The C Score (2.0)

Archive for December 2008

I am leaving for a long trip in four days, and upon my return will be trying to finish my dissertation proposal while preparing to apply to medical school.

I was planning to continue The C Score anyway, and have a number of posts prepared for while I am gone, but I’ve been really disappointed in the way things have been going recently. I have worked extremely hard to provide timely coverage and accurate information, and I haven’t gotten the sense that people feel it is particularly useful. As a former journalist, I’ve been trying to myself to a high standard on this blog and to include analysis in most posts. I’ve tried to cite my sources and attribute things as much as possible, and to make sure I have my facts right. I just haven’t gotten the sense that the gymnastics Internet community necessarily values this particularly highly. (To be clear, what I’ve just said is not a comment on any other blogger. I’m just saying that I think that the type of news, or gossip, gymnastics fans are looking for may be more suited to message boards than blogs.) Which is fine, but is not the business I am in.

Anyway, I really enjoyed writing this blog and I really loved the comments I got from readers. I had a great time.

As you likely all know, Triple Full has the best news coverage of non-American gymnastics. Coach Rick is by far the best aggregator. There are other blogs (see the sidebar), but few are updated regularly. Other sources of news are the forums, including WWGym.

I’m going to at least take a bit of a break. Back on January 16th. See you all around.

Nansy Damianova

Nansy Damianova

Nansy Damianova, one of two gymnasts who represented Canada at the 2008 Olympics, will continue through 2009 and possibly through 2012.

Damianova told IG in a recent interview that her Olympic experience made her realize she wanted to continue in international competition, definitely for the 2009 Worlds, and possibly through the 2012 Olympics. It’s especially nice since Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, Canada’s other Olympic qualifier, is now at UCLA.

Damianova, who trains at Gymnix, says she is aiming for good finishes at Canadian Championships, Worlds and the new Gymnix World Cup.

About her new teammates, including Brittany Rogers, recent champion at Elite Canada, Damianova says:

“I think it will be very exciting to help leading Canada’s new generation of seniors in the new year because I know the girls pretty well. I have competed with a few of them on the same team when I was in my last year as a junior, and we get along very well. It will definitely be a new and different experience, being the oldest and helping the team. Before, I was usually one of the youngest and less experienced on the team. We also have some pretty strong and interesting girls coming up, so we should have an interesting team in the coming years. It will be fun to see the team evolve.”

According to the latest rumors, Anna Pavlova is indeed planning to return to competition after she recovers from her ACL injury (sustained at the DTB Cup).

Pavlova was recently at the Voronin Cup. She’s walking (albeit with a serious brace):

The WTC has posted a new update to the 2009 Code of Points, which goes into effect officially in nine days, making this tremendous timing for people studying for brevet exams and gymnasts tweaking routines. Anyway.

Some of the changes are ones that were rumored a while ago (including reducing the dance passage on floor from three elements back down to two, sigh). Some others are pretty stunning though.

Potential game-changers:

  • The back double tuck has been upgraded to a D from a C. This is a big deal. The CoP specifies that the dismount is considered the last salto performed that is rated D or above. This means that gymnasts will likely now be performing double tucks as dismounts much more often. The double tuck (or pike, as it is now worth the same as a tuck) will probably be found more often inside routines, especially in combination.
  • The composition requirement for a turn on beam (worth .5) no longer requires the turn to be performed on one foot. This had been rumored. It also means that turns can be performed in handstand or on any other part of the body.

Reversions to previous CoP:

  • Root limitations on bars elements have been deleted. This new rule would have prohibited gymnasts from performing more than two elements from the same “root” skill (e.g. Stadler).
  • The requirement that dance passages on floor consist of three elements has been removed. We’re back down to two.

CV and deduction changes:

  • The formula for direct connection on bars that required that the D skill contain flight for the D+C connection has been changed. Now both the D skill and the C skill can contain flight or a minimum 1/2 turn, allowing for CV for turn combinations. (Note: some people have suggested that this means that suddenly a D+C CV requires flight or turn. In fact, it makes the original requirement easier. The previous edition required the D element to be flight, while the C element could be either. Now, both can be either.)
  • Many deductions added for pre-flight form problems on vault, including a maximum of .5 for bent knees or arms; and for second flight phase problems, including bent knees or arms (also maximum .5).
  • The maximum deduction for a deep squat or body-posture problem on vault has been reduced to .3 (from .5).

Skills removed:

  • Varga dismount on bars, though note that a double back with 1/1 twist (considerd the same skill by the FIG) remains. I think this has to do with the difficulty of performing this skill correctly.
  • Turns with leg at 45 degrees on beam (e.g. 3.203), meaning that if a turn is not performed at horizontal, it is devalued to a turn without leg up (at all)
  • 2/1 turn in scale on floor (leg behind). (My guess is that this is the same reason as for the Varga dismount.) Note, however, that the Ksenias’ 2/1 pirouette with back attitude has recently been added to the CoP.

