This week saw the return of Vika to serious competition, finally. I realise she performed at the Mexican Open late last year, but I see that as a more of a tentative practice run.
Long story short, she looks good. I was not expecting such a nice DTY and her floor difficulty. I was, however, expecting some issues with adjusting to her height in an otherwise clean, crisp, beautiful bars routine and a beam routine marred by wobbles and we did get those but all in all, she showed immense promise here.
I'm unconvinced though of a few things. For one: upgrades. An amanar does not look viable, especially considering her growth. I think she'd be better off focusing on a lovely DTY capable of scoring 15-15.2 range. One good thing the code has done is reduce the margin between the two vaults and therefore disincentivise dodgy amanars. Her floor difficulty looks a bit ambitious to me. Yes, yes, first big meet back after so many injuries and absences, but I do question even with time her ability to throw those passes consistently, especially given that she has famed endurance issues. Floor comes last, and this competition was spread over 2 days so it's a little hard to tell. One thing that I'd like to see done is ditch the 1.5, she'd have an easier time without really losing out if she just did a stag from the double arabian. Her twisting was ganky to say the least, perhaps switching it for a 2.5 would mean she'd have an easier time, and save on execution deductions. And to further conserve her, a double tuck instead of pike at the end. I realise she needs more difficulty not less to contend, but the landings on the DLO and double arabian didn't inspire me with confidence and she could do with some saved energy to actually.have.choreography. This was a fairly miserable routine and it doesn't matter to me if you look stunning by putting your arm in the air by dint of exquisite line/carriage/dance training. It sucks and it makes a mockery of the idea of a routine melding dance and expression with tumbling. Give me a flexed-footed crappy leaper like even *gasp* Mykayla Skinner, she legit performs.
I also don't fancy her chances of bringing back the Patterson but I do think the Fabrichnova is achievable and would be great to cap off that bar routine with. Hopefully with more time in the gym she can get used to her height. Maybe take some tips from watching the likes of Kyla Ross or closer to home, Svetlana Khorkina,.who I can just imagine eye-rolling at every whack off the low bar! I'm hoping that she can become more confident on beam too, which of course, is also a big adjustment after growing quite a bit.
I feel positive after seeing her performance, but I'm reticent too due to her long-standing endurance issues, long-standing ability to slip on a banana peel and be out for 6 months and long-standing ability to rise hopes before dashing them again. Long live her strong return to the sport, certainly we saw more from her than I would have thought possible. But I will hold myself back from outright glowing optimism.
What are your thoughts on her return? Prospects of contending for an AA medal? Will be see less anaemic choreography or is the routine doomed? Can she be kept away from dangerous things like curbs and the side of mats?