Monday 22 September 2014

Worlds thoughts

It's almost here! And there have been some changes even since the predictions post.

In typical Russia fashion, their team has changed. In, out, in out...shake it all about. Maria Paseka is out. Ekaterina Kramarenko remains in despite sustaining some sort of foot/ankle injury recently. Viktoria Komova, who was never in but who could well have been chosen last minute, is officially out of contention. Ksenia Afanasyeva, who was briefly mentioned as a possible team member despite not being fully recovered, is also out of contention. Polina Fedorova and Tatiana Nabieva will be fighting for the last team spot. Edit: I believe it's been confirmed Tatiana won that particular battle, relegating Polina to alternate.

So, what does this do? It means no amanar. Aliya Mustafina will no doubt plant a strong DTY for a good score, but it's really a blow to lose Maria Paseka. Alla Sosnitskaya and I suppose Ekaterina Kramarenko will complete the vault lineup. Ideally to counteract a weaker than expected vault rotation they'd need some stacked bars, which they don't really have. Nobody, not even Aliya, has the difficulty displayed by the team in London. It's a puzzler to know what these changes will do to Russia's TF placing. Because of course, other teams are struggling too.

It's so odd to see USA weak. Especially for me as a new fan, not used to 'mid-quad slumps'. I am not surprised to see that Brenna Dowell won't be making the trip to China. Even if she was hitting AA at camp as rumoured I did think it would be too little too late for Marta who quite rightly highly prizes consistency all season long. Especially since Marta spectacularly showed last year that Brenna does not get breaks. No McKayla Maroney, no Elizabeth Price, no Brenna Dowell, no Peyton Ernst, no Maggie Nichols, no Lexie Priessman, no new Fierce 5 comeback. It's going to be very interesting but I believe they have the edge still.

Last night (this morning?) the Asian Games Quals/TF took place with a predictable massive win for China. Which was no surprise given that they sent their A-team, most others held off on doing that. Fascinating to see this team in action as a 'warm-up'. It is a little concerning given the closeness in timing between this and worlds, hopefully it won't have any impact for when their performances really need to count. First, congratulations to newcomer Chen Siyi for landing a very respectable DTY, a new skill for her that she has been crashing for most of this year. Shang Chunsong is dealing with some pain (strain is the word I think) in her hips for which she has needed Cortisone shots. Sensibly, she watered down on floor as a result. Disappointing to see her fall on bars and score atrociously in execution on beam, but hopefully she can bounce back and compete strong and pain-free in Nanning. Yao Jinnan also competed recovering from an injury which affected her training, but it was a while ago now and with any luck won't be an issue whatsoever to her by worlds.

I expected a bit more from China on beam (Bai Yawen for instance did not compete a routine worthy of the medal I gave her) and they weren't without headcase moments and substantial errors, BUT, overall it was a very strong showing. Vault is no longer a big worry for me (hurray for improvement there also from Tan Jiaxin) and bars will definitely pick them up and plant them well ahead of any other team there. They have no less than 4 routines at almost 7.0 which is phenomenal and is a big reason why they still have the silver edge in my view. Other teams being weak on vault too could easily get them over the hump of non-fantastic beam and floor. Although looking at Shang Chunsong's beam again and I don't know where they got 8.3 from. China seem to get the brunt of artistic deductions on beam when most everyone is guilty of poor rhythm and half-hearted choreography. Also, yes she brought her foot up. Not even high really. Everything else was so precise grrr.

You can find videos on this fantastic channel that needs to be in your subscriptions.

On the topic of Asian Games, Hong un Jong got together with Oksana Chusovitina and relived her glory days on vault. Much better vaults than we have seen in a long time from her AND with her difficulty advantage on Simone Biles, 0.8, she will really give the latter a run for her money if she vaults like that again. It also puts pressure on Mykayla Skinner who is at a big disadvantage since she may or may not score incredibly low for her Cheng what with the most bad-ass-but-worthy-of-harsh-scoring-block of all time. Could well be our podium, but Giulia Steingruber and Phan Thi Ha Thanh stand to gain bigtime if the judges give the one-armed Cheng the stink eye. Back to Asian games, where Chuso also unleashed a much better looking Rudi. All hail the vault elixir of youth she and Hong un Jong have been knocking back!

I'm struggling to place Russia, Romania and GB. The latter have not been doing that well on floor this year. A good bit will depend on the readiness of Gabby Jupp who I am THRILLED has made the team. Raer Theaker is a loss on floor, but Gabby with good bars and beam will more than make up for that. So much the better if she has floor too, but I wouldn't expect it and after so long out it would be wiser to hold off.

