Showing posts with label Asuka Teramoto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Asuka Teramoto. Show all posts

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Mish mash

First, here are some of the Chinese juniors I was discussing. Google images doesn't have a clue who they are...yet.

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Luo Huan, master beam and bars technician.

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Liu Tingting, the light and floaty all-arounder.

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Lv Jiaqi, old-school fabulousness. How striking is she?!

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Wang Wei, tumbler extraordinaire.

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Wang Yan, the star.

Copyright- ZhouYouShiJie
Yuan Xiaoyang (on right. Lv Jiaqi on left), diver turned powerful all-arounder.

We will hopefully see some of them at Pac Rims.


Moving on to (somewhat) recent competitors before it gets too hazy in my mind..

Ebee

Back to the AA with a bang.  Really great to see her in action after US Nationals where she just wasn't ready. The amanar looked great in the training video, at Stuttgart and...at Glasgow too. She looked to me to have the height to land it there also, but I'm sure it will only improve. Lovely open double double, some awesome bar work especially the Church to bail but I think she most surprised me on beam. Her routine at Glasgow was just awesome, I don't think she even betrayed a flicker. Interesting composition also. The battle between her and Larisa Iordache was very interesting to see, however, I thought they would be closer. Ebee gets hit for her switch half leap I believe, and she was penalised on bars at Stuttgart for not hitting handstand in her bail, but other than that I thought the scoring was a little harsh on her. Or maybe not, but in comparison to some others.

Fantastic comeback performances and I'm very interested to see where she goes from here. Her bars alone are very valuable, though she is committed to Stanford starting next year. She could always defer..but then maybe conservation for college is better than staying in elite and getting injured.

Larisa Iordache

What a heartbreaker this girl is. The last time she hit in the AA was at Euros. At worlds of course she hadn't returned to training long enough to be consistent. But since then she has fallen more than once, with one fall at each of Stuttgart and Glasgow. Bars has majorly improved, when she doesn't rush through the routine. But consistency has dogged her before the injury that nearly kept her from worlds, and the plandular fasciitis that dogged her Olympics. It's strange, she doesn't seem like an inconsistent gymnast but when you look back at her record..

Anyway, I'm very pleased with how her bars are looking, and it looks like the 6.7 beam if not the 6.9 is well within her reach. I thought her vault was noticeably worse at Glasgow but then she went right after a balk so maybe she just got a bit nervous. All in all, she did very well to beat Ebee at Glasgow and looks to be set on course for a good year. Especially if she can gain more consistency.

Roxana Popa

I was absolutely thrilled when she won Mexican Open AA. And not surprised at all. This girl is on fire with three events out of four, and beam, her weakest, is getting stronger I think. Floor is just fabulous, her second pass is fantastic and her Memmel is surprisingly good. Bars have some technical issues letting them down, they really are so strong otherwise. On the back of that win over not one but two Americans (granted..both of them fell), I had high hopes she could hold her own in Glasgow and fight for bronze. But it wasn't to be when on her first event, vault, she balked and threw a layout yurchenko worth 4.4 instead of her usual dynamic DTY. A very smart decision since she obviously felt something was wrong in her block or approach, but still very sad. Her bars score was I felt criminally low, but I'm no COP expert and apparently there are deductions there and quite a few. Maybe the angle isn't the best for me to tell as well.

So quite an up-and-down few weeks for her. Hopefully beam and bars can be further worked on, and the latter upgraded. I feel she has a lot to show and can make an impact on the world stage as well as Euros.

Asuka Teramoto

That Rudi came out of nowhere at Glasgow! She had been having issues with the DTY and a video was shown of her training a DTT..but a Rudi was totally out of left field. No, it was not super clean but it looked serviceable and a good foundation for further improvement. Sadly, she injured herself on it at the Toyoto Chunichi World Cup. Hopefully it's minor and she's back on track with the vault and her other upgrades, like beam, in time for Pac Rims at least.

Asuka in general is not as clean as the typical Japanese gymnast, but so very impressive nonetheless and her form doesn't stand out as bad on the international stage. Hopefully she can sparkle next year, like she did at her international debut (to the mainstream) in London.

Bailie Key

Is reassuredly human. I begin to think she's a robot of consistent clean routines, but she has counted two falls now this year, beam at Japan Junior and now floor at Mexican Open- though both off-season, of course. Not to mention that she seems to have grown a lot. Nonetheless, she managed to win the Junior AA Mexican Open, remaining undefeated in the AA for the entire year. What a gymnast this girl is. It's thrilling to think of what she will be like as a senior. In particular, I'm looking forward to seeing her bars develop, she's well capable of more, though I do admire her pacing so easy bars from her now isn't a bad thing.

Peyton Ernst

Peyton has been dogged by falls this year, and Mexican Open was no different, with one on beam and a fluke fall on floor. It's always hard to know, especially with the injury rate, who can make a major team but I can't see Peyton on one. She does not stand out enough on any event except maybe beam, but her execution lets her down somewhat.

Maggie Nichols

I see more hope with Maggie though. I'm not sure exactly why...she's cleaner and more solid but still doesn't stand out. But sometimes it's the quiet ones.

Zeng Siqi

Why is she getting assignments. She needs serious conditioning and excellent coaching to be of use again. In fairness to her, she is hindered still by an ankle injury she picked up two years ago. But her beam going downhill to the point that she now can't stay on it at all is a separate issue. Her beam at Mexican Open was not exactly surprising, but so sad. She has a beautiful beam and is a lovely dancer, but I can't help but write her off. 

Edit- I may have forgotten Stuttgart's team competition...

