The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Cheng Fei

So at the World Cup Final, during beam, Cheng Fei and Lauren Mitchell had a brief attempt at conversation that was serendipitously captured by the live feed. Everyone’s talking about it.

The transcript goes something like this:

Cheng: Hey! Very good.
Mitchell: Oh! Thank you!
[they look around awkwardly]
Mitchell: [pointing toward the vault] Your vault, yesterday?
Cheng: Uhhh …
Mitchell: Your vault? [makes international hand gesture for vault] Yesterday. Was good. [gives thumbs up]
Cheng: Ah! [laughs]
Mitchell: [laughs]
Cheng: [all of a sudden, pointing to floor] You do floor?
Mitchell: No.
Cheng: [shrugs, goes back to winding up her tape]
Mitchell: Good luck for floor.

Beautiful.

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Day 2. Let’s do it. Big surprises on beam, with Lauren Mitchell taking gold. Fei made it two golds on floor after major problems on beam. I managed to get a bit of live-ness from Brazilian TV station BAND, so I saw from Zamolodchikova on on floor: scroll down for my thoughts.

Beam:

In a bit of an upset, Mitchell took the gold on beam in the World Cup Final while the two highest-ranked competitors, Cheng Fei and Sandra Izbasa placed out of the medals.

Lauren Mitchell, Yulia Lozheckho, Li Shanshan

The beam podium: Lauren Mitchell, Yulia Lozheckho, Li Shanshan

Actually, the whole podium is somewhat of a surprise: Yulia Lozhechko was second, and Li Shanshan placed third. Sanne Wevers unfortunately scratched at the last minute with an elbow injury.

Fei, who I totally expected to win, fell off the beam on her sheep jump and put her hands down on her front tuck to finish with a 13.825, placing her sixth. Overall, a wobbly routine, rated “not her best effort” by the live commentators at IG. Isbaza was a different story. Her routine was fine but watered down, with a 5.9 start value (including a 2/1 twist dismount) in a field of 6’s; she finished with a 14.925, which actually placed her fourth. Not bad considering she had the second-lowest start value of any gymnast.

The lowest start value award goes to Dariya Zgoba, who has been dealing with a foot injury — **she apparently had surgery but is still recovering — and started at only a 5.4. To give you a sense, her dismount was a round-off-layout. Sad. On the other hand, despite this, she finished above Cheng — the two falls did her in — and Daniele Hypolito, who also finished poorly in the vault finals. Hypolito had a fall on her mount (a round-off layout). Without this, she would have finished ahead of Cheng and Zgoba. Too bad.

Mitchell had the highest start value (6.6), and a seemingly nice routine, but with a few wobbles. Lozhechko actually had the second highest (6.4), a tenth above Li, which made the difference — their scores were only .5 apart. She apparently almost fell on her standing Arabian, and somehow managed to cowboy a back double tuck, but the rest of her routine appears to have been consistent. Li did her flic-flic-layout-Korbut series and a double pike dismount.

I’m totally distraught that Wevers wasn’t in this final. I really wanted to see her leg-up double turn. It is amazing. Would have been named after her too. On the turn front, though, at least we got Zgoba’s full turn with leg at head, which is awesome. By the way, since I’m using this as an opportunity to consider the level of originality on the apparatus, let’s consider mounts, shall we? Hypolito fell on her round-off-layout, Zgoba did her great planche, and everyone else did a hop up. It’s tragic. While we’re at it, dismounts were 2/1 (Cheng and Izbasa), double backs (Hypolito and Lozheckho) and double pike (Mitchell and Li). Interesting statistics: 7/7 did a switch jump (6/7 did it in combination); 6/7 did a switch leap; 5/7 did a front tuck (Mitchell did hers standing). Only one (Lozheckho), thankfully, did an aerial to scale. Also thankfully, only two did side somis: Lozhechko and Izbasa. Lozheckho was also the only one to do an Arabian. Naturally, there was an epidemic of full turns with leg at horizontal, although Zgoba does her awesome turn with leg at head, and Mitchell did hers with leg in lunge.

