In good news, my laptop is my own again rather than shared which is great and will make blog posts much less rushed. I'm also firmly on the jobhunt and the fatigue is definitely starting to lift. Happy new year to me!
In much more exciting news, it's 2016-year of the Olympics AND a whole bunch of new seniors are eager to make an impression in time. I can't believe that we are in the Olympic year, although I can well believe as seen on twitter and tumblr earlier today that Simone Biles has won 27% of available WAG world medals this quad.
Anyway, today is all about the new seniors. I have an incomplete list here. A slightly depressing document given the sheer number that have retired, injured out or faded away already but anyway, it's a super exciting new bunch!
The USA of course are going to net quite a few, Laurie Hernandez, Norah Flatley, Emily Gaskins, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, Jazmyn Foberg, Abby Paulson, Ragan Smith, Christina Desiderio, Margzetta Frasier and Rachel Baumann. People have been waiting for the first two to turn senior for years as they've been well known since or nearly before turning senior. The power of youtube! Of course, several of the others have been making waves for quite some time too, like Ragan Smith and Sydney Johnson-Scharpf. Rachel Baumann is more of a newcomer to the scene, qualifying elite in 2014 although having an elite older sister in the same gym did mean she had a following. Jazmyn Foberg has been one of the quiet types, firmly in Laurie's shadow until she surprisingly won Nationals in 2014 and had a very close-fought silver last year.
As regards Rio, all eyes are on Laurie Hernandez, Ragan Smith and Norah Flatley for a look-in, but for all of them it's a super tough ask even with their talent. It all depends on what the team needs once the core of the team is built and that's impossible to call at this time. I will say that I think it will be easier for people outstanding on one/two events like the latter two rather than Laurie because even though she's so strong in the all-around, she's not as high-scoring as some of the others they already have.
For other countries, it will be much easier for the new seniors to slot in to the Olympic picture. Catherine Lyons is poised to be a major asset to Team GB, she complements the powerhouses they already have in spades perfectly. They could definitely do with a fabulous beam but I think what will be most helpful is her execution scores, she is significantly cleaner than the others in general, and messy execution is what's holding GB back a bit. Teal Grindle is a major prospect too, but I think the size of the team could be against her. I'm unsure about Georgia Mae Fenton, she's always been lovely to watch but hasn't seemed to improved much. There will always be surprises though.
Russia will be hoping for some super-consistent beamers to join their ranks! Angelina Melnikova is a no-nonsense all-arounder that hopefully will make a big splash in the senior ranks, she gives off the impression also that she has a lot more to give. Daria Skrypnik has been well known for years, she's got beautiful lines and is typically Russian in style. Best on bars, DTY under her belt like Melnikova and potential on beam...overall I'm not convinced about her though. Maybe with more time. Natalia Kapitonova is outstanding on bars, but like Skrypnik will struggle to make an impact there when they already have such strength on the event. She's nice on floor too but not very high-scoring. Ekaterina Sokova has been dealing with injury, hopefully she'll be back in fine fettle this year. She's built like Melnikova and is similar, a good all-arounder and beamer.
Romania could do with about 15 or so new seniors to replenish the ranks. Asiana Peng who was a big deal a few years back seems to have faded from the equation gradually so we can pretty much count her out, sadly and she's probably not the only one given Romania's recent-ish track record with junior/premature retirements. Andreea Ciurusniuc and Andra Stoica were the ones I had my eye on, but I haven't heard anything about the latter lately. Ciurusniuc competed quite a bit in 2015, she's solid..not outstanding but has good potential. Good floor. I've definitely fallen out of touch with Romania's juniors/new seniors this last year, Maria Holbura who's a new senior is a relatively new name to me, whereas others on my list seem to have fallen by the wayside.
China has gained a LOT of fresh faces to the senior ranks, although for now they can be roughly divided into those poised for Rio selection and those who are focused more towards next quad given their lack of upgrades. Among them are Liu Tingting, Lv Jiaqi Luo Huan, Zhou Linlin, Liu Jinru, Lu Yufei, Fu Yuyao, Gong Kangyi, Wu Jing and Zhang Jin. Some names are much, much more familiar than others and I've got some catching up to do. Not much has been heard of Lv Jiaqi or Luo Huan lately- they could be dealing with injury etc. but hopefully they'll be in the mix this year- I've been awaiting them for years, along with Liu Tingting. The latter shines on beam with some fantastic connections but she's super solid everywhere. Very sparky and energetic, as well as super-clean. Still has a good bit of future potential to unlock and difficulty to improve throughout the next quad, but I would definitely say she's one to watch for this year too. Fu Yuyao is fabulous also with massive potential. Another great beamer but in general her difficulty is so low that it's all about the future with her. Likewise Zhou Linlin although hers is higher- beam is her strong event so she'd need to improve elsewhere and/or pile on the difficulty to stand out, at the moment her bars and floor are a bit uninspiring however. Gong Kangyi breaks the mould a bit- she excels on floor where she's got some very nice tumbling already and an ambitious first pass. She's got a nice beam to her name but is surprisingly super weak on vault and bars are not her thing, but her floor is quite valuable. She's falling somewhere between the two groups. Firmly in the first camp though is Liu Jinru who is developing nicely into the powerhouse she showed flashes of years ago- she was interestingly once coached by Cheng Fei, albeit briefly. Her floor is strong but vault is the main attraction with very difficult vaults already under her belt. Rudi and DTT I believe, although I am hopeless at differentiating Tsuk and handspring vaults. All in all seems like exciting times ahead for China.
Shallon Olsen is finally a senior! Her floor and vault should be a great boost to Canada, there's video proof of the amanar in training that she has looked capable of for years and she HAS competed a Silivas. Definitely one to watch. Canada will also net Rose Kaying-Woo and Megan Roberts.
Elizabet Vasileva of Bulgaria is also a senior. She's always exciting to watch just for the fun of her ridiculous flexibility.
And last but not least, I'm excited to see Koko Dobashi of Japan who is really lovely to watch on all events.
Who are you most excited about? Which country/team will be most impacted in your view? How long until off-season is over??