European Championships Preview

Hello my long lost friends! I’m sorry about my inconsistency in posting. Ever since school got out, I haven’t had a reliable computer to write with. I’ve missed a bajillion meets in Europe, which is a shame since the European Championships in Glasgow begin on the second of August. Instead of reviewing all of the missed meets, I’ll just go over the teams of each country, give some juicy gossip (If compatable with said team), and then preview each event for the championships, all in one convienent article!

Russia: Angelina Melnikova, Angelina Simakova, Irina Alexeeva, Lillia Akhaimova, Uliana Perebisnova

VT: Akhaimova, Melnikova, Simakova UB: Alexeeva, Perebisnova, Melnikova BB: Alexeeva, Simakova, Melnikova FX: Akhaimova, Simakova, Melnikova

The Russian team raised a few eyebrows for several reasons, the most obvious of which being the absence of Viktoria Komova. Komova returned at the Voronin cup in December and has since looked very good. Her bars have looked lovely, (though her set is a #Butherinbars routine), she has her DTY on vault, as well as some big tumbling on floor with her DLO and DBA. Her beam is clean and beautiful as usual, but she has been the normal amount of fallsy for a Russian. Valentina Rodionenko has claimed she left Komova off of the team for back pain, and though Komova has called her bluff on that, the real reason she’s not on the team is because she’s landed herself a spot Val’s hate list. Another surprising absence is Anastasia Ilyankova, who placed second AA at Russian Cup and recorded a massive 15.350 on bars.

I truly think V-Rod got this one wrong. Yes, both Komova and Ilyankova are both very Russian, but hey, no more so than Perebisnova. Alexeeva likely showed up with her American consistency and instantly grabbed Valentina’s heart, so I understand how she earned her spot. That said, Perebisnova is 4 for 8 with her bar routine (which consistently scores lower than Komova and Ilyankova), plus, Komova and Ilyankova could both contribute at least one more event, while Perebisnova is limited to just bars. This team selection is puzzling, but Russia is a force at these Euros nonetheless.

France: Melanie DJDS, Marine Boyer, Coline Devillard, Juliette Bossu, Lorette Charpy

VT: DJDS, Boyer, Devillard UB: Bossu, Charpy, DJDS BB: Charpy, DJDS, Boyer FX: Charpy/Bossu, Boyer, DJDS

This is the best French team in recent memory, as they can challenge for the team title and many individual medals as well. The key for them will be staying consistent, as they can’t afford to give any precious points to the Russians. Also key is keeping Melanie healthy, as the team is built entirely on top of her AA prowess.

Great Britain: Alice Kinsella, Kelly Simm, Becky Downie, Lucy Stanhope, Georgia Mae Fenton

VT: Simm, Kinsella, Stanhope UB: Simm, Fenton, Downie BB: Fenton, Downie, Kinsella FX: Fenton/Stanhope, Simm, Kinsella

Though missing all Ellie Downie, Claudia Fragapane, GB has a fair amount of depth with both Simm and Kinsella stepping up to the plate as all arounders. Great Britain’s secret weapon and key for a team medal will be bars, with hit routines from both Downie and Fenton, GB will challenge Russia for the top bars score. With Downie, Fragapane, and Tinkler missing, floor will be (Relatively) weak, as well as their normal Achilles heel on the beam.

The Netherlands: Sanne Wevers, Eythora Thorsdottir, Tisha Volleman, Vera Van Pol, Celine Van Gerner

VT: Van Pol, Volleman, Thorsdottir UB: Thorsdottir, Wevers, Van Gerner BB: Van Gerner, Thorsdottir, Wevers FX: Volleman, Van Pol, Thorsdottir

The Netherlands have a brilliant team with no real weakness, and the ability to challenge for medals/finals nearly everywhere. That said, Thorsdottir was not at her best at Dutch nationals, vaulting a full and downgrading her floor tumbling. I’m sure she’ll pull it together by Euros, but should she not, the Dutch will cry themselves to sleep, literally.

Romania: Denisa Golgota, Ana Maria Ocolisan, Carmen Ghihuic, Nica Ivanus, Laura Iacob

VT: Ghihuic, Ocolisan, Golgota UB: Ocolisan, Ghihuic, Golgota BB: Iacob, Ghihuic, Golgota FX: Ivanus, Ocolisan, Golgota

The Romanians are certainly missing Larisa Iordache and Catalina Ponor. That said, they have a new star in Denisa Golgota, who should make vault and floor finals, as well as lift the Romanian team to the team final. Some people are skeptical of this team’s chances, claiming that bars will be their Achilles heel (as usual) and that their other events aren’t strong enough to pick up the slack. That claim, however, is false. Both Golgota and Ocolisan have DTYs, their beam is steady and consistent, and their floor has some great tumbling from Golgota, who has really become the Iordache of this team. If they hit, they should place somewhere between fifth through eighth.

Germany: Pauline Schafer, Kim Bui, Sarah Voss, Leah Griesser, Emma Hoefele

VT: Bui, Schafer, Voss UB: Hoefele, Griesser, Bui BB: Hoefele/Griesser, Voss, Schafer FX: Bui, Voss, Schafer

When Schafer and Scheder returned at German nationals, the entire program breathed a collective sigh of relief. Unfortunately, the program then collectively gaped in horror as Sophie Scheder injured her finger, taking her out for Euros. AT their peak, Germany would be a medal contending team, and while they should still make the team finals, there’s now a lot of pressure on Schafer and Bui to hit.

Italy: Lara Mori, Giada Grisetti, Elisa Meneghini, Martina Basille, Martina Maggio

VT: Basille, Maggio, Meneghini UB: Grisetti, Mori, Maggio BB: Grisetti, Mori, Meneghini FX: Maggio, Meneghini, Mori

Italy is currently experiencing senior depletion, and if they could allow their juniors to compete, they’d likely win the team gold medal. Sadly for them, they’re stuck with their seniors while also missing Vanessa Ferrari and Erika Fasana. This team is good on beam and floor and respectable on vault, which will carry them to TF, assuming they don’t implode, but their bars score is reliant upon Grisetti hitting, and even then can be low enough to discourage medal potential.

Belgium: Nina Derwael, Axelle Klinckaert, Maelysse Brassart, Julie Meyers, Rune Hermans

VT: Derwael, Klinckaert, Brassart UB: Hermans, Klinckaert, Derwael BB: Derwael, Hermans, Klinckaert FX: Brassart, Derwael, Klinckaert

The Belgians are an extremely talented bunch, if not underpowered on vault and floor. The team is slightly over reliant on Derwael, but should make TFs just the same.

