The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Nastia Liukin

A new article from Pro Sport announces more bad news (and brief good news) for Russian gymnastics.

Alexander Kiryashov has said that Liudmila Grebenkova-Ezhova will not compete in the World Cup Final in Madrid in December. Why? Ironically, a knee injury.

Liudmila Grebenkova

Liudmila Grebenkova at the 2008 Olympics

Grebenkova was qualified in 13th place on beam. This leaves the Russians with few people for the WCF — Anna Pavlova (qualified on beam and vault) is out with torn knee ligaments suffered at the DTB Cup earlier this month; and Ksenia Semenova (qualified on bars and beam) has an elbow injury. Elena Zamolodchikova (qualified on vault and floor) is back — she was at the DTB Cup — but not performing at the highest level.

Enter Yulia Lozhecko.

Yulia Lozhecko at last year's World Championships

Yulia Lozhecko at last year's World Championships

According to this same article, Lozhecko has experienced “psychological problems” after not being selected for the Olympic team. But things are going better, according to Kiryashov. She has been training again at Round Lake since November 6th and her chances of attending the WCF are “more realistic” now that Grebenkova cannot attend.

The whole thing is a little ironic given that Lozhecko is actually ranked 12th to Grebenkova’s 13th on beam, but so national gymnastics politics goes. I’d be very happy to see Lozhecko at this year’s WCF, and given her 12th-place ranking, she should have no trouble qualifying. (Pavlova, ranked above her, is out. Nistor is retired, Liukin and Johnson will undoubtedly not attend, etc.)

For the record, Semenova is ranked 23rd on beam, with Ksenia Afanasyeva 26th. Other than Zamolodchikova and Pavlova, the Russians have no one in the top thirty on vault. Irina Isayeva is the only Russian other than Semenova who is in the top thirty on bars. Zamolodchikova is ranked 14th on floor, with Ekaterina Kramarenko tied for 29th.

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While the rather underwhelming (Coach Rick’s characterization of my reaction to the results) PAGU Individual Event Championships took place in Argentina, with the United States present, everyone else of consequence was over in Europe at the Massilia Cup in France.

The Massilia Cup’s Web site is beyond useless, but I’ve finally gotten my hands on some results. Note that there is both the Open and the Cup. The Open is for all teams who are interested in competing, while the Cup is limited to the official delegations from the top eight countries. The top performers then compete in an all-around known as Top Massilia in which each gymnast competes as many events as she chooses. It’s an EF competition, but for some reason they also compile all-around scores.

The Chinese dominated, sweeping both all-arounds and both team finals, with Jiang Yuyuan and her teammate Guo Wei winning the Cup (with only two competitors while all of the other teams had three, top two scores count), and Jiang taking gold in the Cup all-around and gold on bars and floor in Top Massilia. To be fair, however, the Chinese had the most experienced team (with Jiang), followed by the Australians, who placed third. The Russians took second, with the graceful Aliya Mustafina replacing Tatiana Nabieva, who was scheduled to compete (no word on what happened), Viktoria Komova (who does a Patterson dismount on beam), and Kristina Goryunova (Goryunova appears to have replaced Anna Demienteva, who was scheduled). Goryunova went on to medal in two EFs in the Top Massilia; Mustafina on one. Russia beat China in team finals on vault, but just barely, and floor by nearly a point, while the Australians actually placed first on beam, but came in only third. The three Russians went 4-5-6 in the all-around, Goryunova, Komova, Mustafina. Mustafina had the highest score on floor of all competitors.

Australian Lauren Mitchell had a good meet, taking second in the all-around in the Cup and first in the all-around in Top Massilia with silvers on two events, and third by team with Ashleigh Brennan and up-and-comer Britt Greeley. (Note: advance word had Emily Little competing on the Cup team and Greeley on the Open team. Not sure what happened.) And despite the scandal brewing at home, the Brazilians placed a respectable fourth. Their highest placement in the all-around was Bruna Leal, ninth, with Ethiene Franco tenth and Khiuna Dias twelfth.

The disappointments come for the French and the Romanians. The French senior team, with Youna Dufournet making her senior debut, placed only fifth, with a fall by Dufournet on bars and on her triple twist on floor. The other French competitors were Laetitia Dugain and Manon Erre (Dugain appears to be replacing Angeline Serre, who was expected to compete). Dufournet placed only eighth in the all-around with low scores on beam and floor. Marine Brevet and Chloé Stanic, two up-and-coming French juniors, actually beat Dugain, who placed a dismal 21st of 23.