A win for Team China is always going to be fabulous news in my book. Unfortunately, it was very much an A team against a lesser calibre from Russia..minus Aliya Mustafina of course, and she only competed one event. A little bit of 'who can fall less' was in evidence. Yao Jinnan and Tan Jiaxin's falls were heartbreaking though the latter was not surprising. Good news lies in the fact that Huang Huidan and Tan Sixin hit some beautiful routines on beam. Speaking of beam, Aliya Mustafina appears to have been fired up by her new worlds title there, producing yet more steady routines. Which have been changed, again..it's like she gets bored having the same routine for more than a few weeks. BUT I'm really loving the new front aerials..they're very precise and well done. An Onodi is classed as a front element so she was credited for a CR in team qualifications that she didn't do. I hate that..it's happening a bit too often in my book. Thankfully she snuck in a BHS in team finals. This little team showdown highlighted the fact that I think Nanning is going to be a very scrappy team finals since depth is non-existent except for the US, and I don't believe even their team will be really stellar.  


Glasgow was the only competition that I was able to watch from start to finish. And what a splatfest it was. I suppose that is not surprising given the time of year, but it was so disappointing. Ruby Harrold and Raer Theaker coming to grief in front of a (pretty much) home crowd, Asuka on beam when it was all going so well and she looked like she could snatch bronze, Roxana and the troublesome vault, Ebee and the amanar, Larisa on beam...

Bring on next year :) Especially March and April which look to be crammed with competitions...

Who stood out in a good or bad way from the recent competitions? Should Ebee and Larisa have been closer like I thought? How annoying were the Glasgow announcers?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Antwerp musings

So the team for Japan has been named, and the elite season for the US has not even begun. Most gymnastics programmes are somewhere in between, but a picture of the main players is definitely swiftly emerging.

Teams

In America, the first elite meet, Classics, is just under a month away. Traditionally, this meet can often be a splatfest as the girls use it to test new routines in preparation for Nationals. The Olympic team plus alternates have already qualified through to Nationals and so have the girls who competed internationally so far this season- so Maroney, Ross, Biles, Price, Nichols, Priessman, Dowell and Ernst do not need to compete at Classics but more than likely will anyway. Katelyn Ohashi is presumed out as she is not training yet, Sarah Finnegan is still recovering, and the status of Peyton Ernst is not known as she too had surgery recently. We can pretty much assume that Simone Biles is a lock for Antwerp unless she's injured. Her biggest problem is consistency as she could blow everyone else out of the water for difficulty if she includes one or two upgrades this year, but not if she biffs a bar release. No, not the TTY which as we have seen is not yet ready (if you have not seen it- she gets it around enough to be credited, but it's slightly under. She does not have the height and lands in a deep squat, deeper than sitting- and then falls back. She states that it is scary because her upper body gets it around but her lower body twists slower and her feet don't get around, making it a recipe for ACL tears if she competes it before she masters it) but maybe the full-in double layout, double wolf turn on floor and/or arabian on beam. Simone is the strongest all-arounder that they have, and can potentially qualify for all 4 event finals.

With the more than probable absence of previous contenders Katelyn Ohashi and Jordyn Wieber, the composition of the rest of the team is up in the air. Kyla Ross I would call at this stage another lock, though she needs a hefty upgrade stick to beat off the challenges Brenna Dowell, Ebee Price and Lexie Priessman pose for the second all-around spot. Even if she loses out for the second AA spot in prelims, her bars and beam are definitely needed and should get her easily into both finals. Medalling is quite another matter- her bars would need to approach 6.6+ and her beam roughly the same, the latter is quite a tall order. So, spots one and two are thought to be nearly guaranteed as long as both girls stay healthy. There will be another spot going to be a vault/floor specialist, to complement Simone and potentially take home more than one medal in both finals. McKayla Maroney, Ebee Price, Lexie Priessman and Mykayla Skinner are all contenders for this spot. McKayla, as we have seen, has her amanar back and her old vault, the Lopez. She is also training a double layout which is new, and a double arabian which isn't new but hasn't featured in her routines in years. Her floor could definitely break 6.0 but the combination of her passes she plans on competing is unknown. 3.5 twist or double layout, 2.5-front layout, 1.5- double arabian (unfortunately the dance-through video appears to indicate a hurdle for a 1.5 for the third pass :( and which had so better have the 1.5 placed earlier in her run or she's sunk already) and double pike would probably be the best bet. I don't see her competing the 3.5 twist AND double layout as she was never one for killer endurance on floor, even though she has grown.

Mykayla Skinner has a 6.5 floor routine, and 6.4 and 6.3 vaults. She has trained a half-on double full (Cheng half) though it's unknown if it's something she played around with once or could actually be done this year- after all, her Cheng is explosive. All of which makes her very, very interesting. Lexie Priessman has a full potential on floor of 6.7, not yet competed, and her second vault is unknown. Ebee's second vault is supposed to be a Mustafina, so 6.3 and 6.0 difficulty. McKayla is the one with Olympics and Worlds experience of course, whereas gymnasts like Mykayla have no international experience at all. Should be a great battle. That leaves one spot left, and they don't really have any amazing specialists aside from vault and floor remaining unless Katelyn is back in time to potentially take gold on beam. If not, a solid back-up like Brenna Dowell, who MAY be able to take the second all-arounder spot is the best bet. Ebee too is another very strong contender for that spot. But we might get an unknown like Abigail Milliet, who has a very strong beam routine in training- proving herself capable of medalling at worlds. I do see a team of Biles, Ross, Dowell (insert healthy Ohashi here) and Maroney being the most likely. But I wouldn't bet on it! Nevertheless, my team consists of:

Simone Biles, AA, VT, FX and UB and BB attempts
Kyla Ross, battling for AA with Dowell, UB and BB
Brenna Dowell, battling for AA with Ross, FX and UB attempts
McKayla Maroney, VT and FX attempt.

Beam and bars are not THAT strong but not weak enough to be called a void. Vault, floor and the AA itself are bursting with potential medals.

