The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Tatiana Nabieva

You’ll recall that the gymnasts of St. Petersburg were recently in Dreux, before heading to the Tournoi d’Arques, for an exhibition.

youtube user PPLovesGym has posted a playlist of their performances! Very nice.

Some highlights:

  • Tatiana Nabieva’s bars. We weren’t able to see her at Arques because of her ankle injury, and she’s actually pretty low on her Gienger (and only does a layout dismount), but she has such nice lines!
  • An expressive floor routine from newcomer Olga Vilkova. Falls to hands on double pike mount and double tuck dismount. But still, our first look at her.
  • Ekaterina Kramarenko on floor! Her floor is often overlooked.

      And others from Olga Alekseeva, Diana Sapronova and Irina Sazonova.

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With the advertised star of the Tournoi d’Arques Tatiana Nabieva out with a heel injury, Irina Sazonova and Wyomi Masela were able to truly shine, taking the senior and junior competitions, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Dutch gymnast Tess Moonen took first in the espoir competition (France’s category of elite gymnasts a step below international elite) with a solid 55, qualifying for all event finals. Masela, meanwhile, turned in a solid 57.800, beating Sazonova’s score of 55.525. Masela also went on to take first on vault and second on floor in event finals.

(Note that there were two categories for event finals, so each one had two girls placing for each medal. If I understand correctly, gymnasts ranked first or second on an event in the Espoir category made the A final, while third and fourth place made the B final. For juniors and seniors, the top six made the A final unless both gymnasts from the same team made the A final, in which case only the top gymnast did and the other went to the B final. Why exactly? I don’t know.)

Diana Sapronova at Arques

Diana Sapronova (RUS), on floor at the Tournoi Arques, took second in the junior all-around and golds on three apparatus finals

Sazonova’s teammate Diana Sapronova took second in the all-around in the junior competition and first on bars, beam and floor in the A final, while Sazonova took first on beam, but finished only seventh and sixth, respectively, on bars and floor finals, all in the B finals.

France’s Léa Kemayou had a rather poor outing, unfortunately, placing only seventh in the junior all-around, sixth on bars and fourth on beam in the B finals. However, Doriane Thobie, a newcomer, was an impressive fourth in the all-around (Espoir) and an impressive third on beam in the B final, the best showing by France all day!

You’ll remember Masela as the Dutch junior who recently took first on vault at the Massilia Cup. Sazonova has been around for quite a while — I believe she is now 17 — but we haven’t seen much of her, besides at the 2005 WOGA Classic and the 2007 Russian Cup.

Georgiana Gheorghe (ROM), on floor at the Tournoi d'Arques, placed second in the Espoir all-around

Georgiana Gheorghe (ROM), on floor at the Tournoi d'Arques, placed second in the Espoir all-around

Georgiana Gheorghe of Romania took first on floor in the B final, the only medal for the Romanian gymnasts as the other competitor, the promising Diana Bulimar competed only on bars due to an ankle injury (Bulimar placed fourth on bars in the B final). As a combined team, however, the girls finished 13th out of 14th in the Espoir competition because Bulimar had to scratch on three of four apparatus. Gheorghe, however, finished second in the all-around.

Besides Masela’s great performance, the Dutch had a quite good day overall. Their teams went two-three in the junior/senior competition and took first in the Espoir competition. Naoual Ouazani Chahdi finished third in the junior all around and took second on beam in the B-finals, while Fiehe Willens placed third in the senior all-around and second on A-side vault.

Wyomi Masela (NED) was the big winner in the junior division at the Tournoi d'Arques

Wyomi Masela (NED) was the big winner in the junior division at the Tournoi d'Arques

Moonen and Tessa Gerrits took first in the Espoir team competition, and Moonen finished first, as I mentioned, in the all-around, by nearly four points over Gheorghe. On the A-side of event finals, they finished 1-2-3 on vault (Masela, Willens, Moonen). They placed at least one competitor in seven of the eight event finals. On the A-side, Marlies Rijken and Sanne de Smet went 2-3 on bars, and de Smet also took third on beam. Masela, of course, took second on floor. On the B-side, Willens and Lisa van den Burg went 1-2 on bars, Ouazani Chahdi took second on beam, as I mentioned, and Gerrits and van den Burg took second and third, respectively, on floor.

Finally, I should mention Argentina’s Virginie Florence Deluzio, who finished second in the senior all-around. Poland’s Marta Pihan also competed, but placed a relatively disappointing fifth in the senior all-around.

Overall, the Dutch overperformed while the Russians underperformed somewhat (though they competed none of their big players). Generally speaking, though, the level of competition was not particularly high.

Before the results, Masela’s floor (from AMGA’s much-appreciated but low-quality streamed coverage):

More videos are available from youtube user samaraGW here.

