The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘2008 Gymnix International

While the rest of the world looks to the World Cup Final, which starts in just a few hours in Madrid, the Canadian gymnastics community had its eyes focused on Gatineau.

Brittany Rogers, 2008 Elite Canada champion

Brittany Rogers, 2008 Elite Canada champion

In the senior competition that took place Friday, Brittany Rogers took gold in the all-around, with Sydney Sawa and Charlotte Mackie rounding out the medals.

The junior all-around will take place Saturday, with junior and senior event finals to be contested on Sunday.

Rogers’ win should not come as a surprise. She placed second at Gymnix and sixth at Pacific Rim this year, and first in the Canadian Junior Championships last year. At this competition, she had the highest score on three events, all except floor, which went to Mackie. Mackie is also not a surprise: she was third at Yokohama and fourth at Gymnix and Pacific Rim. She also had the second-highest score on beam.

Sawa is a bit older than the other two. She competed at the 2007 World Championships, and took fifth at Gymnix as a senior this year. She was fifth in the senior division at the 2008 Canadian Championships. Sawa was second on all events except beam, where she was sixth. Not sure what happened there.

The one big Canadian senior we didn’t see is Peng Peng Lee, who is injured. Lee has also been dealing with the sudden closing of her training gym.

Also competing were Dominique Pegg, in her first senior competition, and Ti Liu. Pegg finished a strong fourth, nearly two points ahead of fifth-place Cynthia Lemieux Ti, unfortunately, did not compete four events, scratching on floor. Sky Corbett-Methot finished ninth.

The juniors compete tomorrow. Among them will be Anysia Unick, second at this year’s Junior Championships. Also competing will be Caitlin Keates and Coralie Leblond-Chartrand. All of them, including the new seniors Pegg and Liu, are discussed in my Up-and-Coming Junior series here. We’ll also see the 2008 novice champion Madeline Gardiner.

Full results here.

All-around:

1. Brittany Rogers (56.35)
2. Sydney Sawa (55.40)
3. Charlotte Mackie (54.90)
4. Dominique Pegg (53.90)
5. Cynthia Lemieux (51.00)
6. Laurie-Eve Gagne-Pepin (50.30)
7. Miranda Meyer (50.20)
8. Catherine Dion (50.15)

Today: Canada and Australia

Canada

I’m going to do something a little bit different with Canada. Three of Canada’s juniors, Charlotte Mackie, Peng-Peng Lee, and Brittany Rogers — are already exceedingly well-known on the international scene (at least on this side of the pond) and already compete with seniors at internal Canadian events. And though none of the three were age-eligible for the Olympics, they all competed (quite well) in the senior Canadian championships. At that event, Lee placed third, Rogers sixth, and Mackie seventh. So I’m going to focus on girls who are currently competing junior-level Canadian gymnastics in an effort to see who is the next big thing.

1. Dominique Pegg

Pegg is this year’s big winner from the Canadian Junior Championships, where she took the all-around title and placed first on vault and bars, second on floor, and third on beam. Of the second tier of Canadian juniors (that is, those below the three I mentioned above), she is among those with the most experience. Last year, she placed fifth at Championships, behind the three above plus Sky Corbett-Methot, a member of the junior national team who has not been seen in major competition in 2008. In 2006, as a novice, Pegg took the silver in the all-around. Internationally, Pegg’s experience is fairly limited, though she did place sixth in the all-around at Junior Pan Ams in 2007 and fourth in the all-around at the 2007 Romanian International junior competition. By far Pegg’s best placement is in vault: she has placed first on vault at 2006, 2007 and 2008 Championships, and took first on vault at both of her big international competitions. She hasn’t attended Gymnix since 2006, when she placed 12th. Pegg has a very nice UB routine, where she does a nice, high Jaeger and a double tuck dismount with a full twist. Even at last year’s Championships, she had great amplitude and form. Of those I’ll cover here, Pegg is the only one (in addition to Lee, Mackie and Rogers) who will be of senior age next year.