Cheng Fei, Jiang Yuyuan, Sandra Izbasa

The floor podium: Cheng Fei, Jiang Yuyuan, Sandra Izbasa

Floor:

Redeeming herself after beam, Fei took first on floor with an excellent, precise routine (15.375), ahead of Jiang Yuyuan (15.225) and Sandra Izbasa (15.000). Fei and Jiang had the best routines of the night: Fei’s was precise and clean, Jiang’s was happy and bouncy, as usual. Izbasa looked tired.

Tragically, Suzanne Harmes injured herself during her routine, twisting her ankle (gruesomely) on a front handspring. She wound up having to end her routine early, and somehow still wound up with a 12.650. Overall, alot of falls on floor. Besides Harmes, Koko Tsurumi fell on her double pike dismount and Elsa Garcia fell on her tucked full-in.

Live-ish commentary:

I actually finally scored a live feed of this final after some trouble with the plug-in. From Zamolodchikova on, I actually saw it with my own eyes. Nice.

Zamolodchikova looked good — and happy! She landed low on her double pike dismount, and stuck her 3/1 (despite crossed legs, which I hate). I had the same reaction to Hypolito: relief. Her routine was very good, she had good presentation and seemed into it, and she stuck her dismount (double pike — what else?).

First thought on Garcia was: I miss her old routine. She has quieter music now; I thought the old music suited her better. She fell to her hands on her full-in, but her mount of an Arabian double-front was good. After what seemed like a really low score for Garcia, the judges were on the phone for a while. At this point, the Brazilian commentators started going on and on about how Hypolito was in third place, as if they were unaware of the reputations of Izbasa, Cheng and Jiang on floor.

Anyway. Izbasa takes the floor. Sadly, she looks really tired. Still a good routine though. Her triple turn was only OK, and she underrotated her 3/1 dismount, but everything else was fine: 15.000. She just didn’t seem to want it as much as …

Fei is precise today. Very nice two first passes: piked full-in, whip-to-triple. You can tell from the first seconds that she is going to take this. And she does: 15.375.

Jiang was great. The presentation was somewhere between the level of TF and AA at the Olympics. Very very nice. Besides landing a bit short on a 5/2 and on a 3/2-3/1, her tumbling was very good. Great ending to the women’s competition. How can you not love her? And she takes silver! 15.225.

Other floor things:

Naomi Ruiz competed as the nominee from the host country, with what IG described as a routine with “no expression,” but she still managed to place fifth (13.900). Zamolodchikova’s 14.075 placed her fourth, nearly a point out of the medals, but ahead of everyone else. That is to say, eveyone else struggled: pretty significantly. Of course, Harmes finished last after ending her routine early. Tsurumi had a disappointing day, falling, as I mentioned, on her double pike dismount. Fortunately she still has that shiny bronze from the bars final.

Best presentation was by Jiang, Cheng and Garcia, at least of the ones I saw. Zamolodchikova looked better than she has. I was disappointed by Izbasa. Hypolito was good, but not great.

Cheng had the highest start-value (6.3), followed by Izbasa and Jiang (6.2). Garcia had the next-highest, 6.1, but still finished 8th after some sloppiness and the fall (which also went out-of-bounds). Everyone else had a 5.7/5.8.

Naturally, we saw a lot of double pikes: seven of them, to be precise, and Harmes didn’t finish her routine, so that could have made it eight. Of these, all were dismounts except Garcia’s. We saw two 5/2-punch front layouts, one of my favorite combination passes (if the layout doesn’t look like the gymnast is about to fall backwards). Lots of full-ins (six of them, to be exact, two of which were piked). Besides Cheng, everyone who did a 3/1, in combination or not, was short. This is a perpetual problem on this skill. Perhaps the best skill of the day was Jiang’s quadruple turn. I liked it.

