The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Nicolae Forminte

Well, I have survived the MCAT (score pending) and my dissertation proposal (passed!). And I’m back!

A top ten of things I’ve missed, ’cause I’m not going back to talk about all of it. Looking forward now, folks! (And, no, I do not care that Shannon Miller is preggers.)

Oksana Chusovitina

Oksana Chusovitina

8. Oksana Chusovitina retires: I’ve never been the biggest fan, but she’s pretty amazing. Sad to see her go.

7. Jordyn Wieber wins the American Cup: Honestly, I enjoy her, and I think that her gymnastics is maturing quite well. I thought the most ridiculous thing about the American Cup was listening to Tim Daggett go on and on about Wieber’s toe-on on bars, and how she doesn’t put both feet on at the same time, and how it’s an eyesore. News flash: people used to do this all the time.

6. Shawn Johnson wins DWTS, insults everyone in US Weekly: I was happy with Johnson’s win; I thought she was quite good. And I really do think she is an amazing gymnast. But I am disappointed that she appears to have left gymnastics behind …. And then she said that she was an outcast on the national team, which seems plausible and might explain her less-than-ferocious desire to return to gymnastics. Still, by contrast, it was nice to see that Nastia Liukin (not always my favorite) is, by contrast, sticking with it. UPDATE: Apparently Johnson’s mirrorball is broken.

5. The FIG sucks: A KISS AND CRY CORNER? What a mockery of any sport. On the other hand, the suggested revamping of judging that should have scores coming faster is good.

4. Semenova is a world-class gymnast, remember? Ksenia Semenova and Ksenia Afanasyeva went 1-2 at Europeans. Semenova was 4th in Beijing. She is a stupendous gymnast, and not just on bars. Her floor is much more mature (as is her body.) And Ariella Kaeslin in third!

Youna Dufournet

Youna Dufournet

3. Youna Dufournet scares the crap out of everyone: At SCAM and Europeans, Dufournet totally falls apart on floor, scaring everyone. But then at French nationals this past week, she pulls out an awesome Def (apparently only French women are allowed to do that skill?)! (Interestingly, Dufournet still lost to Marine Petit and Rose Bellemare.)

2. Jade Barbosa wants to compete at Nationals: Somehow, Jade Barbosa, who has necrosis in her hand is training again. There are no words.

1. Nicolae Forminte has cancer: Skin cancer is very treatable, but if it is true that his wife noticed this spot a long time ago, well, that’s not so great. Prosport has the story. I like Forminte. A lot.

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Nicolae Forminte did an interview with Replica.

Nicolae Forminte with Sandra Izbasa

Nicolae Forminte with Sandra Izbasa

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who's more talented?

Nistor and Liukin: Who's more talented?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ana Maria Tamirjan is recovering from a cracked femur, an injury apparently sustained before the Olympics in Beijing.

Apparently Tamirjan took a bit of a break after the Olympics, but Nicolae Forminte told Pro Sport here: “Ana is progressing very well, and she’s very motivated.” She is now training with the American Cup in mind! Apparently she even refused to go on winter vacation!

The Romanian gymnastics team will be in the mountain retreat Poiana Brasov for winter vacation from the 18th to the 19th.

Video is Tamirjan on floor in prelims in Beijing:

In this recent article from Libertatea, it’s revealed that Sandra Izbasa has received a number of tempting and lucrative offers since her return from a successful showing at the 2008 Olympics, including an invitation to compete on the Romanian version of “Dancing With the Stars.”

Izbasa with Forminte after her gold medal-winning floor performance in Beijing

Izbasa with Forminte after her gold medal-winning floor performance in Beijing

Thankfully, Izbasa has declined all of these offers so she can focus on her training. She will be training with the team and celebrating Christmas with them at Poiana Brasov, before returning to Deva for the New Year. Apparently, Nicolae Forminte believes there is a lot of work to do.

On the other hand, Forminte also suggested that Izbasa would make a great TV personality. She certainly has a face made for TV, and I can definitely see Izbasa doing a good celebrity interview ….

The Arthur Gander Memorial, held October 29th, is a competition run by the Swiss, and named after a former FIG president, and has a slightly odd format. Each gymnast competes three of four events.

China, Romania and Russia each competed top female gymnasts: He Ning from China, Sandra Izbasa from Romania, and Ksenia Afanasyeva from Russia. Germany sent Oksana Chusovitina, although Marie-Sophie Hindermann was supposed to compete but withdrew because of surgery for her Achilles.

Izbasa competed a slightly watered-down version of her floor routine, and took a step out of bounds, but continued to land solidly. Izbasa just keeps going up and up in my persoal rankings: she’s competing in four more competitions in the next six weeks and is, according to Nicolae Forminte, the only Romanian currently ready to compete. In this IG article Forminte says that Ana Maria Tamirjan, Gabriela Dragoi and Andreea Grigore are all injured, and that all of the others are “struggling to find motivation,” which could be a problem for my favorite team, sadly.

