? Beam was the ultimate decider for these three as they all came to grief there (Mustafina spectacularly so) with the other two counting bars falls into the bargain. A sad day for Afan who started so well with an explosive DTY and what sounds like an amazing floor routine..with upgrades, no less. Really looking forward to seeing her whip-whip triple and turn combinations. Good to see she did not risk the amanar after crashing them wholesale in podium training, I for one am still amazed she actually tried.

Quite a nervous day for others too, though the Romanians got away lightly with 3 strong routines from both girls. Larisa Iordache had some massive errors on bars and came away with a 12.933. She will quite clearly be aiming to better that by a point or so in order to defeat Mustafina..a Mustafina who stays on the beam, that is. Speaking of beam, one Icelandic girl had the misfortune of failing to mount the beam twice, and the fell off it three times..incurring a 5 point deduction. Sadly, extremely talented new seniors Noemi Makra and Chantysha Netteb will be dissapointed with their performances, Makra was very mixed and Netteb had errors on vault and falls on beam. We also won't see Vasilliki Millousi gracing beam finals as she fell also. Noel Van Klaveren stormed her way into vault finals and will be looking to retain her lead on Larisa Iordache there, who qualified fourth.

Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few savvy downgrades. Larisa performed a layout instead of a layout full, still easily claiming the highest qualifying spot on beam, and Diana Bulimar who was training a full-twisting DLO in PT performed it without the twist today. We won't see Ksenia Afanasyeva's amanar now of course, if she was planning to throw it in the AA. It sounds like Sophie Scheder and Giulia Steingruber have stepped up their games, Sophie has a very dynamic bars routine, earning her the third spot, and Giulia's first two passes on floor are now a full-twisting double layout and a double layout.

This post is quite disjointed but it's hard when you're going off quick hits! Don't forget that Moscow is GMT+3 and that WAG is due to start at 17:30 local time. And it's still too close to call with both top contenders have one rough event each, equal enough vaults, bars of one equalling the beam of the other and floor with not much between them...

It will also be an exciting weekend with NCAA Nationals on also. I've watched a few meets this year, free ones, free replays etc. though not as many as I would have wanted to as there were loads of them on at ridiculous times for me. I think the Super Six will be Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Michigan and LSU. Sadly, UCLA are not looking great. I'd like to see the title go to either Florida or Oklahoma. AA wise, Rheagan Courville, Taylor Spears or Bridget Sloan would be nice. Vanessa Zamarripa for bars, one of the Oklahoma girls or Mackenzie Caquatto for beam, Marissa King (LOVE that Tsuk 1.5) for vault and Llomincia Hall or Jessica Savona for floor. Anyway those are my picks, who are you rooting for?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Euros countdown

Not long to go! I'm hoping that it's put on youtube very fast as I'm not sure I'll be able to watch the stream live.

One very interesting bit of news is that Ksenia Afanasyeva has an amanar and will compete all-around in prelims, according to Valentina Rodionenko. While she is a big fan of declaring amanars and amanars in training (Mustafina, Grishina) this one is more bizarre as Afan's DTY is by no means spectacular or even great, and she's quite tall. I really expected her to only compete beam and floor and I thought they would be making efforts to preserve her and make her beam more consistent. Her bars were weak the last time I saw them and she often had issues with her dismount..it will be interesting to see what they look like now. This means that all three girls- Aliya Mustafina, Anastasia Grishina and Ksenia Afanasyeva will compete all-around in prelims. Unfortunately for Grishina, if Afan DOES have an amanar and doesn't fall, the AA finals will see Mustafina and Afan. Which indeed is what Rodionenko herself envisaged in the same interview.

Rodionenko also states that once again, Anastasia Grishina is training away from the rest of the girls, orchestrated by her mother..which already worked out brilliantly for London of course. There have been two closed verification meets which is the likely source of information when Rodionenko goes on to say that Grishina is not performing as well as expected, sadly. Hopefully she does well at Euros! Afan herself has stated that she has new floor music which she will use for Universiade, not Euros. Exciting stuff!

