Thursday, 23 May 2013

News

I'm sure most have already heard this but just in case- Victoria Moors is training a laid-out double double, which she has just competed at Canadian Nationals. This is majorly exciting first because of how incredible it is, second because Victoria has very good execution in general on floor and thirdly because she is much more likely to be at worlds than Mykayla Skinner who also has one. Unfortunately, Victoria was below par otherwise and had a disastrous beam routine where she fell twice and lost connections and compositional requirements all over the place. She also significantly watered down vault and her floor aside from her new skill must have been watered down too since it only netted her a 5.1 difficulty value. This was also the case earlier in the year too, but then she came out in top form at American Cup. So I wouldn't worry unneccessarily about her yet.
Sure she's soft in the knees, but she has plenty of time to hone it and it's definitely not enough to declare it tucked.

Kaitlyn Hofland placed first in the AA qualifiers at Canadian Nationals, followed by Ellie Black and Maegan Chant. Talia Chiarelli placed fifth and was deliriously happy to make bars finals of all things. Here's Mihai Brestyan's reaction:
Source- gymnasticscoaching.com- @taliachi

Her twitter, like Catalina Ponor's, is endlessly entertaining. In the junior ranks, wunderkind Shallon Olsen was victorious. Hopefully with sharper form. Second and third were Aleeza Yu and Brianna Clark. You can find senior results here and the junior ones here. Note that a bonus system was applied in the junior rankings. Shallon Olsen has very high difficulty, particularly for her age, but not THAT high. Edit- Woops, posted AA qualifier results as final ones. Final results have not been confirmed yet, though it's known that Ellie Black won in senior and that the podium in junior was unchanged, even though Shallon Olsen fell three times. Victoria Moors withdrew from competition, and Heaven Latimer (she of the superb layout full and very strong floor) and Jordyn Pedersen were both out with injuries.

Andreea Munteanu has won the all-around at the Lugano Cup. You can find the results here. The order is vault, bars, beam and floor. Andreea's pet pieces are unsurprisingly beam and floor, though it's heartening to see her vault and bars score, especially her improvement on the latter. Her bars had (wait for it...) the highest e-score! Which is amazing given that she was in the presence of some very lovely Russians. As can be seen from the scores, third place Anastasia Dmitrieva is that bit bit better than the much more hyped second place Maria Bondareva on three out of four events. And I believe she can close the gap on bars in time; to me she is the best junior they have. Certainly, sixth place Viktoria Kuzmina is top notch on beam and bars..but there she'll stay as she does not even have an FTY yet and floor does not look to be her strength either. But bars/beam specialists are still highly valuable. Check out her bars d-score, she obviously fell but 6.1 topped the difficulty field by nearly a point. Even better, she has her own dismount, an arabian double layout no less! I'm really hoping for a video. Andreea Munteanu will compete alongside Andreea Iridon, Laura Jurca, Diana Teodoru, Silvia Zarzu and Madalina Blendea at the France V Romania juniors meet coming up soon. There are some videos here (one Italian, the rest Romanian).
  
Nadine Jarosch of Germany has sadly torn her ACL. This is ACL tear number four, the others are Mariya Livchikova, Gabby Jupp and Yvette Moshage. It's happening far too often. In more positive German news, Tabea Alt won the all-around at the recent German Junior Championships.

Here is the first look at how all-arounders are shaping up so far this year/quad. The difference in scoring must be taken into account; for example Yao Jinnan is in eighth place under a notoriously harsh scoring system whereas the top 3 in particular had the opposite. Jesolo is known to be harsh but that didn't really happen this year. Also I don't see Kyla Ross getting that close to a 60 with her difficulty in a fair competition.

The last segment of the Pro Gym Challenge airs tonight in the US. I for one have really enjoyed it. Retired gymnasts, college gymnasts etc. showing off excellent skills with a team spirit of camaraderie (except a certain US coach) and no pressure? Yes please! It's up on youtube and some parts won't embed which is messy. This awesome uploader uploads frequently so I'll link to the very first one here to make it easier to navigate.

Yulia Belokobylskaya of Russia has retired, at just 17. She won bronze on floor at Euros 2011 and helped with team silver at Worlds the same year. Unfortunately, she struggled quite a lot in the Olympic year. Hopefully she will be happy with whatever she decides to do.Edit- Yulia has entered the world of ballet and is already en pointe!

Natsumi Sasada won the all-around at the recent Japanese Nationals. She also had a strong meet at Jesolo this year after practically disappearing last year with injuries, so that's great to see. Not only is she back with a vengeance but she's brought her layout full mount with her! I was so sure it would have been ditched with the onset of puberty, it's great to be wrong sometimes. Second place went to veteran Yu Minobe who will compete at Universiade this year and third was Mai Murakami who would have won had she not fallen on beam. I have tried to give up hope in Mai, who performs quite strongly in Japan but nowhere near that internationally. But then I see a video of her huge smile during her floor routine and it's impossible to write her off. I still want her to win floor and the AA at worlds this year, however irrational that may be! Asuka Teramoto crashed her second pass and almost sat her first, which along with her vault difficulties is pretty worrying. These results will be coupled with those of the upcoming NHK Cup on June 8-9th in deciding their worlds team and East Asian Games team. As we saw last year, they don't hang around in deciding teams. Because this is a specialist worlds they won't just pick the top few all-arounders, but in this case I think it will serve them very well, though I'd like to replace Yu Minobe with Wakana Inoue..though the latter fell twice. Some videos after the jump; and the information as to how they will choose the team is there too (with thanks to an awesome source).