Romania are only utilising 3 spots. This time I would put money on this team's composition of Larisa Iordache, Diana Bulimar and Sandra Izbasa. But don't be fooled by such lack of depth, as these three are fierce contenders for medals. Although Sandra placed an astonishing fifth in the London AA, it is expected she will do vault and floor only. I say 'only' but the fact is she would be a favourite to take medals on both. The other two will compete all-around. Larisa, with her swish new second vault and 6.9 beam difficulty should have no issues making a number of finals, though she could potentially be pushed out of floor finals if Sandra and Diana (with upgrades) score higher. She's the favourite for gold on beam and is expected to feature on the AA podium. Vault and floor are definitely much more uncertain, especially vault where her current difficulty is not the highest. Her biggest weakness, big surprise, is a weak and badly composed bars routine which lost her the Euros AA gold despite a huge lead after the other three events. She needs upgrades to in any way overcome the handicap her bars pose to her AA chances. Diana's bars are a little better, except for her releases, but her difficulty here is far too low. Her beam too is just 5.9. On a happier note, she is FINALLY getting a new floor routine this summer. Her best shot for a medal is floor, and even then she could get squeezed out of the final if she does not upgrade and if Sandra is back to her best on that event. Bad news for Ana Maria Ocalisan and Stefanie Stanila who once again are not being given a chance. They may not be ready to represent Romania in a major competition...because they don't get any assignments! So this team, barring injuries, will be:

Larisa Iordache AA, BB, VT and FX (battle with teammates)
Diana Bulimar AA, FX (see above)
Sandra Izbasa VT, FX (see above)

With the exception of Viktoria Komova who was injured at the start of this year, last year's Russian Olympic team have not taken a break from training. Which is just as well since this year's seniors are sadly not up to much- with the exception of steady but Sheep-pak'd Evgeniya Shelgunova who appears to be injured. Ekaterina Baturina is probably the second strongest new senior but her difficulty leaves a lot to be desired. If Viktoria Komova is healthy, then she is on this team. So too is Aliya Mustafina who has competed a few times already and will do so again at Universiade. Viktoria's AA scoring potential will be enormous if she's fully recovered, and she should quite easily qualify to bars finals, beam too. Aliya is having quite a few issues with her beam, but she did hit a completely steady routine this year and one or two others that were nearly as good. She's expected to add 0.4 to her bars to up them to 6.7, more than likely a carbon copy of her London routine as difficulty has gone down in the new code. The third spot will go to Ksenia Afanasyeva, who unlike most veterans who stay the same or go downhill, has actually improved. She added bars back to her arsenal but she won't compete them at Universiade. She also has an amanar in the works and is training a full-in double layout. Her floor difficulty is the highest yet competed (Mykayla Skinner competed hers this year in the JO code) so far this year and she stands a great chance of medalling there. If she can hit bars then she's also a very good AA backup. The fourth spot will I think go to Maria Paseka. Even if she just competes the DTY, she should qualify for finals. Anastasia Grishina on the other hand, even if she hits every routine is unlikely to qualify for any final above her teammates. If Viktoria is not ready in time, then Anastasia would take her spot. If Maria proves unable to hit her vaults then I'd take Alla Sosnitskaya instead. My Russian team is:

Aliya Mustafina AA, UB and BB and FX attempts
Viktoria Komova AA, UB, BB
Ksenia Afanasyeva FX
Maria Paseka VT

For the Chinese team, worlds falls just in between two other major competions- the first of which, National Games, is actually more important to them. There are a bunch of retirements of the Beijing and London Olympians expected right after this meet, but should any of them hit and win medals I think we can expect a little delay in their retirement plans. There is only one new senior of importance this year, Lou Nina, and she is out with an arm injury. Consequently, we can expect Yao Jinnan as a lock for this team. In particular, she needs more upgrades on floor to fulfil her AA potential. She is, however, training probably the most exciting upgrade we'll see all year- a Mo Salto! I'd also put Shang Chunsong on this team. Tiny Shang has impressive difficulty across three events, and may yet grow enough to execute a DTY. She has proven herself to be inconsistent however, though not nearly as much as gymnasts like Huang Qiushuang who made a number of important teams on the back of her difficulty. No matter who else goes on the team, they will be fighting amongst each other to make bars and beam finals. They do have a very good vaulter, Li Yiting, but her vaults are quite unpredictable and a bit scary. The third spot will I think be up for grabs between bars specialists Tan Jiaxin and veteran He Kexin, depending on who hits in September. I know Huang Huidan is the one who snatched gold earlier this year but she's very flaky and I don't expect her to hit again when it counts, sadly. Although Yao Jinnan and Shang Chunsong are top quality beamers, I'd still take a beam specialist like Sui Lu or Zeng Siqi for the last spot, due to the lack of floor/vault specialists.

Yao Jinnan AA, UB and BB attempt
Shang Chunsong AA, UB, BB and FX attempt
Tan Jiaxin/He Kexin UB attempt
Zeng Siqi/Sui Lu BB attempt

Japan's team is a bit of a no-brainer, seeing as it has already been named. Two-time Olympian Yu Minobe joins the girls long seen as locks- Asuka Teramoto, Natsumi Sasada and Mai Murakami. The question is, who will join Asuka in the AA? Mai is the obvious bet, but she has very very rarely hit 4/4. For that reason, Natsumi is the best choice. Mai will be looking to make floor and vault finals, Yu beam finals, Asuka bars, beam and floor and Natsumi beam and floor...though she's very very shaky and beam is unlikely for her. Their best hope for a medal is Mai on floor, whose difficulty ranges from 6.0 to a monster 6.7. The latter is very unlikely to ever be credited, as her tumbling and dance skills have unfortunately gone downhill compared to when she was a junior.