Romania are only sending two girls (six guys though), Larisa Iordache and Diana Bulimar. Sandra Izbasa is now not going as she had to take time off from training for college and fell behind. Apparently she has her floor routine back, but vault will take longer. I would have thought vault would be easier, but regardless, really looking forward to seeing her at worlds. If I was Dana Andrei, Stefanie Stanila or AnnaMaria Ocalisan I would be very annoyed right now..they are throwing away two places which the two new seniors and the neglected other senior could really do with. It's not a team competition so if they score low it doesn't impact Romania..it makes no sense.

It will be interesting to see what Aliya Mustafina pulls out of the bag on floor. At the Stella Zakharova meet she appeared to be having issues with endurance, falling on a punchfront and downgrading her last pass to a double full. I am definitely one of the many who want her to only do three passes. The double arabian, double layout, and a double pike/tuck/2.5-punchfront. I think her triple full has degraded so much it isn't worth doing anymore. As for her choreography, I think she'll definitely be making more of an effort to sell her routine at this point. Not that taking it slowly so far is wrong, by contrast it's great to see her pacing her endurance on this event. Her beam looks much sharper, so excited to see it again.

No less intriguing is what will Larisa Iordache's bars score be. She has the swing, she has the difficulty but she can rightfully get blasted for execution all over the place in that routine, it does not really do anything to show off her talent and leaves her open to deductions. It will definitely be the dealbreaker in whether she can clinch gold or not.

At this point, I think the AA gold is too close to call. And the crazy Afan news means I can't even guess who the second Russian will be. Whatever happens, I'm calling Gabby Jupp getting 4th now and beating Diana Bulimar. Aside from the top few, I have my eye on new seniors Noemi Makra, Chantysha Netteb and Roxana Popa and I'm looking forward to beautiful gymnastics from the usual culprits, as well as more newcomers like Ilaria Kaeslin.

You can find the timetable here and the livestream link here. BBC2 are also going to be broadcasting some of the competition.

So, who do you think will win AA gold? EF?

Friday, 5 April 2013

Bits of news

China are holding a regional competition, and snippets of news are emerging though it is closed to the public. Tan Sixin, Tan Jiaxin, Jiang Yuyuan, He Kexin, Zeng Siqi, Luo Peiru and a bunch of juniors- Luo Huan, Wang Wei, Xie Wenwei, Yuan Xiaoyang, Lv Jiaqi, Fan Yilin and more all competed in qualifications today. News comes from YangYilinAAandUBGold and another very helpful person on IGF who got it via Weibo and Baidu.

- Tan Jiaxin has a DTY and it's apparently great- scored 15! And high execution scores are not given out like candy so it must at least resemble the Bailie Key and Kyla Ross school of DTY's. She did not compete bars but she did floor, where she has a big mistake, no idea what. Still, this is very promising. I don't think she's the second coming of Cheng Fei or anything but she does have a lot of power and endurance, things which are still lacking among her teammates. And speaking of Cheng Fei, she's a National Team coach. I hope she find and mould gymnasts to emulate her.

- Luo Peiru and junior Wang Wei also have DTY's. There were some others performed too which is always good to hear. Luo Peiru is lovely on bars. Wang Wei also showed a double layout on floor.

- He Kexin did her old bars routine, which is now out of 6.8. It had issues, only scoring 13.95..a large step on the dismount and a pause apparently. But it's a long time to National Games all the same so she doesn't want to peak too soon.

- One of my favourites, junior Lv Jiaqi who is stunning to watch, now has 6.0 bars and 6.2 beam. She is quite young still, though elegible for Rio, so it's great to see make strides in her difficulty.