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Round-up of awesomeness

First; this picture of Xiao Sa from 2010. She is not Xiao Sha, and was injured and seems to have totally faded away.
Source- Gymjiajia

WOW does not cover it, I've never seen oversplit like that from an artistic gymnast. Just a work of art.

Here is Laurie Hernandez' DTY in training. Not explosively dynamic, but well done and she's still so very young anyway.

Vanessa Zamarippa doing a Lopez vault. This was McKayla Maroney's second vault from 2011. Amazing laid-out form on this. This is why I love PGC, gymnasts who don't have the inclination or endurance for full-on elite routines, but who can still bust out amazing skills, some of which they haven't attempted before.

Catalina Ponor doing front walkover, Kotchetkova and Omelianchik! BAMF as always.

Anna Pavlova with a stunning double stag and what's down as a Ruflova. I'd moreso call it a full-turning Korbut than full-twisting, but lovely nonetheless.

Speaking of Anna;
Source- n134
It looks like extensions, but whatever. What a goddess.

Here is a report from the PGC. I can't wait until some kind soul uploads the whole thing, it's airing (if you live in the US) soon.

This is part of Mykayla Skinner's new bars routine. It's old now but I just saw it this week, she's improved quite a bit though the full routine would need to be seen first. Impressed by her handstands and the height on her release.



The State of the US

The USA is always interesting to look at in terms of where their athletes are and who could make teams, because they don't need to preserve their gymnasts whatsoever. There could quite easily be a situation where none of the Fierce Five make any teams this quad and disappear completely, and they would still win all around them. But, after the insight of American Cup, Jesolo and Chemnitz...on with what's going on.