Dominique Pegg

Dominique Pegg

2. Ti Liu

Liu placed third at this year’s Junior Championships, and first on beam. (I am pretty sure she qualified on bars, but for some reason she did not compete.) At last year’s Championships she placed ninth. At the 2007 Elite Canada, she placed second all-around, first on bars and beam, and second on floor. Her international experience has been limited: sixth on bars at the Massilia Cup (this year’s edition is coming up), and 13th at Gymnix in the all around, with a fourth-place finish on beam and a bronze on bars. She also competed at the 2007 and 2006 editions of Gymnix, in which she placed ninth and 14th, respectively, and at the 2007 Pan American Games. Liu is an elegant but strong bar worker, and does some nice Staldler work and a big straddled Jaeger. She needs to upgrade, though, particularly on her dismount, currently a piked double back. She’s a natural beam worker, though she still has some wobbles, and does, among other things, a double turn on BB, which we rarely see.

3. Caitlyn Keates

Pegg and Liu are both more further along than Keates, but she shows promise. She placed fourth at Junior Championships this year, and qualified to all EFs except vault. She placed only 14th at Gymnix this year, but in 2007 took second on beam and fifth on bars. She was the 2006 Novice champion at Elite Canada, and placed second on beam at that competition in 2007.

Honorable mention

Coralie Leblond-Chartrand of the Gymnix club placed fifth at junior championships this year, and was the only gymnast to qualify to all of the event finals, thoughs he didn’t place in any. At Elite Canada, Leblond-Chartrand placed fourth in the all-around and took third on beam. She has attended two Gymnix competitions, placing sixth in 2007 and 11th in 2008. Anysia Unick has even less experience on the elite level, but surprised observers by placing second at Championships this year. Finally, Jessica Dowling was the only other competitor at this year’s Championships to qualify to more than one event final: she qualified to three and placed in all of them, taking third on bars and floor and second on beam.

The Canadian team

Here’s where I’ll mention the big three. They are pretty excellent, wth AA scores routinely in the mid-to-high 50’s. Rogers took second at Gymnix this year, and placed seventh in 2007. She also placed sixth at Pacific Rim, where she also nabbed the bronze on vault and bars. Internally, she placed first at last year’s Junior Championships, taking the silver on bars. Mackie had the best showing at Pacific Rim this year, placing fourth, and also took fourth at Gymnix, along with a gold on vault and two bronzes on beam and floor. She also took third at the 2007 Yokohama Championships. Lee may be the best of the three. Lee was second to Rogers at last year’s Championships, but took fifth in the all-around and second on bars, both over Rogers, at this year’s Pacific Rim. She also placed fifth at 2007 Pan Ams. Recently, Lee’s gym closed and she is now training privately, but observers don’t seem to think this is affecting her.

The one problem for those looking for Canada to move to the next level is that Rogers, Mackie and Lee consistently get the choice international assignments, so the rest of their team has little experience. This could prove problematic in building a strong Worlds team, but on the other hand 2009 Worlds consist only of individual competitions. Even as we move into the quad, the new 5-3-3 format means that smaller teams with fewer all-star competitors may actually do quite well. With these three competing at the level of many juniors from top countries, Canada could be looking to place itself squarely in the top eight. For this to happen, however, those juniors still competing at that level will need to upgrade: no one is vaulting anything above an A-score of 5.2, and floor A-scores average around a 5.0.

Australia

1. Britt Greeley

Greeley will become a senior in 2009 and is currently, by my calculations,t he most outstanding junior. At the Australian Nationals in May, Greeley took second to Emily Little (see below), but generally speaking she is the best performer on the team, especially internationally. Despite the second-place finish in the AA, Greeley medaled in three EFs, taking gold on bars, silver on beam and bronze on floor. At the 2007 National Clubs meet, Greeley took fifth in the junior AA and second on beam. She was seen in international competition as early as 2005, taking 11th in the AA at the WOGA Classic. She took fifth at the 2008 edition of the Classic. She has also been sent to the Pacific Alliance (2006) and Pacific Rim (2008) meets. In the latter, she took 10th in the AA and finished seventh in beam EFs. Greeley’s best event may be BB, although she is actually more of a steady competitor than a trickster on that event. At WOGA this year, she competed only a layout full dismount, which may be evidence of trouble on (what I assume is) her higher-difficulty dismount. On UB, Greeley is a bit labored but has very nice lines, and the former would probably go away with a little strength training. She does a nice full twisting double tuck dismount. Greeley’s FX music makes me want to stick a screwdriver in my eardrum (it is a combination of “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” the techno version like in Shawn Johnson’s 2005 FX AND “Careless Whisper). She competed a back double tuck at this year’s Nationals, and does some nice twisting work. Good precision.

