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.
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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|