- It looks like Li Yiting nailed vault, she qualified first with 14.75

- Sadly, Jiang Yuyuan had a meltdown on bars. So did Zeng Siqi who fell on her Tkachev, hit the low bar and crashed the dismount. ZSQ also missed a connection on beam and took a large step on her dismount. I really hope she can get it together as her work is beautiful, but wow is she fragile.

- Tan Sixin had a mixed meet. She nailed beam for a monster score of 15.15, placing first. It also appears that she hit floor, though with quite weak passes. However she had trouble on bars and only vaulted a FTY. I hope she can become more relevant again.

- Sui Lu looked a bit sluggish, and missed her leap series on beam which decimated her score. She's another like He Kexin who has to be careful not to peak too soon.

Some videos:

Luo Huan UB Beautiful, great flight on transitions and I love her release (Deltchev? I suck at recognising some). A little pirouette heavy for a code that won't reward that as much though.
Tan Sixin BB Very steady set from her, I'm in love with her layout and dismount. Some very nice leaps too and her connections looked secure.
Wang Wei FX A pity about the punchfront but the DLO and the rest of her tumbling was gorgeous. Her choreo is a little scrappy, but the quiet bit in the middle is well done. One to watch.
Tan Jiaxin FX I can't wait to see her vault! Anyway, this is her first time to compete floor in quite a while I believe, and it's a strong effort. I wouldn't really be put off by her landing deductions and fall this early in the season. I liked the dramatic music and choreo to match.

Some of the videos won't load at all for me so I'm not going to link them. There's more in IGF on the China thread. EDIT: Apparently some videos have been made private. Hopefully some others still work?

Mariya Livchikova has torn her ACL, the other one this time. She was the poster girl for the Stella Zakharova meet, and then didn't compete. The source for this is a Ukrainian video, which you can see here. Inna Korobchinskaya, a Ukrainian coach says that the results of the MRI are 'not soothing..it looks like a complete tear of the ACL'. She goes on to say that recovery time differs between athletes of course, but she is definitely out for 6 months. Mariya tore her other ACL at 2011 worlds, and consequently missed the London Olympics as she could not contend for the single spot at the Test Event. This year she will miss Euros and Worlds. Awful. There are of course gymnasts who have bounced back from tearing both ACL's, but it's still incredibly difficult and sadly Mariya is part and parcel of an underfunded and now fragmented programme.

The Tokyo World Cup takes place this weekend. Former b-list gymnast Peyton Ernst has really upped her game and is expected to take the title. It will be interesting to see Shang Chunsong and what she does though. She was definitely seen training a piked Hindorff which has not been done before, and is rumoured to have a layout full on beam. She is apparently connecting the piked Hindorff to a Pak and still has the Tkachev-Geinger combination. She has a shap variation too into another Hindorff? Sounds awesome, looking forward to a video. Sadly she fell on it today but bits of it are new and it sounds exhausting, hopefully she'll get used to it.

Peyton Ernst is leading after day 1(vault and bars) at Tokyo. Second is Asuka Teramoto who vaulted a DTY...she looks too tiny for one! Sadly Shang Chunsong is in 6th after falling off bars. Huang Qiushuang only vaulted a FTY but she got through bars without incident I think.

Old news by now, but Aliya Mustafina won the AA at the Stella Zakharova meet despite a fall on floor. Her beam looks better than ever, the connections have definitely gotten better. Enormous pause to set up her dismount but I doubt she'd do that in major competition. Similarly with floor, we'll definitely see a better version at Euros, then again at Universiade and by the time Worlds rolls around it should be magnificent. No point in pushing herself too hard right now. It looks like it will be an interesting showdown at Euros though..

There's an exciting rumour that Yao Jinnan has a Mo Salto on bars now. I would pretty much be foaming at the mouth if I saw that materialise randomly in Antwerp. Unfortunately, there is also news that she hurt her hip and is in constant pain. Hopefully that clears up fast :( If she does have a Mo Salto it's likely it was learned in winter training, pre-injury.