Also not to be missed:

Diana Varinska: See if she can carry Ukraine to the TF

Team Hungary: After losing Zsofia Kovacs, their chances have fallen dramatically. That said, they’re not completely out of the picture

Vasilliki Milliousi: Potentially a good Beamer, never hits though

Teja Belak+Tjassa Kysselef : Slovenian vaulting sisters, can contend for medals

Jonna Adlerteg: KILLER bars routine

Ana Perez and Spain: Outside TF contender

Now,

Event Previews:

Vault: With Steingruber and Kovacs out, the medals are WIDE open to be snatched. Favorite: Coline Devillard could easily defend her title with a hit, but… how probable is that? Contenders: Melnikova is in a similar boat, as is Boglarka Devai. Basically anyone with two vaults can make the final, and if Devillard falls, the gold will be wide open.

Uneven Bars:

Favorite: The obvious favorite is Nina Derwael, who has been getting consistent 15’s this year. Assuming she hits, she should win with no trouble.

Contenders: Angelina Melnikova has also been incredibly consistent this season and should challenge for a medal. Georgia Mae Fenton is the Commonwealth champion on bars and could medal with a hit, as could Becky Downie. The French should qualify two in Melanie DJDS and Juliette Bossu, the latter of which has a silver/bronze worthy routine. Diana Varinska is another possibility.

Outskirters: Irina Alexeeva, Uliana Perebisnova, Jonna Adlerteg, and Kim Bui can make it in with good hits and mistakes from others.

Balance Beam: 

Favorite: Sanne Wevers looked great at Dutch Nationals just a few weeks ago and could spin her way to the title with a similar routine.
I would put Pauline Schafer just behind Sanne, she just has to hit her eponymous side somi half.

Contenders: Angelina Melnikova has looked fairly solid on beam and can contend with a hit. Eythora Thorsdottir looked great on this particular event at Dutch Championships and is the reigning silver medalist. Both Melanie DJDS and Marine Boyer are incredible beam workers and medal contenders here. Though inconsistent, Diana Varinska is a beautiful beamer as well.

Outskirters: Vassiliki Milliousi is never not an outside contender for the beam final who falls on her dismount. Italy would like to field one of Elisa Meneghini or Giada Grisetti, and Romania would love to sneak Golgota or Ghihuic into the final, all of which can happen with a little luck.

Floor Excercise:

Favorite: Is there one? I would say Melnikova, but she’s been kinda injured and watery with her tumbling, so I have no clue…

Contenders: Melnikova can contend to defend, and the glorious swan that is Lillia Akhaimova can put pressure on her. Sadly/Happily for Russia, Simakova is also a legitimate contender that can spoil it for either Russian. MDJDS can contend, as can Lara Mori. Reigning bronze medalist, Eythora Thorsdottir, can contend if she’s somewhere near full strength.

Outskirters: My heart would sing if either of Pauline Schafer or Axelle Klinckaert could wiggle it into the final. Denisa Golgota also has a fairly solid argument for the final as well.

Hope you enjoyed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

City of Jesolo Trophy Recap

Today marked the start of the City of Jesolo Trophy, everyone’s favorite competition. Where else can you see nations send roughly thirty three elites a piece (or five if you’re Romania)? The laid back atmosphere of this competition makes for a fun time had by all, including me.

Obviously, the winners of the all around competition were the USA team. The US sent a talented bunch of gymnasts including Ragan Smith, Emma Malabuyo, Alyona Shchennikova, Adeline Kenlin, and Grace Mccallum. This group of gymnasts each had events that they stood out on, but the real shining star of this meet was Emma Malabuyo. Emma started on vault, where she had a good DTY with a step backwards. On bars, she muscled her inbar half, but she recovered from it and went on to hit a good set otherwise. On beam, she impressed with her huge Arabian, triple series, and powerful double pike. On floor, she unveiled a double double opening pass alongside her DLO, 2 ½ to front tuck, and double pike. Emma managed to qualify to the beam and floor finals. Other than her minor mistake on bars, Emma had a fantastic day here, and she’s absolutely on my radar for worlds this year. Right behind Emma was her teammate, Ragan Smith. Ragan started on floor, where she had a rough go, landing OOB on her double arabian, and stumbling forward out of her DLO. She also under rotated her triple full, causing it to get 2 ½ credit. On vault, she downgraded to a FTY to save her ankle. On bars, she had some messy inbar work, but the rest of her skills including her Downie and Ricna to pak were clean. On beam, she hit her big skills including her standing full and her bhs layout, but her execution was slightly lower than we’ve come to expect from her. As she recovers from her injury more and more, she’ll slowly climb back to her previous level. Adeline Kenlin also impressed me mightily here. She showed a bars set, with an inbar full to pak, Ricna, and double front half out dismount. Unfortunately, she dragged her legs on her pak, killing her score. On floor, she had a Cojocar (front 2 ½) and a Podkopayeva, which made for an impressive routine. She also had a solid DTY on vault, and a clean beam set with a bhs bhs layout combo. Kenlin’s lovely day earned her a respectable seventh place in the AA competition.

Outside of the top three Americans, there was Alyona Shchennikova, who had a messy DTY on vault, and a good bar routine with her insane inbar 1/1 to Komova to Tkatchev combo, followed up with a pak to chow ½ combo. Alyona managed to qualify to bars finals, but she fell on beam, which murdered her all around score. There was also the lovely Olivia Dunne, who showed a pretty bar routine with a Maloney to Gienger combo, and a powerful floor routine with a HUGE double layout and clean landings on the rest of her passes. Grace Mccallum also had a mostly great competition here, with a nice floor routine with a tucked full in and triple full, and a triple wolf turn on beam.

Winning the team competition (since the Americans entered the meet as individuals) was the Russian team. They were led by Angelina Melnikova, who had a great day in the all around. She hit her difficult bar routine, stayed on the beam, performed well on floor, with her DLO 1/1 looking mighty impressive, and hit her DTY/Lopez combo the qualify to vault finals. Her relatively solid day garnered a fourth place finish behind the Americans and her teammate, Anastasia Ilyankova. Ilyankova impressed me MIGHTILY here. She’s always been great on bars, and today was no exception to that, but she also showed how good she can be on all the other events. On her specialty, bars, she had a fab routine with a Shang, Hindorff to pak combo, and a van leeuwen. Her beam routine was actually phenomenal for her, with a loso mount, side aerial loso combo, and a stuck double tuck dismount, her set turned out to be one of the better ones of the day, qualifying her to the finals in third place! Her FTY on vault was perfectly solid, and her floor was FABULOUS! She opened with a memmel to illusion turn combo, and followed it with a full in! She also had good landings on her other passes. She surprisingly managed to win the bronze medal in the all around while making the bars and beam finals. After placing fourth on bars last year, I predicted she would fall to the wayside, as I thought her only usable event was Russia’s strength, bars. However, she proved me wrong here, as she could absolutely go on beam and floor in the TF if needed. Russia also had Uliana Perebisnova at their disposal, who had good bars and floor routines.