The IG commentary is here.

Beam:

1. Lauren Mitchell (15.250)
2. Yulia Lozheckho (15.200)
3. Li Shanshan (15.150)
4. Sandra Izbasa (14.925)
5. Dariya Zgoba (14.000)
6. Cheng Fei (13.825)
7. Daniele Hypolito (13.425)

Floor:

1. Cheng Fei (15.375)
2. Jiang Yuyuan (15.225)
3. Sandra Izbasa (15.000)
4. Elena Zamolodchikova (14.075)
5. Naomi Ruiz (13.900)
6. Daniele Hypolito (13.700)
7. Koko Tsurumi (13.575)
8. Elsa Garcia (13.175)
9. Suzanne Harmes (12.650)

The first day of the World Cup Final is over, and here’s the sitch:

Cheng Fei wins!

Cheng Fei wins!

Vault:

Cheng Fei, unsurprisingly, took vault with a DTY and a laid-out Podkopayeva for a 15.050. Ariella Kaeslin took second with a Rudi and a 1.5 Yurchenko, losing to Fei by less than .05 (she finished with a 14.912), although naturally Fei didn’t pull out her biggest vaults. And Aagje Vanwalleghem took third with a 14.425, just over Elsa Garcia‘s 14.400. It appears that Vanwalleghem and Garcia actually had aBeijing uneven bars finals moment: they had the same A-scores and B-scores, but Vanwalleghem won.

Elena Zamolodchikova performed a DTY and a Yurchenko half-on 1.5-off but sat both down to finish sixth. (The second was also devalued to piked.) Apparently, though, she’s in shape, which I believe means better than she was at DTB.

Hiu Ying Angel Wong finished last with a full-twisting Tsukahara and a handspring front tuck, which she fell on. On the other hand, it was the first time a Hong Kong gymnast had made the WCF. Jana Komrskova also had an off day, after giving up her spot in Beijing to younger gymnasts, with a Yurchenko half on tucked one-half off and a Yurchenko full. IG seemed to suggest that she was not at her top level, despite being in shape.

Honestly, we all knew the vault final wouldn’t be very interesting, and that Cheng would win. The next highest-ranked person was Zamolodchikova, who didn’t seem to be in top form at DTB. Despite being ranked above Kaeslin, Komrskova has been out of competition for quite a while, so it was hard to imagine her being in top competition form. Apparently Garcia got the most applause of everyone — I know a lot of people were excited to see Mexico’s best gymnast ever back in competition! I certainly was. Too bad she missed the medals. I’m happy to see Vanwalleghem come away with the bronze, especially after turning down the International Challenge in Belgium that was also taking place this weekend. This is Belgium’s first WCF medal.

What vaults did we see? Obviously Cheng wasn’t going to perform her hardest stuff in this field. She did a DTY and a laid-out Yurchenko half-on 1.5 off, which gave her actually only the second-highest combined A-score (5.8+5.6=11.4), after Kaeslin. Kaeslin performed a Rudi and a 1.5-twisting Yurchenko, for an A-score of 11.8. The only other person besides Cheng to perform a DTY was Zamolodchikova, who complemented it with a Yurchenko half-on 1.5-off (recorded as piked), for a combined A-score of 11. Unfortunately she was not able to exploit that A-score with a high enough B-score, landing on her knees on both. Garcia, Boczogo and Vanwalleghem also all performed 1.5-twisting Yurchenkos. Garcia and Vanwalleghem then both performed a piked Yurchenko half-on 1.5-off to Boczogo’s handspring front one-half piked, giving them a .2 advantage over Boczogo. (Boczogo also fell on her 1.5 Yurchenko.) Komrskova and Wong had the lowest A-scores: Komrskova did a tucked Yurchenko half-on 1.5-off for a 10.0 A-score; and Wong did a full-twisting Tsukahara and a handspring front tuck, which honestly is a junior vault (A-score is 4.4) for a total of 8.6 A-score.