- Simone Biles is the strongest all-arounder. She is also the strongest possible contributor in team competitions on vault, a certainty on floor and bars and a good possibility on beam too. I must stress- at the moment. American gymnasts have an unfortunate tendency to be injured and we can never rule this out. Especially when you're throwing such hard skills as she is. Under her belt, as we all know, are the following- a very dynamic amanar (and TTY in training), a full-in beam dismount, a floor routine containing a double layout, double double, 1.5 to full-in and which she's not done upgrading yet, and a not-bad-at-all bars with strong releases. Her execution is not amazing by any means but it's not near bad enough to drag her down so no real complaints there. All in all, she's number one.
- Kyla Ross is as lovely and infuriatingly low in difficulty as ever. Her lines have improved with her height, and her beam is just stunning to watch. Many have tipped her as the new Bridget Sloan, the fairly unimportant Olympic team member who takes the world AA title the following year. Unfortunately, I just don't see this happening. Kyla's difficulty is just too low, her floor is out of a 5.3, her vault is 5.8 and her beam and bars are not much over 6. She has said she will not upgrade floor this year, which is very bad news for AA medal ambitions. A great all-arounder certainly with lovely execution but that isn't enough to triumph. Simone Biles has a 1.4 difficulty lead with vault and floor (this will widen too with her floor upgrades yet to come), with beam and bars being very similar. Larisa Iordache has about 1.8 on floor and beam (some swallowed up on bars of course, though almost 2 points would be tough going), and Aliya Mustafina has about a 1.4ish lead on beam and floor (set to widen when she upgrades her bars) etc. etc. I do think Kyla can be victorious and can win major titles, but not this year if her routines don't sharply upgrade.
- Katelyn Ohashi is currently recovering from shoulder surgery. I'd have no doubt she will be back in time for Classics and/or Nationals but this is still bad news, as her biggest issue aside from overall stamina are her pirouettes on bars which are all open to huge deductions and this recovery will not help. Katelyn has an unbelievable beam routine with a possible difficulty score of 7.3 with all connections hit and this alone will probably secure her a spot at this year's specialist worlds. But as an all-arounder and team contributor this quad she still has quite a way to go, her bars need a lot of work, her floor would not be used in a team situation and her vault, while much improved, is worth 0.5 less than many of her teammates. Katelyn is quite obviously a great gymnast but her routines look as hard as they actually are, her stamina doesn't seem to have kept apace with her growth and upgrades.
- Lexie Priessman is quite clearly not herself, or at least wasn't on the European tour. That was not the 2012 Junior European champion, this gymnast struggled- spectacularly so on a leap on beam and just wasn't doing what she's capable of. It is a fact that she trains at a gym with a reputation of breaking gymnasts; so too does junior Amelia Hundley who was also very much under the weather in Europe. It would be a grave mistake to write Lexie off though; she has a 6.7 floor in training and an amanar and second vault, as well as being a very strong all-arounder. Her beam and execution let her down, and I don't see her really rivalling Simone's place for instance, who while similarly strong on floor and vault is noticeably better on beam and bars. A worthy contender for the fourth spot and one who could be very valuable in future team competitions. As long as she stays healthy!
- Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney have both been back training for a good few months now. We know a lot more about Jordyn who has all of her skills back and is training a new one, a Weiler full on bars, thanks to her being the subject of the latest Gymnastike Beyond the Routine series, which unfortunately costs so I've just seen summaries. She'd be far from the first to get a skill named after her on her weakest event. A fully healthy Jordyn, especially with good non-dodgy beam connections is a fierce contender and although we haven't seen her at camp yet, she seems to have all guns blazing for Nationals. Jordyn would have a huge difficulty lead over Kyla if all her routines go to plan, and that would mean it makes no sense to leave her behind since Kyla is unlikely to medal on either beam or bars with her difficulty the way it is. There's no word about how McKayla is doing, though she has said herself she is vaulting Yurchenkos (halves, fulls, layout timers?) and concentrating on bars and beam as her leg still hurts. Healed, but sore. This was more than two months ago so presumably she is further advanced, and she was due to go to camp though pulled out at the last minute. Even with that, that must mean she had routines worth verifying. Her place in team worlds would be much more assured than this year, though if her vault and floor are back up to their old standard (and hopefully beyond with no super-sketchy third pass) and Lexie and Ebee remain unfortunate with their health then she'd be a good bet. The TTY speculation is all on super-springy Simone Biles now but McKayla is the other who looks well capable of landing one and has also mentioned it.
- Ebee Price, Sarah Finnegan and Maddie Desch are all either injured or recovering. Ebee was of course an Olympic alternate, beating Kyla in the AA at Trials, and took no less than two back-to-back world cup AA titles late last year. It's unclear what stage she's at now but she'd certainly be a very good bet for the fourth place at worlds if healthy. Sarah's strengths are beam and floor, an interesting combination. She would be vying with Katelyn for a place on this year's worlds team, since she is the only other one with a very difficult beam. Maddie is very similar to her, though perhaps not as polished on beam. She's recovering from a torn meniscus, rumour has it. Neither she or Sarah have competed since last summer, and Ebee last competed pre-injury in December.
- Peyton Ernst and Maggie Nichols performed strongly in Europe, having sprung out of nowhere. Peyton in particular has improved quite a lot since last year and could be a nice team contributor. However, I don't see her surpassing others for an all-around place just yet.
- Although Sabrina Vega has switched gyms, I don't see a big future for her in elite. Similarly I see Kennedy Baker fading too, though both girls should do extremely well at college.
- Mykayla Skinner has two vaults, ranked 6.4 and 6.3 respectively, the hardest floor routine actually competed (6.5) and has also improved on a weak event, bars. It seems crazy that she could easily fail to make major teams and is not even on the national team. Last year she was a bit inconsistent and this year crashed her double arabian in competition. It will be very interesting to see how she fares at Classics and Nationals as she could very well shake things up if she's consistent. 
- Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman who have both expressed that they will be back in the gym soon are in no way able to make the team this year. It will be interesting to see how they fare if they do go back as planned; particularly Gabby whose bars could be a great asset and who is blessed with the physique to remain longer in the sport at the top of her game.
- Liang Chow has a number of elite hopefuls; Norah Flatley and Alexis Vasquez who will both be aiming to qualify elite in summer and Rachel Gowey who is actually an elite and was at the last camp. Norah is extremely strong on beam with a fabulous routine, though I've no idea what her other events look like. Alexis Vasquez is supposed to be a stronger all-arounder but I haven't seen her either, and Rachel is totally unknown. Ones to keep an eye on, for sure.
- The brightest hopes for the future are Bailie Key, Laurie Hernandez and Nia Dennis. Nia is quite like Gabby Douglas, high-flying on bars and strong all-around. Bailie is very different from the rest, she has excellent execution, flexibility and difficulty and does not have a weak event. She has an amanar, arabian on beam and a Church and Downie on bars in the works, though she's being paced very well for her 2015 senior debut so we are unlikely to see all of these upgrades this year. She and Nia are elegible for YOG- Youth Olympics Games. Laurie is a 2000 baby and stunned everyone with her performances at the US Classic last year at the age of 11. She is a great dancer and beam worker, with a DTY, double layout and double arabian planned. While I found her choreography last year a bit repetitive, she really was compelling to watch. Looking forward to all three gymnasts becoming seniors.

Bars remain somewhat of an issue. Kyla Ross is the highest scoring gymnast they have, though her difficulty as ever could do with being substantially higher to challenge stellar Russian and Chinese routines. Power gymnasts Ebee Price and Simone Biles have surprisingly good bars ideal for team situations though neither could expect to qualify to a bars final unless the field is quite weak. There is always Jordyn Wieber and we can't write off the possibility of Gabby Douglas unleashing a strong bars routine next year. Bailie Key and Nia Dennis are strong on bars, but can't be relied on until 2015. Polina Shchennikova shows quite a bit of promise and Katelyn Ohashi would too if her bars were reworked. They are still in a much better position on this apparatus than Romania but it remains a weak point.