The Brazilian program breathed a sigh of relief, as two of their best gymnasts returned here. After a disappointing worlds last year, where they lost their star, Rebeca Andrade to injury, the Brazilian team is back on the map. With their other star, the petite beam star, Flavia Saraiva, showing up here with a DTY on vault, a fabulous beam routine with a bhs mount to ring jump to Korbut, and a brand new DLO opening pass on floor! Flavia had a pretty good day in the all around and placed eighth, very good for her first competition back from injury. Two time Olympian, Jade Barbosa, also made a great comeback here. She had a nice DTY on vault, a decent bars routine with a Ricna to pak, a solid beam routine with a layout series, and a floor routine with a tucked and a piked full in. Alongside the veterans, there was Carolyne Pedro, who is an Olympic alternate. The Brazilians have the potential to threaten the podium if they have Rebeca, Thais, Flavia, Jade, and Fabiane at their disposal. They have more talent than they sometimes show because of depth issues.

Next, I want to talk about something that we all know I love talking about. Romania. Now, I’ll bet you’re expecting me to tell you that Romania showed up with two gymnasts who both Romania-ed on bars, vaulted a yurchenko layout, and fell on beam and floor. However, I was pleasantly surprised, as this did not happen. The Romanian team showed up with new seniors Denisa Golgota, Carmen Ghuhuic and Nica Ivanus alongside veterans Maria Holbura and Ana Maria Ocolisan, and junior Iulia Berar. Notably absent was Ioana Crisan, who injured her back, but is recovering with the goal of competing at Euros this year. The team started on beam, where they showed some great potential, especially in Nica Ivanus’s routine which included a side aerial loso combo and a gainer 2/1 dismount. Maria Holbura also showed good execution on individual skills, although she fell on her bhs back tuck series and wobbled on some of her skills. The Romanians actually looked GOOD on floor, with nearly every single senior having at least one E pass, and Nica Ivanus qualifying to finals here. Plus, Ivanus showed a beautiful and unique Semenova (double attitude) turn. On vault, they showed several yurchenko fulls from Ocolisan, Ivanus, and Holbura alongside a great DTY from Denisa Golgota, which she paired with a Tsuk full to qualify to event finals. On bars, they did experience a minor implosion, with Ocolisan, Holbura, and Ivanus all falling. Luckily, Golgota hit bars, with a nice Maloney to clear hip to Tkatchev combo. Her great senior debut earned her a respectable tenth place in the AA and a spot in vault finals. Carmen Ghuihuic also hit bars, and showed good lines and excellent toe point throughout her set. Overall, I was very impressed with how the Romanian team looked, and I hope that they can build up their promising seniors, such as Golgota and Ivanus. If they can do this, they could be back on track to qualify a full team to Tokyo 2020. Read my article on Romania here.  https://mattsgymnasticsblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/the-downfall-of-romania/

China was also present at this meet, though the gymnasts they sent were mostly members of their B team. Liu Jinru was present, and she vaulted her Rudi/Kas Full combo which put her in the vault finals in first place. Liu also competed floor, and she had a 3/1 to punch front combo that was… subpar. She looked lovely in the twists, but she landed out of bounds and didn’t have the power to punch out of it, and she crashed the skill. She was fine, though, as she went on to hit the rest of her routine.

The home nation, Italy, had a respectable showing. They sent a team that was comprised of their best gymnasts. As a team, they won the bronze medal. However, with weak depth in the senior ranks right now, Italy’s senior team didn’t manage to pick up any medals. Lara Mori, Desiree Carofiglio, Giada Grisetti, and Sara Riccardi all managed to make an event final, though. Thankfully for Italy, their juniors experienced much greater success than their seniors. Giorgia Villa won the silver medal in the all around, Asia D’amato won the silver medal on vault, Elisa Iorio won bars, and she also picked up the bronze on beam. Despite their overall weak senior field, when the current crop of juniors turn senior next year, Italy’s program will experience a much needed refresh.

After this competition, I’d say that I’m most excited about the return of Flavia Saraiva. Her artistry and spunk makes her undeniable, and I know she’s coming for all of the beam and floor medals this quad.

I was probably most impressed by Anastasia Ilyankova. As I said before, I knew she was a great bar worker, but I had no idea how talented she is on beam and floor. With bars as her standout, and beam and floor both usable (which happen to be Russia’s weak events), she’ll be a staple on the Russian team if she’s healthy.

For my next article, I’m previewing the Russian Championships, which features the return of Aliya Mustafina. I hope you enjoyed!

Retroactive Stuttgart World Cup Blog

Hey guys! I just got home and I’m watching the world cup. I figured I’ll note what happens as I watch so you can know too! Enjoy!

Vault:

Volleman, NED: DTY, wonky form, good landing though. 14.166

Melnikova, RUS: Nice DTY, chest slightly down. 14.5

Seitz, GER: FTY with a hop back. 13.566

Chiles, USA: DTY, GREAT, small slide back. I hope she does the Amanar soon. 14.666

Stanhope, GB: Nice DTY, smallish hop back. 14.366

Jin, CHN: Tsuk 2/1, good! 14.166

Voss, GER: Nice DTY, chest down + small step backwards, but Germany needs that vault lol. 14.433

Kajita, JPN: FTY with a hop backwards. 13.4

Nothing too crazy here. No falls, no Amanar from Chiles. Now for bars!

Uneven Bars:

Kajita, JPN: Nabieva to pak, WOAH, messy van leeuwen. Stalder half to piked jaeger, nice. Stalder full, very VERY low full in but she lands it. Very messy in a couple places but nice potential and skills. 12.7, oof. Needs to clean up.

Seitz GER: Maloney to Ricna. Piked jaeger. Downie to pak, van leeuwen. Toe 1/1 to full in. Gr8 routine. 14.8, wow!

Jin, CHN: Jaeger, so many giants I thought she was gonna do a Mo, haha. Clean pak. Shoot to high bar, dead hang. Toe 1/1 to full in. Pretty basic routine but decent execution. 12.466.

Volleman, NED: ½ to Jaeger. Bail to toe shoot. Blind 1/1 to full in. Pretty basic routine but very clean. 12.5

Stanhope, GB: blind 1/1. Piked jaeger, pak. Shap to bhardwaj but she lands on the bar with her chest and falls. Recasts, messsyyy van leeuwen. Double front dismount. Nice line and skills but needs to clean up. 11.233

Voss, GER: stalder ½ to jaeger. Pak, toe 1/1, van leeuwen. Gienger, leg sep. Toe on double back dismount? Cool! 13.333. If she can hit like this around worlds and Euros she’s a shoo in for the German team!

Melnikova, RUS: inbar 1/1, crazy late. Komova 1 to pak, nice. Van leeuwen. Inbar half to piked jaeger. ½ to toe half and she recasts. Full in, nearly stuck. She can do MUCH better than that. 13.433.