2. Emily Little

Little took the gold from Greeley at this year’s Australian Nationals. She competed Australian Level 10 through 2007 Nationals, but then competed as a junior international elite at the 2007 National Clubs, where she placed second in the AA (above Greeley), and took three EF medals: gold on floor, silver on vault and bronze on bars. At this year’s Nationals, she took home two golds on beam and floor. Little has really competed only at one major international event, the 2008 Pacific Rim, where she finished 11th in the AA and took fifth on VT. I haven’t seen much of Little’s work, but her FX is cute enough, with bouncy almost circus-like music, a double pike mount, and a pretty 3/2 twist dismount.

3. Chantelle Turnbull

The Australian juniors have very little international experience, and Turnbull in fact has none. However, she is currently rising fairly quickly through the junior ranks, and placed fourth at this year’s Nationals with a third-place finish on bars. She made several mistakes in that competition and likely would have placed higher otherwise. At last year’s National Clubs she took sixth in the all-around and third on vault. In fact, I chose Turnbull for third in front of several other contenders precisely because of her vault: she is currently competing a 3/2 Yurchenko, and I believe she is the only Australian junior to do so currently. Turnbull is a fairly powerful gymnast, clearly, and shows it also on floor, where she has decent tumbling that includes a nice full in double back. Inexplicably, however, her music choice is a techno remix of “Dragostea din tei.” The British would say the Australians were never known for their taste ….

Honorable mention

Two injured gymnasts deserve mention. Mary-Anne Monckton, who placed fifth and took silvers on beam and floor in a strong field at last year’s Nationals, was injured for the 2008 season. She also competed in 2007 in the Australian Youth Olympics, a relatively important competition for juniors from Commonwealth countries, placing 24th and taking second on floor. She also competed at Massilia in 2006. She is quite tiny and needs some work on bars and vault. Another injured junior of note is Tain Molendijk, who was 13th in the AA at the 2007 AYO and traveled to the Pacific Rim Championships in 2008 only to have to withdraw beacuse of injury. Finally, Karina Brooks took third at this year’s Nationals and medaled in three EFs, with two silvers and one bronze in EFs (silvers on bars and floor, bronze on beam). She was seventh at Nationals in 2007.

The Australia team

Australia looks to have a quite strong team for the future. While we are not sure about all the retirements yet, we do know that the famed Dasha Joura is planning to continue, for now at least, after a disappointing Olympics. There is also a whole set of new seniors who were not quite ready for the Olympics but competed well against the Olympians. (They are the Corrie Lothrops, Chelsea Davises and Mattie Larsons of Australia.) First is Emma Dennis, who won the 2007 Junior Nationals and placed sixth at this year’s combined Nationals/Olympic trials. Dennis was seventh at the 2007 AYO and third at Yokohama in the AA and on floor. She is a decent vaulter and quite good on beam. I like Dennis best on FX. She does a high full in, some nice twisting, a decent double pike, and is quite elegant. She also uses a classical piece for her music, which you don’t see much of anymore. She does a 3/2 Yurchenko vault. Dennis was on the Olympic team training squad and was the alternate for the 2008 Olympic team. Amber Fulljames was also a member of the 9-gymnast Olympic training squad and was second at 2007 Nationals and eighth in 2008 at her first senior Nationals. Last year she laced in three of four EFs, missing only on FX. Fulljames was 13th in the AA at the 2006 Pacific Alliance Championships, 11th at Yokohama, and ninth in the AA in the senior division of the 2008 Gymnix International. Finally, I would also mention Yves Berryman, third at 2007 Nationals and 10th this year, and Larissa Miller, a good UB worker who placed fifth in 2007 and 12th in 2008. The junior gymnasts have a ways to go, but I think that if these new seniors choose to stick around, Australia will actually prove to be quite competitive in the next quad.

Up next: Brazil and the Ukraine

With this quadrennium winding down, and speculation still flying about who will continue — Cheng Fei? Shawn Johnson? Nastia Liukin? Anna Pavlova? Jade Barbosa? — the big question is, who is the next big thing?

I addressed some of my preliminary guesses for the Americans, who have a great crop of juniors. But The Couch Gymnast has an absolutely great round-up of some of the top gymnasts from other countries. Definitely a must-read, especially if you don’t usually follow the juniors.

Below I give my top three picks for current juniors from all of the major countries. It doesn’t include recent additions to the senior roster, who will also be major players in the next quad (people like Daria Elizarova, the 2007 junior European champion, who was bumped from the Beijing line-up to alternate).