Beam has a much better outlook. The most valuable routine by far is that of Katelyn Ohashi. They also have Sarah Finnegan, Maddie Desch, Kyla Ross and Simone Biles. Jordyn Wieber too. Lexie Priessman and Ebee Price are very weak here and can't be used, but newcomers to the mix Peyton Ernst and Maggie Nichols look like good prospects in a team situation, if needed. Looking to the future, Laurie Hernandez and Bailie Key both shine on beam.

Floor is amazing as ever. Simone Biles, Ebee Price, Lexie Priessman and Jordyn Wieber are all incredible on floor, at least difficulty wise if not artistry wise. Katelyn Ohashi has improved but I don't see much possible upgrading in her future really. McKayla Maroney could be valuable here again, and gymnasts like Amelia Hundley, Laurie Hernandez, Bailie Key and Nia Dennis would be expected to contribute heavily also. Let us not forget that Mykayla Skinner, who showed herself to be inconsistent last year, has a laidout double double, tucked double double and double arabian in her routine.

The amanar fest is certainly here to stay, with two gymnasts capable of a TTY. Simone has a Lopez for a second vault and is training a Cheng. It's not known where McKayla is at but she's still in the mix even just for vault alone. Lexie and Ebee have amanars with second vaults in the works, and there's any amount of strong DTY's from others should they be needed. Bailie Key and several other juniors are training the amanar also. Mykayla Skinner has the current highest vault difficulty, with an amanar and Cheng actually competed.

The US look well able to continue dominating. It's up to everyone else to catch up. The worlds team, because of the depth, can go quite a lot of ways. I do think Simone Biles has cemented her place on it. I would say the same of Kyla Ross too, but Jordyn Wieber could potentially take her spot for the AA as Kyla is unlikely to medal in bars finals anyway. Katelyn for beam if healthy. And a four-way battle for the last spot, between Ebee Price, Lexie Priessman, McKayla Maroney and Mykayla Skinner. I see Jordyn taking Kyla's spot or nobody's, as she does not have a second vault and her coach has already stated that she has enormous difficulty with forward entry and it's why she doesn't have one. But the vault requirements have changed a bit, so you never know.

Simone Biles- AA, VT, FX, UB and BB attempts (wildcard for both)
Kyla Ross- AA, UB, BB
Katelyn Ohashi- BB
Ebee Price- VT, FX

That is one well-rounded team, though number four is very much up for debate. Who's on your team? Other juniors you think will storm their way to the top?

Piibunina is a great source for Jesolo (and everything) videos, and USAG have the full broadcast and individual routines from American Cup, which I'm not linking to since they've uploaded a billion videos since then.

Check out the The State of China here.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The State of China

So, with just less than 5 months to go and coming back from a fairly dissapointing Olympics last year, how are China fixed as regards Worlds? And in general, what are the future prospects towards Rio? The National Games Prelims were a great chance to have a look at where they stand.

