Saturday, 25 October 2014

Worlds thoughts part 1

Hard to believe that worlds has been and gone. A whole year until Glasgow, where I will be in attendance! But, back to Nanning.

We need to talk about...

TEAM FINALS

First things first, I really enjoyed most of the competitions, the all-around and event finals. Unfortunately, I found the team finals quite disappointing. Not because they weren't filled with fantastic routines, they were, or because the podium was in some way wrong, but because of how it exposed the weakness. The US were always going to dominate and they certainly did that, leading by 7 points. I have no issue with the US winning or dominating. Merely, how poor everyone else is by comparison.

Russia and Romania, once so strong, are held together by one girl each. They both had falls and errors, but that wasn't really the big issue at stake, moreso just how much lower the scoring potential was even with perfectly hit routines. Even had two other teams been able to keep up somewhat with the leaders I would have been happy. And, not forgetting, the US team was somewhat depleted for them having to rely on girls with very little experience. Can you imagine the scores had they had Gabby Douglas on bars and beam, Katelyn Ohashi on beam, McKayla Maroney on vault and Aly Raisman on floor? The US is ultra powerful and in a league of its own without several prominent gymnasts and it's a luxury beyond the imagination of everybody else in the arena. A team with several stars, rather than one outstanding gymnast and five very good/strong other. Next year and the year after, we can expect only more strength from the US.

It's just...bleak! I want to see more of a fight. Seeing Russia so hindered by depth and injuries, Romania with just about a team and such abysmal bars score and surprising weakness elsewhere, and China struggling so badly on floor, able to eclipse the others on a lopsided basis of supreme strength on one event.

I'm curious to see how team finals will pan out for the rest of this quad. Next year is a bumper new senior year. The US will gain a top all-arounder with massive scores in Bailie Key and strong contenders Nia Dennis and Alexis Vasquez. Romania will gain a much needed bars worker in Andreea Iridon and some strength on the other events in Laura Jurca, who, unfortunately, has not looked great this year. Russia get Seda, who is a massive boost to them, and also Maria Bondareva and Anastasia Dmitrieva. GB, who didn't do as well as expected, gain 3 fabulous girls in Ellie Downie, Amy Tinkler and Tyesha Matthis. That could well launch them into contention with the top 4, they have amanar capability now, and much needed d-score potential on floor too.

The US will no doubt continue to be at the top. I would just like to see them challenged a little more. It's funny, I don't feel this way in hindsight about the Soviets, and it's not because of preference. Romania and East Germany were good, strong teams. The US and China were progressing all the time. Now, it seems that the rest of the top 4 are in steep decline, which makes all the difference to me. Only the US is really able to keep on top of the code, but I don't think the code would be such a problem for the rest if they only had the depth.

SIMONE BILES

What to say? Consecutive champion, and still not at her peak? 9-time world medallist with more to give, more in the tank, 5 Nanning medals despite not competing to her full potential except in beam event finals? She is simply astonishing. At a post-worlds conference, she stated that due to the consistency of her amanar, she has been given the go-ahead to train the TTY. She will also be working on a Moors in the gym. Just in the last day, she's released videos of a full-twisting double layout, with excellent form and technique, and a very flighty but very sloppy Khorkina, the bars upgrade that disappeared along with her hurt shoulder earlier this year. Because of course, it's actually hard to picture her as someone who missed the start of the competition season, who downgraded and held off upgrades like the Cheng to protect and save her shoulder. A gymnast who was that good, successful, dominant etc...on a sort of an off year? She is just bizarre. And not only did she win another raft of medals, but more hearts with the bee episode!

I really can't wait to see what next year brings for her. A Cheng, TTY, Khorkina and Fabrichnova on bars, full-out double layout and maybe something else on floor? It all seems very reasonable. Not sure about the Silivas beam dismount. It seems a little..much. One thing's for sure, Bailie Key will have her work cut out!