Asuka Teramoto AA, BB, UB and FX attempt
Natsumi Sasada AA, BB and FX attempt
Mai Murakami FX and VT attempt
Yu Minobe BB attempt

Canada have lost some of their best seniors to NCAA- Brittany Rogers, Peng Peng Lee and Kristina Vaculik which is more than a bit of a blow. Nevertheless, they do have quite a few promising seniors. Girls like Victoria Moors and Ellie Black are locks if they are healthy. Victoria, who is training a double double laidout, unfortunately had a disastrous time at Nationals as she was sick and had calf issues. Even with that, she has competed very strongly when healthy and her floor is really her ticket to the team as it has huge medal potential. Ellie is a fierce competitor and has made great strides on previously weak events, bars and beam. I'd add Gabriella Douglas and Maegan Chant to this team, the former for her spectacular floor and the latter for her vaulting- not super strong yet, but showing enormous potential there and both need the experience to improve. This team, like Japan, is fairly devoid of someone for bars but should do well anyway.

Victoria Moors AA, FX
Ellie Black AA, FX, VT and BB attempt
Gabriella Douglas FX and BB attempt
Maegan Chant VT and FX attempt

Britain are not exactly in a brilliant position, they have lost the excellent Gabby Jupp to an ACL tear, Rebecca Tunney had a disastrous comeback from injury recently, new seniors like Georgina Hockenhull and Angel Romaeo have not proven themselves yet, bars specialists Ruby Harrold and Becky Downie have fallen more times than they have hit and seriously strong gymnasts like Amy Tinkler, Tyesha Matthis, Ellie Downie and Catherine Lyons are all juniors. Beth Tweddle has refuted rumours that she is retiring but she is almost certainly not going to suddenly knock out a killer 7.0 bars routine as she's still taking a break. Rebecca and Hannah Whelan have definitely not had great competitions so far this year, but both have plenty of time to improve on what they have shown. I believe Rebecca aside from the long break with her recovery, has also grown a bit which will of course impact her routines. That said, I'd put both girls on the team to do AA. In a similar vein, despite the inconsistency of both Becky and Ruby, they are still good hopes for the bars final if they don't fall, so they'd be on the team also.

Rebecca Tunney AA, FX, UB attempt
Hannah Whelan AA, FX attempt
Becky Downie UB attempt
Ruby Harrold UB attempt

Italy's Vanessa Ferrari has made noises about retirement but she's been competing so much this year and just won the AA at Mersin so I think she'll hang on until after worlds. Her presence alone is a huge motivation and boost for the rest of the team. Along with her I think Elisa Meneghini will do the AA and then some combination of Carlotta Ferlito/Giorgia Campana/Elisabetta Preziosa for the other two spots..but I think we'll see Carlotta and Giorgia.

Vanessa Ferrari AA, FX, BB, UB attempt
Elisa Meneghini AA, FX and BB attempt
Carlotta Ferlito FX, BB attempt
Giorgia Campana FX, UB, BB attempt

The All-Around

For a Post Olympic year, I don't think we run the risk of a weak field whatsoever. (In 2005, Monette Russo won bronze and in 2009, Koko Tsurumi). The top Russian and Romanian girls have not taken a break, and while some of the Americans are only getting back to training now, there are enough that the idea of them scrambling to field two top all-arounders is ludicrous. Currently, Simone Biles is the one to beat. She boasts huge difficulty- 6.3 vault and beam, 6.2 floor and 6.1 bars. It's quite likely she'll sneak some upgrades into floor and beam also. Aliya Mustafina has 5.8 vault, 6.3 bars, 6.4 beam and 6.1 floor. Similarly, she has upgrades planned for bars and her beam difficulty may reach 6.7 or higher. The key for both girls is to stay on the beam. That won't be an issue for Larisa Iordache who could well be dragged down by her weak bars instead, but her 6.9 solid beam is a huge boost for her. Her floor is 6.2 and her vault 5.8. Her bars were in and around 5.7 but she can upgrade there. It's far from concrete how USA's second all-arounder will be but we should, from past experience, except them to be strong. China's Shang Chunsong could well be up there if she gets a DTY- her difficulty is 6.7-8 bars, 6.6 beam and 6.1 floor. Yao Jinnan could be the slow and steady threat for bronze either. We are of course, far too far out to really pick the medals but this lot plus a healthy Viktoria Komova are definitely in the forefront for medals.


Vault

Astonishingly deep, potentially much moreso than the lacklustre Olympic final. Expect Simone Biles, a second American, Phan Thi Ha Thanh, Giulia Steingruber, Ri Un Ha, Janine Berger, Oksana Chusovitina, Noel Van Klaveren, Chantysha Netteb, Alexa Moreno, Jade Barbosa, Adrian Gomes, Mai Murakami, Hong un Jong, Ellie Black, Maegan Chant, Sandra Izbasa, Maria Paseka, Yamilet Pena, Fadwa Mahmoud and Larisa Iordache to bring all they can to the (vault) table.  Let us just hope the Produnova chuckers can get up afterwards..though Yamilet's coaching and injury status is unclear, so maybe she is sticking to safer vaults if possible. Last year has taught us that even the surest of sure things can crash a vault so I will not even attempt to divine a top 8 from this. I'd love to see the top 4 make the final though the latter two failed to do so last year. Giulia is upgrading her second vault- doubling it, but both vaults are in danger of being downgraded or heavily deducted due to piking, unfortunately.

Bars

Although Beth Tweddle has said she's definitely not retiring, but as mentioned above she's not in a position to shine this year. Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova will be expected to be in the front of the hunt for medals- and whichever two Chinese gymnasts qualify. Elizabeth Seitz is doing her Def again, newcomers Sophie Scheder, Jonna Adlerteg and Roxana Popa all have strong sets and the brilliant but inconsistent Ruby Harrold and Becky Downie will be pulling out all the stops to make finals. Kyla Ross, Kim Bui, Asuka Teramoto, Noemi Makra and Lisa Katherina Hill are all ones to watch too. There are also one or two Australians like Maddie Leydin who may be in with a shot. All of last year's routines are down about 0.3 in difficulty in this code so I would be surprised if we saw a 7.0 routine. Certainly the Chinese have a few approaching 6.8 though, and there are quite a few girls doing exciting release-release and/or release-transition combinations in their routine to boost difficulty. Whoever makes the final, it will definitely not be a snoozefest.