ThePenguin888 over at YouTube has some other good vids.

Results

1. Sandra Izbasa (44.300)
2. Oksana Chusovitina (44.000)
3. He Ning (43.550)
4. Ariella Käslin (42.400)

The Swiss Cup mixed pairs competition, honestly, is weird. Here’s how it works:

  • Gymnasts are paired by country: each country sends one male and one female gymnast. This year twelve countries competed
  • In the first round, each gymnast from each team competes on one apparatus of his/her choice.
  • In the second round, each gymnast competes on a second apparatus of his/her choice.
  • After the second round, four teams are cut based on total score (from the two rounds).
  • In the semifinals, each gymnast competes on one apparatus of his/her choice, but the apparatus may not be one of the apparatus competed in the first two rounds.
  • On the basis of scores from the first three rounds, four teams are cut.
  • In the final, each gymnast competes on one apparatus of his/her choice, but the apparatus may not be the apparatus competed in the semifinals.
  • The winner is determined by the combined score from the finals round only.

Exciting for me was also that Youna Dufournet of France competed, although the French team finished only ninth after she fell repeatedly on a pirouette on bars. The Germans did not perform well, with Chusovitina taking a nasty fall on beam. Word has it that she may have torn her Achilles (ironically — see above).

Results

1. China (31.250)
2. Romania (30.775)
3. Russia (30.750)
4. Switzerland (30.025)

Six of the seven juniors recently promoted to the Olympic team at Deva competed in the Romanian junior nationals held this weekend.

The biggest news is that Claudia Voicu, one of those recently promoted to the Olympic team, won the Category I (1994-1995 births) with a stellar 59.150 all-around score. This comes just weeks after Nicolae Forminte, Romanian head coach, bemoaned the fact that his juniors were scoring only in the mid-fifties. Voicu’s score is due largely to a great performance on beam — a 16.100 with a A-score of 6.5. Amelia Racea, my pick for top Romanian junior and last year’s Category II champion, took second to Voicu with a 57.300. Diana Trenca, last year’s Category II runner-up, took third. Of those on last year’s Category I podium, Ana Porgras (my second pick) and Loredana Sabau were both out with injuries (though both have also been promoted to the Olympic team), and Diana Chelaru (my third pick) took fourth.

So far there are not a ton of videos up from this meet (what exists belongs to monagym), but here is Voicu’s BB, which was by far the highest-scoring routine on any apparatus in the entire competition (for comparison, Racea’s BB was scored 14.500). Honestly, I thought the judges were a little lenient on this one — I think I could come up with more than .5 points in deductions. Voicu does a mount similar to Dominique Moceanu’s from the 1996 Olympics (which I always vaguely disliked) and a nice aerial to arabesque if you like that thing (not a huge fan). She’s mostly very confident — very Romanian — but is a little shaky on her leg-up full turn. Dismount is a double pike:

The Category II podium consists of top Category III gymnasts from 2007: Diana Bulimar, this year’s champion, was third to Madalina Neagu last year, who this year took second. Ana Maria Baicu, this year’s bronze medalist, was fifth at last year’s championships. The top two finished with scores of 56.925 and 56.625, respectively.

I absolutely love Bulimar’s FX, which has an A-score of 6.1 but was fairly heavily deducted in the AA for a finals core of 14.475. She scored better in EFs (14.700). Nicely landed Tsukahara, double twist, two-and-a-half to punch front, double pike. She shows good dance and nice expression, and I like the music choice — I think she’s well-positioned to become stellar on floor.

Bulimar’s score, however, was way outpaced by Neagu’s. Neagu started with a 6.3 A-score to finish with a 15.075 on FX.

Larisa Iordache, a beautiful but young gymnast considered to be one of Romania’s greatest hopes for (much) later in the upcoming quad, and the winner (over Neagu and Bulimar) in last year’s Category III championships, took second in this year’s Category III all-around, and was also the only Category III gymnast to perform a release skill on uneven bars. She placed second to the little-known Andreea Tufa, while Georgiana Gheorghe took third. These last two placed tenth and ninth, respectively, at last year’s Category III championships.

Tufa scored a 13.775 with this floor, which, well, needs serious choreography, music and expression upgrades:

Results

Category I (1993-1994 births):

1. Claudia Voicu (59.150)
2. Amelia Racea (57.300)
3. Diana Trenca (56.525)

Category II (1994-1996 births):

1. Diana Bulimar (56.925)
2. Madalina Neagu (56.625)
3. Ana Maria Baicu (55.550)

Category III (1996-1998 births):

1. Andreea Tufa (55.650)
2. Larissa Iordache (55.575)
3. Georgiana Gheorghe (54.125)

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