But the real trouble is for the Romanians, who came in a dismal sixth despite putting up some of their top new talent — Amelia Racea, Diana Trenca and Claudia Voicu. As I’ve mentioned, the Romanians have a huge problem with vault (Racea does the best one, a FTY), and tend to score in the mid-50’s. Racea posted a reasonable 57.050 with trouble on bars to finish seventh. Voicu placed thirteenth, Trenca eighteenth. Hopefully the move to Deva by many of their top gymnasts of the next generation, including these three, will sort that out. None placed in any EFs.

China in first, Russia in second, Australia in third

The podium for the Massilia Cup team competition: China in first, Russia in second, Australia in third

As for the Open, the Canadians overperformed, taking the second and third spots on the team podium and placing Dominique Pegg in third place in the all-around. Pegg was my choice for top Canadian junior. A WOGA team placed fourth, but I don’t know who competed.

The two Chinese girls who placed first and second in the Open, Zhang Yujiao and Kang Xiaojun outscored Pegg by 1.5 and 2 points, respectively. Briley Casanova, a fairly well-known American junior, took fourth. Casanova had the highest score on vault and tied with Kang for the highest score on floor, but took a hit on bars with a 12.750.

As I mentioned, Mitchell placed first in the Top Massilia. Racea placed second — leaving out bars — while Goryunova placed third and Pegg fourth (the highest finish by an Open competitor). The rest of the competitors did not compete three events and I’m not even sure why they do this ranking.

More importantly, the Dutch Wyomi Masela placed first on vault, the best finish of any Dutch competitor. Goryunova took second, just above Dufournet on what some might say is her best event. As I mentioned, Mitchell took silver on three events (bars and beam, her best-scoring events). Jiang, unsurprisingly, dominated her competition on bars and floor. Guo took first on beam and third on floor, cementing the Chinese dominance.

Finally, the audience was also treated to a performance by Nastia Liukin who, however, appears to have used one of her routines from the Tour of Gymnastics Superstars. If I remember correctly, I didn’t enjoy it.

Nastia Liukin at the 2008 Massilia Cup

Nastia Liukin at the 2008 Massilia Cup

Full results are available here. That link is weird, so if it doesn’t work, here is the Massilia Cup main page.

Massilia Cup team:

1. China: Jiang Yuyuan, Guo Wei
2. Russia: Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova, Kristina Goryunova
3. Australia: Lauren Mitchell, Ashleigh Brennan, Britt Greeley
4. Brazil: Ana Silva, Khiuna Dias, Bruna Leal
5. France (seniors): Youna Dufournet, Laetitia Dugain, Manon Erre
6. Romania: Amelia Racea, Diana Trenca, Claudia Voicu
7. Netherlands: Joy Goedkoop, Wyomi Masela, Natasja Blind
8. France (juniors): Chloé Stanic, Marine Brevet, Justine Crosato

Massilia Cup all-around:

1. Jiang Yuyuan
2. Lauren Mitchell
3. Guo Wei

Top Massilia vault:

1. Wyomi Masela (NED)
2. Kristina Goryunova (RUS)
3. Youna Dufournet (FRA)

Top Massilia uneven bars:

1. Jiang Yuyuan (CHN)
2. Lauren Mitchell (AUS)
3. Geng Ruo Wei (CHN)

Top Massilia beam:

1. Guo Wei (CHN)
2. Lauren Mitchell (AUS)
3. Kristina Goryunova (RUS)

Top Massilia floor:

1. Jiang Yuyuan (CHN)
2. Aliya Mustafina (RUS)
3. Guo Wei (CHN)

Open team:

1. Shanghai: Zhang Yujiao, Kang Xiaojun, Ruo Wei Geng
2. Canada 1: Dominique Pegg, Rochelle Hurt, Anysia Unick
3. Canada 2: Jessica Dowling, Madeline Gardiner, Caitlyn Keats

Open all-around

1. Zhang Yujiao
2. Kang Xiaojun
3. Dominique Pegg

Inside Gymnastics, an American gymnastics magazine (whose online coverage has been extremely intermittent and generally disappointing lately) will launch a radio program this Thursday, November 20th at 5 p.m. EST.

According to this notice, the program will be hosted by John Roethlisberger and will feature Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin and Shannon Miller.

The first broadcast will stream live on insidegymnastics.com.