Difficulty-value changes:

  • 4/1 turn on floor: D to E
  • 2/1 turn with leg in scale (Memmel) on floor: C to D
  • 2/1 turn with leg at horizontal on floor: C to D
  • 2/1 Wolf jump on floor: C to D

Those appear to be the big changes. I’ll update as I go through the document more. To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out the July CoP changes, and what they’ll really mean. It’ll be hard to know before they are used in competition.

This is very cool, and has inspired a new series: Sweet Skills, skills that are not (yet) in the Code of Points!

This is the kind of innovation we are really looking for in this sport. It’s not even a brand new skill, just a twist (ahem) on an old one. But it is cool, and different, and extremely well-performed.

I would much rather see a routine with a lower A-score and some innovative skills than a routine with a high A-score full of Stalder-pirouette combos. Yawn.

It is … a full twisting Shapashnikova.

Word has it that this is a Desert Devil, but no ID yet:

A few updates from my favorite national team:

Corina Ungureanu

Remember Corina Ungureanu? She was a member of the Romanian gymnastics team in the 1990s, and was a member of the 1997 and 1999 world champion Romanian teams. She later retired in 1999 due to a spinal cord injury, and then did a number of naked things, including posing in Romanian Playboy (which she did again earlier this year), and doing gymnastics routines topless on a Japanese DVD.

Ungureanu is now 28, and she now lives in England, where she is coaching on the Isle of Man. And, according to this Libertatea article, she is now training bars, beam and floor herself, and recently competed in an internal competition on beam and floor. Remember, she was the 1998 European floor champion.

Check it out:

Awards for Dragoi and Tamirjan

Gabriela Dragoi was named Athlete of the Year for Buzau county, according to this article in Stiri Locale Bucuresti.

Dragoi and Tamirjan

Dragoi and Tamirjan

In other heartwarming Dragoi news, a businessman named Costel Bucur is helping out her family (she has five siblings) by helping to rebuild their house and donating things for Christmas. Very cool. See article here.

Ana Maria Tamirjan was also honored recently by the Prahova Directorate for Sport, which encompasses Ploesti. Tamirjan is second in the competition for best athlete of Prahova county, with first place going to someone who does judo.

Tamirjan said:

2008 was a hard year, in which we had many injuries, which makes this even more satisfying. [In 2009], on a person level, I’d like to come back with medals from Europeans and Worlds. Otherwise, I hope for good health and the ability to work hard.

Tamirjan is recovering from a cracked femur, and consequently has refused to take off more than one day for Christmas!

See Pro Sport article here.

Andreea Acatrinei won the Best Athlete award for Hunedoara, with Ceralesca Patrascu second. Steliana Nistor won for Sibiu.

Sandra Izbasa

And, naturally, what Romanian update would be complete without something about Sandra Izbasa? She is currently in Belgium for an exhibition (see here). She’ll be performing on beam and floor. Dariya Zgoba will supposedly also be there. (In other exhibition news, Chellsie Memmel is in Holland for similar reasons.)

Nadia Comaneci did a new interview with Jurnalul National, complete with ridiculously cute pictures of the DNA-gifted child of theirs.

Honestly, Comaneci bores me these days. Also, like many currently competing gymnasts, she wears too much make-up. The one tidbit I did find interesting: she had Thanksgiving with Geza Poszar (despite the fact that Poszar corroborated Trudi Kollar’s stories of abuse by Bela Karolyi, a dispute that Comaneci clearly wants to stay out of), who knows George Clooney! (Comaneci also mentions that she is still in touch with Bela and Marta.)

Otherwise, the interview is a yawner. They don’t even ask her to comment on the recent Olympics! If I had been doing this interview, I might have started with that, instead of chatting about her friendship with bodybuilder Joe Weider and the 1976 Olympics.

Anyway, what is going on in this picture??? You’ll notice that if you glance at it, it looks like Bart Conner doesn’t have legs.

Whaaaaaaa?

Whaaaaaaa?

Nicolae Forminte did an interview with Replica.

Nicolae Forminte with Sandra Izbasa

Nicolae Forminte with Sandra Izbasa

In the interview, Forminte talks about the Romanians’ performance in Beijing and their hopes for 2009, and also has some very kind words for Steliana Nistor.

Of the Romanians’ performance in Beijing, Forminte says that Nistor and Ana Maria Tamirjan didn’t really finalize their routines until Beijing, where they did a lot of last-minute training. Moreover, Gabriela Dragoi was suffering from leg pain. This left Forminte with only one team member fully able to contribute: Sandra Izbasa. No wonder she was the only one to win gold.

On the other hand, Forminte is not disappointed in his team’s performance:

I believed in myself and in my colleagues, and I managed to fulfill our objectives. I was tremendously happy that the team remained on the Olympic podium.

Forminte also says that he didn’t really publicize news of Nistor’s back problems before the 2008 Olympics (among other things) because he didn’t want to use it as an excuse for the Romanians’ performance.

You’ll recall that when she first retired, Forminte tried to convince Nistor not to, but he now says that he wasn’t sure she could continue, concluding that, “For me, the gymnastics chapter of Steliana’s life has ended, but we remain in contact.”