- Deng Linlin, He Kexin, Huang Qiushuang and Sui Lu have all said they will retire after the National Games, which will take place in September. This is very very close to Worlds and the East Asian Games, for which they might be persuaded to hold out that little big longer, particularly He Kexin who has a very good chance of making the worlds team. The fading of the old guard is of course sad, but neccessary to pave the way for the focus to be on their new talents.
- China's greatest hope, Yao Jinnan, is regaining her form steadily. She has said herself that she is about 70-80% 'back'. Floor is probably where the most work needs to be done, as she has her DTY and her beam and bars are pretty difficult. Her beam has a 6.7 potential with all connections hit, and while she did have issues with the standing full, it is similar to Aliya Mustafina's beam issues in that she looks very capable of ironing out the problems. Her bars are stellar as always, very sharp and clean work. I don't see any potential for the DTY to become anything else, not least because she injured herself doing a DTY last year. By contrast, floor was watered down quite a lot. If she can get it back similar to how it was during 2011 then she is a major medal threat in the worlds AA, though probably not gold given the lack of amanar, sadly.
- Shang Chunsong is bursting with potential and is definitely staking her claim as China's best all-arounder after Yao Jinnan. Her bars are extremely dynamic, containing her own move- the piked Hindorff into immediate Pak salto and her tumbling is extremely strong, especially her amazing first pass of 1.5 twist into triple twist-punchfront! Her beam saw her become the deserving beam champion and she did it perfectly during event finals. She does have a DTY in training, though just like Asuka Teramoto I think she will need to grow a bit in order for it to be a totally successful venture and for it to score well. Both girls are quite slight and don't have the push off the table that similarly short but extremely powerful girls like Simone Biles do. She's also a little inconsistent and shaky, though she did banish that in event finals. Unfortunately her fantastic tumbling is accompanied by a travesty of a routine choreography-wise that I'm sure most fans want to see binned fairly quickly. Hopefully being the new beam and floor champion as well as coming second in the AA will bolster her confidence. She's strong and small and could have great longevity for that reason alone.
- Tan Jiaxin unfortunately did not have a good competition. However, she has still upped her game as she now has an excellent DTY in her arsenal as well as an insane bars routine. That makes her a good bet for worlds, especially if HKX definitely retires before then and given that the bars fall is not characteristic for her.
- Tan Sixin has clearly come on a lot even since the winter training video emerged. Lovely beam as always, but I don't see her as important enough to make major teams.
- Zeng Siqi inspires worry that she'll be relegated to being a specialist, instead of the fabulous all-arounder that she could be. Her endurance and stamina are still so low that although her beam is a thing of beauty and very difficult, her dismount is always a problem. She shows no signs of regaining the DTY she had before her injury in 2011, though that is relieving given how almost frail she is. Her bars dismount remains more likely to be splatted than landed and while her floor does have difficult tumbling in it, it all looks a bit much for her.
- Wu Liufang looks set to continue fading into the background, unfortunately. Still has beautiful gymnastics, still woefully inconsistent and still not enough of an asset to the Chinese team.
- Huang Huidan stepped up and hit a cracker of a bars set in event finals with an enormous 6.6 difficulty. The fact that she beat bars-champion-since-2007-HKX must have been a good boost too, though the latter did make an error. Sadly HHD's hit record is still far from inspiring and her chances are still running out, reigning bars champion or not.
- Liu Tingting, a 2000 baby, was solid as a rock and placed FIFTH in the AA. Her extension, toepoint and general amazing execution are staunchly in evidence in everything she does and thankfully her difficulty has come up since last year. Slow and steady wins the race, she has incredible potential as as well as having the execution bit down, she is also quite springy and powerful.
- Yuan Xiaoyang, a 1999 baby, astonishingly took the vault title. She benefited from injuries and falls from the favourites as her vaults are quite low in difficulty, but still she is very impressive on more than this event.
- Wang Yan, probably born in 1999 or 2000, has a 6.7 beam routine. It contains the acro line made famous by Shawn Johnson- RO-RO-LO, a plethora of extremely high and well landed punchfronts and back tucks and an absolutely perfect please-upgrade-me double pike dismount. It's no fluid beauty but it's an incredible routine. She also shows promise on floor and vault, looks like she could develop into a strong all-arounder.

In general, beam and bars continue to be the dominant strength with gymnasts like Yao Jinnan, Tan Jiaxin, Shang Chunsong, Huang Huidan, Zeng Siqi and juniors Luo Huan, Mei Jie, Fan Yilin, Liu Zhilin, Liu Tingting, Wang Yan and Lv Jiaqi adequately covering all bases.

The vault and floor situation is as always, more questionable. They do have a few DTY's; Yao Jinnan, Tan Jiaxin, Luo Peiru and junior Wang Wei. They also have vault specialists Li Yiting, Yang Pei and Jiang Tong. However, there's no sign of their top two all-arounders flinging amanars which in this day and age is bad news. Shang Chunsong at least looks capable of nailing the DTY she already has (in training) and of all the girls, Tan Jiaxin looks able to give an amanar a go. But this area will still be weak by comparison to others. As far as floor is concerned, Shang Chunsong, Yao Jinnan and Zeng Siqi are the best bets, with Wang Wei and Liu Tingting looking like very good future prospects. Again, they don't have a depth of talent here and will really have to hone the routines they do have. And start Alla Sosnitskaya/Ksenia Afanasyeva'ing turn combinations, stat! And as Rick from gymnasticscoaching just pointed out, the ideal situation is that the top all-arounders have strong vault and floor, not that they just have strong vault and floor girls to go with their crowds of bars/beam girls. I'm hoping that will come in time. After all, the great Cheng Fei herself is coaching.

The worlds team will contain (if healthy) Yao Jinnan, Shang Chunsong and Zeng Siqi. The fourth place could go either way, vault specialist or bars specialist. At this point I think Tan Jiaxin will take it. So this potential team will have
- Yao Jinnan AA, BB, UB
- Shang Chunsong AA, BB, UB, FX
- Zeng Siqi BB, FX
- Tan Jiaxin UB

I know there's too many bars and beam qualifiers, hard to know what could happen there though.

In short, China are in desperate need of mini Cheng Fei's as they're still lacking in the power event categories, with an overemphasis instead on their pet events. They do have springy powerful looking young girls like Wang Yan and Liu Tingting but still crying out for depth in the power department. The last time they won a team title, the code was in their favour as it glorified bars and pirouette-heavy routines. They also did not have to contend with an amanar fest as their biggest rivals fielded one amanar, a Rudi and a DTY versus their own offering of an amanar and 2 DTY's (they had planned a second amanar, Jiang Yuyuan but she lost the ability at the last minute) and the American advantage of 0.5 on vault was swiftly lost after bars. Now, the code is against them somewhat and their bars have taken a nosedive in start value. Thankfully they have adapted to this and they already have dynamic release-release and release-transition routines, but it's not enough. I don't see AA gold appearing in the next two years, or the team gold next year. But they are moving in the right direction and have already appointed a new head vault coach with this in mind. Hopefully their results will continue to improve in other areas besides beam and bars event finals.

