The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Mattie Larson

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

After a short hiatus …

Today: Britain and Italy

Britain

1. Nicole Hibbert

Hibbert has been improving steadily over the past year or so — her first as an international elite, culminating in this year’s first-place finish in both the British Junior Championships (June) and the English Junior Championships (held in early October). At British Championships, she placed first on both vault and beam, and third on floor. Notably, Hibbert scored higher than any other competitor (a la Shawn Johnson in 2006). Competing against seniors, she took fifth in the all-around at this year’s British Teams. Internally, in fact, Hibbert had competed quite well in past years, placing second in 2006 and third in 2007 at British Espoirs (the level below international elite, perhaps equivalent to the American “elite” status, and obviously equivalent to France’s Espoir program), where she also medalled in three EFs. At Junior Europeans, she placed 23rd after a fall on beam, but qualified for the VT and FX finals, placing fourth on VT. Her other international competition has been fairly limited, but she did place first at the 2007 GB vs. Switzerland friendly meet (the British, unsurprisingly, swept the top three spots). She placed fifth two years ago at the GB vs. France friendly meet, and fourth this year after Youna Dufournet (FR), Danusia Francis and Jennifer Pinches (below). Hibbert is an extremely powerful gymnast, and is quite tidy, but needs to do some maturing in terms of performance. One problem is on FX, where she does a double Arabian and a double full-in, with a nice twisting combination pass and good turns, but has terrible choreography. I actually like her on UB, where she does a huge Tkatchev and a Shapashnikova, with a double front dismount (major upgrades since 2007). Actually, it’s not only her dismount that reminds me of Chellsie Memmel on this event — she’s strong and aggressive. On VT she does a 1.5 Yurchenko and a what I believe is a piked Omelianchik. I’m sure she’ll be upgrading to a DTY. BB is maybe Hibbert’s biggest problem area — she totally fell apart on this appartus at Europeans, falling three times. She does a solid set though, including a standing back tuck and a standing back pike, and certainly has proven with her later medals on this apparatus that she is no slouch.

Nicole Hibbert

Nicole Hibbert

2. Jennifer Pinches

Hibbert and Pinches were really close in this ranking, especially given that Pinches outplaced Hibbert at Europeans. On the other hand, Pinches placed only fourth at the most recent British Championships and, curiously, was not present at the English Championships, both of which Hibbert won. Pinches is really an amazing all-around gymnast. She trains with Beth Tweddle at the dominant City of Liverpool club, consistently the first-place finisher at the British Teams championships, after moving from The Academy. Pinches’ biggest international competition by far was at this year’s European Championships, in which she placed a very respectable eighth, though she did not qualify to any event finals. She also placed second in the all-around in a 2012 Olympic hopefuls even in the Czech Republic, and third all-around in a Great Britain vs. France friendly meet after Youna Dufournet (see this post) and Danusia Francis (see below). As an Espoir-level gymnast, Pinches was not as flawless, taking 15th her first year and 9th in her second. That same year, however, she placed first in the UK School Games, a major competition for pre-international elite gymnasts. This lead-up culminated in a first-place finish at the English Championships in 2007. This year at her first appearance at British Championships, she placed fourth, behind both Hibbert (above) and Francis (below). However, she went on to medal in every EF, with gold on UB. It’s not clear why Pinches wasn’t present at English Championships, though I do know that she is currently in training for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, and was away for part of August in Beijing as part of a delegation of young athletes sent by the British Olympic Committee to observe the Olympians in training (a big endorsement by the BOC). Pinches is known probably best for her floor and beam, although she tends to place quite well on bars too. On beam, she’s a smooth worker, but needs some serious upgrades. She may have a Shawn Johnson-type problem on bars — the inner part of her routine is extremely clean (except a questionable Tkatchev) but with not the highest difficulty, but IIRC, she can do a double-twisting double dismount! Some upgrades, and she would be hugely competitive. On VT, she gets a good block off the horse and some good air time, but needs to upgrade (like almost every other junior). I like her best on FX: she is a precise tumbler, and does a beautiful double Arabian. She’s not at all a bad twister either, and does a nice double twist and a 2 1/2 (I think) in combination. The choreography could stand to be upgraded. I think this girl could be a decent AA threat, though it’s not clear yet whether she’s the one who can take Britain to the next level.

