Friday 10 October 2014

Shiny pink (bee infested) podium


I just can't get over how hilarious that was. Larisa's deadpan helpful pointing out of said bee is also fantastic.

Source- see watermark

Okay, on with the competition!

What a thrilling final! We have our first back-to-back all-around champion in 20 years! Simone Biles repeated her feat...although I don't think anyone expected it to be such a tense nailbiter. A lovely person sent me the link for the AA stream and I tortorously avoided the gymternet on lunch and the whole way home. Congratulations to me for willpower. I am just about finished watching, with some catching up to do on non-broadcast routines of course.

Let's have a look at our top 8.

1. Simone Biles
2. Larisa Iordache
3. Kyla Ross
4. Aliya Mustafina
5. Yao Jinnan
6. Vanessa Ferrari
7. Alla Sosnitskaya
8. Jessica Lopez

Simone Biles was truly fantastic to watch, but she has been better! That was what made the competition so interesting though, seeing Larisa Iordache challenge her so fiercely with barely a tenth between them at times, with Yao Jinnan and Aliya Mustafina close on their tales. Only Simone's vault was truly one of the best she has displayed, with a much smaller hop forward that wasn't taken into account in her score. Bars were a little bit of a struggle, but the important thing was soldiering on, and the magnificent stuck dismount really helped. Beam was quite shaky, although thankfully it lacked the massive wobble and save she had in team finals. Breaking the connection hindered her there, but with floor to go it didn't seem like that big a deal. Until Larisa Iordache upped her difficulty at the last minute...and had an out of bounds. Very nerve wracking! Simone was bouncier than usual on floor but performed with her usual flair, stayed well in bounds with her chest upright and some really quite nice leaps.

She is just thrilling. I cannot get over the ease with which she does everything, and judging by the commentary, neither could Christine. Great performance (although as mentioned, not her best) and I can't wait to see how she does in event finals. Congratulations to our back-to-back champion!

Larisa Iordache. Well. I am so so so happy for her! Not since Euros 2012 has she been this strong in a major competition I feel, and while we knew there was strong competition for silver and bronze, I had no inkling she could get that close to challenging for gold. Especially with her consistency record when it really counts, and having to carry her team the whole time must be tiring. No sign of that today! Her floor and beam were highlights as ever, especially beam seeing her land the full twist and layout so securely. Upgrading her floor at the last minute was such a thrilling twist, one of the highlights of the entire competition. She was so fresh, so ready, and the only pity is that she couldn't inch that little bit closer. But who knows, she was so much more dominant than expected...

Kyla Ross Hearty congratulations to Kyla are in order. She's been dealing with an injury, has competed quite a lot so far with AA in TF and...pulled out her usual extremely consistent AA performance to take the bronze. Both Aliya Mustafina and Yao Jinnan sadly came to grief on floor, which just proves yet again that there's a lot to be said for a plan like Kyla and her coaches have. Slow and steady wins the race. However, it is a little sad to see Kyla further downgraded and only able to figure in to medals if others mess up, rather than last year where she was beating them by simply surpassing them. If she is happy to continue elite AA after this year then of course she would remain a great asset, but I feel she is becoming a bit susceptible to injuries and her gymnastics is deteriorating. I'd like to see her in NCAA where she would be so wonderful.

Aliya Mustafina seemed a little off from the first glimpse, so so pale and sombre looking and just a bit defeated looking. I was wondering was she tired or just extra focused, since as soon as she started competing there was no sign of an issue. Excellent DTY landing with nice airtime, great bars and solid beam with stuck dismounts on both. And then she stood up her double arabian opener on floor only to sit it back down. The most shocking part of the competition for me. She rapidly deflated after that understandably, but delivered an admirable floor routine all the same. I was unsurprised to learn afterwards that Aliya reported feeling unwell on waking up in the morning and felt that she gave her all to the team competition. It is sad to see such a fantastic gymnast drained by carrying her team on her back, yet AGAIN. I was really enjoying watching her in action and the commentary mentioning her ACL injury really drove home the point that her comeback has been amazing and showcased such determination and willpower. Hopefully she can show us what she'd made of in event finals and then take a well deserved break. Another fantastic performance despite the fall considering all of the factors against her.

Yao Jinnan is a consistent heartbreaker. She'll never be the gymnast we saw in 2011 and is sadly usually carrying an injury or recovering. At the moment she has been revisited by a recurring foot/ankle one that has had her compete in pain and she is just two weeks distant from the gruelling Asian Games. Nevertheless, she gave yet another strong performance today with exquisite massive difficulty bars, decent DTY and an excellent beam, an event she can be a bit hit or miss on. Floor though. I knew it was going to be a bad idea for her to finish on floor. It has been the event that she's struggled with since tweaking her foot again, and it really showed. I knew she wouldn't get the last pass. Such a shame for this super talented gymnast who seems dogged by bad luck. Gold on bars please after that and what happened in the bars final in Antwerp. Winning the Longines prize though was wonderful, very happy for her and it was definitely earned.