Chiles, USA: Maloney to bail to toe shoot. ½ to piked jaeger. Falls on a tkatchev, aww. Recasts, Tkatchev to gienger, WOW! Toe full to full in. Amazing routine despite the fall! 12.9

Balance Beam

Stanhope, GB: Layout mount, falls. Bhs 1/1, bhs loso, wobble. Front aerial, switch leap, switch side leap. Split jump ½, fall. 2 ½ with a bounce. She needs to keep her nerves in check. 10.366

Kajita, JPN: Layout mount, fall, UGH. front aerial, wobble. Bhs loso loso, good. Switch ring with a check. Jumps. Straddle ½. Switch leap, Y turn with a wobble. Side aerial with a check. Goes overtime. 2 ½ with a hop and a lunge. She fought through it after her mount. 11.2 

Jin, CHN: Switch ring to korbut, nice. Bhs, bhs layout, PERF! Front aerial to split. Switch leap, ring leap, wobble, sheep jump. Bhs bhs to under rotated 3/1 with a hop backwards. DAYUM! That was fabulous! 13.533

Volleman, NED: Arabian mount! Front walkover to front toss, slight adjustment. Illusion turn with a wobble, side somi. L turn, double turn, tryna be like Sanne, are we. Back walkover (?). 2/1 dismount. Nice routine. 12.5.

Chiles USA: Bhs loso loso with a wobble. Front aerial to split. Switch ½. Side aerial. Switch leap to tour lete ½ and she falls,UGH! Side somi, bobble. Double pike dismount, good. Poor Jordan! 11.733.

Voss, GER: loso mount, good. Bhs loso to back tuck, She comes off without even touching the beam, UGH. NCAA dismount, though? Tour jete ½, gr8. Side aerial to switch to switch ½, nice. Front aerial with a bobble. Side somi, full turn. 2 ½ with a step. Good routine minus the fall. 12.4 Germany needs this gurlll.

Melnikova, RUS: Front tuck mount to split, nice! Switch ring. Double wolf turn, secure. Front aerial to ring, solid. Bhs bhs layout aaaand she falls. Front toss with a HUGE wobble. Full in pike, super low with a hop back. UGH and it was going so well! 11.766

Seitz, GER: Loso mount, slight adjustment. Front tuck, hands down. Bhs pike with a wobble. Split ½. Side somi, wobble. Double turn, nice. Side aerial with a lean. Gainer pike, stuck.

Well THAT was a beamtastrophe of a rotation. Only Zhang really brought it.

 

Floor Exercise:

Stanhope, GBR: Piked full in, OOB. Split full? Weird camera angle. 2 ½ to layout, nice. Switch side. Double tuck, small slide back. Double pike with a step backwards. Hopefully she can keep her nerves in check, GB needs her! 12.3

Kajita, JPN: 2 ½ to front pike. Triple Y turn, GREAT! Front 2/1 to front tuck. Split 1.5. 1 ½ to front 1/1. Double tuck. Lovely routine! She has such great potential. 13.1

Volleman, NED: Triple turn to double turn, nice. Double tuck with a step backwards. Back 2/1, stuck. Double L turn to illusion. 1.5 to front tuck. Switch ½. L hop 1/1. Very simple routine, but good. 12.7

Chiles, USA: 1.5 to double arabian, GREAT! DLO, fab. L hop 1/1, split 1.5. Double pike, slide back. Switch 1/1. Double wolf, fine. Double tuck, small bounce. Amazing routine! Nice note to end on. 13.633

Melnikova, RUS: Double L to double turn. DLO 1/1, OOB. Switch to switch ring ½. Front tuck to double tuck. Double wolf. Piked full in, SUPER SHORT. Takes like 4 steps forward to save it. Memmel turn. Double pike, small hop. Well, she fought through that. 13.0

Jin, CHN: split jump 1/1. whip to 3/1, nice. Switch ring. Triple turn with a stumble. Front double full to front pike. Double pike, solid. WHAT A GREAT DAY FOR HER! 13.266

Voss, GER: Double arabian, sits it, darn. Piked full in, stumble forward. Double turn to illusion turn. Split leap 1/1. 1 ½ to front full. 2 ½ with a step. Tour jete 1/2. Hopefully she can gain consistency, Germany needs herrr! 12.3.

Seitz, Ger: Fun choreo! 1 ½ to double tuck. Double pike with a bounce back. Spit jump 1/1 to stag. Switch 1/1. Front tuck to 2/1, stuck. Switch ring, tour jete ½. Enjoyable routine. 12.966

Soooo, at the end of the day we have Zhang in first with a 53.431, Seitz in second with a 53.332, and JORDAN in third with a 52.932! Menikova sits in fourth after a splatty day. Voss, Volleman, Kajita, and Stanhope follow. That was certainly a fun comp to watch. Hopefully everyone (minus Zhang, who was so solid today) can clean up and be consistent! Hope you enjoyed!

American Cup Recap

The 2018 American Cup was a messy competition. It featured several injuries and many falls. Regardless, it was still very exciting. Though watching the entire competition was time consuming, I enjoyed our first look at the talented gymnasts who competed here. 

Morgan Hurd was the true star of this competition. After her World Championships success last year, the talented, determined sixteen year old got right back in the gym and continued working. She made this very apparent during this competition. Not only did she show a bevy of upgrades, but she also showcased the calm, collected confidence that only experienced competitors display. On vault, she showed a powerful DTY with a hop back for a  14.566. On bars, she introduced a Komova (Inbar shaposh) to a stalder full to tkatchev. She also competed a Ricna to pak, an inbar half to front giant, and an inbar full connected to her full in dismount. While there were a couple short-ish handstands in her routine, the difficulty she displayed was very impressive, and her efforts earned her a 14.2. On beam (the event on which she won a silver medal at worlds…), she started her routine with a brilliant standing full. She had a small check on her side aerial, but she nailed her BHS LOSO series. She had good precision on her both her front aerial and her punch front, and she hit her full turn with no problems. She capped off this spectacular routine with her new piked full-in dismount. Her chest was a bit low, and she had a step backwards, but this was mightily impressive considering the difficulty. She received a 13.8 here, an impressive score considering the low beam scores this quad. On floor, she started out her routine with a double double, stuck cold. After her adorable smile and beautiful choreography and leaps, she unveiled a double layout as her second pass. She kept the heat up with her front layout to front 2/1. She also showed a Ferrari (switch ring 1/1) and a split leap 1.5. She capped off her incredible day with a double pike with a small hop back. Her amazing floor routine garnered a 14.033, which tied the score of the current floor world champion, Mai Murakami. With the US’s insane level of depth, and talented gymnasts such as Maile O’Keefe, Emma Malabuyo, Gabby Perea, and Simone Biles all slated to appear this year, I was worried that Hurd would be overshadowed by these new talents. Well, Hurd has made a point in showing us that there’s nothing to worry about. With her level of determination and hard work, along with some killer upgrades, I can now rest easy knowing that Morgan won’t go down without a fight. While the US has a tremendously strong program, Morgan Hurd is a tremendously strong gymnast, and I know she’ll do great things.