3. Danusia Francis

Francis placed seventeenth in the all-around at Junior Europeans and 2nd at the GB vs. France friendly meet in March, behind only Youna Dufournet. In internal competition, Francis was notably the second-place finisher at British Championships this year, and was the 2007 British Espoir champion. She competed solidly as early as 2006 (at the age of 11), when she was the British Espoir silver medalist and the British Teams champion. Overall, she has been at the top of the British competition in her age group for quite some time — even as far back as 2003, she was the Level 4 Champion. (For American readers, the levels work differently in Britain. Level 4 is the equivalent, skill-wise, of maybe Level 7. Level 3 is higher than Level 4.) I would say that her two best events are floor and bars. On bars, she does a really great Jaeger, and has been known to do a full-twisting double back dismount. She has good amplitude, but some form deductions (particularly leg separations on her shootover). On floor, she’s clearly powerful, and does a good double pike mount and a 2 1/2-twist dismount. Her main problem is the choreography, which is terrible (the music is Flight of the Bumblebee, which could be OK in theory). She’s quite wobbly on beam, although I haven’t seen much of it. On VT, she currently does a decent full-twisting Yurchenko.

Honorable mention

Niamh Rippin also represented the British team at 2008 Junior Europeans, where she placed fifteenth in the all-around (above Francis and Hibbert). For the time being, at least, she is — like the others I have mentioned above — competitive with juniors from big gymnastics teams, and notably the Romanians (of course, as I have mentioned, the Romanian juniors are quite weak overall right now). At this year’s British Championships, Rippin placed third in the junior division, behind Hibbert and Francis and above Pinches, and qualified to all four EFs. Rippin’s best event is floor, and she is also decent on bars, and qualified into finals at British Championships with the highest score on both events (she also took first on floor and third on bars at last year’s British Espoir Nationals). Ironically, she didn’t medal in either event in EFs, but did take the bronze on both vault and beam. On FX, Rippin’s first pass is a double Arabian front, and she does a combination pass of a 1 1/2 to triple twist, which is totally impressive. I absolutely love this girl’s floor. She has good dance, some big tumbling (bigger than any other junior on the British team), and with a current A-score of 5.8 with some upgrading and tidying up, she could really contend on this event. On UB, she does a big Geinger and a nice Pak, though she needs to work on consistency a bit. Rippin has some consistency issues on BB too, but she does currently have an A-score of 6.0. If it weren’t for consistency issues, I would likely have ranked Rippin higher, because I think she is one of the most promising gymnasts coming out of Britain.

The only other British junior I would mention is Jordan Lipton (Rippin’s teammate), the fifth-place finisher at the GB vs. FR friendly and at British Championships this year. She went on to take the bronze on bars in Championships EFs and placed fifth on beam. Lipton was also the 2006 Espoir champion, and is a two-time Scottish champion. She has been on the Scottish senior team (not sure how that works) since the age of ten, when she helped Scotland win gold at the (little-known) Northern European championships. On UB, she does three big releases, a Geinger, a Tkatchev, and a toe-on Tkatchev, and does a full-twisting double front dismount.

The British team

I’m pretty into these girls, and I particularly like the styles of both Pinches and Rippin. I don’t see them contending against the really big names, but then again, many of them currently have AA scores that outshine those of the Romanian juniors (who, Nicolae Forminte has said, are really behind, so perhaps now that they are all moved to Deva, they will catch up). I think that they will compete well against the second-tier gymnastics nations, like the Italians and the French. Note for instance that the British team beat France — by three points — at the most recent GB vs. France friendly match (in which the above girls took individual places 2 through 5). I suspect that they will probably perform considerably better as a team than did the current crop of British seniors.

Italy

1. Paola Galante

Galante has been attracting the attention of international gymnastics observers since the 2008 Junior Europeans, where she placed fifth, and took fifth on bars. She is known for her immense flexibility and her gorgeous turns, and has competed extremely well against current Italian seniors. At 2008 Italian Nationals, in which juniors competed with seniors, Galante took third in the all-around, first on bars, and sixth on floor. She also qualified to event finals third on vault and floor. Internationally, beyond Europeans, she placed third at Jesolo 2008, and took second at the 2007 Lugano Trophy meet behind Ceralesca Patrascu and in front of Youna Dufournet (my choice for top French junior) and 2008 Olympian Gabriela Dragoi of Romania. Perhaps most interestingly, she placed fifth all-around at the May 2008 Friendship International Exchange Competition with the United States, where she beat, among others Corrie Lothrop. She also placed ninth on beam and took third on bars, above Lothrop but also Ivana Hong and Mattie Larson. As I mentioned, Galante’s especially well-known for her turns. She does two Memmel turns on FX, where she is very expressive but needs to seriously upgrade her tumbling. On BB, she does a 1 1/2 leg-up turn, a switch leap to back tuck, and a nice straddle handstand mount with a full turn. Curiously, she actually has significant form problems on leaps, particularly on BB. As far as I know, Galante competes only up to a Yurchenko full in competition, but then she’s not known as a power athlete. Her best event is certainly UB, where she has a 7.1 A score and has some great skills, including a back clear piked circle to a reverse Hecht straddled to hang (F value), and a decent Tkatchev. Unfortunately, her B score does not match up to her difficulty score (which is not uncommon amongst juniors). Galante is very different from Vanessa Ferrari, the 2006 World Champion (not without some controversy), but she may have the chops to be as successful as Ferrari, or even more so. Certainly she’s been attracting a lot of attention for her grace, lines, and flexibility.