Beam

We've all been namedropping Katelyn Ohashi for this title when it emerged that her routine has a 7.2 d-score. Although she is very steady with it, her connections are too slow and consequently she has not yet hit past a 6.8 in competition. That's not saying much, since she only competed twice and is currently recovering from surgery. She may be able to get this event back in time and we shouldn't count her out of the running to make the team, but the focus has definitely shifted onto other high-scoring beam routines, or at least until Katelyn's ability to compete this year is clearer. Larisa Iordache is another favourite, and one who is definitely suffering from a few health issues herself that are hindering her usual precision if her recent performance at Anadia is anything to go by. Larisa's beam difficulty is 6.5, she competed 6.7 at Doha and has now competed 6.9. Certainly the latter is the routine she will be unleashing at worlds, and that will be hard to beat. Shang Chunsong remains a major threat, especially if she can improve her dismount. Simone Biles may increase her beam difficulty to 6.7, and Kyla Ross would be a contender too if she upgrades. We should expect an Italian or two, like Elisa Meneghini and Carlotta Ferlito and maybe a Russian if their routines are steady, but this looks like a clear-cut fight between the Romanians and the Chinese.

Floor

The girl to beat is Ksenia Afanasyeva who whipped out an almost perfect routine at Euros and an upgraded difficulty of 6.4. But Ksenia is inconsistent and there are quite a few snapping at her heels- Simone Biles, the second American, Larisa Iordache, one of Sandra Izbasa/Diana Bulimar, Victoria Moors, Mai Murakami, Giulia Steingruber and more. Full-in double layouts, double doubles, 1.5 twists to tucked full-ins and maybe even laidout double doubles will abound. Definitely not shaping up to be a weak floor final.

I updated the predictions that I did last November. You can see them, marked in blue, here.


Do you disagree with my 'teams'? Who I have missed factoring in for event finals? Will we see a laidout double double or TTY? What will Vanessa Ferrari wear?




Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bailie and Simone sweep Jesolo

Ugh I'm really sorry but that download link I gave is useless. It has about 13 Italian channels and they all work fine but the one I thought it is on isn't correct- it doesn't have the channel Jesolo IS actually being broadcasted on.  So, no Jesolo I'm afraid. For a whole hour and a half I thought I could watch it! I'm sorry if I got anyone's hopes up and wasted their time. Quick hits and youtube it is!

Junior Competition

Bailie Key scored a huge 58.1 to dominate the Junior AA at Jesolo today. Second was the reigning Junior Euros champion Enus Mariani of Italy who scored 55.2, and in third was Amelia Hundley who scored 55.05. Amelia beat Bailie at camp immediately before they left for Italy, but this isn't exactly a surprising turn of events as Jesolo is known for harsh scoring for gymnasts who are that bit messier in their gymnastics. Aly Raisman for instance had her execution scoring slammed last year. Who knows, it may have been part of what spurred her on to improve her form for the international competition that really mattered- London.

Enus fell on beam, but it appears Amelia's problem was just execution. Her vault score was definitely in line, and her floor was not that far behind the leaders. Her beam and bars were both low 13's but that is to be expected when fair judging is applied to them. That's not to say that I don't enjoy Amelia Hundley's gymnastics, she's very dynamic and powerful and I really hope she does not join the ranks of MLT's broken gymnasts...but I am glad that Jesolo rewards clean, beautiful gymnastics. Looking at a photo of the podium highlights another issue for Amelia- she has shot up. Hopefully she can improve when she gets used to her height.

This is a great win for Bailie- and decisive too with a 3 point lead. Slow and steady wins the race, she's being paced correctly. I will add videos when they arrive- most excited for Bailie's floor and bars and Enus' floor. I have only seen a dance-through of the latter's new floor and a very far away look at it in competition where she fell- but it is obvious even from those glimpses that it's brilliant. Epic, dramatic, beautiful. Update- The excellent GymPOWER1 and piibunia are uploading already. I'm not sure if they can be embedded or if it's just that they have embedding disabled but either way it's not working. In the meantime, check out videos here. Bailie and Amelia certainly have upbeat music! I like Amelia's. I'm a bit undecided about Bailie's though..there's a lot going on with it, but I think she can own her routine more in time..this is the first competitive debut. GORGEOUS tumbling from her. I'm so glad that she's not flinging double arabians and so on. I am impressed with crazy tumbling from girls as young and younger than her I'll admit, but it's still better to see someone being developed nice and slow. Amelia can certainly improve from what she showed today. Enus was glorious to watch as usual, though she's piking down quite considerably on her DTY and her double layout bars dismount. Her floor deserves its own link (a different uploader). Stunning.

Senior Competition
I think we can expect that Kyla Ross will be similarly rewarded and Lexie Priessman will have her execution slammed. It will depend on how much of a difficulty lead Lexie has. Not forgetting Simone Biles but she's harder to pinpoint- she should be somewhere in the middle as she is not spectacularly clean but nor is she sloppy. Except her leaps, which will surely be dealt with harshly. The question is how much of a lead can she get on the others with her vault..and can she beat Kyla's bars if she has higher difficulty there? Should be extremely interesting! I'm really hoping Mai Murakami, Elisa Meneghini and Asuka Teramoto can make their mark too. And how impressive that Vanessa Ferrari has actually upgraded- adding a new tuck full. Maybe she will continue after she is done saving money..let's hope.