We’re nearing the end of the year, so here’s some stuff that’s coming up. This includes “breaking” news coming out of the current U.S. national training camp, which ends tomorrow. The official announcement of U.S. assignments can be found here.

Big news:

  • The U.S. PAGU team has been named: Rebecca Bross, Olivia Courtney, Corrie Lothrop, Samantha Shapiro. The inclusion of Shapiro means she must have gotten over her elbow injury.
  • Diana Bulimar and Larisa Iordache of Romania will compete at Top Gym.
  • Nastia Liukin will perform an exhibition at Massilia Cup.
  • Amanda Jetter will be joined at the International Artistic Gymnastics Challenge by Olivia Courtney and Corrie Lothrop. The latter two will be at both PAGU and in Brussels. Cassie Whitcomb, who was originally named for this meet back in October, is now out.

PAGU:

First, the U.S. team for the Pan American Gymnastics Union (PAGU) Individual Event Championships has been chosen: Rebecca Bross, Olivia Courtney, Corrie Lothrop, Samantha Shapiro.

The big news is that Jana Bieger has once again been screwed over by Marta Karolyi. This seems to be a signal that USAG is done with Bieger; they’re moving on to the younger seniors. If this is the case, I hope Karolyi will release Bieger, and then maybe she could go compete for Germany. I think she would have fun with that, and Germany’s got some other good contenders, including Oksana Chusovitina, Kim Bui, Jenny Brunner, Marie-Sophie Hindermann …. Or maybe she’ll just move on to NCAA. (I always forget she can’t do NCAA because she randomly went elite in 2006.) Anyway, it doesn’t look good for her in U.S. elite gymnastics. The other people on the training squad who were not picked are Mackenzie Caquatto, Amanda Jetter, Bridget Sloan, and Cassie Whitcomb. News from Sloan was that she was going to train for the American Cup in 2009 and not bother with international competition before then. The weird thing is that Shapiro was not even on the shortlist, presumably because she was injured, so maybe she has gotten over that injury, bumping the other three new seniors.

Top Gym

Top Gym in Charleroi, Belgium, which will be attended by two strong American juniors — Jordyn Wieber and her Geddert’s teammate Kamerin Moore — adds two great Romanian juniors to its competition list: Diana Bulimar and Larisa Iordache. Bulimar was this year’s Category II champion at Romanian Nationals, with Iordache taking Category III last year, and placing second to Andreea Tufa this year. Presumably the Category I juniors, many of whom just moved to the Olympic squad at Deva, have more important things to do. In her most recent competition, at Blanc-Mesnil in France November 7-8, Bulimar took second in the AA to Ukraine’s Natalia Kononenko.

The other countries that have already released the names of their gymnasts aren’t sending any big names. However, I still haven’t heard about Russia’s gymnasts, and it’s possible it may be Anna Dementieva and Viktoria Komova, who will be in neighboring France for Massilia.

Sweden, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have announced their gymnasts. Italy will send Chiara Gandolfi and Giorgia Campana, and Holland will send Jocelynn Kraan and Yvette Moshage. A second Belgian team is yet to be named, as are the Slovenian, Slovakian, British and, as I mentioned, Russian teams.
Massilia Cup:

Rumor has it that Nastia Liukin will be performing an exhibition at the Massilia Cup in France on November 21-23.

The Massilia Cup consists of the Massilia Open for teams by country or gym, the Massilia Gym Cup by country-team, and the Top Massilia, an individual final for the highest scorers from the previous competitions.

For the Massilia Gym Cup, Australia will be sending Lauren Mitchell, who is doing quite the circuit right now, Ashleigh Brennan, and top junior Emily Little. For China, Jiang Yuyuan will be competing, which is exciting because she performed only on floor at the recent Chinese Nationals. The Chinese are also sending Wei Guo and Mengsi Tan (not familiar with the latter). Russia is sending juniors: the exciting Tatiana Nabieva as well as Anna Dementieva and Viktoria Komova, who throws some amazing skills for her age. Fantastic junior Youna Dufournet will compete on one team for France with two seniors, Angeline Serre and Manon Erre; and there will also be a team of juniors only: Chloé Stanic, Aurélie Malausséna and Eva Maurin. Brazil sends Ana Silva, Khiuna Dias and Bruna Leal.