Paola Galante

Paola Galante

2. Elisabetta Preziosa

Preziosa also competed at the 2008 Europeans, though she finished only in 19th place and did not qualify to any EFs. She also competed at Jesolo, where she placed third, but besides that does not have much international experience to speak of. She consistently places just behind Galante, including at nationals, where she placed fourth in the all-around and on floor, and first on beam (recall that seniors, including the Italian Olympians, competed). Preziosa is great on BB, where she an extremely light lander and also displays good flexibility. She does a nice switch leap to back tuck, a very pretty scale, and a decent leg-up full turn. She needs to upgrade the dismount, which is currently a double back. Like Galante, she displays good expressiveness and flexibility on FX, where she does a leg-up double turn, and has been known to perform a Memmel turn. She also does a quite nice layout full to front layout. Although she has some serious deductions on UB, she does a good Jaeger and a Pak, and, full twisting double back dismount. (Her A score, however, is only 5.4.) Preziosa is not unlike Galante style-wise, but she needs to boost the A scores. I think she has the best chance on beam, where her A score is currently 6.3.

3. Andrea La Spada

La Spada placed a respectable seventh at Europeans, where she also took fifth on floor, her best event. She also tied Samantha Shapiro to come in fifth at Jesolo. La Spada took second on floor at Nationals, where she only competed in two events (she qualified to beam EFs in sixth). She is very precise on that event, where she does a clean double pike and 3/2 and 5/2 twists. Her combination pass is a front layout to layout front with a full. La Spada definitely needs to upgrade and clean up her UB, though she does a front double pike, which is at least nice for being somewhat rare. La Spada is far more powerful than either of the above two, landing high on her double pike and taking her twists very high. I appreciate that. I haven’t actually see her on BB, but that is supposedly her second-best event.

Honorable mention

Serena Licchetta is a more compact gymnast than Galante and Preziosa, but also has good flexibility (and also does a Memmel turn on floor — it’s apparently a requirement). Licchetta is not up there with these two, however, at least results-wise. Licchetta also competed at Europeans, and placed tenth at Jesolo and sixth at Lugano. At the Friendship Competition in Texas, she placed fourth on FX (thought out of third by over a point). She placed eighth at Nationals. She’s Ferrari-esque on BB — even down to the planche mount — where she does a standing back pike and a 2 1/2 twist dismount, but is sloppy overall. She does a mount to immediate Jaeger on UB, but I’ve seen her fall on it more than once, and she has some pretty major form deductions. She also has form problems on FX, though she is a decent twister. (She has a more peppy style than Galante or Preziosa, with cute if annoying music.)

Finally, a quick mention of Eleonora Rando, who competed on both the European and Jesolo teams. Rando has not been particularly competitive overall (she was tenth at nationals, and placed seventh on floor, her best event). But I actually really like her floor, which is precise, and is the only Italian floor routine among juniors to include two double saltos (piked and tucked). She is also not inflexible, and does both a Memmel turn and a leg-up full turn. She could be a good specialist (though given the size of its team, Italy really needs more all-arounders).

The Italian team

As far as I know, the Italian team currently has seven juniors, most of whom I have mentioned. As a team, they placed fifth at Europeans, and took second at Jesolo. Overall, they compete extremely well against their country’s own seniors. Though the Italian seniors are not the strongest competition, the fact that these juniors compete well against them bodes well. Many of their AA scores wind up in the higher 50s, which is more than can be said for many of the Romanian juniors, for instance. If the Italians can keep improving, I can see them actually being fairly competitive. (They have already been fairly competitive even against the strong USA juniors, particularly for what is not known to be the strongest gymnastics nation.) It’d be nice to see Italy move up a bit more in the team rankings. Galante certainly has the ability to contend for the AA if she continues upgrading and stays healthy. To be continued …

Up next: Australia and Canada

**Updated 10/12**

The most recent training camp took place at the Karolyi ranch this week, with all of the Olympians absent except for Bridget Sloan (sorry). Here’s the news I’ve gleaned, with some commentary:

Gymnasts present

Chelsea Davis:

Davis is apparently doing a double layout on floor! This is one of my favorite skills, and we didn’t see enough of it last quad. Apparently she also upgraded on bars, adding a Geinger and a Hindorff (for those who are unclear, a Hindorff is a free hip circle to Tkatchev, a pretty rare — and cool — skill). (ETA 10/12: Davis says that she verified the Hindorff only on the pit bar.) This is an important upgrade because she has nice lines and form on bar, but at Jesolo for instance was only competing a Jaeger release. ETA 10/12: Here is a great interview that Anne over at the great Gymnastike did with Davis about this camp.