Not hearing a whole lot of great news from the senior competition. Vanessa Ferrari has been taken to hospital after falling off beam on the tucked full and not being able to continue. Hopefully it's very minor and this is just a precaution. Mai Murakami landed her double double on her knees and scored so low on vault that she either fell or did an FTY instead of the DTY. Dissapointing, but hopefully it won't continue to be the story of her senior career. Her bars score was 10.55 so clearly mishaps there too. Girl is such a heartbreaker. Lexie Priessman and Maggie Nichols fell off beam. In good news Simone Biles scored a whopper 15.9 for her amanar- 9.6 execution. She must have stuck that thing, can't wait to see a video. And in a surprise twist Brenna Dowell scored extremely high on bars- 14.7- which was definitely not expected. I've just gone back and read the more detailed quick hits from L'International Gymnix on facebook. It definitely appears that Brenna has improved, good for her. Sadly Peyton Ernst fell victim to beam too. She seems to be showing nice work, I hope she and Maggie can show off hit beam routines at Chemnitz. And confirmed, Simone did stick her amanar. And her bars dismount. She is leading the AA after 3 rotations and scored higher than Kyla on beam. WOW. Kyla outscored Simone on bars 15.4 to 14.85 and Simone outscored Kyla on vault by 0.7 and beam by 0.05. On to floor, a pet piece of Simone's if she can only control her landings. Interestingly, the facebook quick hits are referring to USA's layouts on beam as whips. I would tend to agree if they all look like Simone's and Bailie's. This would be a downgrade if the judges took it- there's no amplitude. Simone's second vault is the Lopez- which was Maroney's second vault in 2011. It's also known as a laidout Podkopayeva I believe. Ahhh can't wait for videos..

And Simone nails floor! Excellent. Not to mention she has actually upgraded it already, the 1 and a half to double pike became a full-in tuck and she has added a leap after the double layout. Scores a 14.9, a full point and a half above Kyla's low 13.35- she went out of bounds on two passes and did not show upgrades. Great boost for Simone after a slightly dissapointing American Cup. Her AA total breaks 60- by 0.4 to be exact, a fantastic result especially at a competition known for harsh judging.
 
Other Stuff

FIG have in fact gotten rid of their new vault scoring. R.I.P..it sure was tested well, with its only outings at LRSY and some very few national competitions. It appears that the old system now reinstated will be a bit different in that neutral deductions will be taken away from the averaged total. The 0.5 deduction is no more but this does mean that misdirection errors and steps could be equally as damaging as a nice 0.5 averaged fall. It appears that the sight of 11-12 range winning scores at LRSY was more offensive to FIG than having gymnasts who splatted a vault winning medals. Nice going.

Unfortunately, I got a little confused with British Championships livestreaming schedule. The senior AA is taking place soon but will not be livestreamed. Tomorrow's apparatus finals will be livestreamed instead. AA finals routines from today will be uploaded to youtube swiftly by the very efficient and commendable BGTV though.

Anastasia Grishina won bars finals at Cottbus! She is continuing her lucky streak of hitting. Hopefully she can get the beam title too. It's so great that her coaching change is clearly the right decision. Even if she does remain a little flaky, she looks very happy and that's the main thing. Not surprisingly, Oksana Chusovitina took the vault title.

USAG are uploading old American Cup's. I spotted 1984, 1986 and the inaugural one, 1976. Don't be fooled by the 'full broadcast' title- it's about as full as NBC's Olympic coverage. There were only 6 female gymnasts and they managed to show just 3. There is enormous Nadia Comaneci hype of course, and you get to see all of her routines. It's interesting to see her compete in great quality pre-Montreal. And how Kathy Rigby pretty much dismisses Elena Davydova after she fell off bars, 4 years before she became Olympic AA champion. Contains fluff where Nadia walks around sightseeing with Bela chewing gum and wearing flares. And a bizarre showdown which NBC would love, pitting Nadia against Olga Korbut on all four events. And a two sentence but nevertheless great interview from Nadia. 
 

Thursday, 28 February 2013

SCAM podium training live! Update- 2nd session videos

I hope everyone who can is already watching this! EDIT- Video has been changed to archive footage of the whole thing. MOAR EDIT- Couch Gymnast just tweeted a very interesting fact from Simone's interview- she is training triple yurchenkos! I knew she was well capable but WOW!!!



Thoughts so far:

(It's only showing Americans, currently on first event- beam)


Kyla is soooo solid on beam. It looks like a carbon copy of her London routine. That sheep jump would not get credit now outside of US, same for the switch ring leap. But so great to see her like this! She is definitely taller, looks like she'll be pushing 5'4 before long. I'm wondering the possibility of her exhibitioning bars too? Don't forget she can exhibition all 4 events, like Gabby last year.

Simone is steady, though not as much as Kyla suprisingly. Great attack on her punchfront and pike back. She is pretty much doing her 2012 routine too, with...dun dun dun..a full in beam dismount! I have no idea what that does to her SV, I'm guessing good things obviously. She looks more confident and her cossack turn which I think now has more rotations than the single one she was doing last year looks amazing.

Katelyn looks much better than she did at the WOGA classic. Her connections look more fluid, and crediting them won't be a joke, though still a little generous. That series looks like she will be absolutely nailing it without a doubt soon enough- the Onodi, aerial, aerial, Sheep one. The layout full is still very piked though she's now landing it very well. Worth making it tucked all the same, I don't see her ever getting it to a creditable laidout position (except in the US.) She looks very confident. Will be interesting to see what she pulls out for vault, that is the dealbreaker now.

According to live hits Elizabeth Seitz is doing a Geinger, not a Def. She has not done it since London I believe as the Geinger was surfacing in its place in other competitions post London. If she doesn't fling it on Saturday then the bronze I had already pretty much awarded her looks under threat. All eyes on what Asuka Teramoto will bring. Vanessa Ferrari is also a good bet for bronze, but I don't think she will be throwing full difficulty here at all. She's in it for the money, and nothing wrong with that. I relish any chance to see her perform.

Gabby Jupp has a full twisting double layout bars dismount! Excellent stuff.