I'm really pleased with 6-8th. Vanessa Ferrari is her usual self, it has been impressive to see her regain the DTY and up her difficulty on floor at this stage in her career, 8 years out from her world title. I did not expect Alla Sosnitskaya and Jessica Lopez to place so well, particularly the latter but need to see videos of them to comment further.


The medal ceremony.

Simone Biles repeating.

Larisa Iordache FINALLY proving herself in a major AA competition in truly spectacular fashion. Who suspected that she would come that close to catching Simone?

Yao Jinnan getting the Longines prize. Well deserved and nice after a great AA ended badly, again.

Stuck dismounts on bars from Aliya Mustafina, Kyla Ross, Simone Biles and Yao Jinnan were great to watch and really built on the momentum of the competition for me

Jessica Lopez breaking into the top 8! She usually barely even qualifies to AA and has some truly lovely gymnastics.

Kyla Ross proving that consistency still beats significant difficulty advantage.

Not-so highlights

Aliya and Yao falling at the last hurdle. Heartbreakers.

Shang Chunsong having a nightmare on one of her best events

Asuka and Natsumi both coming to grief on beam. Asuka did the exact same thing in team finals and Natsumi had a complete meltdown on bars last year in the AA so all in all, quite upsetting.
Favourite routines

Bars: Yao Jinnan, Aliya Mustafina, Roxana Popa
Beam: Yao Jinnan, Larisa Iordache
Floor: Simone Biles, Larisa Iordache, Shang Chunsong 
Vault: Simone Biles

Fashion Corner

Seeing all the pink just before they marched out cracked me up. First, to the biggest consistent offenders:


This took a while to decide on. I liked the bodice shape, chrystals...and colour contrast! It worked well on both gymnasts and the shades were nice. The white accents were quite conflicting but in the end I liked the definition they gave.


Source- USAG/John Cheng


Not a huge amount to say here. A bit too shiny for my liking, not a shade of pink I can tolerate. Chrystals were nice but it was boring overall. Even in the blue shade they have it in.


Aliya Mustafina

An oldie but a goodie. The black collar bit throws it off still.


Yao Jinnan

She has gorgeous leos, and this isn't one of my favourites. Still though, very unusual and striking and it really suits her. I love the sweeping black bit and it all just comes together so well.


Vanessa Ferrari

An instant 5/10 for having two sleeves and no weird holes. Suited her down to the ground but was a little um, dominatrix for my liking. Not particularly nice but nothing majorly wrong with it.


Shang Chunsong's had too much going on, Roxana Popa's had lovely colour usage, Marta Pihan-Kulezsa's was AWESOME with a solid 8.5/10, Japan's paint party leotard is AMAZING and I will never have enough of it. In fact, it wins at 9/10. Congratulations Japan!

Source- Xinhua/Huang Xiaobang

The replay is here but it won't play inside the US. If you know of channels with uploaded non-broadcasted routines, please post in the comments. I expect Piibunina will be amazing as ever.

What did you think of the competition? Favourite routine/moment? How great are matching podiums? Is it true that Nellie Kim planted the bee in Simone's bouquet as a protest against athletic gymnasts? 


  1. "Is it true that Nellie Kim planted the bee in Simone's bouquet as a protest against athletic gymnasts?" LOL.

    I said in an earlier post that my prediction was 1. Simone Biles 2. Aliya Mustafina 3. Larisa Iordache/Yao Jinnan. While I am saddened by Aliya's fall from contention, as she is one of my favorite gymnasts, I can't say I am displeased by the results at all. I was thrilled for Larisa; it was high time she won a World All Around medal. She was great in TF and I was praying she could keep up her consistency and she did! Her beam was a highlight and she outscored both Kyla and Simone on bars and her vault was strong. She had a few tiny hiccups in her floor routine, but that last minute upgrade was very brave.

    I am happy to see Simone top the podium again though, as you said, her routines weren't the best she's done. Beam was where she seemed the shakiest and she broke a connection or two. Her bars were very solid, about as good as she can do at this stage, vault was miles above the rest even if it was generously scored (so was Musty's) and floor had a little too much adrenaline so it affected her landings, but it didn't matter in the end. It really solidifies what a great gymnast she is; she unfortunately has a lot of haters/critics, so hopefully this will shut them up. Wasn't so impressed by the comparisons made by commentators Christine and Craig of Larisa and Simone before the final rotation, as Larisa was basically credited as artistic because of her grace (what?) and the implication was that Simone was not...