We actually saw more diversity in vaults than we would see in the average vault competition, but vault still remains the most boring event. The only competitive vaults performed were: DTY, Rudi, 1.5 Yurchenko and Cheng’s laid-out Yurchenko one-half on 1.5-off. Everything else we wouldn’t usually see from the creme de la creme of vaulters. If there’s any apparatus on which I’d like to see a burst of originality, it’s vault.

The Chinese could have swept on bars, but Yang Yillin scratched at the last minute

The Chinese could have swept on bars, but Yang Yillin scratched at the last minute

Uneven bars:

Honestly, the biggest surprise on bars was Yang Yilin’s scratch — with a “waist” (lower back) injury, according to Lu Shanzhen, which sounds like a pulled muscle. Apparently it is not serious. I certainly hope not! The title went to He Kexin with a 16.250, unsurprisingly, followed by Jiang Yuyuan, over .5 behind (15.700). Bronze went to Koko Tsurumi, who has really just amazed me recently. She was nearly .5 behind Jiang, but far ahead of Dariya Zgoba, who took fourth.

Apparently He’s routine was a little shaky. She had trouble on the 1/1 on the low bar, which has actually given her trouble in the past, but did her Jaeger combo, etc. — she competed full difficulty, with a 7.7 A-score. Interestingly, she received B-scores in the 7.5 to 9 range, which is pretty huge. Not sure what happened there. The top three had by far the highest A-scores, which I think tends to be the case on uneven bars more than on any other apparatus. Jiang was also in the 7’s (7.1) and Tsurumi had a 6.8.

Ouch (Koval)

Ouch (Koval)

The next highest score was Zgoba with a 6.2, then Anastasia Koval and Jana Sikulova with 6.0s. Koval finished a disappointing seventh after landing her head on the bar on a Stadler toe-on piked Tkatchev. Yikes. Zgoba also had a mistake, on her Pak to Stadler, on which she went the wrong direction. She actually had the same problem (on a different skill) on one of her routines at Beijing. Sikulova’s routine hasn’t changed much recently; I find it pretty boring, if technically correct. She finished fifth.

The disappointment of the day was probably for Daniele Hypolito, who honestly isn’t very strong on bars anyway. She finished with an 11.875 — ouch. She fell on two different elements — transition to high bar, when her feet slipped; and a Stadler. Apparently her score was also lowered by three tenths for some kind of neutral deduction, but I’m not sure what it was.

I think overall that bars always promised to be more interesting than vault. The three Chinese competitors (which went down to two went Yang scratched), were actually not ranked at the top of the list because they are relatively new competitors. We knew He was going to win, and that it was all but certain that Jiang would place. He could have had a fall and that still would not have made up the difference in A-score between her and Tsurumi. Anyway, there were two Ukrainians in the final. We know they have a beautiful bars heritage — and both are quite lovely on bars — but they are inconsistent and have fairly humdrum routines. It was great to see Sikulova — kind of like it was great to see Komrskova and Boczogo — but I didn’t really expect a medal for her.

As for originality, I was surprised when I made my bars Top 8 list to discover that bars have ultimately been pretty boring recently. Take a look at the dismounts we saw today: three double fronts, three double layouts. He did the only unique (by which I mean, not done by anyone else at this meet) dismount, a Tsukahara.

The FIG:

Yesterday when I read that the FIG was doing a “live broadcast,” I took them at their word, but in fact I was slightly unconvinced because there was no information about where you might see it. I wish the FIG would hire a publicity person for the Web site whose first language is English. (“Broadcast” is not the same as “commentary,” among other things) Seriously.

I don’t hate the FIG nearly as much as other people, but honestly IG‘s coverage was far superior to FIG’s. The FIG’s commentary was barely live — it was consistently far behind what IG was posting, and far less complete. (And, incidentally, the IG coverage was also done by a non-native English speaker.)