Beyond this, some exciting competitors for the Open Massilia. There are a number of them, so I’ll highlight the ones I’m happy to see: Ambre Casanova, Marine Brevet and Justin Crosato of France (Saint-Etienne); Sarah Gusmaroli, Marie Gaffino (although rumor has it she has retired?) and Julie Pennachio also of France (Marseille); Britt Greeley, Tain Molendijk (who has been injured) and Tracey Penaluna of Australia; and three (!) WOGA teams: Briley Casanova, Sophia Lee, Rachel Holman, Alyssa Baumann, Hayley Sanders, Dana Ho, Belle MacFalane, Rachel Philipps and Charle Dembo; and a number of Canadian juniors: Caitlyn Keates, Rochelle Hurt, Dominique Pegg, Anysia Unick, Jessica Dowling, Melissa Downing, Madeline Gardiner, Anna Gamelo, Sabrina Gill, Mikaela Gerber, Briannah Tsang and Alysa Samaratunga (apparently there will be a selection after a training week in France). Léa Kemayou of France will also compete with her Toulon team, but I don’t know about the other competitors.

I’ve highlighted a number of these juniors in my Up-and-Coming Juniors series.

International Artistic Gymnastics Challenge

The Challenge, held in Woluwe Saint-Lambert near Brussels, will now feature Corrie Lothrop and Olivia Courtney in addition to Amanda Jetter and Cassie Whitcomb. This means that Lothrop and Courtney will be both at PAGU and at Saint-Lambert.

Bela Karolyi was in Chicago today to promote the American Cup, which will be held there in March 2009. There is a lot of good information coming out of these articles.

Bela at his ranch

Bela at his ranch

The Chinese age scandal

What, you thought it was going to go away?

Karolyi is still talking about the Chinese age scandal. He thinks the 2000 Olympics inquiry was perfunctory and is not convincing in the slightest:

“I think that’s just a cover-up. They’re trying to hold onto their reputation on this issue, when it’s one of the most blatant things we’ve ever seen.”

Karolyi says that he complained about the age question back in Sydney, saying that he pointed out that one of the girls (I assume Dong Fangxiao, but it could have been Yang Yun) had been a junior the year before and that it was impossible that she could have aged two years in one year. (He makes a good point.)

Interestingly, Karolyi was backed up by Steve Penny of USA Gymnastics more than usual. He said “Bela makes a good point when he says the Chinese kids went out there and did a good job. But there’s a rule that says you’ve got to be 16.”

My favorite part is where he added: “Here’s Rebecca Bross, two months short of being able to compete, sitting, crying in front of her TV, watching kids younger than her compete.” Really? Rebecca Bross was CRYING in front of her television?

It’s official: Marta’s staying

Bela confirms that Marta will be around at least through 2012. Interestingly, Penny says that the Karolyis (both of them) are “USA Gymnastics’ long-term plan.” Everyone loves the program (that Bela created, and that they hated at the time … no, I’m not bitter).

Bela then mentioned Kim Zmeskal as a possible successor!

Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Samantha Peszek continuing

Apparently Liukin was briefly at the trainign camp that just started, and told Bela she would continue competing.

Bela also said that while we lost all of our athletes after the 2004 cycle, at least Liukin, Johnson and Peszek will continue.

A little clue on Bela’s favorites?

When asked who the next big thing was, Bela answered Rebecca Bross and Jordyn Wieber. He called Wieber a “diamond” and compared her to Shawn Johnson (directly, and also by mentioning her ability to stay on the beam!).

And: one last (boring) article.

According to this article, Ksenia Semenova, reigning World uneven bars champion and fourth-place finalist in the all-around in Beijing 2008, is currently hurt and unable to train. The article says that she may miss the World Cup Final in Madrid in December.

Apparently Semenova saw a German doctor about this hand/wrist problem, but the recovery time is unclear and she is now taking medication for the pain. The article mentions that they have been working out some new routines, but that they are essentially completely sparing any possible trauma to Semenova’s hand.

Ksenia Semenova

Ksenia Semenova

This really is too bad. When Semenova won over Nastia Liukin at the 2007 Worlds, lots of people seemed bitter because they thought Liukin’s routine was more refined. But Semenova had higher difficulty and prevailed. By the time of the Olympics, Liukin and several others had passed Semenova in difficulty level. But honestly the last laugh was Semenova’s, because she had been dismissed as a bar-and-beam specialist, and then wound up stunning us with a fourth-place finish in the all-around. Her floor was actually quite adorable, if a little immature and with a music selection not to my taste. I seriously want her back in competition!