    Anyway, Kyla. Kyla did not factor into my original predictions, mostly because there were too many who could beat her. Apparently, I overestimated her opponents, because Kyla made no errors while Mustafina and Yao made many. That is what allowed her to win that bronze. Well, for those who are complaining about how difficulty always wins out over execution, here is a clear example of that not happening. Somehow, I don't think those people will be pleased.... A great job for her though, what a fighter!

    Musty... We've all seen her through tough times. I, like many, were worried about the strain put on her by the Russian camp. But as time went on I became sure that her fierceness and determination would win out over fatigue or lingering pain/illness because she's done just that before. She looked tired in the TF and less sharp than in qualifying, but I brushed it off. Many were speculating about her possible bars and beam upgrades and if she's use them in the AA. Well, that never materialized. Like you said, she looked somber and drained from the beginning. Vaukt was ok, though overscored, bars was very good but not quite as good as I've seen from her and she only used her B-routine. Beam was messy, wobbles all over the place and many lost connections. And floor was disappointing. Aliya usually nails the double arabian.

    I am not mad at all at Aliya for the strain showing or her present physcial condition, but I am mad that the Russian delegation is constantly explaining away poor results just because someone is injured. Why are these girls always sick anyway? Even Khorkina agrees with me.

    And Yao, inconsistent as I thought she'd be. She looked extremely pensive the entire way through, though she delivered beautifully on beam and bars. Here's to hoping she gets it together for EF.

    The bee thing was hilarious and cute

    1. And she get it together for EF, so far anyway with the bars gold YESSSS. That, and Larisa's AA medal are true highpoints, those two had not previously managed to truly show their full potential when it really mattered.

      I agree, Russia spend so much time making excuses. Either blaming various people and injuries, or castigating others like when Rodionenko bleats about the US. I'm heartily sick of their system and sick of the two at the top and all of the needless politics. Poor Aliya though.

      That annoyed me too about the commentary. Here comes Larisa who is so graceful..huh? She's awesome, but she's not elegant. It was exactly what annoys me and led to the previous rant post.

  2. I'm such an Aliya fan but I couldn't feel too disappointed because I was literally grinning from ear to ear maniacally at how well Larisa did(she is also a favourite of mine). It didn't surprise me that she could do that well, as if Aliya and Larisa both had perfect days I knew they could actually both break 60. No that didn't happen for Larisa, but she came so close anyways! I am hoping she takes that positive energy to event files as I would just die to see another mid 15 beam routine from her just like in Team Finals. I really hope Aliya comes back strong and snags a medal as well, be disappointing for her otherwise. I'd really love to see her properly hit her beam routine as that's yet to happen so far. It's such a beautiful set when she hits. As a Canadian I am so happy Ellie Black had a good day and even more thrilled that SHE seemed thrilled. I wish she hadn't gone for her Rudi though - I know she could have gotten a better score with a simpler vault and would have made top 8! Oh well 9th is still great - she overtakes Victoria Moors 10th place as best AA finish for a Canadian.

    1. Much as I like Aliya and much as Ross earns her medals through some admirable consistency, I really wanted Larisa and Yao to earn some hardware. At least Larisa finally showed off what she can do, it was just amazing.

      After today, I think Aliya's only medal hope is beam which isn't that deep and Shang Chunsong has NOT been subbed in, but even so..

      Ellie was great and I LOVED her reaction after bars.

  3. I was thrilled with this all around final and have been quite please with this World championship. My only 2 disappointments have been the men team final in which to me Japan got robbed, and women team final in which the world is so far behind the USA and this is there B team except for Simone and Kyla.
    Larissa was a gem, her fight and sportsmanship is amazing and quite beautiful. both woman gave it their all and it was great to see. the fight for bronze was amazing also with Mustafina, Yinnan, and Kyla.
    Next year is going to be amaaaaazing lol. because their are so many Juniors all around the world who to me are going to have a great impact on their respective country. and in the USA is going to be a all out war zone. Biles, Kyla, Keys, Dennis, Raisman, Douglas, Ernst, Gowey, Maroney, Skinner, Priessman. this going to be epic.

    1. It bothered me all the way through the team final. I knew that's how it would pan out with everyone so far behind the weakened US team but it was just bleak.

      YES! 2015 will be even better individually and hopefully lessen the teams gap with the US.