Have any of your thoughts about worlds changed recently? Predictions? What will crop up next in this mid-quad 'Who can suck the most' competition? Sorry, sorry, most impolite but um, somewhat truthful...

As an aside from worlds, but a very important one: wishing and hoping that Deanne Soza makes a full recovery from her recent eye infection. The last update was more positive, with optimism from doctors on her treatment and it mentioned that Deanne was able to distinguish a silhouette of her father. 

It must be incredibly hard for her to deal with, not least because she is so young, never mind the fact that she is a superbly talented athlete with enormous potential. Speedy and full recovery to her and her sight. 

Update: She's continuing to improve and was able to read letters from a screen today. SO THRILLED to hear this. Her vision is very blurry and it's too soon to tell about her right eye vision but this is so much less bleak than the first update or two so it's just fantastic news.

Copyright- Christy Ann Linder



  1. Yeah, I'm a new gym fan too, and this mid-quad slump makes Worlds seem lackluster. I also agree with you that in terms of team finals, it'll be all about who sucks less...

    I just saw the Asian Games videos. How the hell could they score the Chinese like that on beam?! By that logic, every other gymnast should get a 7.5 execution for a perfect beam routine! Other than that, they have amazing bar routines. Although, not only is it concerning that China has a huge competition right before Worlds, but it is not that good for them to rely on their bars so much for good scores. A fall on bars like Chunsong's could be trouble for China come team finals...

    The Russian, Romanian, and British teams are huge question marks at this point. I feel like the Russian team always gets injured right before Worlds. I'm actually expecting their team to change again. I think Russia would use Nabieva on vault in team finals because of her DTY (not a very good DTY but nevertheless more useful than an FTY). If someone else manages to upgrade vault like Kramarenko, Spiridonova, or Kharenkova, then Nabieva will only be used for qualifications. Romania has so many inexperienced girls with a lot of potential, but it could all go wrong in the end. But Romania is known for consistency come team finals so who knows? Even though they need to absorb two UB routines in the low 13's, they could potentially be on the podium only if others fall...a lot. Meanwhile, GB loses a good vault and bars routine because Tunney is injured. I'm still not sure about Gabby Jupp though. She's inexperienced and hasn't had any competitions for over a year, and now she's expected to help come Worlds? I'm sorry, but I can't believe that. Sure, it would be amazing if she did come back full force given GB's deficit on beam, but it's just so unlikely.

    On the bright side, event finals will have a deep field :)

  2. i just wanna say, i think we're at a point where noone's predictions, TF or otherwise, will be accurate lol.

    It's worth mentioning that USA is always strong the 1st, 3rd, and final year of the quad. No really. Look at our overall performance at the 2nd year of any quad and guess what? no team gold, no AA gold, less EF medals.

    It's explainable, I believe, because the depth that is displayed in the first year diminishes as girls who think they have no chance getting on a world's team in the second year retire or quit elite. Then the rest of the girls who are B team gymnasts upgrade too much to compete with the top girls, but then they get injured. Then some of our top girls get injured in their year long effort to stay ahead and be picked for the team; all of these things happen as a reaction to the depth (and medals) that Team USA shows in the first year of the quad. Each girl asks herself, after that first year, 'do I really have what it takes to make next year's team, am I one of the best, how much do i think i want the Olympic glory?' etc etc. So I think it's a cycle that, like nature, is devastating yet NECESSARY, because in a weird survivalist type way, the girls who exit the program the second year allow for our talented juniors over the next two years to get the staff attention they need and prosper in a market now dominated by solely advanced and talented seniors. And that's when USA comes into the 3rd year.

    Proof: next year:Key, Dennis become senior. Maroney is back. Gowey is back. Biles makes the upgrades she's been wisely saving on, Locklear keeps getting better at bars/BB, as does Kocian, Baumann, Ross; likely Skinner may get even more consistent with higher FX d-scores. Then we have all our precious 2016 babies of which we can surely include Gaskins, Desiderio,Foberg, Hernandez and Ragan Smith. By the 4th year there is only a team of uber-talent, hardly any girl has a weakness, and its then that we fans cry because only five of them can make it...

  3. Shang has really very poor extension on her leaps, and it's definitely deductible. It's a shame because I love the way she lands her acro skills and she's a very good gymnast but she makes Larisa look like a prima ballerina to be honest. The E-score is still low, but not outrageously so.