Also, do you think the photo galleries have been updated? The answer is no.

Here's hoping Sandra Izbasa (seen here Friday during podium training) takes gold on floor

Here's hoping Sandra Izbasa (seen here Friday during podium training) takes gold on floor

Tomorrow:

Tomorrow we see beam and floor finals. We’ll finally get to see Sandra Izbasa, and Cheng will be competing for two more golds, both of which are entirely within her reach. It will be exciting to see Li Shanshan on beam, especially after all the rumors flying around about her weight gain and return to her provincial team. Meanwhile, Hypolito and Zamolodchikova both have a shot at redemption (Hypolito on both events, Zamolodchikova on floor). But honestly I don’t think Hypolito’s beam will medal, and while she is powerful on floor, I really dislike the sloppiness (also true of Daiane dos Santos and sometimes Lais Souza — it’s a problem). I don’t imagine Zamolodchikova will pull it off, but it would certainly be exciting. On beam we’ll also see Lauren Mitchell, who is lovely on that event, as well as Sanne Wevers who is just so clean. And finally, perhaps the part I’m looking forward to the most: Jiang’s floor.

See you then!

Vault:

1. Cheng Fei (15.050)
2. Ariella Kaeslin (14.912)
3. Aagje Vanwalleghem (14.425)
4. Elsa Garcia (14.400)
5. Dorina Boczogo (13.787)
6. Elena Zamolodchikova (13.475)
7. Jana Komrskova (13.262)
8. Hiu Ying Angel Wong (12.712)

Uneven bars:

1. He Kexin (16.250)
2. Jiang Yuyuan (15.700)
3. Koko Tsurumi (15.250)
4. Dariya Zgoba (14.500)
5. Jana Sikulova (14.300)
6. Anastasia Koval (13.625)
7. Daniele Hypolito (11.875)

The lists of participants are finally in (see bottom), and I’ve made a montage of all the gymnasts as a small preview for the World Cup Final, which takes place in Madrid this weekend. (See bottom of post for lists.)

The big news since my last post is that Kim Bui declined. The last slot finally went to Hiu Ying Angel Wong, 26th, of Hong Kong.

The montage shows the gymnasts for each event along with their current world ranking. (The pictures at the beginning are of all the gymnasts competing on at least two events.) The song is “Die Welt gehoert mir” (“The World Belongs to Me,” appropriate, right?) by Bluemchen, this weird German techno-pop star of the past.

Some thoughts, in order in which I think of them:

  • I love Sandra Izbasa and I consider her queen of the floor. But I’d like to see Cheng Fei get a little redemption, so I’m a bit torn — I want Izbasa to win floor, but I want Cheng to win three golds. Go figure.
  • I am really glad to see Elsa Garcia back, and am glad she’ll be competing on floor.
  • My favorite skill in the entire montage is Sanne Wevers‘ leg-up double turn on beam. Especially in an era when so many gymnasts can barely do a full turn. Wevers was a last-minute addition after Alina Kozich had to pull out with a rolled ankle, and even though I love Kozich (especially on floor), I’m glad to have Wevers!
  • Bars is going to be a big show-down, and the Chinese (He Kexin, Yang Yilin and Jiang Yuyuan could easily go 1-2-3, in that order.
  • I love Dariya Zgoba but, let’s face it, you’re not going to win bars with her low-high transition. Like I’ve said before, I really don’t think elite gymnasts should ever have their feet on the bar when their hands are not also touching it.
  • Elena Zamolodchikova! Enough said.
  • Daniele Hypolito is qualified for three finals! Although she could easily wind up 8th on bars, I’m hoping to see a great vault floor out of her.
  • Jana Komrskova is back. Check out her vault in the clip. She’s precise.
  • Lauren Mitchell is great on beam. I’m hoping for a bronze for her (I’ve gotta put Feifei and Izbasa above her … sorry).
  • Speaking of beam, Li Shanshan will be there! It was a little tough for her after the Olympics. Glad to see her back.
  • We get to see Jiang’s floor. If you don’t get all fuzzy inside when you watch that, you probably should see a doctor.