LARISA IORDACHE

Very, very impressed. I really had not expected at all that she could have chased Simone so closely for that title. Big, big improvement on bars...they've been looking very good but so inconsistent for the last while. And a 6.5 floor, and improved form on beam...awesome. Both gymnasts are so similar in a lot of ways, the main difference to me seems to be what they are capable of. Larisa seems at or close to the limit, while the sky's the limit with her rival and friend. Romania are screwed when she retires, I feel.

What I'd most love to see from Larisa aside from some consistency in beam finals and continued ability to challenge for AA gold, would be more control on floor. She loses valuable tenths for being just too bouncy on finishing turns and landing leaps. Her choreography is wonderful but the lack of precision shows up all the same.

ALIYA MUSTAFINA

Yet another example in team finals of Aliya making room on her back for five other girls and saving the day for Russia, again. It's quite amazing and humbling seeing her deliver so strongly time after time for them, considering all of her niggling injuries, and the pressure. Individually it was quite a mixed bag, that awful fall in AA on floor, not having the difficulty to contend on bars, not having her acro series on beam..yet netting a bronze there, and on floor. I'm glad she got to redeem herself. I only hope she gets a break now..and better coaching, as per her own wish, although having a break is not.

Nobody in Russia is near her level. Viktoria Komova could be, if she was healthy enough and risked enough..other injured athletes compete all the time, but she seems to be well wrapped up and preserved. Hmm. Anyway, clearly there's no stopping Aliya anytime soon and I look forward to more surprises from her. It would just be so great if she could share the pressure..

KYLA ROSS

Where does she go from here, would be my biggest question? Kyla competed with an injury and despite that, performed strongly for her team and triumphed where others faltered, bagging herself an AA bronze despite her low difficulty. I'm very, very curious about her future in elite. She expressed in interviews after competition that she knows she needs to upgrade. If she's healthy, it would be wonderful to see competitive bars and beam routines from her. Equally, it would be great to see her shine at Stanford. Hmmm!


Part 2 is a-coming soon! :D More individuals, assessment, general reactions, leotards, interviews.....the list goes on.

 






11 comments:

  1. I also believe that next year's Worlds will be far more exciting This year's Worlds just gave us a econfirmation of what we already knew. The US are coming up and introducing new girls to flourish as per usual. China still have there strengths but also the same weaknesses and a head case mentality. Russian gymnastics is practically synonymous with Aliya Mustafina because she carries the whole of the team on her back without help or complaint ,while Romania are the most lacking in depth and nothing without Larissa Iordache. I feel Great Britain didn't live up to their potential but they have the most upside outside the US with their new seniors next year. Now each country has a different challenge if they want to be competitive next year which to me are . . .

    The US- The will get some key girls back that will improve some events. Raisman, Douglass, and Gowey will be back next year. Also Bailey Key and Nia Dennis turn senior and can definitely challenge. Then you have the current girls who will surely upgrade their difficulty to challenge. The US will have an embarrassment of riches and be stacked for Worlds.

    China- The Chinese have a ton of talented girls. Unfortunately their mostly talented are good at the same thing. They are great on bars and beam when they hit. They have at least solid vaults if they select the right girls but they have no really good floor workers. Thankfully Wang Yan will turn senior next year and help them out on floor, vault, and maybe beam. For them she can be a game changer. Also I feel like they need to do something to encourage them or have a motivational speaker before competitions. I felt they were the biggest disappointment at Worlds to me because the had the most potential but just don't fully trust themselves.

    Russia- Russia to me has a system problem which hinders them. There real problem is not depth but injury and sickness. The have girls but their girls just can't compete and the ones who can are not competitive enough. This may sound crazy but I think they should only send inexperienced girls to Europeans and not compete anywhere else next year until Worlds. They need to spend all next year upgrading the girls the have on at least their pet pieces and then put a strong team together for Worlds. It will also give them a surprise factor. Seda will be a godsend for them but I am still unsure of Maria Bondareva and Anastasia Dmitrieva. They have not progressed this past year and it worries me. I also believe Angelina Melnikova will be senior which should help the team as well.