Pretty much every gymnast on this list, however, faces one major problem: big skills with less-than-stellar execution. Nearly everyone here tends to be pretty sloppy, which is going to be a much bigger problem in the new Code, which is clearly an attempt to mitigate the effect of large skills. It’ll be interesting to see what their respect coaches do about this. Finally, although this is fairly common among juniors, their vaults lag behind their other events — here’s hoping they can all concentrate on this (especially with reference to form) a little more.

Today: Russia and Romania

Russia

1. Tatiana Nabieva (RUS)

This one’s easy. Nabieva, who won’t even be eligible for senior competition until 2010, placed first in the AA at the junior Europeans, and qualified to all of the event finals, taking gold on floor and silver on beam, vault and bars. She’s been around the international scene since 2003, at the age of 9! She’s progressed from being an adorable pixie-type gymnast to having a really graceful body type and great form. I am most impressed by her UB — she was cleaner at Europeans than Dufournet, who took first. She has great handstand positions, clean lines, great transitions, including a nice Pak. Her FX is still a little sloppy, but she nailed her double Arabian without cowboying it, and often sticks her triple twist, which at Europeans was a 2.5 twist. She’s got a pretty decent front with a half on beam and her leaps on beam are good. Her VT is probably her weakest event right now, with inconsistent form in the air (then again, she still placed second at Europeans). She’s neither way on the graceful side nor way on the powerful side, but this actually means that she’s a balanced gymnast — good tumbling and dance, maybe a la Anna Pavlova. She hasn’t been around at many other competitions — she was not, for instance, at Gymnix 2008, but in 2007 at that event she placed first in the AA and medalled in every EF, taking first on bars. This is one major AA threat.

Tatiana Nabieva at 2008 Europeans

Tatiana Nabieva at 2008 Europeans

Aliya Mustafina (RUS)

Mustafina is a dancer’s gymnast. She’s still a little immature on floor, and needs to grow into her choreography a little, but her dance already exhibits beautiful lines and hints of graceful greatness. I love gymnasts of the Shawn Johnson variety — I tend to prefer them — but Mustafina totally won me over. She needs to beef up her FX tumbling skills level, which explains a fourth-place finish on that event at Europeans, but she is amazingly graceful. I would say she will eventually have Nastia Liukin beat on this front, because I think Mustafina can manage to pull out some clean and elegant tumbling too. Because she’s a slightly less powerful gymnast, Mustafina is also not totally competitive on VT yet, in terms of constistency, where she competes a 1.5 Yurchenko. But I think she has the potential to do it like Liukin does — stuck, with perfect form in the air. On BB she shows great flexibility and has some nice strength moves. And for all the talk of her having fewer big tumbling skills, she does a standing back with a half — not too shabby. On UB, she has — unsurprisingly — nice lines, and good pirouetting skills. She has a tendency to arch in handstand though, which I think is a result of trying to make them too perfect — this happened to Liukin once, notoriously (I think in 2007 Nationals, but I could be wrong). At Europeans she qualified only to two EFs, placing fourth in both. In 2007, she was second to Nabieva at Gymnix and placed second on every event at the International Junior competition in Yokohama in 2007 (to Rebecca Bross, who swept gold in the AA and all four EFs). Overall, gorgeous gymnast.

3. Viktoriya Komova

If I were Elfi Schlegel, I would start here by mentioning how Viktoriya Komova is the daughter of Soviet gymnast Vera Kolesnikova, and therefore has loads of gymnastics DNA. Instead, let’s talk about how Komova placed third at Pacific Rim and the WOGA Classic this year. She also qualified for all four EFs at Pacific Rim, though she finished out of the medals in all of them (and the dreaded fourth in two of these). Her best event may be the vault, where she does a strong but inconsistent DTY. Her floor is not too shabby either — it includes a 1.5 twist to double Arabian and a triple twist dismount, and actual choreography that her dance actually stands up to. Again, some problems with consistency — two falls at WOGA — but if she gets rid of those, she’ll be a powerhouse. Her BB is packed with difficulty, including handspring to two layouts and a standing Arabian. She’s a high jumper too. She’s actually solid and aggressive on bars too, where she does a big piked Jaeger and a nice Geinger. A great all-around gymnast. Incidentally, she’s only thirteen.