Mai Murakami, the floor world champion, had an excellent competition here. While she lacked some precision and details, especially on her weakest event (bars), she was one of only three other gymnasts to go without making a major error. On vault, she performed a powerful DTY that really lends itself to an upgrade. While she had a large hop backwards on the landing, her vault was good enough for a 14.6, tied for the highest score in the competition. On bars, she worked her way through her routine the best she could. While she isn’t great here, she has lovely form and some nice elements such as a piked jaeger. While she had some short handstands, her routine was solid, and she received a 13.4. On beam, she showed a solid routine with a punch front tuck and a double turn. She capped off her efforts with a powerful double pike, and scored a 13.6. On her best event, floor, she showed a fantastic routine. She started her routine with a powerful double double. She then moved into her second pass, a double layout. She had good flexibility on her leaps, and good control on her turns. Her second pass was a 2 ½ to a front 1/1, which she landed well. She capped off her great routine with a double pike, and scored a 14.033, tying Morgan Hurd. Mai’s excellent competition earned her an all around score of 55.633

Maile O’Keefe is one of the most promising new seniors this year. While she didn’t come into this competition as the favorite to win, she certainly was a contender to take the title. Unfortunately, the normally consistent O’Keefe experienced some nerves in her senior debut that caused her to make some uncharacteristic mistakes. On vault, she had a lovely DTY with plenty of height and power. Though her ankles were crossed, she tied Murakami’s vault score, receiving a 14.6. While bars aren’t normally her strongest event, she showcases good form and pretty lines. While her routine here was no exception to that, she was WAY too close to the bar on her piked jaeger, and she hit both of her feet on the bar. While she miraculously caught the bar and recast, this was certainly a major error, and it cost her. She scored a 13.233 on this event. On her strongest event, beam, she started her routine with a double wolf turn. Unfortunately, she fell on the skill and had a bad start to her routine. She did have a FAB side aerial to loso loso combo, but she then wobbled on her front aerial. She also included two bhs’s into a back layout. The layout itself was a bit whippy, and she had a small wobble after the skill, but it was impressive considering the difficulty. Her slightly tentative routine earned her a 13.066, the 3rd highest score in the competition, even with the fall. On floor, she started her routine with a secure double arabian to a stag jump. She moved into a 1 ½ to a 2 1/2 , though she stepped out of bounds at the end of the pass. She also had pretty good landings on her double pike and double tuck. Her floor is extremely easy for a gymnast of her caliber, and while that level of difficulty would be acceptable for a junior gymnast, she turned senior this year. Maile needs to upgrade on this event to remain competitive with the very best. After this competition, hopefully she learns how to keep her nerves in check, so she can show us how much talent and ability she really does have.

Despite having plenty of success at worlds last year, and showing a plethora of upgrades while winning Elite Canada this year, Brooklyn Moors had an extremely rough competition this weekend. She got off to a bad start by putting her hands down on her extremely piked handspring 1/1 vault. She then went to her weakest event, bars, and while she never fell from the apparatus, she completely bent her knees on her stalder 1/1, and she dragged her feet on the mat, likely causing a full point of deductions. On beam, she fell on her brand new front aerial to front tuck series. Thankfully, she did finish strong on her best event, floor. She opened her routine with a new pass, a front layout to double front. Her second pass was her usual lovely Podkopayeva (double front ½ out), and she had a good landing on the skill. Brooklyn also showed good flexibility in her leaps: her switch ring was especially beautiful. She ended her routine with a 2 ½ to a barani (front ½ twist). Though this competition was a disappointment for the talented gymnast, if she can gain consistency on her upgrades, Brooklyn could be a real threat for medals at worlds.

Elisabeth Seitz of Germany had a solid day with no major errors. On vault, she vaulted a FTY with a slight pike of the hips. On her best event, bars, she had a lovely routine. She started with a nice shaposh to Ricna to start her routine. She hit her piked Jaeger, and had a great Downie to pak. Her van leeuwen had a small leg separation, but she hit her dismount with a small hop forward. Her excellent routine earned her a 14.2, tied for the highest score of the day. She also hit her beam and floor routines, though they both have extremely low difficulty. Germany could use her on bars, but the veteran brings little else to the table for the rising country. Her bars are the best in the country, but that’s all that she has going for her. Hopefully she can figure out a way to stand out more. Nevertheless, she had a good competition here, and I wish her the best.

Lorette Charpy of France had a good showing here, placing third on bars and fourth in the all around and on beam. Her bar routine was fabulous. She started with a toe full to a stalder shaposh ½. She had a nice Ricna to pak, followed by a clean van leeuwen. She ended her routine with a double layout. She scored a 13.833, good enough for third place. On beam, she wobbled through, but she stayed on the beam. With France on the rise this quad, Charpy is sure to be a staple on their teams.

With Great Britain currently experiencing a depth crisis, Kelly Simm is a critical gymnast for them, keeping many of their lineups afloat. Simm started with a Podkopayeva on vault, which had a step back. On bars, she performed a front toe half to toe full, and then a chow to pak. She also had a nice shaposh to clear hip to tkatchev combo. She caught her Ricna, and landed her DLO dismount with a step. While she had a good level of difficulty, the judges really nailed her for her execution. On beam, she wobbled through most of her skills, but she stayed on the beam, which is more than we can say about most British gymnasts. On floor, she started with a DLO. She then showed a full in, though she stepped out of bounds. She also showed a 1.5 through to double tuck, and a front tuck through to a double pike. She was a little messy, but she had a solid day, and GB really needs her.

While this competition was a very exciting one, full of great moments of gymnastics, it also was injury central.The competition started with nine gymnasts competing, but it ended with only seven. Fabiane Brito of Brazil had a surpirisingly good DTY on vault, showing great potential. Unfortunately, she flared up a knee injury and had to pull out of the competition. Hopefully she can heal up fast, because though Brazil is currently missing their stars, Flavia Saraiva and Rebeca Andrade, with these two, Brito, and Thais Fidelis, they could make Brazil a legitimate medal threat in the coming years, considering everyone is healthy.

Going up after Brito’s vault was Olympic Bronze medalist, Mao Yi of China. She attempted a DTY, though her block was very low, and as a result, she suffered a femur fracture. This is heartbreaking, as I’m a huge fan of her’s. Mao had surgery the following day, and I’m glad to say it was a successful one. She was visited by the FIG president, and he brought her a huge bag of sunchips. I wish Mao a speedy recovery!

On the men’s side, Yul Moldauer hit his routines to take the title. Kenzo Shirai was unable to rebound from a horrific pommel horse routine and finished seventh.

Sorry about the late ish post. I chose to be all newsy and that took longer. Anyhow, here ya go. PS: the interview with Jordan Chiles will be up tomorrow!