Update: I think they are at least seeing if Kyla can do more than beam in podium training..she is training floor. Some nice double backs with too much power. She's a giant now, you can tell even by the amount of space her backhandsprings on floor take up. Taller than me at least. (Note: I am 5'3) Loooads of repetitions of her leap series. The switch ring leap looks to have the required 90 degree angle. The second leap is giving her trouble, she's short of 180 degrees on it. Simone had some crazy fast tumbles, a sky-high double layout and a lovely full in. I missed others people were talking about..a 1 and a half into double pike and a possible 3.5 twist (???). She definitely threw a double double apparently, yay! I missed it. On rewatching, all of these things happened- couldn't swear to the 3.5 twist but it was facing the right way and did not look like a 2.5. WOW. The floor rotation was really short. I saw Katelyn do a Memmel turn and that was it. Hmmmm. Gabby has a double turn on beam. Elizabeth Seitz falling all over the place on beam, damn.

Moving onto vault. Kyla is doing vault timers. So that's 3/3 events being trained so far. Her heel is wrapped. Okay, nobody doing anything other than timers, they're saving the hard pounding. Simone's timers are enormous, so looking forward to seeing her on Saturday. Katelyn's seemed fine. Gabby looks nice and sharp on floor. A contender for bronze??? The camera has cut away from showing bars, I really wanted to see Asuka doing something other than chalk! Victoria having issues on beam, and crashed a DTY earlier.

Oooo, bars! Katelyn and Simone absolutely nailing handstands, especially Simone, but both deteriorated as the repetitions went on. Kyla looking well, messy shap 1/2 but it did improve. She didn't push herself and only did half routines. Her Pak looks a little jarring, it doesn't flow as well as it did. Gorgeous lines, and fabulous double layout dismount. Simone had issues, fell on a Shap and then came back and stormed every Shap since with no chance of falling short. She fell on a release twice, fairly sure it's new so maybe she won't include it in her routine yet. Nice and sharp, her form looks better too. Her dismount was way above the bar and looks like she could do a double double tucked or laidout in her sleep, lands completely upright as if she was doing a flyaway. Nice crisp turns. Katelyn looks zippier on bars, though she was a little sluggish towards the end. Her legs are still coming apart on (late) turns but she seemed more confident. She does that thing I hate that WOGA always do before stalders, where their back completely bends first- I don't know what you call that, but Bross was a big offender. It's still a routine with lots of little flaws, I would agree with the concensus that it looks too much for her. I didn't see a totally wonky Healy, but that could just be the angle I'm watching at. Hard to tell who was strongest on bars really...

SUMMARY

So, in a very interesting and awesome turn, Kyla is training all 4 events! This to me does not mean the injury story is a con, but that it was impacting her training so they've lessened the pressure on her by making her the exhibition. So she can do as much as she wants. I think she is recovered, just that the story is correct- it affected her training for a few weeks and ability to definitely have all 4 events down. Looks like she will anyway, but I hope she does at least 2 events.

Simone has upgrades! A full in off beam, a double double on floor, a 1.5 to double pike and what I'd swear is a 3.5 twist, two new bars releases and a transition and an acro line on beam with a layout- very Chinese. Her bars were not brilliant for her though, with some falls. Hopefully she will just get that out of her system now and be perfect on Saturday. Her bars thankfully look cleaner, her beam is crisper, her floor has fantastic looking upgrades and her vault will no doubt raise the roof. No idea what vault Katelyn will bring since they all just did timers. Kyla looks capable of bringing her London routines, I don't think we will see any upgrades from her though. But seeing her at all will be a treat. Katelyn looks improved from WOGA classic, much sharper. Her bars still have numerous issues but I'n not sure if the glaring one, the Healy, is still present and they look a little tiring for her. Beam is very snappy, she looks much more on but the layout full still needs to be binned. Utterly fabulous beam routine but all in all, I'm not convinced she can win. She will need more an FTY and some unfair scoring or mistakes to do that.

Sadly I didn't see near enough of the other competitors. Great reports about Gabby Jupp and Maegan Chant, as well as Vanessa Ferrari. Elizabeth and Victoria both displayed numerous issues, and Elizabeth will more than likely not throw the Def. Not much said about Asuka so I can't really judge where she's at. The fight for bronze will be equally as interesting as the fight for gold.

VIDEO now is the archive footage. The girls are wearing Under Armour leos, who have secured a contract with USAG until 2020. Personally I'd prefer Adidas (actual Adidas, not GK swirls..), with a mixture of old school and newer type leos. They are perfection. So these leos are nothing to write home about but Alicia has worn some brilliant ones so there is plenty of hope yet.

UPDATE- Some videos from the second podium training session. Much nicer leos, love the colour of them and the style. This one has proper floor and vaults, a wise move to save it and spread the four events.

SPOILER- Katelyn has her DTY back and Kyla is still using her old music. I did not notice the head fling plaguing it so maybe she either did not do all of the choreography or has mixed it up a bit. Katelyn's DTY has winner written all over it. Her bars will be leniently dealt with, her beam is ginormous, she has an acceptable vault now and her floor is half decent. Simone will need to be more on than she showed today to beat her, but since I don't know her start values or indeed Katelyn's except her vault and beam it's really hard to know who has what d-score advantage.

Kyla had a great upright DTY, noticeably better than Katelyn's, as would be expected. She seems to have lost form a bit on it though, and I noticed the same about her bars...maybe she is just not pushing herself to the limit, understandable. It could be her height either messing things up a bit. I wonder what all of those back layout passes will transform into! If not now then later on in the year. Simone's vault is as huge as ever, though I'd love if she tightened up her feet a bit.

Simone and Katelyn both have new floor routines. There's a comment under Katelyn's saying it's a Eurovision song. Hmm, can't have been a great one or I'd know it. Edit- It's Azerbaijan 2009. Fun fact- two other Americans currently (well, 2012..) have Eurovision floor music- Jordyn Wieber with Ukraine's 2004 entry and Alexis Buecler with Ukraine's 2007 entry. The former was a winner and the second did very well. The second one has to be heard to be believed- there are lots of Eurovision songs that push the weird boat out but nobody has ever topped this, it's insane! And awesome.