    Jupp is likely only to contribute on beam, apparently - she competed bars at the recent British Team Champs (which was basically a test comp) and her score was low. I haven't seen any videos though.

    1. Yeah I agree that there is something wrong with Shang's leaps that is noticeable, but I don't know what it is exactly (is her front leg bent?).

      The highest E score was 8.45, so the E panel did score her high (deservedly so) compared to the rest of the field. Only two gymnasts received higher marks than her, and at least Bai Yawen deserved it. I didn't see the Japanese athlete's routine that scored 8.4 by E panel but perhaps it was the cleanest.

  4. I now agree with your Silver prediction for China. I thought they were going to take Gold. However, there was inconsistency.headcasing on every event for China. Something happened on Bai's FTY to score only 8.0 in E. Shang fell on her difficult release combination (I don't think she competed it at Chinese nationals). On beam, either Huang Huidan or Chen Siyi fell (onto apparatus, not floor) and the other had a major wobble every element, both scoring only 7.5ish. On floor Tan Jiaxin fell and may have lost her front tumbling for landing on her butt first, Bai Yawen also struggled on floor. Although in 5 up 4 count, these mistakes are minimized, it could spell disaster in TF 3 up 3 count - as in 2010 where the mistakes of Jiang, Huang Quishang and Sui Lu cost them the Gold.

  5. China is still able to give the USA competition because to me this team for the US is the least talented in such a long period and have a great level of inconsistency (pan am was horrible for me). the amount of gymnast that were able to be strong all-around contenders in the past 12 years was amazing. we cannot say that with this bunch other than Kyla and Simone. if someone gets injured or is unable to performed for whatever reason the team to me is not prepared to have someone to cover that routine with a solid score. too many 2 and 1 event specialist. thank God the rest of the world is not doing any better.
    anyway the US still has the edge but with no margin for big errors. China only weakness if floor and inconsistency, but they usually hit at home.
    my prediction is USA, China, Italy/GB/Russia. that bronze medal is going to be a dog fight bet 3 or 4 teams

  6. I think USA is fine as long as Simone and Kyla stay fine. They (USA) can easily qualify to team finals but Kyla and Simone will be up on practically everything. That's why I'm fine with the US girls not having much experience because they each only need to focus on 1 or 2 events. Plus if they needed a girl as a filler or back up I believe Kocian is decent everywhere and was saving herself for Worlds camp to not get injured. I also believe Marta prepares the girls really well so they will be consistent.

    1. I completely agree Marta 100% knows what she is doing and the girls will be very consistent I think people are forgetting who are coaching these USA girls. They will be fine

  7. It's hotting up now and I won't be posting until next week when worlds actually begin as I'm going on holidays! I'll be checking in on news though and continuing to read comments :)

    (A YEAR since Antwerp seriously???)

  8. My line-up for USA:

    Vault: Ross, Skinner, Biles
    Bars: Ross, Kocian, Locklear
    Beam: Kocian/Biles, Baumann, Ross
    Floor: Skinner, Baumann/Ross, Biles

    I could see Biles being given a rest on bars at the very least. My problem is Ross is on every event. She could be traded out on floor, where her difficulty is very low and her attempts at upgrades have failed. That would leave Baumann, who isn't great on floor, but could put up a decent score even if she isn't as clean as Kyla or as powerful as Skinner or Simone. Simone needs resting more than anyone because she is by far the favorite for the AA, unlike Kyla who I don't really see factoring into the all around.

    My line up for Russia:

    Vault: Nabieva, Mustafina, Sosnitskaya
    Bars: Kramamrenko, Spiridinova, Mustafina
    Beam: Spiridinova, Mustafina, Kharenkova
    Floor: Kharenkova, Sosnitskaya, Mustafina

    They have very little choice but to use Musty on every piece at this point. Their team so devoid of strong AAers that it leaves Aliya with the role of being plugged in wherever. I know Sosnitskaya has been training a Cheng but it was revealed so close to the WC that I wonder if they are fully comfortable in using it in Team finals. Maybe in Qualification and event finals. I can't see Nabieva or Kramarenko contibuting on anything but vault and bars respectively.

    My line-up for China:

    Vault: Tan, Yao, Chen
    Bars: Shang, Huang, Yao
    Beam: Bai, Shang, Yao
    Floor: Tan, Yao, Shang

    Again, Yao, as the strongest all arounder, is likely to be up on every event. Vault is good, though their DTYs can easily be outscored by the US; bars is their strongest piece and they'll beat everyone there; beam can go either way since when they hit they can be lovely but it is also a more inconsistent event for this team, and floor is just plain weak.