News Update

 

 1. A is for Achilles

 

GB released a statement with some terrible news. So, the newest member of team torn achilles is Claudia Fragapane. This is DEVASTATING for GB, as they’ll sorely miss her DTY, her floor routine, and even her beam routine. With Downie out as well, GB will have to scrape the bottom of the barrel this year for team members. Their presumptive team is looking something like Tinkler, Fenton, Kinsella, Simm and…? Gabby Jupp? Ruby Harrold? BETH TWEDDLE? Just kidding, but this definitely threatens their chances at TFs now. They’ve gone from a team medalist to fighting to make finals in just three years. This is an excellent example of why it’s important to have depth. This basically solidifies the fact that there is an opening in the big four. USA, Russia, China and Japan? Maybe Germany? Anyways, hopefully GB can pull it together.

  1. A is also for American Cup

Tomorrow is the much anticipated American Cup! I’ve already previewed it about 7 years ago, but you can read my post about it here

https://mattsgymnasticsblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/30/american-cup-preview/

Podium training videos have also been released. Morgan Hurd has included several upgrades into her all around program. On bars, she has added a Komova to stalder 1/1 to tkatchev. On beam, she’s upgraded her dismount to a piked full in. Kinda pointless, since the tucked and piked full in are both rated as a G in the current COP. On floor, she’s added a double layout as her second pass. Impressive difficulty, we’ll see if she can hit it all. As for Maile O’Keefe, she hasn’t really upgraded much, aside from a pak to maloney combo on bars. She really needs to upgrade on floor, though. She counts both a double tuck and a double pike into her difficulty, and while that’s perfectly fine as a junior, it seems like she would want to at least show one upgrade during her senior debut? Oh well, her beam looks FABULOUS, though. I’ll be watching it tomorrow morning on youtube, and I MAY be live blogging if I can figure out how.

  1. Simone is Back!

Simone Biles sent training videos into USAG and has been added back to the national team. Oh thank heavens, a glimmer of hope in this dark gymnastics world.

  1. Interview with Jordan Chiles

Yup! The Chiles’ have been so gracious and are letting me interview Jordan. THANK YOU BUNCHES! Expect that interview to be up fairly soon. I’ll ask her about lot of things, including her second vault, and her upgrade plans. If you comment questions, I’ll ask Jordan for you (FYI, I’m interviewing her sometime this weekend, so be fast). I’m super excited!

  1. Chuso

Chuso is training a produnova again! I found out via her instagram. The gracious queen of 42 is always a bright spot in the depressing times of gymnastics. Good luck, Oksana!

I’ll Take it.

Well, it turned out better than I thought! #1 ranked Oklahoma narrowly defeated the #4 ranked UCLA bruins. This meet was quite tumultuous, with an amazing amount of perfect tens thrown out, and some blatant over scoring for the bruins, who performed in front of a home crowd.

The real star of this meet was Peng-Peng Lee. She had a (near) perfect beam routine that included a back handspring-layout and a double turn, capped off with a stuck side aerial to layout full, earning a well deserved perfect 10! She also had an amazing bar routine with her usual beautiful Bhardwaj and Shaposh 1/2 , but she didn’t manage to stick her double layout dismount, earning a very impressive 9.975.

Another standout in this competition was Maggie Nichols. Oklahoma’s star was just that, a star. She had a great Y1.5 on vault for a 9.975, a good bar routine for a 9.9, a nice floor routine earning a 9.975, and a PERFECT beam routine that got a well deserved perfect 10!

Other stars in this meet were Brenna Dowell and Felicia Hano. Dowell stuck her 1.5 on vault and got a perfect ten (finally!). Hano had a big floor routine with a stuck double layout which earned her a first ever perfect ten! While I think the scoring was a touch high throughout the meet, I’m glad that often underappreciated gymnasts such as Dowell and Hano are finally getting some much needed recognition.

Other high scores included Anastasia Webb getting a 10 on beam and Katelyn Ohashi’s 10 on floor, though she did fall on her Tkachev on bars, again (WHY IS SHE STILL IN THE LINEUP?). The scoring at this meet was fair at the beginning (Besides a few higher than deserved UCLA scores), but as the meet went on, the judges grew more comfortable with giving high scores, hence all the 10s they gave out. If I were judging, I don’t know if Ohashi, Hano, or Webb would have received 10s, but again, I’m glad they’re getting recognition for their great routines.

Coming into this meet (which ironically took place on the same day as the super bowl), we all knew that UCLA would have to repeat their performance from last week to have a shot at defeating the top dog, Oklahoma. While we all know that they lost this particular meet, they’ve still made miles of improvement from last season. On vault, they had zero vaults that started from a ten last season. This season, they’ve added 2-3 of them with yurchenko 1.5s from Hano, Hall and Kramer. On bars, their lineup quality seems to have decreased slightly, but we can blame that on the loss of Kocian, and when she returns next season, she’ll bolster the strength of the lineup. Beam has retained its strength from last season, with Lee the obvious superstar here, getting two perfect 10s in the middle of the season. Ross, Ohashi, Kocian, Grace Glenn, and Nia Dennis are other standouts here, making UCLA’s beam squad tough to beat, even for Oklahoma. While vault has made improvements, floor has made STRIDES, beating LSU last week and adding E passes into nearly every routine. The standouts here are Tratz, Hano, Ohashi, Kramer and Dennis, who all have an E pass in their routine. Ross is another one who has shown great improvement on this event. After only making the lineup periodically last season, she has been a staple this year with her beauty and elegance stealing the show.

While it will be an uphill battle to win the national title this year, UCLA has been showing us that you can never count them out. And if they keep improving like this from season to season, it won’t be long until UCLA is the team to beat in NCAA.

American Cup Preview

HEY! Sorry about missing a few weeks in NCAA. School really has me tied down right now. Anyways, THE AMERICAN CUP FIELD HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED! I figure I’ll write a preview right now instead of waiting until a few days before and being like, nah. Anyways, enjoy my premature preview!

We all know that world all around champion and beam silver medalist, Morgan Hurd (Morgiboo) will be competing, as she was announced in January. She’s certainly a heavy favorite/contender to win the title. However, she won’t be without competition. The US has a talented batch of new seniors this year including Maile O’Keefe and Emma Malabuyo. The US gets a wildcard spot, and I could see this as a good opportunity to unleash one of them and solidify their status as the new big thing on the world stage. Either one of them could certainly win the competition. They both have a good DTY, decent bars sets, a difficult beam routine, and a strong floor routine, though Emma’s has a significant scoring advantage. I could also be completely wrong, and the spot could go to someone else. Anyways, the Americans are heavily favored to win the competition, and to go 1-2 on the podium.