Moving on...I like the routines of both girls. I think Simone's old music may have suited her style better, but a bit early to really confirm that. GREAT tumbling, double double, double layout..so easy for her. It would be fantastic if she can plant those landings in competition. I wonder if she'll sneak a jump or two in? They can still be done, and she has crazy power. She didn't show all of her passes from earlier, but that is just one routine, so who knows. Katelyn's tumbling is a bit sloppy looking, hopefully she can get it more polished. Still a very good routine though, loving the last combination pass though it spells RISK all over it.

Friday, 11 January 2013

American Cup lineup announced

I'll try not to call it SCAM, but it's tough. For some reason I have it in my head that it takes place in the same venue in New York every year. Maybe it often does, but the NBC commentary is in my head 'It's in this venue that Nadia blah blah blah'. Anyway, it's not this year- it's on Aly's turf, Massachusetts.

The American lineup is Kyla Ross and Elizabeth Price.  Not very surprising as these are the only two with senior international experience, and who are fighting fit to compete. Kyla needs to show strong upgrades to stand a chance of beating Ebee, who has monster d-scores and is coming off the back of two easy World Cup wins. Two very different gymnasts- should be interesting! No word yet on whether there will be an exhibition gymnast. If there is, my money is on Lexie Priessman, who, like Gabby Douglas before her, is quite capable of equalling or even beating her compatriots.

The international lineup (2 free spaces currently) is Asuka Teramoto, Vanessa Ferrari, Larisa Iordache and Elizabeth Seitz. Vanessa was expected to fade out from competition, she only did the World Cups a while ago for money to get an apartment with her boyfriend. Presumably this competition is furthering her quest. Not that I think it's a bad thing or anything. Asuka, who was in London, was the new-found star of the Japanese team, who is very very strong on beam and floor. Hopefully she can step it up on bars and beam and really contend well. She was injured last year and did not compete at the Asian Games or Japanese Nationals- I cannot wait to see her again. Please please please let Larisa actually compete this time. This is probably to make up for her being pulled from the World Cup last year. I hope to see her in full health. Elizabeth is really quite strong and could be very successful at least at Euros if she cleaned up her form and polished her routines some more. Lovely floor routine- and I hope she throws her Def. I don't care if it's sloppy. As for the two remaining places- I would think one would be a Brit- Kristian Thomas is competing, makes sense to send someone with him. Not neccessarily Rebecca Tunney (who if she does show up, should be unrservedly apologised to for the awful commentary she had last year at the hands of the trio), but one of their new seniors- and they have several. There really is no new faces in this lineup, would be nice for the last two spots to be filled by them. I'm going to guess no Russians. Chinese...hmm. They are and have been for a while sequestered in winter training, which the competition comes right at the end of. It's not great timing, not sure how much they would be bothered over a biased competition even with the lure of experience. I would think the likeliest scenario is a Brit and a Romanian or South American- the men's side has quite a few.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Lineup of Dreams

Mai Murakami and Aliya Mustafina will both compete at the upcoming DTB Pokal World Cup. I'm so excited I can't bring myself to remember the rest of the lineup, though the Japanese team is much the same as it was for the Asian Artistic Championships. Asuka Teramoto is not listed and wasn't at Japanese Nationals either so must still be dealing with her arm injury. Rie Tanaka and Koko Tsurumi have both made noises about retiring (personally, I think 25 year old Rie Tanaka moves with the ease of a 15 year old and looks to have a lot left in her, but then that doesn't mean she has not struggled) so the Japanese world team next year will be interesting. It's nice to get a good look at who's in the running. Some lovely moves from the Japanese too, such as Risa Konishi's 3.5 twist on floor! It was previously thought that Mustafina would not compete at all for the remainder of this year, so this will be exciting to see that even if she has watered down out of season, if her steadiness on beam in particular has improved. Both gymnasts will feature in the team competition segment..along with Oksana Chusovitina who has taken back her retirement AGAIN and is looking to Rio.

Vanessa Zamarippa will be making another shot at elite. I don't believe she would do so with any real expectations of going much further than Nationals, especially considering that the huge depth of talent is going nowhere fast. However, she had a glorious Cheng last time she tried, so it would be great to see that again.

Here is the lovely Mariya Livchikova of Ukraine at a recent meet. Mariya has been showing the typical inconsistent Ukrainian streak lately, but this is a glorious return to form with her trademark unique combinations. This scored 15.250. Looking forward to seeing her make an impact in the new quad.


Victoria Moors was slightly injured at Massilia as I thought, she had some muscle tears in her back and consequently watered down her tumbling. However it's not going to be an issue for long thankfully.

Rebecca Bross and Catalina Ponor are headlining an upcoming gala in Mexico. Should be interesting to watch, can't help but think it's a swansong for both- I am one of those who think Rebecca is done. Here are some highlights; both looking in great shape.

Cata fights back against high-cut leotards for once and for all!

The Kelloggs Tour is over, but Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber are all going on a second tour, which incorporates cheerleading. This of course also means that we are pretty much guaranteed not to see any of them at Scam or Jesolo or somesuch meet. McKayla Maroney as previously mentioned still has a few weeks left before rehab. We of course all hope that Kyla Ross is busy upgrading like a beast.

Polina Schennikova also known as mini-Nastia has been added to the junior national team. No word on other additions or on upgrades. Laurie Hernandez has some nice ones, impressive given that she's still only 12. Nice Hults, the most likely addition to the national team did not attend camp due to injury. It appears that Sarah Finnegan is also injured, having been pictured recently with a heavy splint on her elbow.

Spare a thought for Jacoby Miles, a 15 year old Level 9 gymnast from Washington who paralysed herself from the chest down a few days ago. Jacoby was in the middle of a double back dismount off bars into a pit when she got lost in the air and landed on her neck on a mat. The nerves are not severed, so there is some hope that she may walk again. Given how absolutely insane the cost of medical care is in America (which I have myself experienced firsthand), donations are sorely needed. You can find ways to donate or help here.

On a more positive note, Simona Amanar's new baby girl is nicknamed 'Amanar vault'. D'awwwwww. I've forgotten stuff, but I'll add to this.