  4. Lovely post - thanks as always for your thorough coverage and thoughtful analysis and opinions. I love checking your blog.

    I was so so pleased with this podium! Highlights for me were:
    - The friendly competition and support between Larissa and Simone (and others too!).
    - Simone's maturity as she critiques her own gymnastics - she was stupendous but as you said could be better and she obviously knew it and wanted to be better. I don't think we've seen that so much from her in the past and I think it says something. Though of course she was still having fun out there which I also love.
    - LARISSA GETTING AN INDIVIDUAL ALL AROUND!!! I love the fight in her gymnastics - her energy, her passion and that beam and floor when she hits. Love, love, love. And the unexpected increase in difficulty on floor - that was great!
    - Kyla sneaking on to that podium - so pleased for her.
    - And of course the bee. That whole thing was hilarious.

    A note about Kyla since she gets so many comments: I've always really liked her - she seems dedicated, thoughtful, calm, supportive, lovely and detailed. Obviously she got slack these past two years for not upgrading, but that slack was from fans only - not in results. Her D scores didn't affect her team selection nor her medal haul (she now has 2 golds, 3 silvers and 1 bronze on the Olympic/World level!!). Her injuries did show this year - more in her D scores than the E though her E was affected by some uncharacteristic errors - but it didn't affect her when it mattered most and clearly Martha trusted to put her up on all 4 events even if some tenths were lost in difficulty. I really think her coaches Jenny and Howie are very smart and thoughtful for what's best for Kyla as an individual. I remember reading an article with an interview of Kyla's mom after the Olympics in which she said that the year before the Olympics her difficulty (specifically on bars) was quite low. And Jenny said to trust her and that the plan was to raise it almost a full point for 2012. It seems she is very intentional - much along the same lines as Chow with pacing. Obviously who knows if Kyla's goals are Rio or NCCA. And if the goal is Rio, you never know how it will work out for a single athlete. But regardless, it seems that Jenny is taking good care of that young woman and keeping her best interests in mind!!

    1. Thank you! Yes, Larisa and Simone were great to watch even when they weren't competing. So friendly, cute despite their ages, and just supportive pushing of each other..I don't think either expected they would be so close in scoring.

      Yes, very true. I can't seem to objectively analyse Kyla I don't think. I do try. Their strategy has worked yet again, although not making any event finals is a bit of a blow. I just don't know where she goes from here. She'll have Bailie and probably more to contend with..I don't really think she has upgrades in her. I don't want her to fade out, I want her to do an Ebee and choose her time.

    2. Kyla did make beam finals, I believe. Though I'd be surprised if she medalled.

      I didn't mean to say you're not objectively analyzing her! We all have different perspectives. I'm not sure if she can upgrade or not (she's much taller than London!), but she does seem to be enjoying herself and doesn't mind not being the top athlete. It must be so difficult for them to decide when to retire when it's all you've ever known - whether you're in the U.S. being pushed out by the younger girls or in Russia like Nabs feeling the pressure to help your old team. I don't envy them!

    3. Oh oops, I only remember hearing she was knocked out of bars. It sucks not being able to follow worlds as closely as I want. Ah you're fine, that was just a general observation observations of her! What I mean is I don't mean that she should retire. Just wondering if that's the best plan for her? I want to see her healthy in college and I really don't want to see her pushed out.

    4. Oh, good. I see so many irrational comments sometimes when people have different perspectives that I didn't want mine to come across as such. I was just happy to be able to share my thoughts in my original post with fellow gym nerds. And fully agree on your question - I'm not sure!

    5. Yes, you are exactly right. I understand why so many want to see more difficulty from her - after all, she seemed to have more than mastered the skills she was performing - but people have to understand that all gymnasts are different and the strategy needs to fit the circumstances and individual accordingly. Recently, I heard someone say that she is using her injuries as an excuse basically, to not upgrade and compared her unfavorably to Mustafina and how she overcame her injuries and has reworked her routines (to varying degrees of success). But look what happened to Mustafina in the AA. She burnt out while Kyla was extremely clean and durable. She did what she was capable of handling and her coaches were smart enough to know how much of a load to give her. That's called strategy. There are a myriad of other reasons to explain why someone like Kyla doesn't and can't tread the same path as Musty, but apparently none of them were good enough, since the person has stopped talking to me but does chat with those who agree with her, lol.

      It's fine to be critical, but you have to be fair, open-minded and thoughtful when doing so. The problem think is as fans we expect upgrades from these gymnasts as if it is our God given birth right, and are offended and extremely angry when it doesn't pan out that way. But that's just silly. These hard working women don't owe us fans anything, and moreover, we probably don't know the whole story of what's going on anyway.