2011 Will be an AWESOME Year for Gymnastics

I haven’t blogged in quite awhile, and can someone explain how we are already into the qualifying year of the Olympics?  How did it get here so fast?  I dropped out of blogging and gymnastics news for a good six months following the Olympic Games, feeling no quad would ever top the last…..I was wrong.  So wrong I can hardly believe it.  If you would have told me while I was experiencing postpartum Olympic Depression that the next Olympics would have nearly everyone on the US team making comebacks, Russia being on top, and a true fight amongst the AAers and the Team Final I would have told you that you were delusional.

Now a lot of hardcore fans felt that the last couple of years has been less than thrilling and I beg to disagree.  Why?  Because the 2012 Olympics are going to be very 1996ish.  Oh yes they are.  No matter what, amazing gymnasts are going to be left home due to 5 per country.  Amongst at least the Americans and Russians, an amazing gymnast is going to be left out of the AA because of two per country.  This is just like 96′ and even 00′ for the Russians.  In the US we have Rebecca Bross, Jordyn Wieber, and possibly even Shawn Johnson contending for those 2 AA spots.  Russia has Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova, and Anastasia Grishina competing for their spots.  Prelims will be a battle for simply that reason.

As for the Team Final, I would first like to point out that it was all China and US last quad for the team battle.  Not so for this quad.  China, US, and Russia are all going to be pretty equal most likely.  A lot of people may disagree with this, but look at the splatfest of the 2010 World Team Final.  This WILL be like 1996, you MUST hit, or someone else will and take that spot.  For this we cannot forget Romania, who has a history of taking other countries medals because they hit and others just didn’t.  For the last three Olympics that is exactly what they have done.  Russia’s current top 2 will cover 2/3 of their 3 up 3 count.  Grishina is supposedly upgrading on floor and training a much more difficult vault.  If they come out with all 3 of their AAers capable of being the entirety of their TF, then they have 2 spots left for specialists, no other country can currently match that.  But it is still a long way away and anything can happen.  Russia’s got 2 gymnasts that don’t appear to have dealt with puberty yet, and who knows when that will strike and what it will do to them.

I would also like to point out, when comparing this quad to 96′, that we also have our old-school coaches back.  The soviet coach Alexander Alexandrov has returned and I feel like that is odd that the Russian resurgence aligns with that.  And Ocatavian Bellu and and Mariana Bitang have returned to Romania.  I personally feel that you can see their work in Ana Porgras.  Porgras wasn’t the most consistent gymnast, and since their return tell me you can’t see the improvement on beam.  Consistent as hell, and not to mention her speed, rhythm looks just like your classic Romanian….except Porgras does add her grace :)

I claimed millions of times that Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin were never going to compete again, yet here we are with both of them making comebacks.  Nastia IS, for those of you that don’t believe it, we just have to see how much she will come back for.

Another comeback (from injury) that I am eagerly awaiting is what Ivana Hong will bring.  there are rumors of completely revamped bar sets that look GOOD, and there was a small rumor out there of her competing a very 2006 Catalina Ponor series of Onodi+front aerial+BHS+LOSO.  I will believe all these things when I see them, but I have to wonder what Valeri Liukin has done to work his magic.  After only 6 months with Valeri we saw a slightly improved Hong.  And notice the changes in Bross from 2009 to 2010; there were definitely elements in her FX to show flexibility, as well a tiny move on BB to emphasize that as well.  I feel as if many people see flexibility and thus assume artistic so this was a smart move.  Valeri is masterful at hiding weaknesses and showcasing strengths, so I am eager to see what Hong does next weekend at the WOGA meet.