This is Yulia Kut (USSR) doing a Hindorff (the first release in this routine), 1988:

Ivana Hong:

Hong is rumored to be at the camp but without a coach or gym. It’s hard to say where Hong will go now that she has left GAGE, but reliable guesses have her going to AOGC in California, her home state. If she went there, she would be training with Mattie Larson and Samantha Shapiro (and Hollie Mossett). Certainly that gym would complement her style well. Honestly, it’s hard to understand why she hasn’t shown up at WOGA, since her family is clearly willing to relocate. I’d like to see her go somewhere where she would be pushed to train tougher, harder skills — she’s got the form down — and I actually think either AOGC or WOGA would be good for that.

Amanda Jetter

Jetter now has a DTY and a Patterson dismount on beam, upgraded from a double back. Vault was Jetter’s lowest-scoring event at 2008 Nationals, so that is good news. And her beam is actually quite lovely, with a nice, clean standing Arabian.

Samantha Shapiro:

Had some kind of surgery, but is there.

Cassie Whitcomb:

Apparently Whitcomb has a very nice Hindorff. What’s with all the Hindorffs? Don’t know much about Whitcomb’s bars otherwise …

Jordyn Wieber:

The big news is that she is throwing an apparently solid Amanar. Now, one might think that the last thing a twelve-year-old junior needs is a giant vault leaps and bounds above the capacity of her competition, especially since it’s taxing and she’ll have to do it for three years before she even reaches senior age eligibility. On the other hand, her DTY was ofter over-rotated, suggesting she had extra power. Not sure what to think. Apparently she’s only training twenty-odd hours a week, so Geddert’s doesn’t seem to be breaking her, but on the other hand they seem to focus too much on skills and too little on form. Time will tell ….

Other people rumored to be at the camp but about which I have no information (besides assignments, below), sadly: Alaina Johnson, Mattie Larson, Randi Lau, Corrie Lothrop, Randy Stageberg, Shayla Worley.

Assignments

Top Gym: Charleroi, BEL November 28-30

Wieber and her Geddert’s teammate Kamerin Moore. Cute that they’re going together.

Pan-American Gymnastics Union (PAGU) Individual Event Championships: Buenos Aires, ARG November 19-23

A training squad of seven girls was picked: Jana Bieger, Rebecca Bross, Mackenzie Caquatto, Olivia Courtney, Jetter, Sloan, Whitcomb. Only four will go to PAGU.

NEW 10/12: Hints About International Competitions

Interestingly, Davis said in a recent interview (see above, or Anne’s comment) that she will not be participating in any international competitions until 2009, because of the new CoP. Not sure if this is a decision made by her coach, Kim Zmeskal-Burdette, or by Marta. If it’s Zmeskal-Burdette’s decision, it might be smart, except to the extent that it would provide Davis with international experience (though she seems confident about her place on the team right now, see the interview I keep referring to). If it’s by Marta, she probably is sending out gymnasts who have pretty set, high-scoring routines under this CoP. Davis is working on a lot of upgrades, so it would make sense that she would save them for use under the new CoP. So I’m expecting gymnasts with fewer upgrade plans to compete in the last few events of the year.

Thoughts

My impulse is to feel terrible for Bieger. It’s clear from her (rumored) request in 2007 to be released to Germany that she has had it up to here with USAG. It’s also clear from recent events that Marta Karolyi’s reaction (um … no) was justified: they keep Bieger around in case they need her after injuries. And that has worked out for Bieger in the past. Unfortunately, she’s clearly not one of Marta’s favorites, and that has worked against her. A lot. Now, if she is still going to camps, maybe there is a bright side: maybe she still wants to be involved. Certainly going to camps and accepting a possible international assignment means she isn’t trying to wait out the two years without international competition so that USAG has no more claim over her. Perhaps Bieger is being forgiving, and is sticking with the sport because she loves it ….

Worley is at camp. Her story eerily mirrors that of Chellsie Memmel in the lead-up to ’04 — will Worley stick around? It’s hard to imagine her doing so, what with all the injuries. At this point it seems like it would be a miracle if she could hang on. I’d like to know specifically what she’s been up to.

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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