See? Plenty of things about which to be excited.

TCS out.

Vault:

1. Cheng Fei
2. Elena Zamolodchikova
3. Jana Komrskova
4. Ariella Kaeslin
5. Dorina Boczogo
6. Aagje Vanwalleghem
7. Elsa Garcia
8. Hiu Ying Angel Wong

Uneven bars:

1. Dariya Zgoba
2. He Kexin
3. Jana Sikulova
4. Yang Yilin
5. Anastasia Koval
6. Jiang Yuyuan
7. Koko Tsurumi
8. Daniele Hypolito

Beam:

1. Cheng Fei
2. Sandra Izbasa
3. Li Shanshan
4. Yulia Lozhecko
5. Daniele Hypolito
6. Lauren Mitchell
7. Dariya Zgoba
8. Sanne Wevers

Floor:

1. Cheng Fei
2. Sandra Izbasa
3. Jiang Yuyuan
4. Suzanne Harmes
5. Daniele Hypolito
6. Elena Zamolodchikova
7. Koko Tsurumi
8. Elsa Garcia
-. Naomi Ruiz

The FIG has released a list of the qualifiers for the World Cup Final who have confirmed their participation plus the next gymnasts down the list who will be invited. The lists are prettty much as predicted.

The World Cup Final will take place December 12-14 in Madrid

The World Cup Final will take place December 12-14 in Madrid

Vault:

Participants are Cheng Fei, Elena Zamolodchikova, Jana Komrskova, Ariella Kaeslin and Dorina Boczogo.

The next three down the list are Hong Su Jong, Aagje Vanwalleghem and Olga Sherbatykh I’m thinking we can count out Hong (Hong Un Jong has already said she would not participate, and while I realize they are not the same person, it seems like a good predictor). Sherbatykh is also out. Vanwalleghem is likely to compete, which moves Hong Mi Kang (ranked 18th) into the last qualifying position. She recently took first on vault at the 2008 Asian Games.

Uneven bars:

According to the FIG, Dariya Zgoba has confirmed her participation, which makes Zgoba, He Kexin, Jana Sikulova, Yang Yilin and Anastasia Koval the qualifiers.

The next invitees are Jiang Yuyuan, Vanessa Ferrari and Iryna Krasnianska. Jiang will almost definitely participate, Ferrari is definitely out, and I’ve heard that Krasnianska is probably out too. The first replacement would be He Ning (17th) and the second is … Koko Tsurumi (18th)!

Beam:

Fei qualified first onto beam (as well as vault and floor) and is followed by Sandra Izbasa, Li Shanshan, Yulia Lozhecko and Daniele Hypolito. Hypolito has already confirmed her participation, though Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs is actually ranked above her.

Although Hopfner-Hibbs curiously declined her invitation on bars, she has expressed a desire to compete on beam if qualified, but rumor has it that she has already decided against participating because of final exams, etc. The next two invitees are Lauren Mitchell and Deng Linlin. I am curious about the Li confirmation, because she had been sent back to train with her provincial team. I presume, though, that the FIG did not get this wrong (though stranger things have happened). Even if Hopfner-Hibbs competes, we probably still have one place left because Deng is rumoerd to be injured. Next on the list is Lenika de Simone (18th), whose participation (if I’m not mistaken) would put Naomi Ruiz out of contention on floor, because Spain is only allowed to nominate a competitor if they have no other qualifiers. Should de Simone decline, next up would be Zgoba (19th), qualified and confirmed on bars, and Alina Kozich (21st), who is qualified and confirmed on floor too.