The US has so many people right now that you would think would totally make the Olympics, Bross, Wieber, Alicia Sacramone, Alexandra Raisman, Johnson, Liukin…but right there that is already 6 members.  Raisman is someone I would like to highlight, because the more time goes on the more I like her.  She has proven herself by being an anchor on half the events in team finals as a fist year senior.  She also apparently doesn’t BS us.  The recent video of her at the training camp showed a potential 6.4 beam routine that looked SOLID, not to mention the fact that her leaps look improved!  Anyone watching all the training footage going on at Worlds saw Alicia trying to help Raisman with performance, and I think we are going to see a difference there as well.  I also firmly believe she will have the Amanar back by Nationals at the latest, and I would expect that she is upgrading floor.  With an Amanar, high start values and solid, consistent routines on beam and floor, how can you deny her?  This could spell doom for Sacramone and possibly Jonhson (or ANYONE else that is a 3 event gymnast that doesn’t include bars).  We cannot take more than one 3 event gymnast to the Olympics.  It just doesn’t seem possible.  2 AA spots, a 3 eventer, and I would say the last spots go to bars people.   Keep in mind that there is no way Nastia won’t be included if she is ready to go on bars.  She is too valuable on this event and could be taken for that one spot alone.  However,the number of bars specialist spots depend on what the others are doing.  Wieber does have the potential to get up in the mid 6′s on bars.  If she did, and Bross upgrades which I highly suspect she will, then you have 2 bar sets included in your potential AAers.

But it is still too early to tell.  Things always happen and people unfortunately get injured.  Who knows what will happen?  The point is that there is enough to keep us highly entertained as we watch the pre-Olympic year unfold.

On a side note, I have the Florida Gator Gymnastics team to keep me excited as well, as I watch intently.  I am hoping this will finally be our year.

On a last side note, I am sitting 6th row, center section with a very good friend at the American Cup on March 5th.   I WILL do a blog for that!

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NCAA Nationals- Super Six Tonight!

Insanity!  Yesterday was filled with all kinds of crazy happenings.  I missed session 1 (well 4 1/2 rotations worth so a professor could stand me up.  And after the first rotation of session 1 I had to crack open some alcohol to get me through.  On top of that, it is the end of the semester, and I just got some really crap news about some courses that might mess up my graduation.

But enough with that.

For the best commentary ever on both sessions, click here.

I am currently running around, trying to coordinate tickets and times and everything else for the crew that is watching with me tonight.  Can’t wait!

It is totally between UCLA, Alabama, and Florida tonight.  And after last night, I realize how badly I am wanting a Gator victory.  Coming from a school that saw 4 National Champions between 2006 and 2008 (in football and basketball) I am just aching to have that awesome Gator feeling again only this time in Gymnastics.  In 2007, we were ranked #1 the majority of the season, and I still don’t know what happened that night in Utah.

We begin on bars again tonight, but UCLA got a better draw as they start on vault.  It’s going to be nerve wracking all the way through, and it is hard for me to visualize team standings with the BYE format.

And I must go because trying to coordinate everyone and these damn tickets is insane.  GO GATORS!

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NCAA NATIONALS!!!!

So I am attending NCAA Nationals for free.  Be jealous now.

Nationals are taking place in my backyard, and for the first time in 5 years, the title will go to someone other than Georgia.  I think that between UCLA, Florida, and Oklahoma- the title will go to one of those schools.  I feel as though UCLA will win, but I strongly believe that we (Florida) have the best opportunity to beat them with the homecourt advantage.  Either way, I get to see a great competition unfold.

Things I am looking forward to the most;

-Anna Li‘s Takatchev (which is the highest I have ever seen- it looks like she hovers over the bar without moving for a sec)

-Hollie Vise‘s routines.

-Hopefully I will see Courtney McCool in the beam and floor finals (I am only attending the Team and Event Finals)

I am trying not to think about Melanie Sinclair.  I wonder what SHE”S thinking though.  She was 3rd in the AA last year- this would have been her senior year- she is HUGE for our bars lineup-and to host finals.  Tsk, tsk.  All over some guy and some guns.  It’s a shame.  But wouldn’t it be all the more spectacular if we were to win without her?

I promise my life will be back to blogging.  I will definitely write about Euros and the Pacific Rim next week.

GO GATORS!!!!

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Random Gymnastics Thoughts

So I got back into blogging, fell back out.   Really it was just school.  Because let me tell you, Worlds put me so far back with my assignments.  Plus we all know there is a lull after such a big meet.   Of course I still keep up with everything.  And since I feel like writing a blog post yet have no particular concentration, I am writing all the random things I have been contemplating and discussing with my gymnastics buddy.  These are in no random order whatsoever.

  • Who will destroy Alicia Sacramone‘s comeback?  Will it be Kayla Williams, the girl who has the light speed ability to improve, and someone who looks to be a true force and a rock of a competitor?  Will it be Asac’s reincarnation from her own gym, Alexandra Raisman (who I believe may show us the real first quad twist on floor) or even Alica’s own body betrayal?

