The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Sandra Izbasa

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.)

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Pro Sport has a nice profile of Sandra Izbasa‘s career in 2008, covering the European Championships and Olympics, among other things.

She says that her goal for 2009 is to win gold on floor in London at the 2009 World Championships. Of that, she says, “It will be hard, but not impossible.” She also says (unsurprisingly) that the Olympic gold medal is the best part of her career thus far.

The rest of the article emphasizes Izbasa’s excellent floor routine. (The article is entitled “The Sound of Music,” if I understand it correctly.)

Of her World Cup Final performance, Izbasa told Romanian TV station TVR this weekend: “I competed from memories, not from proper training!”

And, most importantly:

“I knew I wasn’t going to win after every pass! But it is important to know how lo lose with a smile on your face. I am not at all upset. I am Olympic Champion on floor for the next four years, and that’s important to me.”

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 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

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 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!