Who's more talented?

Nistor and Liukin: Who's more talented?

Because of her injury, Nistor was not able to train at the level of intensity that was necessary to achieve Forminte’s biggest goal for her: to win gold in the all-around. This is disappointing to Forminte especially because, he says, “She was more talented than the American [Nastia] Liukin.”

(That’s a difficult argument to make! But I’ll let people fight it out amongst themselves. Suffice it to say, Liukin does seem to have a lot more medals. … Then again, natural talent and hard work are too different things. Then again, Liukin’s entire DNA is a veritable vault of talent. Aaanyway.)

With Nistor gone, there is certainly an aura of stress surrounding Forminte. He talks about the difficulties the Romanians faced in the last quadrennium, saying that it did not go unnoticed by foreign coaches and others that he kept showing up to competitions with new gymnasts. He says that he has been anxious and unable to rest.

As for the looking to the past and hoping for the future, Forminte attributes the Romanian decline to two things: the Code of Points and the current Romanian system for training children and junior athletes. You’ll recall that Forminte said after the Olympics that under the old CoP, the Romanians would have won: they had the cleanest exercises. But, he acknowledges, it’s important to change with the times and address these issues, even citing a desire to improve on bars. (Thank god.)

For 2009, Forminte is looking at Izbasa, Tamirjan, Dargoi. He hopes to see Dragoi and Andreea Acatrinei back, but both are currently injured. He also mentions Diana Chelaru. Otherwise, he says, he has not yet found a junior with the talent to replace Nistor. (I assume Larisa Iordache doesn’t count because of her age.)

It’s going to be tough for the Romanians. Lots of problems on bars among juniors (more on Romanian juniors here); I hope Forminte’s serious when he says he wants to work on that.

I respect Forminte. As Al Trautwig always used to say about Octavian Belu, the man lives in a one-room house adjacent to the gym compound. It’s a tough life. Also, if Izbasa is any reflection on him, he’s a good coach, I think. She’s been dealing with this ridiculous schedule really well, and dealt with her World Cup Final disappointment exceedingly gracefully. Anyway, as you can tell, I’m glad she’s still around. I really liked Nistor, but Izbasa’s my favorite current Romanian senior. (We’ll have to wait until 2012 (!) to see if Iordache can grab that spot.)

Today, Globoesporte published an article about how Oleg Ostapenko is returning to the Ukraine, leaving Irina Ilyashenko in charge of the burgeoning dynasty they created together.

Oleg Ostapenko working with Daiane dos Santos

Oleg Ostapenko working with Daiane dos Santos

In fact, according to this press release, Ostapenko has accepted an offer to be the new junior women’s coach for Russia — this despite the fact that earlier reports had him turning down an offer from the Russian Gymnastics Federation. (Edit: IG has a short story in English.)

This new move has Ostapenko working alongside Alexander Alexandrov, the new Russian women’s head coach, who is himself returning to Russia after fifteen years in the United States.

Everyone was psyched when Ostapenko announced he was returning to the Ukraine. At the time, Igor Korobshinsky, the head men’s coach, said that Ostapenko’s decision was the beginning of the return of all of Ukraine’s best athletes.

This is a huge coup for the Russians. This is a guy who coached Viktoria Karpenko, Natalia Kalinina, Tatiana Lysenko, even Lilia Podkopaeva.

On the other hand, disaster strikes for the Ukraine. The Russians start their training camp on January 8th, and I can’t imagine the Ukrainians would be too far behind. That gives them less than a month to find a replacement for Ostapenko.

In the longer-term, after their disappointing performance at the Olympics, the Ukrainians were really looking to find a new way. I’m hoping it will still happen, because I do love them. But they need a strong coach and, more importantly, a good advocate for better training conditions and equipment. Otherwise, could Ukraine wind up going the way of other Soviet states and satellites, like Belarus and Hungary, that have seen their stock fall dramatically in the past 20 years?

A small group of French gymnasts is in Grieux (near Grenoble) for a training camp lasting until December 23rd.

Apparently national coach Véronique Legras-Snoeck wants to integrate the youngest seniors, those born in 1993, including Youna Dufournet.

Pauline Morel will not be at Giers, but has already announced that she will continue competing.

The gymnasts present are Dufournet, Emilie Dupuis, Manon Erre, Eva Maurin, Elodie Perez, Marine Petit, Typhaine Pompilio, and Chloé Stanic. Petit is the only Olympic-team member to show up at Giers.

Of other gymnasts who could/should have been present, many are excused, and some are injured (including Laetitia Dugain, Kathleen Lindor, Aurélie Malausséna and Angéline Serre). Apparently Rose-Eliandre Bellemare and Lindsay Lindor are in Guadeloupe for a gala. Guadeloupe or Giers? You decide.

Finally, Marine Debauve has not yet decided on the future of her gymnastics career (by which I mean, whether it exists).


About The C Score

First there was A score and B score, now D score and E score. Where is the C score? Right here. In the form of my random thoughts about women's artistic gymnastics.

Pages

December 2008
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031