  • Aliya Mustafina will be standing on the AA podium at the 2010 Worlds

  • Viktoria Komova will be standing on the AA podium the year after that
  • Shawn Johnson and even Nastia Liukin will not compete again.  Comebacks may come when endorsements run out, but that is it.

  • Anna Myzdrikova I already hope to be the 2010 FX champion
  • Cheng Fei will come back. She will.
  • Nobody will ever do a front handspring better than Lilia Podkopayeva.  NO ONE comes close to that; her feet are even together.
  • I think it is a huge mistake to hold off using the 5-3-3 team format until the London Games; it is a bad idea period to use the Olympics as a test for anything.

  • On that note, the age rule is now even more frustrating.  For instance, our current junior national champion, Kyla Ross will not be senior eligible until 2012 (as opposed to the previous rule where she could have been competing in 2011).  Considering the year before is a qualifier to the next year’s Olympics, think about what that does to the non power countries.  Let’s say that Nastia came from oh…..Iceland (trying to pick a place where they don’t get a spot) and that she doesn’t turn 16 until the year of the Games.  She wouldn’t be able to compete because no one qualified for a spot the year before.  That would be wrong.  I oppose anything that prevents the best in the world from competing.  This is why I was sort of turning my back on the He Kexin debate last year.  Furthermore, one of the reasons the age rule is there is because those in charge think that it puts too much pressure on the youngins.  I will have to disagree with this because you can’t advance in this sport without being able to deal with pressure.   My proposed age rule is this:  When you are eligible to compete in the next Games, you are senior eligible for that quad.  Meaning that starting January 1st 2009, Kyla Ross would have the option to go senior.
  • if I haven’t harped enough, I am sooooo hoping for Russian reemergence this quad, starting with the 2010 worlds.  In addition to Mustfina, Tatiana Nabieva is another going senior.  I think the Russians need a bit more for vault (hopefully Nabieva can clean up that Amanar) and then I just don’t see where they have a weakness.

  • I wonder what will happen with Bridget Sloan; will she fade out?  Will she remain useful?  If she got an Amanar (and I am dying for her to do the front triple twist on FX) she would up her own usefulness.  Interesting stuff to think about.
  • Will Chellsie Memmel return?  I want her to so bad!  She and Nastia have sort of an open invitation to comeback whenever due to their incredible usefulness on one event; bars.  I also find it odd that bars has become our weak event over the last couple of years considering  they were once our strong event.

That is all for now, folks.

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    Yuri Ryazanov Dies in Car Accident

    Shocking news to the gymnastics community.  Five days after winning the World All Around Bronze Medal, 22-year-old Yuri Ryazanov died in a car accident early Tuesday.

    Such a tragedy!  I have been disturbed since hearing this.  His recent victory would suggest that this Russian was on the track to a successful quad.  I can’t imagine what the people close to him are going through.  You will be missed Yuri, and my heart goes out to his friends and family.

    Daniel Keatings, Kohei Uchimura, Yuri Ryazanov on the medal podium Wednesday.

    Here is the only news I can find yet about the subject from International Gymnast Magazine:

    Russian Olympian and world medalist Yuri Ryazanov was killed in a car accident Tuesday morning outside Moscow. He was 22.Ryazanov won the all-around bronze medal Thursday at the world gymnastics championships in London, finishing behind Japan’s Kohei Uchimura and Great Britain’s Daniel Keatings.

    According to reports, the accident occurred at 12:50 a.m., when Ryazanov was returning to his hometown of Vladimir following the world championships. Police believe he was killed instantly when he lost control of his car and swerved into oncoming traffic. His Chevrolet collided with an Audi, injuring two of its passengers.

    Ryazanov had been Russia’s most successful all-around gymnast the past few years, winning bronze medals at the European championships in 2007 and 2009. He won both of Russia’s top domestic meets in 2009 — the Russian national championships in March and the Russian Cup in August.

    “This is a human tragedy,” Russian head coach Andrei Rodionenko said. “He was very good, kind, honest. The whole team respected him.”

    Ryazanov’s shocked coaches and teammates spoke with the media, and said they were trying to piece together details of what could have caused the tragedy. The team returned to Moscow from London on Monday, and drove to the Round Lake national training center. Ryazanov had picked up his car at Round Lake and was driving home to Vladimir, 200 km (124 miles) east of the capital.