    Romania- Romania to me is the only program whose problem is not their own doing. They have true lack of depth. Next year the will have Andreaa Iridon and Laura Jurca who I do believe will help the team but others will need to rise to the occasion. Munteanu will need to get back to her older form and has to be stronger to prosper.Stanila, Teodorache, and Ocalasin will need to be better all around. Also they will have back Diana Bulimar. This will have to be enough until 2016 when other talented girls come along because the have no one else. Larissa needs only to remain consistent and upgrade where she can.

    GB- Great Britain will have their current girls but should be way better by Worlds. Rebecca Tunney should be back and Gabby Jump will have a year to get back to her old self and upgrade. Also they will have their juniors Tinkler, Matheis, and Downie which will boost them . Their team will have a lot of promise so they are ones to watch.

    To me Italy finished well but are not getting better enough to challenge. Japan is almost always basically the same and don't have enough difficulty( But whoever thought up those graffiti leo's are a genius who should be revered! ).

    So next year's Worlds should be interesting and hopefully everyone will be at full strength. However these are just opinions, any thoughts?

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    1. Melnikova's a 2016 senior. I agree about your worries about Bondareva and Dmitrieva. They seem to be, frankly, kind of done to me. I agree with most of your assessments about the teams' challenges and where they need to work.

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    3. Thank you about Melnikova, I wasn't sure

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    4. I feel mean but I definitely get the impression that Bondareva and Dmitrieva sparked briefly and burned out. Because they haven't turned senior yet, I felt like giving them the benefit of the doubt..

      China get a few seniors next year, but better ones the year after. Next year aside from Wang Yan there is Deng Yalan (vault,floor) Fan Yilin (bars, beam) and maaaybe Yuan Xiaoyang who was doing well but seems to be back on her provincial team which is NOT a good sign.

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  2. Ugh, I thought the same exact thing about the team finals. The gap between the US and everyone else is pretty depressing. And this wasn't even their ideal team! I had a feeling there would be a gap between first and second but I never thought it would be almost seven points. Prior to Worlds, everyone kept trying to make out team finals as being really close, but no one was taking into account how inconsistent China is everywhere and how weak their floors were. And in the end, that is exactly what really did them in. The US actually managed to outscore China on bars in TF which never should have happened.

    Russia I had pegged for bronze and that's what they got, but looking at how things played out, they could have gotten silver if they had just been tighter, more focused. China gave them the opportunity with all of their mistakes but they didn't have the strategy to capitalize (can anyone explain to me why they decided to put Kramarenko up on beam instead of Spiridinova?! ). Instead, they were relaxed, too relaxed, to the point that even a severely weakened Romania got within 0.5 to their bronze. Speaking of, only Larisa was putting up anything close to World class routines on the Romanian team.

    Sometimes it seemed like the US were the only ones who were determined to fight for every tenth. Take beam for instance, where all three girls had major wobbles, but fought like mad to stay on, even though they could have well afforded a fall. Now, I get that it is a mid-quad slump. I get that there are depth issues in these countries, problems in their programs. I get that some of these girls may have been competing while injured or sick. But it seemed like there wasn't much confidence in the other teams. China was tense and pensive, Romania was strained to their limits, and Russia had no toughness or drive (Musty excepting). Even when things are not their best you still need to fight hard. Sure, it may not always work but at least it shows determination... I'm sure next year will be less bleak, with new girls filling out the ranks, and hopefully that confidence will be there too.

    Looking forward to what GB and Italy will bring next year. GB has the most chance of any to break into the top 4. They weren't quite as strong here as I'd have hoped, but that is to be expected. Italy seems to be doing well, I wish to see an improvement on bars from them.

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  3. Yes, I don't believe Simone has reached her peak yet either! If she puts together all or even just some of her upgrades and stays healthy, I can see her being the one to beat. I am most excited to see her TTY, she is the only gymnast in the world right now who is anywhere capable of it. Or capable of doing a true Moors, for that matter. Bars I'm very curious about, since it's her weakest event.

