Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Senior Day!

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??


15 comments:

  1. For Canada I think you also have to put new seniors Rose Kaying-Woo and Megan Roberts into the picture. For Romania "Without Izbasa, those currently in the mix for the Olympic team picture at Izvorani include Ponor, 2012 Olympians Larisa Iordache and Diana Bulimar, 2015 worlds team members Andreea Iridon, Laura Jurca, Ana Maria Ocolisan, and Silvia Zarzu, current first-year senior Dora Vulcan, and next year’s new seniors Anda Butuc, Andreea Ciurusniuc, Maria Holbura, and Denisa Stanciu." Transferred from Izvorani (current main training site for team Romania) to Deva are Andreaa Munteanu (the reigning European beam champion) and Stefania Stanila, both of whom were reportedly relaxed with their training this year and are no longer at an international elite level. The remaining transfers include Stefania Orzu, Asiana Peng, and Cristina Vrabie, and in addition, Ioana Nicoara and 2014 worlds team member Paula Tudorache are no longer part of the national team." from this article http://thegymter.net/2015/12/21/checking-in-on-russia-and-romania/

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    1. Thanks Cordelia. I haven't heard anything about Anda Butuc or Cristina Vrabie in quite some time, was hoping I missed something about them. Romania are the hardest to keep an eye on. I agree about Rose and Megan, I wanted to mention Germany's new seniors too but I do not really follow them so after the top 4/5 it sort of petered out into individuals I am excited about.

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  2. While I think all of these gymnasts have potential, I just don't think they will factor in this year...
    For example, USA could do just fine at the Olympics with the team they sent last year at worlds. Same with China. Romania just needs to work with their current seniors because the new ones just aren't that impressive in my opinion. But I have to say I am really sad about Asiana Peng being taken out of contention!!! For Russia, I think Melnikova could make the team, but sadly there is not enough room on the team for the other new seniors. I also think Catherine Lyons definitely has a shot at making it for GB.

    Overall, I won't be surprised if NONE of these gymnasts make it because they are young and inexperienced, and I don't think coaches would like taking that risk. The only exception will be if these first year seniors end up being SPECTACULAR and the team needs them, but I don't think that will be the case for any of these countries....

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    1. Yeah, although technically the US don't need 5 gymnasts at all, so whoever makes the most sense to maximise team totals etc. will get it, and that could be a new girl..maybe.

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  3. This is a really exciting year for most of the top countries - competition will be fierce for team GB, USA, and Canada's selection process. Many exciting new seniors and many returning experienced competitors. I'm actually most excited for Canada's lead up competitions and Olympic effort. They could rival GB and Romania in the team final if they put everything together.

    As Cordelia pointed out, Romania's team selection process looks pretty grim, but the team looks pretty predictable: Iordache, Bulimar, Jurca, Ponor and a 5th member whose sole job is to stay on bars. If they can contribute anywhere else, that's gravy. Hopefully they stay healthy for the test event and then Rio. Brazil, France, Romania and Germany look like the top shots for winning the remaining team berths, so I don't think Iordache will travel alone to Rio... But anything could happen right? Poor Australia btw. What happened to Australia?

    Russia also named their training squad, Komova, Mustafina, Afan, and Paseka. Only Melnikova fits in here. Hopefully they remain healthy and competitive as well.

    I can't keep track of what's happening in China, so thanks so much for summarizing it.

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    1. Unless Melnikova is top 2 in the AA, I think only Sokova fits. The Rods love her and she is great on floor where Russia is weakest. I do think that Musty and Komova will out perform Melnikova in the AA, and Afan and Paseka will not be replaced unless they are injured which means they need a strong beam or floor worker. They don't really have any standout beamers but Sokova could contribute immensely on floor.

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    2. I can't agree. Whoever the Rods like is one thing, and I trust you would know the political stuff, but why would Melnikova have to be second?

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    3. I just feel like Melnikova is strongest as an AA gymnast and Russia already has 2. Obviously it's way too early to tell now but she definitely won't contribute on vault or bars. Her beam is as inconsistent as the others and her floor is not particularly strong. I just think the Rods will use their floor weakness to bring their favorite gymnast rather then another AAer so I think Sokova has the advantage. Definitely too early to tell though.

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    4. If Ocolisan is back at her pre-worlds level by the Olympics I imagine she'd be the 5th team member - her bars were looking genuinely GOOD right before Glasgow and she'd made huge improvements on the other events too. She was really one of the biggest surprises of last year for me and I was so sad she missed out on worlds at the last minute. I don't really know how bad her injury is though, it's so hard to get information on Romanian gymnasts who aren't active on social media!
      Either way a team with a base of Iordache, Ponor, Bulimar and Jurca is great assuming they can all stay in one piece - and that's a big assumption when they effectively have to peak twice, for the test event and Rio. That team plus a healthy Ocolisan could definitely make team finals in Rio and maybe sneak a bronze but they HAVE to be healthy and that could be too much to ask.

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    5. It's nearly easier to find out Chinese information than it is about who is actually still competing for Romania! I really would love them to be able to use new talent, the fact that they are overly reliant on the old reliables is not healthy.

      As for Russia, I think Melnikova is very valuable. A steady if non spectacular gymnast is very handy to have.

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  4. Romania's Andra Stoica has retired last summer...

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. Oh my. Well it's probably a complement to your excellent blog Catherine that you now draw the attention of spam ads.

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    1. Bahaha, normally they go for really old posts! They're getting more sophisticated XD Thank you so much by the way for your comment on the COP post, it was VERY informative and helpful. I must have glazed over reading the draft stuff myself.

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    2. I am no longer so sure on the bars rules, we'll have to wait and see.

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