Honorable mentions:

The tiny Anastasia Grishina is up first here because, well, she’s strong and talented and … twelve. She placed second among juniors at the 2007 Friendship Classic and sixth at Gymnix 2008. She also won the 11-14 Russian all-around competition in 2007 (none of the above three participated). At Gymnix 2008, Grishina’s biggest international event so far, she placed second on bars, fourth on beam and fifth on floor in EFs. On UB she struggles on her low-to-high transition, but she also is generally aggressive and does a high-flying Tkatchev to Pak. Even in the past year she has improved tremendously on floor, and is quite graceful and shows good flexibility, though she needs to up the difficulty a bit.

Grishina’s my pick for the biggest stand-out beyond the three I’ve already mentioned, but I’d also add Violetta Malikova, one of the Russian juniors at the Pacific Rim Championships in 2008, and Eleonora Goryunova, who placed eighth at Gymnix 2008. Malikova is a solid gymnast. On BB, she has a strong Arabian and good, light tumbling. She actually qualified to UB finals at the Pacific Rim, but after a form break on her Tkatchev to Pak and a fall on the dismount, she finished in seventh. So far, my favorite event for her is FX, where she has a strong, expressive routine, and almost always completes her twists. Goryunova is not a stand-out in terms of scores on any event quite yet, but she is competitive on all four of them, and qualified to EFs in three of these at Gymnix. But I think eventually she will be an excellent floor worker. She has superb dance and choreography, but unlike the other young Russians, also throws big skills, including a 5/2 twist to punch layout front. Incidentally, Malikova and Goryunova finished second and third, respectively, to Grishina at the Moscow Championships last year.

Finally, there are three other Russians who participated at Europeans, all of whom deserve mention: Anastasia Novikova, Anna Dementyeva, and Tatiana Solovyeva. All three placed strongly at last year’s Moscow Championships, with Novikova and Dementyeva placing second and third on vault after Nabieva, and Dementyeva taking second and third on FX and BB, respectively. Solovyeva is an excellent beam worker (though not at the level of Mustafina and Nabieva — though she did place third at Moscow Championships), and Dementyeva is actually a reasonably good bar worker.

ETA 10/7: I should also mention the sister of Mustafina, Nailya Mustafina, who placed third at Gymnix this year, and 12th at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships. She also placed second (to Bross, suffering her sister’s fate there!) at the 2008 WOGA Classic, beating Komova, who placed third. She is also only 12, but will be eligible for senior competition for the 2012 Olympics. She is more compact and stronger than her sister. On BB, she does a back handspring to back with a full. Despite falling on this skill at WOGA, she wound up with a 15.600. She also outscored Bross on FX. Her floor is unbelievable, especially for her age (great combination twists).

The Russian team:

This was the easiest ranking to do because the Russian juniors, led by Nabieva, are unbelievably strong. These gymnasts are not only talented, they have international experience, which makes a direct national ranking less important. Nabieva has routinely beaten Mustafina, mainly because her difficulty levels are higher, although actually — and especially compared to many other juniors — Nabieva has quite good form. The one problem I can see is that there are not as many Russian juniors floating around internationally as there are even Romanians. Either way, these three are excellent — all operating at least on some events at a senior level. Perhaps more importantly, the junior Russians participate internally in a number of competitions that include things like compulsories and work on a single bar, which give them a lot of work on basics at a high level of competition that other girls in other countries simply don’t have. Providing they stay healthy, I think we might need to acknowledge the resurgence of the “Russian threat,” especially if people like Semenova and Afanasyeva stick around. They also have a talented crop of very young juniors, including Grishina, who will be of the perfect age for 2012.

Romania

1. Amelia Racea:

Racea’s one of the only juniors of note on the Romanian team right now, which is a major problem. She placed fourth at this year’s Europeans, taking second on balance beam and third on floor. She’s not the most graceful of gymnasts, but she’s got pretty big skills. Her floor reminds me of that of Daniela Druncea, which means good tumbling with light, stuck landings, and questionable dance. Her beam is similar, composed largely of acrobatic skills and fewer dance elements (this will be problematic with the new code). Floor and beam are her best events, but she’s decent on vault too. In fact, in addition to taking the all-around title in Category II (1993-1995 births) in the Romanian junior nationals last year in September, she took gold on all three of those events. On UB she is Romanian — by which I mean low-scoring — but, in the only routine I’ve seen of hers (from Jesolo 2008), she actually had decent form and good handstand positions. UB is the only event in which she did not win gold — she took silver — last year, where her score also beat that of the Category I winner Diana Chelaru (see below). At the most recent Romanian Championships in Ploeisti, in July, she placed second to Chelaru on vault and second on beam. Unfortunately, like the other Romanians I’ll be discussing, she has limited international experience — in fact, it’s pretty much entirely from Europeans. Fortunately, though, she is on the younger side for this quad, so she still has time.