    Aliya I am a bit concerned for. The two medals she won were not too satisfying for me, even though I was happy to see her end the competition on a high note. I'm worried about her health and how the Russian team depends too much on her and how crappy her coaching status is. I never doubt her will, her determination, and her ability to exploit the Code, but that can only carry a gymnast so far...I know Aliya undoubtedly has more up her sleeve, but I wish to see an improvement to her situation - and Russian gymnastics in general - so that at least some of the burden is lessened.

    Kyla has been a question mark for a while. It seems she wants to at least try for Rio and has probably long been aware that her low difficulty will be of no help in that endeavor. I'm not sure how much upgrading she'll be capable of. Whether she makes it to Rio or not (I don't think she will), I can easily see her doing the college scene.

    Larisa Iordache was really the surprise of this Championships. I knew she was a strong contender for an all around medal, but my expectations were low because of how inconsistent she can be. Going into the competition the most I thought she would manage was bronze. To see her to go all out and hit everything was amazing! I'm interested to see where she will go from here, since I agree with you about the difference between her and Simone. And if Larisa is working at maximum or close to it, how is she going to stack up to an improved Simone next year? I want to see Larisa continue to chase gold.

    Hope to see more from you soon.

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    1. I'm very curious to see can Lari keep the momentum going and contend for gold next year given the likelihood of increased d scores from Simone and the new threat in town, Bailie. Let's hope it's a nice tense fight, with more than 3 also.

      I should be able to post again soon. There's always something sapping energy the last while!

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  4. I felt team GB really could have done quite a bit better this year, I felt. I was a bit disappointed in them. However, I still think they'll break into the Big Four (and I'm thinking even the podium) the next two years. Their upcoming juniors are just SO amazing!
    Romania's, I feel, is a temporary problem. Jurca and Iridon will be HUGE alleviation for their team. Iridon brings bars(!!!!) to the table and a beautiful beam when she hits and Jurca is a great team player on the other three pieces. If Bulimar actually makes it to Worlds next year, she will also do wonders- had she been on the team this year, I definitely think they would have been on the podium, perhaps even for silver. In a way, I actually feel Romania is doing the best of the Big Four after the US, seeing as they actually put up a very strong performance in team finals and considering their almost scary lack of depth.
    As for the Russia, I just don't see it happening for them for the rest of the quad. Seda and Angelina will be huge help, but Seda is inconsistent as is and we all know how successful Russia is at turning star juniors into strong seniors. I feel like all their other juniors are lackluster or have already stagnated, though Skrypnik does have quite a bit of potential on bars.
    China- I don't know about them. Wang Yan is the only 1999-born I think will really make much of an impact, though Deng Yalan could be helpful on vault (she is a 1999-er, correct? I can't find any definitive information on her.) They have a slew of talented girls for 2016, though. I'm just not sure what to think about them.
    As far as the USA is concerned, the only problem I could see is the whole team packing up and heading off for college having decided they won't make a Worlds team and then there's another year like this one where half the pool of talent gets injured and suddenly there's slim pickings. I don't think this will be a realistic worry, though. And I also don't see Kyla retiring until after the Rio team is selected.

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  5. Next year will be great. Bailie key is one hell of a competitor. This girl was scoring 58 to 59 as a jrs. And not just us friendly meets. She is only getting better with the injury behind her and big upgrades. I feel this girl under Kim will only get better I feel Simone will have her work cut out for herself. Jrs are always scored lower and bailie has scored very well under international judges. With a armarar and other upgrades. And her finesse and elegance of a Russian gymnist I feel the sky is the limit watch out world bailie is the real deal

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  6. I'm so happy for Aliya!! After her fall in AA, even though a bunch of people think she got her bronzes on favoritism, she totally came back and whipped out some upgrades on floor (pun intended). Beam...whatever, the entire final was awful. I just hope Larisa can pull it together and win a beam final, even if she never wins AA ever.

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