    “I’m still stunned. I don’t understand how this could happen. Yura was a great guy, kind, friendly, hard-working,” teammate Maxim Devyatovsky said. “I do not understand why this happened to him, why God allowed this. He has driven for years, and everyone knew that he drove very quietly, calmly, without any foolishness. Yura was such a positive guy, that it is simply impossible [that he could have been drinking]. We talked with some guys from the junior team, and they claim they saw his Chevrolet recently and it was too low in the front. Maybe that was the cause? Although it is no longer important…”

    Russian men’s head coach Yevgeny Nikolko also spoke out against speculation that any alcohol was involved in the crash.

    “Yura was a very good driver,” Nikolko said. “I exclude the possibility that he would ever drink before getting behind the wheel. He was overall a very responsible and calm young man. This wonderful man had the whole world ahead of him.

    Continued Nikolko, “I’m still in shock. When he told me he was going to drive home, I just told him, ‘Please, be careful.’ And now this terrible thing happened. I have no words to describe it.”

    Ryazanov was born March 21, 1987 in Vladimir, a city with a strong gymnastics tradition. He trained at the N. G. Tolkachov Olympic Reserve School, where he was coached by Igor Kalabushkin.

    He joined Russia’s senior national team in 2006, and later that year helped the team win silver at the 2006 World Championships, where he placed 16th all-around. He improved that rank at the 2007 Worlds, finishing 13th. He was a member of Russia’s gold medal-winning team at the 2008 European Championships. His team placed sixth at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

    Ryazanov’s bronze medal at the world championships Thursday, won in a close-fought men’s all-around final, was the biggest achievement of his career. He qualified only eighth to the final, landing him in the second-seeded group that began on pommel horse. While several favorites faltered, Ryazanov’s consistent performances moved him into medal contention. His fall on his high bar dismount in the fifth rotation was his only break of the day, but he followed it with a strong routine on floor exercise. His final score edged him past Japan’s Kazuhito Tanaka by .1.

    “Yesterday he returned to Moscow after the world championships, where he won the country’s most distinguished medal — a medal in the all-around,” the Russian Gymnastics Federation stated on its Web site in a brief announcement on his death. “Yet another day he tightly fought for his place on the podium, and we admired his skill, perseverance and tenacity.”

    Rodionenko said federation representatives will go to Vladimir to help Ryazanov’s family prepare for the funeral.

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    2009 Worlds: Event Finals Commentary

    Wow.  So I must say that I have heard a lot of comments about this Worlds being boring.  Um….no.  This was WAY better than 2005 (comparable because there is typically a bit of a lull the year following the Olympics) and I think the quality of gymnastics that we saw we typically much higher than what we usually see after the Olympics.

    So let me just say that Worlds interrupted my life a little bit (and happily so).  I was very behind in school work, forcing me to come home directly after the nail biting Gator Football game and write a paper.  I watched the first night of EF until about 4am, and woke up at 7:45am to watch Day 2.  I nodded off during parallel bars a little bit.

    But here were the things that made me yell out loud.

    1.  Kayla Williams.  Well, her life just changed.  She will definitely be on the next world team.  The first American woman to win a world vault title.  But it’s not just that…..the quickness in which she has improved over the last few months is of Chellsie Memmel quality.  I am also willing to nominate her in the gruop of “Best DTY Vaulters” because I have seen what….5 or 6 DTYs from her and she has stuck….well, like all of them!  Hello the new Vanessa Atler (minus the nerves).  Can we also talk about how awesome her attitude is?  She is all business, and look at the way she runs off the podium when she is done, adorable.  Then she fights back tears.  Hello to one of my new favorites.

    2.  Beth Tweddle if this is your last competition I am glad it ends with a gold medal for you.  Nice last pass.  Sad she didn’t make bar finals.

    3.  Anna Myzdrikova would have beat Tweddle if not for that last pass.  The whip double arabian was one of the best pieces of gymnastics I have seen in quite some time.  (Or since Kayla’s DTY haha)  The Triple back tuck combo is also something of great originality.  I love this girl’s floor.  I am sad she didn’t come away with a medal.  But her awesome performances put hope into my, ‘Will the Russians reemerge as a gold medal threat?”  i can wait and hope.  bet you she will be on the World Team next year.