Who do you see as China's greatest hopes? On their team? Can they get it together and start to challenge outside of beam and bars again?

Check back for Russian, Romanian and USA versions soon :)

Videos are here and won't embed for me. If I had to pick just to a few to recommend they would be...Wang Yan, Shang Chunsong and Liu Tingting on beam, and Huang Huidan and Yao Jinnan on bars. Youku has more, there's a good selection here. These are, in order left to right (until they become duplicates of the YT videos) Lv Jiaqi FX, Luo Peiru BB, Liu Tingting FX, Liu Tingting UB, Jiang Yuyuan FX, Liu Tingting BB, Fan Yilin FX, Zhu Siyan BB, Wang Yan FX, Chen Li BB. Out of this lot you should watch Wang Yan FX, everything Liu Tingting and Lv Jiaqi FX at least. I still need Tan Jiaxin's everything and Shang Chunsong's UB. If anyone has links please leave them in the comments.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Yao Jinnan fights back

Presenting the top qualifier to the Chinese National Games Quals AA! Considering she had one or two little errors on bars, a watered down floor and missed connections on beam as well as the traditional extremely harsh execution scoring present in internal Chinese competitions- scoring a 57+ is amazing. Her injury last year kept her from performing anywhere near her best in London and it was said this year that she was having trouble with her hip. So it's great to see (or read, as the case may be so far) a strong performance from her. Tied for second were Shang Chunsong and Huang Qiushuang. Zeng Siqi biffed her bars dismount, again, but happily was the first qualifier for beam, just ahead of Sui Lu. He Kexin hit bars and vault, but it was a sad day all around- so.many.falls. Saddest of all was Tan Jiaxin the UB superstar, who fell on a Jaeger and then had some sort of disaster on floor, with an even 5.0 for her d and e scores. Wu Liufang crashed her layout on beam. Good news from my favourite bright young things, Lv Jiaqi and Liu Tingting have both upgraded and scored very well with execution. Liu Tingting, a 2016 senior, placed fifth in the AA qualifiers, and Lv Jiaqi placed tenth. The fight for the second AA-er at worlds will be interesting. Yao Jinnan is the obvious choice for first, if healthy. Shang Chunsong hopefully for the second, but she's still a flake. And THAT floor choreography is a disgrace. Huang Qiushuang may yet make another major team! Especially since one of her mistakes was so ridiculous- she incurred an enormous 0.5 deduction on vault for running more than 25 metres. You can never predict what silly mistake she'll do next but I doubt she'll repeat that one. Shanghai (including Sui Lu and Tan Sixin) beat Guangdong (including Wu Liufang and Huang Qiushuang) into second and Hunan (including Zeng Siqi, Tan Jiaxin and Shang Chunsong) into third, helped along by an utter disaster of a bars rotation by Hunan.

Never underestimate what Huang Qiushuang has up her sleeve! Today in the AA final she repeated the exact same mistake, starting her vault run from too far back, again carrying a massive 0.5 deduction. Smooth coaching there. She also brought her bars dismount to her knees, which is apparently a new mistake for her, and placed outside of the medals. Yao Jinnan fell on her standing full on beam, but still won gold with a 56.701, which wasn't exactly surprising given the enormous amount of falls and major errors, again. Shang Chunsong placed second and Zeng Siqi was third. Shang nailed her very difficult 6.7 bars routine, but had some very expensive wobbles on beam and an OOB on floor. Zeng Siqi generally had less difficulty, she is rumoured to have a DTY but did not do it. I really don't think she has it in her anymore, but at any rate I don't want to see one from her until she looks stronger with better endurance. I'm really sad that Huang Huidan looks to be falling off the radar, just like Wu Liufang. Huang had a nightmare on bars, her pet piece, so too did Deng Linlin. Liu Tingting placed sixth, an amazing result for a girl so young. She is the most promising junior all-arounder that China have. She consistently gets execution scores in the 8.3 range, which in China is like a 9.3.

Gabby Jupp has had her ACL surgery. Wishing for a very speedy recovery. In more ACL news, Yvette Moshage of the Netherlands has torn her ACL for the third time, after a heroic battle to comeback the first two times. Really devastating. This is the third ACL tear so far this year, the other besides these two being Mariya Livchikova.

Kohei Uchimura's wife has given birth to a baby girl. Her name is not released. His parents were gymnasts and his sister is too, so hopefully his daughter will at least try it out with genes like that! 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The glory of gymfanconfessions

I check this blog every day- http://gymfanconfessions.tumblr.com and it's one of the very few tumblrs I bother with at all, as I find tumblr a scrappy mess of awful attitudes for the most part, with the odd amazing gifs or memes thrown in. GFC posts anonymous entries people send in as confessions, set against a relevant background image. There is a lot of boring 'I love so and so' and a lot of petty fights about Aliya Mustafina's twisting form..in fact, every 5th confession is about her. And then there are the people who submit confessions I agree with, though that is rare. Thankfully spiteful confessions or ones based just on looks are censored and need to be clicked into. Anyway, this blog is a goldmine of downright odd opinions and wilful ignorance at times.