Amelia Racea at the 2008 Europeans

Amelia Racea at the 2008 Europeans

2. Ana Porgras

Porgras placed ninth at Europeans, and second to Diana Chelaru in Category I last year. She also had the highest score in team finals of any Romanian at Jesolo, and placed eighth (the highest Romanian placement) in the all-around. Porgras placed second on floor and first on UB and BB in the Junior Nationals in 2007, with a massive 16.450 on BB (she also won BB event finals at this year’s Europeans, with a 15.700). Her floor is solid, and I really appreciate that she flies high (instead of far) on her twists. My standards for Romanian bars are tremendously low right now (see below) so I’m quite pleased that she has decent form and only the occasional loss of tightness in her back. She’s not the biggest daredevil on BB, but she does the really nice Romanian-style acrobatics, combined with a fair amount of grace. She does one of the best aerials to arabesques of anyone, junior or senior, on the Romanian team (even though I’m not a huge fan of that skill). She looks like a senior on this apparatus. It’s not clear to me, however, where she was during Championships in early summer 2008. Here’s hoping she’s not seriously injured.

3. Diana Chelaru:

Chelaru was last year’s Category I champion in Romania, though she later scratched on event finals because of an injury. This year at the Romanian Championships, she placed first on vault and qualified to the other three event finals, proceeding then to place dead last in two of them. Not sure what was going on there. Chelaru has little international experience, which is a major problem. She actually was not at Europeans, and did not place at Jesolo. She was, however, the third highest-scoring Romanian at that competition in team finals, after Racea and Porgras, and was the only Romanian to compete at DTY. Presumably, the other juniors will be updating their vaults eventually, and I’m thinking Chelaru could go up to an Amanar. Chelaru’s also solid on beam and floor — though she needs to clean up her landings on the latter — and is prepared to compete on all four events, which is unfortunately more than I can say for the other Romanians below. Her weakest event, unsurprisingly, is bars — she scored only a 13.500 on that event at last year’s Nationals, and had major errors plus an A-score of 5.000 that gave her an 11.200 on that event at Jesolo.

Honorable mentions:

There are some interesting Romanians lurking around, but like the three I have already mentioned, they have limited international experience.

Larisa Iordache won Category III (1995-1997 births) last year. She’s tiny, and extremely young (she turned 12 in June), so it’s hard to say how she will hold up, but so far she shows amazing potential. We didn’t see too much of her at Nationals this year, but she did have the second-highest overall score on her Dinamo team during team finals (after Elena Chiric, a senior). She’s also among the more polished of these gymnasts, with especially nice form — and flexibility — on floor (where she placed second in 2007) and beam (first). She actually reminds me of a young Andreea Raducan.

Loredana Sabau, who placed third in Category I last year, was also strong, taking first on floor and vault and second on beam and bars. At this year’s Nationals, however, she only placed in one event final — third on bars — though she did compete respectably for Deva in team finals. She has not really shined yet in international competition, with a disastrous 11.700 on bars (B-score in the fives — she lost her swing on a giant, ending in a dead hang not once but twice) keeping her out of finals in Jesolo, and a sixth-place finish at Europeans (with only one qualification to EFs, on floor). Honestly, her floor is pretty terrible right now on dance, but she has good form in tumbling, particularly twists. Good form (and Dominique Moceanu’s mount!) but a lot of balance checks on BB.

Finally I would mention Diana Trenca and Madalina Neagu. Trenca placed second to Racea in Category II last year, and took two silvers, one bronze and one gold (on bars) in event finals. This year, at Nationals, she took second on bars among all juniors. In fact, I would say she’s probably the best bars worker among Romania’s juniors (though she had a major mistake at Jesolo. Neagu is a floor specialist, though she also placed second all-around in Category III last year. She has won both FX finals she has competed in Romania, and apparently got the biggest reaction from the crowd of any performance at Junior Nationals in 2007. She’s dynamic and only needs a little work on expressiveness. She’s also no slouch on other events, placing in EFs on both beam and bars (though the bars thing is relative).