Floor:

Koko Tsurumi could be in on two WCF events

Koko Tsurumi could be in on two WCF events

Fei is first, followed by Izbasa — just like beam (which is exciting!). They are followed by Jiang, Kozich, Suzanne Harmes and Hypolito.

Zamolodchikova is first on the next list of invitees, and will undoubtedly participate. Patricia Moreno is next and retired, so that’s not happening. That leaves one spot to fill on floor, which could theoretically go to Daria Joura (16th), but the most likely competitor is Tsurumi, who is now likely qualified for two events!

It’s shaping up to be a good final, presuming everyone makes it to Madrid with no further injuries. I’m predicting Cheng on vault and beam and Izbasa on floor, but I don’t put much stock in my own predictions. I’m still calling He on bars. I’m doubting will see any major upsets.

It would be nice to see Zamolodchikova on the podium, but I think it’s a long-shot. Kaeslin has a decent shot at a medal on vault. The bars final could easily go Chinese 1-2-3 with He Kexin, Yang and Jiang. I have no idea about what kind of shape Li is in, but she could definitely compete on beam, as could Mitchell, though I have them competing for bronze with Cheng and Izbasa in the top two spots. On floor, Kozich could squeeze in for a medal, but I would expect Jiang to take third.

Today was the last day for invited gymnasts to confirm their participation at the World Cup Final in Madrid on December 12-14.

In this press release, the FIG announces the presence of the following athletes:

  • Daniele Hypolito (which we already knew …)
  • Ariella Kaeslin
  • Jana Sikulova
  • Jana Komrskova (!)
Jana Komrskova

Jana Komrskova

Jana Komrskova is the big surprise because it was thought she may have retired. In fact, she competed at a competition last week in Central Europe (results here, Sikulova also participated). In case anyone forgot, she was born in 1983! Catching up to Oksana Chusovitina there.

Finally, Naomi Ruiz was nominated as the female Spanish delegate. The host country is allowed to nominate one participant if they do not otherwise qualify, and apparently Lenika de Simone on beam is not it …. Ruiz will compete on floor.

Given this information, what does this mean for the line-up? The FIG has invited the top eight athletes plus four reserves, as shown here.

Vault:

A maximum of four of the top eight vaulters will be participating: Cheng Fei (2), Elena Zamolodchikova (5), Hong Un Jong (7), Carla Giovannini (8). Off the reserve list we’ll see Kormskova and Ariella Kaeslin. The only other possibility is Anna Grudko, which seems unlikely. So even if all of these people participate that would be seven. I believe that Hong never confirmed, and I doubt Grudko has, leaving only seven. Anyway, it’s pretty clear Cheng will win barring true craziness.

Uneven bars:

On bars, the possible participants among the top eight are: He Kexin (6), Sikulova (7) and Yang Yilin (8). Ksenia Semenova and Dariya Zgoba are injured, as is top-ranked Beth Tweddle. Off the reserve list, only Anastasia Koval will compete, making four. I would predict a He victory, but I know some are expecting (hoping for) a Yang upset.

Beam:

There is room for improvement in the beam competition, with only Cheng (4) and Sandra Izbasa (7) coming from the top eight. Add to that, however, Li Shanshan and Yulia Lozhecko off the reserve list. We know that Liudmila Grebenkova is out, and I have heard off the rumor mill that Irina Krasnianska is as well. Apparently she was seen judging in Ukraine last weekend. Not sure about this. With Kransianska on board, that makes six, otherwise only five.

Floor:

Cheng Fei and Sandra Izbasa, ranked 1st and 2nd on floor

Cheng Fei and Sandra Izbasa, ranked 1st and 2nd on floor

This will be the biggest smackdown, unless you count He vs. Yang on bars. Participants are: Cheng (1), Izbasa (2) and Jiang Yuyuan (6). Off the reserve list we have Alina Kozich and Daniele Hypolito. That makes five. I give this one to Izbasa, both because I prefer her and based on past performance. But then who doesn’t love Cheng … and perhaps she deserves it after all her troubles at the Olympics. This will be the event to watch I think, especially given Hypolito’s tumbling and Jiang’s all-around bad-assness, though I don’t expect either to contend for gold.