    4.  Ana Porgras is another person I am excited about.  3 EF’s and some really great style!  Her Memmel turn  on floor is amazing!  Really excited about this girl’s future.  How I wish she wouldn’t have fallen off the beam!

    5.  Yay for Marian Dragulescu winning two gold medals!  How I wish this would have been the Olympics!

    Side notes-

    -He Kexin is looking even better.  WOW.

    -I wish Ivana Hong hadn’t wobbled all over the place, I think she could have gotten gold.

    - Rebecca Bross didn’t do the Gogean, she only did a half.  In the AA I thought this was a mistake….was this planned?  Also, I like her double L.  These elements could have made her bronze on floor.

    -After Chinese Nationals, I said that if Deng Linlin didn’t fall, she would be world champion on beam.  This happened.

    -Ksenia Semenova I am hoping just didn’t have enough time to perpare (I also heard she has a back injury, dunno if that is true) which I hope is the reason for her poor showing.  I really like her style.  Also I have that Russian hope for 2012.

    -Lauren Mitchell is now a force to be reckoned with.  Watch out world.  i am still hoping that Dasha Joura will come back better than ever next year.

    -I hope Anna Pavlova is continuing and coming back.

    - I am not a big fan of Sui Lu‘s FX.  Sorry.

    -My biggest complain is the stupid bonus gymnasts get by doing jumps after passes (like Mitchell’s stag after her double arabian, though she does it nicely).  This completely negates the “stick your tumbles” rule.  Hate it.

    -Beam and floor routines are a lot smoother and look better with the code cutting it down to 8 skills.  Much better.

    -These execution scores are ridiculous.  Let’s take William’s DTYT score….a 9.175?  I think that was actually the HIGHEST execution score of WAG Worlds.  That should have been like at least a 9.5.  I would take a tenth for the split legs on the preflight, one for the slight crossing of the ankles toward the end.  MAYBE a tenth for distance.  You know what?  Let’s take a tenth for height too.  She lands ON THE LINE so no deduction there.  Okay, well that E-score is a 9.600.  What the heck is with all that anyway?

    Here is a list of what I wish would have happened at Worlds….

    AA

    1.  Bross

    2.  Sloan

    3.  Porgras

    VT

    1.  Hong Un Jong (wish she hand’t fell even if I love Kayla)

    2.  Ariella Kaeslin (this really happened!!!!)

    3.  Mzydrikova

    UB

    1.  Kexin

    2.  Tweddle

    3. Semenova

    BB

    1.  Deng (yay!)

    2.  Porgras

    3.  Bross

    FX

    1.  Tweddle (another ‘yes’!)

    2.  Myzdrikova

    3.  Mitchell (this is actually my favorite routine, but Myz’s tumbles I like better)

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    2009 Worlds: Bridget Wins the All Around

    Congrats to the 2009 World All Around Champion, Bridget Sloan!

    Sloan captured the title with 57.825 ahead of Silver Medal Winner Rebecca Bross (57.775) by a tiny margin of .050 after Bross fell on her final tumbling pass.   it was the last routine of the meet.

    A surpise bronze medalist, Japan’s Koko Tsurumi showcased some of the cleanest gymnastics of the meet.  She lead the first two rotations, huge scores on beam and bars.  (14.850 and 15.050).

    Unfortunately, Romanian Ana Porgras fell off the beam into a 7th place finish.  She was up on the podium a long time before the green light, so I think she just got a little unfocused perhaps.  She will be a force to be reckoned with once she upgrades vault.

    The highest score of the night was rebecca Bross’s 15.300 on balance beam.

    Sloan improved her beam (though with wobbles tonight) to a 14.000 from her Prelims score of 13.825.  her bars also went up two tenths to a 14.800 and vault also improved from a 14.550 to a 14.825.  Her final routine of the night, floor, Bridget had an amazing performance….nice landings and a stuck double pike end.  Her score of a 14.200 I actually thought was low.

    hates off to 4th place Lauren Mitchell of Australia.  .050 also separated 3rd and 4th places, and Mitchell’s OOB on her last event, FX cost her the bronze.  Mitchell received a 15.100 for her amazing beam set.  Look for this girl in both event finals Sunday.

    Way to go everyone!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this competition, I thought Bross had it in the bag.  I love both these gymnasts, and I thought Sloan demonstrated some amazing sportsmanship today, running off to comfort her teammate before celebrating her own victory.  Nice.

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