The Romanian team:

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Romanian team, and I am seriously concerned about them. To be fair, their juniors rarely see the light of day before they become seniors, so the lack of international experience may not be so terrible. On the other hand, their juniors are exhibiting the Druncea symptom slightly — precise, big skills with almost no style (exceptions include many of the ones listed here, including Iordache and Neagu). The biggest problem here is going to be bars. Recently a big problem for this team has been that they have not kept up with the trends in bars. But from what I’ve seen of these juniors, the problems go much deeper — in Jesolo and at the Pre-Olympic Youth Cup in Bergisch-Gladbach (GER) we saw major form break after form break, falls, dead hangs, extra swings — and this from the girls I have mentioned here, including Neagu and Sabau. Really bad news.

Still to come: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, United States

Up next: France and China

This L.A. Times piece from back in August asks who the next big thing will be for women’s gymnastics.

Of course, the spin they put on it is that a number of L.A. girls are in the running. Two of the girls mentioned in this post are Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro (both from All-Olympica in L.A.), both of whom are obvious contenders for 2012. Larson was old enough this year, made it to trials, but had a stress fracture (and, in all honesty, didn’t contribute so much that she should have been put on the team). Shapiro was too young. (Mattie Larson will be on the old side in 2012, at 20 — but same age as Alicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel this year.)

But who else? My comments on Larson and Shapiro, plus a few more:

Rebecca Bross
This is an obvious one. The girl was junior all-around champion at Visa Championships in 2007, and took first on three of the four event finals (the only event on which she wasn’t first was beam, where she took second). On floor, her choreography is great (it is WOGA after all), and she handles some pretty mature dance beautifully. She also does a lot more twisting than other gymnasts (her last pass isn’t a double pike!), which reminds me of Nastia Liukin, except I think that Bross is a better tumbler, and manages to be graceful even in the non-dance segments of her routine (can’t say that for Liukin).

Chelsea Davis
Not the best timing for Davis, who will be 19 for the 2012 Olympics. On the other hand, she was fourth at Nationals in 2007, sixth at Jesolo, and first at the 2008 Gymnix competition (senior), although frankly her only other true competition was Mattie Larson, who placed second, and Kristina Vaculik, who only competed two events. And, of course, she was eighth in the all-around at the Olympic Trials. On the other hand, her A-scores aren’t the highest, especially given that she’s among the oldest in this group.

Mattie Larson
Larson will be 20 for the 2012 Olympics, which is not ideal. Then again, she is strong and graceful, and had a good chance of making the team before her injury. On the other hand, her contributions weren’t staggeringly amazing, with a DTY and only a 5.8 A-score (last I checked) on bars.

Samantha Shapiro
People love Shapiro, and with good reasons. Like Larson, she is graceful but also strong. Her bars and beam are both really high-difficulty, and will only get better. Shapiro’s weakest event is the vault, but that’s less of a concern because we need help other places more. One of those places is bars, and Shapiro is at All-Olympia, which has a great coaching staff for bars. I think she’s a candidate to stick it out, even though her age isn’t ideal.

Jordyn Wieber
She has some growing up to do, but she’s already done quite a bit since she burst onto the national stage at the age of 10 (although she wasn’t on the national team until 2006). At the age of 12, she placed 3rd in the all-around at Nationals. Her floor is not very mature yet, but I think part of that has to do with her club (Geddert’s) choreography. Her bars are actually quite clean even though she’s a pretty powerful gymnast (the type you might expect to be sloppy on bars). And I think she could eventually update to a 2 1/2-twisting Yurchenko. And she’ll be the perfect age for the 2012 Olympics.

I actually don’t have the highest hopes for people like Bridget Sloan or Davis simply because of their ages. Of course, Memmel and Sacramone proved that you can be 20 and still make it onto the U.S. team, but then their Olympics didn’t turn out quite as they had imagined. And then there’s the fact that the next big thing for four years down the road doesn’t usually surface quite this early.

I’ll discuss this more later, but our big problem right now is obviously bars, and we need someone who really stands out on that event. Actually, we need at least two people, if these Olympics prove anything.

Bross is really up there for me right now. I can’t wait to see her in senior competition. Here’s her floor from the 2007 Pan Ams:


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.

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