Source- gymfanconfessions
Now of course, if this was about how she is not this user's favourite all-arounder, that would be understandable. She's very powerful but not particularly graceful and as such will not be everyone's cup of tea. But not great? She is oozing with potential and whether you like her or not, she is a force to be reckoned with. Explosive amanar with a TTY in the post this quad, one of the most difficult floor routines ever with a unique pass and room for more, and strong bars and beam add up to a very fierce competitor. She could probably get her beam and bars to a 6.4-6.6 range very easily, her d-scores right now (credited with at Jesolo) are 6.3 VT 6.2 FX (it just ain't codewhoring..yet) 6.1 UB and 6.3 BB which gives her a grand total of 'you must be dim to not see this girl's potential'- 24.9. That is half a point higher than Euro winner Aliya Mustafina displayed at Euros AA, though of course neither girl is showing her full difficulty potential at this stage. Still, she IS a great all-arounder as besides her monster floor and vault, she can swing bars and her beam isn't half bad, along with the fact that her form is pretty decent. By no means perfect and she certainly incurs deductions with it, but it's fine and better than some of what has emerged from the US in recent years.

Source- gymfanconfessions
Rude. Ana Porgras seems to be very happy with her decision to retire, and has said as much. Running her down because she won't run around a gym to make you happy is pathetic. I fully understand missing her gymnastics and wishing she hadn't retired so early- that stands to reason, but a lot of people take it too far and heap abuse on her for not conforming to what they want and make herself miserable for their own perceived gain. Besides, Ana was not even doing fine. She was suffering from a stream of interfering injuries and did not adjust well to the return of B&B- Octavian Bellu and Mariana Bitang.

Source- gymfanconfessions
This one is hard to read. It says 'Everyone complains about Aly's bars which is her only weak event. Did everyone forget that she scored better than Nastia in 2012? She tried her best and still tied for third in the all around which is pretty amazing for being a 'weak' event.' Almost every strong all-arounder is weaker in one event, usually either vault or bars. But few are as dramatic as this. Aly's bars are not just weak, they are pretty awful and are more than just a bit detrimental to her all-around scores, as she has shown by placing outside of the medals because of her bars on more than one occasion. As for outscoring Nastia Liukin last year, how exactly is this an accomplishment? She outscored somebody who if she did not fall, had huge breaks and endurance issues and lost a lot of difficulty AND compositional requirements for only performing a basic dismount. Well, wow! Aly must be awesome at bars if she beat that. I think most people are aware she tries her hardest and I was impressed at the improvement she showed on this event in London. It still remains a fact that they were and will continue to be her nemesis if she makes a comeback. She did after all, lose the tiebreak because of them and competition was not exactly fierce as only the top four were actually top all-arounders at that point.

Source- gymfanconfessions
Well, she already is an icon. Extraordinary, considering this is just her third year of competing as a senior, but there it is. The astonishing achievements of Svetlana Khorkina are extremely spread out, as she attended 3 Olympics and at least 7 worlds. In that time she amassed 4 non-team Olympic medals and 16 world medals, again non-team. Aliya Mustafina has only attended one of each, gaining 3 non-team Olympic medals and 4 non-team worlds medals. Given the time-frame, it could be argued that Aliya's haul is more impressive. What is certain is that she's not done yet and that she has to compete much more difficulty than Khorkina did in order to stay on top. Not to mention the gifts the latter received in the end stages of her career. I do not for a second think that Aliya Mustafina is the new Nadia/Olga icon, I don't see her bridging that gap to the mainstream. But the new Khorkina? Yes.

Source- gymfanconfessions

There is definitely an element of truth to this, though female gymnasts are usually very polite and congratulatory of each other. But there IS more of an air of dissapointment when somebody else outclasses them, moreso than MAG. At the Olympics, we saw a lot of tears on the women's side, such as Vanessa Ferrari, Viktoria Komova and Janine Berger, as well as the utter crushing dissapointment of others such as McKayla Maroney and Sui Lu. This was not so much in evidence on the men's side, who seemed to take falls and mistakes in their stride and heartily congratulate each other, especially with outstanding performances like Yang Hak-Seon on vault and Epke Zonderland on high bar. Not to suggest the men are robots but I think the difference can be explained pretty easily.

First of all, male gymnasts tend to be older and therefore more mature. They reach their peak at a later age and can hold on to it for longer, because growth is not a disaster for them- it tends to make them better at the strength events, like rings. Women are at their best between 15-17 and have a huge fight on their hands to remain at anything close to their peak once growth comes along. Men do not have one or two good years and then are burned out or replaced, many are very competitive for several years and attend several world championships and two or more Olympics- and from countries deep in talent too. Therefore, dissapointment at losing an expected medal is not as crushing, because they have more chances. This just isn't the case for women, especially for the top 4. Maroney has the least chance of making Rio thanks to the insane depth in the US, and Sui Lu will probably be long retired by then. Sure, the average age of a gymnast has risen and making more than one Olympics is more common now too, but it doesn't take away from the fact that women still have less chances than men to take the major titles. I don't think it's as simple as 'women are bitchier', I think it's a case of depth, growth and dearth of chances.