The big question is whether the FIG will go on to invite some other competition, otherwise we will have some pretty lame finals. The competition will be good, but it’s always nice to have a bigger field.

Given the rankings and what we know about retirements, injuries, etc., it would be nice to see (with asterisks by those whose readiness for competition might be in question, and double asterisks next to those who would clearly be ready):

Vault:

13. Dorina Boczogo
15. Aagje Vanwalleghem
18. Yong Mi Kang
19. Marissa King*
20. Elsa Garcia

Uneven bars:

13. Jiang Yuyuan**
15. Irina Krasnianska*
17. He Ning**
18. Koko Tsurumi**
19. Daria Joura*
20. Daniele Hypolito**

Beam:

13. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs
15. Daniele Hypolito**
16. Lauren Mitchell**
18. Lenika de Simone*
21. Alina Kozich

Floor:

14. Elena Zamolodchikova**
16. Daria Joura*
23. Koko Tsurumi**
26. Elsa Garcia*
27. Yasmin Zimmermann

Notice that this takes us all the way down to 27th on floor! There are a couple of people I have left out based on assumption. Jana Bieger, for instance, turned down the Pan Ams so she could train for the American Cup next year; though perhaps she could be enticed by hopes of a WCF medal (she would “qualify” on floor). Deng Linlin is said to need surgery and won’t be back for quite a while, which leaves her out on floor and beam. Vanessa Ferrari is out on bars (and floor, where she is in the top eight), also because of injury. Then, naturally, there are some people in there who are retired, for instance Emilie Lepennec or Li Ya.

Voila. I’ll leave it at that, without trying to predict the final rosters. But here’s hoping the FIG invites some interesting people further down the lists!

Unsurprisingly, China has named Cheng Fei, He Kexin, Yang Yilin, Jiang Yuyuan and Li Shanshan to participate in the 2008 World Cup Final in Madrid. (See here.)

This FIG press release also confirms the participation of Sandra Izbasa, Elena Zamolodchikova and Suzanne Harmes. But it also notes the absence of Anna Pavlova and Oksana Chusovitina. I also assume that Ksenia Semenova won’t be present, but can’t confirm that at this point.

Some thoughts:

Vault:

With Chusovitina (who is ranked first) and Pavlova (ranked third) out, Cheng has the vault nearly locked up unless Zamolodchikova has massively improved since her performance at the DTB Cup. Alicia Sacramone is also up there in this ranking, followed by Jade Barbosa — neither will be there. Hong Un Jong may be the only real competition. And if that’s the case, I think Cheng can assume that this one is in the bag.

Uneven bars:

He is ranked only sixth right now on bars, but she’s the front-runner, with Yang second unless Beth Tweddle shows up. Nastia Liukin will obviously not be there, and I’m pretty sure Semenova is out as well. Dariya Zgoba is ranked high (second) but can’t truly compete against the Chinese start values.

Beam:

I think at this point, I might consider calling this for Cheng too. Pavlova, Johnson and Liukin are among the top eight, and won’t be there. Steliana Nistor is also out, and wouldn’t have taken first anyway, in all likelihood. Catalina Ponor, who is currently ranked first, hasn’t shown up in international competition in a while, so I don’t know what kind of shape she is in. Cheng’s biggest competition is likely to come from other Chinese women, and notably Li.

Floor:

This will likely be the most interesting battle, and it will probably play out among Cheng, Izbasa and — to a lesser extent — Jiang. Harmes is ranked tenth on floor, but I don’t think she has a chance at the podium with these players, unless we see a major mistake. Zamolodchikova could also theoretically compete on floor, but only if she’s in much better shape by mid-December.