It’s not just the American show, though. Japan is sending floor world champion and all around 4th placer, Mai Murakami. Murakami was heavily favored to win the all around at Montreal, and she very well could have, had she not fallen on beam. It’s funny and ironic, because she went on to place fourth on beam in event finals. The beam HATES her. Beam aside, Murakami has a powerful DTY on vault, and she also has an Amanar, though it’s unclear whether she’d do it here (I doubt it). Her bars are her weakness, though she has good skills such as a piked Jaeger. The handstands are what kill her here. Her standout event is without a doubt floor, where she won gold in event finals at worlds. She has difficult tumbling such as a double double and a double layout. All of her passes are clean and well executed, and she’s generally consistent on this event. Though the Americans are the favorites to win, Murakami is right in there, and is certainly capable of defeating both of them.

In addition to these, Canada is sending Brooklyn Moors, all around finalist, floor fifth placer, and Longines Prize of Elegance winner. Moors has a handspring full on vault, an ok bars routine, a beam set with a neat front handspring to front tuck series, and a dazzling floor routine with a Podkopayeva (double front half out). She doesn’t really have the difficulty to challenge for the top spot, but should the top dogs make mistakes, she’s certainly capable of making the podium. Elizabeth Seitz of Germany is coming as well. She placed fifth on bars this year and was FOURTH on the event in Rio 2016. She has a FTY on vault, a stacked bars set, and a consistent beam and floor routine. She could be another podium option should people make mistakes.

If any of you remember Mao Yi of China, SHE BACKKK. The gifted twister and Olympic bronze medalist is competing again after not making the worlds team this year. At her peak, she could probably be vaguely in the podium fight, but my guess is if she didn’t make the team this year, she probably isn’t at 100%. I’m just happy to see her competing again, as I’m a big fan of hers. I really hope she kept her 3 ½ to front pike though, it’s the stuff of the gods. The Netherlands are sending a promising new senior, Sanna Veerman. I’ve seen training videos of her doing a double double, and some other difficult skills (Sorry, I’ll rewatch and inform you). She’s definitely a powerhouse and this competition will be great for getting some international experience.

Rounding out the women’s field are Kelly Simm of Great Britain and Fabiane Brito of Brazil. On the men’s side, headliner is floor bronze medalist and all around seventh placer, Yul Moldauer. He won last year’s American Cup, and it wouldn’t shock me if he did it again. His main competition will be world floor champion and all around bronze medalist, Kenzo Shirai. Kenzo has massive difficulty on floor, and vault as well. If he hits, he’s the favorite to win. The US wildcard spot could also challenge him. I hope it’s Allan Bower (I love him), but it will probably be the newly healthy Sam Mikulak. Sam, a four time US all around champion, could challenge Kenzo as long as he hits. But it’s Sam, I’m not holding my breath. I don’t recognize the rest of the men’s field. Sorry, I don’t follow men’s as extensively as women’s. At the end of the day, this American Cup is 10x as exciting as last year in my opinion. The Japanese are definitely capable of winning both the men’s and the women’s competition, but the US won’t make it easy for them. I’m very excited to watch this competition and I’ll have a recap up after the meet. Thanks for reading!

Terrific Gymnast Tuesday: Margzetta Frazier

Hey guys! So, I’m starting a new series. Every tuesday I’m going to be posting a writing on a terrific gymnast. I know the word “terrific”, is very broad, but I’m going to try to write about gymnasts that are less known than the superstars of the world. This week, I’m writing about a fantastic gymnast, Margzetta (Marz) Frazier!

Despite showing tremendous potential, Margzetta failed to make the national team last year. After a rough 2016 season, many people were excited to see what Marz could bring to the table in the post-Olympic year. Needless to say, she didn’t disappoint. She nearly made the all around podium, though after a wobbly beam routine, she had to settle for fifth place. She also placed fifth on the uneven bars and eighth on the floor exercise. Next year, she has committed and signed to UCLA, which happens to be one of my favorite colleges. I’m very excited to see what this talented gymnast can bring to the bruins next year, and I hope that she will use her skills to help UCLA climb in the rankings.

Vault is her best event, despite not getting a medal there (She doesn’t perform two different vaults). At US nationals, she vaulted a powerful DTY. However, at the American Classic, she performed a lovely Amanar! Her talent and power on this event make her impossible to ignore and wonderful to watch.

In addition to being great on vault, she also has a knack for the uneven bars. Her routine has some great skills such as a Shaposhnikova half (Van Leeuwen) and a Jaeger with plenty of height. She showcases good technique and form on all of her skills which makes her gymnastics aesthetically pleasing, even if she doesn’t have the most difficult routine.

I really enjoy watching her floor routine, too. She has nice tumbling such as a full in, double arabian, and a whip whip to double back. In addition to the powerful tumbling, she also is very expressive with her dancing and she showcases excellent artistry and flair in her routine.

Just like every gymnast, Marz has an event that’s relatively weak. For her, that’s the balance beam. Despite not getting the highest scores, she still shows good skills that can be used at UCLA next year, such as a switch half. In addition to having nice skills, what really sets her apart is her mental toughness, her ability to come back from a fall and hit her next routine. These skills are invaluable ones that UCLA will love having on their team next year.

Margzetta has had an amazing career in elite, she will absolutely be a valuable member at UCLA and will contribute in several different areas. As a fan of hers, I wish her the absolute best of luck in NCAA and I hope that she enjoys her time in collegiate gymnastics.

The Downfall of Romania

The Romanian gymnastics program is one of the most historical and legendary programs of all time. Starting with Nadia Comaneci with the first perfect ten in 1976 and ending when the team failed to qualify to the Rio Olympics in 2015. The odd thing is, the team that went in 2015 was an amazingly talented bunch of gymnasts who were perfectly capable of not only qualifying, but also a team medal!

When you look at the team’s placement, they are thirteenth which is a good five spots away from qualifying. But to understand why they failed, we have to go back to the underlying problem in Romanian Gymnastics, relying on their veterans. The 2014 team was a disappointment by Romania’s standards, so they called back Ponor for the second time assuming that she would fix all of their problems. Well, she got injured before WC in 2015, leaving the team with a promising bunch of Iordache, Bulimar, Jurca, Iridon, Zarzu, and Ocolisan. The latter, Ocolisan, is a very valuable team member, with a useful DTY and a good bars set for Romania, plus some backup on beam and floor. Unfortunately for our little Romanians, Ana Maria Ocolisan was injured in training two days before qualifications, leaving a still very talented group that could have easily qualified to team finals. However, the team was rattled mentally by Ocolisan’s injury, and fell several times in qualifications.

Vault and floor were perfectly fine, with no major errors, and then came Romania’s nemesis, bars. They started out with a solid routine from Laura Jurca, and then every single athlete fell at least once, with veteran Diana Bulimar falling twice, murdering her score. Beam, which is typically a strength for the Romanians, was very nervous and mediocre, not becoming as much of a meltdown as bars, but still featuring falls from young Andreea Iridon, and team leader Larisa Iordache.