Source- gymfanconfessions

And this one says 'I'm a devoted Komova Fan, but let's face it! London compared to Beijing looks like the Swiss Cup! Beijing was so much more than a competition, it was an entertainment show, while London was a competition where they had, as many of us agree, lack of experience and the scores can't even be compared, like no full twisting back somersault!!! Also I would like to use this so I can say that Liukin can't be overrated if she won in a very fierce and talented competition and with terrific scores!'

Oooo. Wow. So much wrong with this, like the different scoring between the codes, the full twisting back performed by the Olympic AA champion no less (and others), and the belief that because the 2008 US Olympic team was more experienced than the 2012 one, then the rest must follow this pattern. Not to mention that Shawn V Nastia was much more boring than 4 strong girls vying for medals in London...


I give up now. I lose too many brain cells when I try to look for the confessions that annoy me the most..

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Bits and pieces

In an interesting twist, Laurie Hernandez emerged as the top junior at camp verification at the weekend, beating Bailie Key into second place. Polina Shchennikova was third. It's unclear who did NOT compete all-around so I'm not sure if Amelia Hundley did all four pieces or sat some out. What is clear is that she has grown even more and looks to have beaten Kyla Ross in the height stakes. Similarly in the senior ranks, it looks like quite a few didn't do the AA as Kyla Ross was first, followed by Brenna Dowell and Peyton Ernst- with no sign of Ebee Price or Simone Biles who really could not but be in the top 3. Ebee finished off 2012 superbly by capturing two world cup all-around titles in a row, but was hindered this year by an injury- so probably she is not all there yet. Simone is not, that we know of, recovering from an injury, but has more than proved herself as a top all-arounder this year. I am SO excited for Classics to see how all the girls pan out. The Olympic team can skip Classics by right but will probably use it as a competitive opportunity if they are ready in time- McKayla Maroney and Jordyn Wieber that is, as well as Kyla Ross who is clearly ready. I think Simone Biles and Kyla Ross are pretty much guaranteed for the worlds team if they remain healthy. The other two are more than up for grabs. There is an opening for a second floor/vault girl- which Lexie Priessman, Ebee Price, Mykayla Skinner (I have no idea how she did at camp...). McKayla Maroney and possibly Jordyn Wieber (if she does actually produce a second vault, Geddert has said before Jordyn has enormous difficulty with forward entry) will be vying for. And they badly need someone for beam, which Katelyn Ohashi could take and be a back-up all-arounder. There are so many factors at play really for the second two spots- as well as, where are Kennedy Baker, Sarah Finnegan and Maddie Desch at? Sarah would fit in very nicely with my team if her beam d-score is huge again. I'm also very excited to see juniors Laurie Hernandez, Bailie Key and Nia Dennis with all of their upgrades, and newcomers like Jordan Chiles. Who do you want to see on the team? Do all-around? Should Katelyn Ohashi be taken just for beam? Can Lexie Priessman remain in one piece?

Here is Noemi Makra's floor and beam from the Slovenian world cup. I will keep raving about this girl because she is just exquisite and not enough people know about her. LOOK at that full-in pike, I think we should have an overlay of Diana Bulimar's over it, like the infamous Maroney-Uchimura 2.5 Y. Her execution is breathtaking and it needs to be acknowledged. Her third pass has no business in her routine, I'd like to see it replaced by whip-whip-double tuck or something. The technique on her turns is a bit mysterious, she starts out so well and they all drop, though it's kind of endearing the way she kept the first one going. Hopefully that can be sharpened up along with her too-easy pass. And much as it pains me, maybe some leaps to up the d-score. Her beam is another lesson in beautiful gymnastics (just like her bars. What's not to love?), with a gorgeous mount and nice connections. Sure the connection between the aerial-aerial is broken, the turn combination was not great and she biffed her last leap but these things are all tiny in the scheme of how great this routine is. The dismount is extremely high, she could maybe do a harder one. Though I'd hate to see an injury strike her, we've already lost two beautiful gymnasts so far this year, so it's nice that she's taking it slowly. There's no sound on her floor and her vault hasn't been uploaded yet, or you may be sure I'd have snuck that in too.

Grr not embedding. Her floor is here and is a must watch for the opening pass alone and her beam is here.

Rebeca Andrade is busy upgrading. A 2015 senior, she will hopefully be Brazil's candidate for YOG 2014 as she's likely to hoover up medals. Check out her new DLO below, it's gorgeous as it's one of the straight ones. She also has an amanar though the video of it shows a fall. Apparently she landed more to her feet, so it's all good. The video is via GymBlogBrazil who have plenty more videos uploaded.


I'm trying to think of every gymnast who has had Irish music. Only one actually predates Riverdance, Deliana Vodenitcharova, Bulgaria, 1988. The rest that I know of are Kim Zmeskal, 1998 (part of 98, she had two routines that year), Dominique Moceanu, 1998, Andreea Raducan, 2000, and Cheng Fei, 2003. Can anyone think of more?