The DTB Cup starts on the 14th, and the start list reveals the first truly big-name competition since the Olympics. Naturally, the Americans are going to go ahead and send … no one … but here’s some people to look forward to:

Australia:

  • Lauren Mitchell: An Australian with a skill named after her in the upcoming CoP! (It’s a jump to chest stand to chest roll with a 1/2 turn. She performed it at the Olys.) Mitchell’s a star on beam: she matched Monette Russo’s fifth-place finish at a Worlds on that apparatus, and earned a silver at the Good Luck Beijing event. She also took silver on this apparatus at last year’s DTB! Mitchell underperformed on BB in qualifications at Beijing, but scored a respectable 15.550 in TF.

Brazil:

  • Daniele Hypolito: Well, Brazil has sent someone to DTB despite a fairly major scandal a-brewing back home. Of course, Hypolito left the national training center at Curitiba to train in Rio. But the girl is a legend: seven world championships, including Brazil’s first medal, and three Olympics. She wasn’t on FX in Olympic TF, so I’d be glad to see it.

China:

  • Cheng Fei: Everyone breath a collective sigh of joy/relief. The great Cheng has not yet retired! Honestly, of anyone, she inspires very little but admiration in the gymnastics community, which is saying a lot for people who curse each other over their disagreements about Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin. As Sandra Izbasa said in a recent interview, Cheng is an exceptional athlete and a perfectionist, and on top of that she has heaps of character.” And her FX is great, and I can’t wait to see her vault up to par again. After the Olympics, it became widely known that Fei had been on a punishing diet for nearly a year leading up to 2008. Hopefully this is no longer the case.
  • He Ning: Coming off her win at the Swiss Cup, Olympics almost-ran and member of the 2006 world-champion Chinese team, He brings solid UB and FX to this competition. Note that she was also second in the AA at Chinese Nationals only a few weeks ago. (The Chinese seniors are *deep*!)
  • Yang Yilin: I’m excited to see the newly crowned Chinese national champion and great UB worker Yang return to international competition. Best Chinese finish in the Olympic AA, taking bronze, despite really little international experience. ‘Nuff said. At her first WC event since the Olys, she took first on UB and second on FX.

Russian

  • Yulia Lozhecko: Lozhecko was last seen at Worlds in 2007 watering down her routine on BB (thereby losing her chance at EF qualification) and earning herself a ban from training camps for the rest of the year. She then came bouncing back at her first national competition in February to take gold over the likes of … well, the future Olympians. It’ll be great to see her back.
  • Anna Pavlova: I can’t wait to see some nice floor. I’m so psyched that Pavlova — considered to be the most classical Russian gymnast out there — will be continuing. She’s had a hard career, fourth in the Olympics in 2004, the scratch on the vault for a 0.000 and last-place finish in the 2008 EF, the fourth-place finish on BB. She took first on BB at this competition in 2006, and first on VT in 2004. Honestly, the girl is a solid three-event gymnast, and a powerful and elegant one at that. She’s great.
  • Elena Zamolodchikova: She’s baaaa-ack! She’s never been my favorite, but talk about longevity. Two Olympics, neither of which was 2008. She was in decent form at 2007 Worlds, but the lasting image of her there was sticking her vault after Ekaterina Kramarenko scratched on that apparatus, taking a 0.000 and leaving Russia in 8th. She didn’t quite make it to her third Olympics … is this evidence that she’s considering a FOURTH quad? (Too soon to tell.) She competed at DTB in 2002, taking second on BB and VT; in 2003, taking first on VT; in 2004, taking second on VT; and in 2006, taking third on VT. So basically, it’d be freaking awesome if she won VT again.

Ukraine

  • Anastasia Koval: Koval’s got a great UB routine and a decent start score, though she’ll face stiff and likely insurmountable competition from at least Ning and Yang. She’s young and a good one to watch — only sixteen, and with big international competitions limited so far to 2007 Worlds, 2008 Euros, and the Olympics.
  • Alina Kozich: Kozich is coming off a third-place finish on BB and a first-place finish on FX (with a beautiful routine, although curiously in that French leo with the silly slit down the front) at Glasgow. 2004 Olympian and European champion, and a nice second-place finish on BB at this year’s Euros, but she’s struggled a bit in the past quad. I hope this means she’s continuing!
  • Daria Zgoba: Zgoba has been floating around since 2004, and we know she’s good, but her competition has been really inconsistent. Still, she can be a great UB worker: first at the 2007 Euros, third at the 2008 Euros, and … first at the 2007 DTB! (Not to mention third at the 2006 World Cup Final.)

The full roster is available here.


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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