It was an incredibly disappointing day for the team. At the end of the first day of qualifications, they sat eighth ranked as a team, the last spot to qualify with several of the best teams still to perform. While they managed to qualify two gymnasts into the all around final, Iordache and Jurca, they had no gymnasts in any event finals, and more importantly, they failed to qualify a team to the Olympic Games, requiring a trip to Brazil to fight for a spot at the test event. It’s easy to call this team a disappointment and say that they simply didn’t have the talent to make it into the team finals. Based off of Romania’s historic success, this team is less talented than legendary teams of the past. Nonetheless, this team was more than capable of placing comfortably in the top eight and qualifying to the Olympics. Their talent was there, their mental game was not. After the injury of two of their team leaders, the team was understandably rattled. This was the reason why the normally solid Iordache fell on bars and beam, why veteran Bulimar lost herself on bars and took two falls, and with the team veterans/leaders falling, the younger ones, Iridon and Zarzu simply couldn’t hold it together. I will however, complement Jurca on her mental stability, being the only one not to fall or make large mistakes. At the end of the road, this Romanian team had more than enough talent to make the top eight. It was never about their talent, it was about their ability to hold it together mentally, which they simply could not do.

In 2016, the Romanian Federation decided to send Ponor to Rio over a slightly injured Iordache, which I think was a mistake. They were about equal in scoring potential on the balance beam, their best event. And although Ponor was slightly stronger on floor than Iordache at the time, Iordache trained the all around, unlike Ponor. The all around field at the time was depleted (except for the Americans) and Iordache would have been perfectly capable of challenging for an all around medal, even while injured! Ponor did have a great routine on beam in qualification, but she choked in finals and placed seventh. Iordache could have easily scored the same/better than her on that event. Plus, Iordache carried the Romanian team on her back the entire quad while Ponor just showed up in 2016 and was casually given an Olympic spot. Unreal.

2017 had a promising start, with both Ponor and Iordache medaling on the beam at Euros in Romania. They also had two promising new seniors, Ioana Crisan and Olivia Cimpian, who made the all around final. Unfortunately, Cimpian felt dissatisfied with the training offered in Romania and moved to Hungary.  The 2017 World Championships team consisted of Iordache, Ponor and Crisan. They were hoping to challenge for medals in the all around from Iordache and on the beam from Ponor and Iordache. They had a rough podium training, but podium training tends to always be rough. In qualifications, Larisa was warming up by doing a timer when she launched herself into the air, out of control and came down on her ankle. At first, many speculated that she injured her knee, but it turned out to be a torn achilles. She was carried off to have surgery, right in front of Ponor, who was about to compete. She was visibly shaken, and had a rough competition, missing floor finals and falling from the balance beam. Soon after qualifications, Catalina Ponor announced that this would be her last competition. Ioana Crisan did manage to make all around finals after Ragan Smith withdrew, but overall it was a terribly disappointing world championships for Romania, as they came in as a contender for several medals, left with zero medals, and their two best gymnasts gone.

As a fan of Romanian gymnastics (and Iordache especially), I too was crushed. As I read the live blog on the gymternet, I could be heard crying softly and saying, “Why me? WHY ME?”. I knew that at some point in the next five years or so, Romania would basically be off the map for gymnastics. But I did NOT think that that year would be 2017, as both Ponor and Iordache were contenders for medals. It’s truly a shame what’s happened to their program. I wish I could say I was surprised at the downfall of the Romanian program, but honestly, everyone knew it was coming. In a matter of years they’ve gone from a team that could contend for a medal to a team with two gymnasts that can contend for individual medals, and then nobody even close to that level. The Romanian coaches need to stop relying on their veterans. Iordache isn’t going to be around forever. Another perfect example of this is Sandra Izbasa and Catalina Ponor. After the 2014 team failed to medal, instead of going to the press and saying that they would be upping training intensity and putting more focus into the uneven bars, Octavian Bellu ran to the press and basically told everyone to have no fear, for Catalina Ponor and Sandra Izbasa would be returning! While that would have given their depth a little boost, it also killed it in the long run. When your coaches tell you that you’re just not good enough and call in reinforcements, it can be quite discouraging. That’s why the Romanians lost talented gymnasts such as Stefania Stanila and European beam champion, Andreea Munteanu. Had they nurtured their inexperienced gymnasts and helped them improve their skills instead of calling back gymnastics legends to try and fix everything, maybe the Romanian team would still have enough gymnasts at a high level to field a team. Maybe they would still be in the running for team medals. Maybe, the Romanian gymnastics program would not be the skeleton of what it used to be.

My hope for the once legendary program is that they can see where they have gone wrong and actually try to fix the problem. Hire a bars coach, give the athletes access to a sports psychologist, and don’t give up on your athletes so quickly. Personally, I think that they’re already six feet underground, with their depth absolutely depleted and their best gymnast injured. Miracles do happen, so maybe in a few years a team of Romanians will medal in Tokyo and all will be well once again. Unfortunately, that’s mostly wishful thinking as we’ve been begging them to fix things for years now. It’s been both a shock and a shame to see the Romanian gymnastics program fall from grace, but i’d say it’s time for me to find a new favorite team.

My First Blog Post!

Hi there! I’m Matt Condon and i’m a HUGE fan of gymnastics. Although I only started following extensively in 2016, I have been fascinated by the sport since I watched Nastia Liukin win the All Around gold in 2008, making the Beijing games sentimental to me.

Although my specialty is Women’s Elite Artistic Gymnastics, I also follow Mens Gymnastics and NCAA Gymnastics too! I live in the USA, so don’t be terribly surprised if i’m slightly biased towards them (#USA). I hope that although my time studying the sport is small, you can trust my knowledge, for I have studied very, VERY extensively. I have watched all major meets from 2007 on, I know every skill in the code of points, and if you name a gymnast and ask for facts about them, for example, Nastia Liukin, I could tell you that she won the All Around gold, Team silver, Beam silver, Bars silver, and Floor bronze at the 2008 Olympics.

I really can’t go forward without thanking my blogging inspiration, Lauren Hopkins, who started my favorite gymnastics site, The Gymternet. She and the entire Gymternet staff have taught me much of what I know and sparked my interest in learning so much about the sport. They do a PHENOMENAL job of posting quality work with regularity while balancing full time jobs. I would also like to thank Spencer from the Balance Beam Situation for making me laugh until my stomach hurts and for also sparking my interest in gymnastics.

For my first series of posts, I will be doing a preview of each major team in gymnastics and how I see them faring in 2018. I’ve constructed a team for them using five of their gymnasts and then I made a lineup of three gymnasts on each of the events. Please note that my knowledge could certainly have some errors and also remember that it’s gymnastics, so anything can happen. Injuries, retirement, you name it. Gymnastics is an unpredictable sport.

Please know that i’m only sixteen and that I edit my own writing, so expect some mistakes. I hope you enjoy my blog and learn lots about the sport that I love so much!