Combined senior/junior team:

1. St. Petersburg, Russia (Diana Sapronova/Irina Sazonova)
2. Pro Patria Zoetermeer, Netherlands (Naoual Ouazani Chahdi/Lisa van den Burg)
3. Bosan TON Almelo, Netherlands (Wyomi Masela, Sanne de Smet)

Espoir team:

1. Netherlands (Tessa Gerrits/Tess Moonen)
2. Belgium (Antje van de Velde/Eline Vandersteen)
3. Créteil, FRA (Doriane Thobie/Cindy Bacquet)

Senior all-around:

1. Irina Sazonova (RUS) – 55.25
2. Virginie Florence Deluzio (ARG) – 53.7
3. Fiehe Willens (NED) – 51.25

Junior all-around:

1. Wyomi Masela (NED) – 57.8
2. Diana Sapronova (RUS) – 57.4
3. Naoual Ouazani Chahdi (NED) – 55.9

Espoir all-around:

1. Tess Moonen (NED) – 55.1
2. Georgiana Gheorghe (ROM) – 51.65
3. Antje van de Velde (BEL) – 51.6

Vault A:

1. Wyomi Masela (NED)
2. Fiehe Willems (NED)
3. Tess Moonen (NED)

Vault B:

1. Alexandra Herrala (FIN)
2. Melita Cesnavicuite (LIT)
3. Reeta Pietlia (FIN)

Uneven bars A:

1. Diana Sapronova (RUS)
2. Marlies Rijken (NED)
3. Sanne de Smet (NED)

Uneven bars B:

1. Fiehe Willens (NED)
2. Lisa van den Burg (NED)
3. Emilie Ibragimova (BEL)

Beam A:

1. Diana Sapronova (RUS)
2. Reeta Pietila (FIN)
3. Sanne de Smet (NED)

Beam B:

1. Irina Sazonova (RUS)
2. Naoual Ouazani Chahdi (NED)
3. Doriane Thobie (FRA)

Floor A:

1. Diana Sapronova (RUS)
2. Wyomi Masela (NED)
3. Antje van de Velde (BEL)

Floor B:

1. Georgiana Gheorghe (ROM)
2. Tessa Gerrits (NED)
3. Lisa van den Burg (NED)

It used to be that Russia desperately wanted to be like France. Remember Peter and Catherine the Great? St. Petersburg? All those Russians hanging out in Paris in the 19th century?

Now it’s France’s turn. A whole crop of young Russian gymnasts are in France for the annual “gala” of St. Petersburg gymnasts, held in Dreux on November 29th, and the Tournoi d’Arques, to be held this weekend.

Olga Vilkova

Olga Vilkova

Naturally, one Russian competitor stands out above the rest: Junior European Champion Tatiana Nabieva. Everyone was excited to see her in Dreux, but she has a (relatively minor) heel injury, and only did an exhibition on bars to rest herself a bit for Arques. Meanwhile, Ekaterina Kramarenko was also present and looking happy. Olga Alexeeva, Polina Miller, Diana Sapronova, Irina Sazona and the tiny Olga Vilkova (twelve years old, in her international debut) also participated at Dreux. Vilkova is totally adorable, though I don’t know much about her.

These girls will also move next to Arques, along with Ekaterina Krilova, Alina Ribalova and Ksenia Povilaynen.

They’ll be joined there by gymnasts from a number of other countries, as listed here on the Web site of the FFG.

There are lots of lesser-known (to say the least) gymnastics countries, including for instance Algeria. However, we’ll also see Georgiana Gheorghe and Madalina Neagu of Romania and supposedly gymnasts from Canada and Brazil, although that is unconfirmed. As you can see from the poster, the tournament directors are not playing down Nabieva’s presence.

Gheorghe was third in the Romanian Junior Nationals Category III competition this year, after Andreea Tufa and Larisa Iordache. Neagu was second in Category II, behind Diana Bulimar.

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

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.

I don’t watch many montages, so I’m not expecting to post many of them, but this one by gymjenny is well-done and informative about Russian juniors.

It includes Anna Dementeva, Eleonora Goryunova, Anastasia Grishina, Viktoria Komova, Aliya Mustafina, Nailya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva, Anastasia Novikova, Tatiana Solovyeva and Evgenia Ugretskova.

Also see my post Up-and-Coming Juniors: Russia and Romania.

With this quadrennium winding down, and speculation still flying about who will continue — Cheng Fei? Shawn Johnson? Nastia Liukin? Anna Pavlova? Jade Barbosa? — the big question is, who is the next big thing?

I addressed some of my preliminary guesses for the Americans, who have a great crop of juniors. But The Couch Gymnast has an absolutely great round-up of some of the top gymnasts from other countries. Definitely a must-read, especially if you don’t usually follow the juniors.

Below I give my top three picks for current juniors from all of the major countries. It doesn’t include recent additions to the senior roster, who will also be major players in the next quad (people like Daria Elizarova, the 2007 junior European champion, who was bumped from the Beijing line-up to alternate).

Pretty much every gymnast on this list, however, faces one major problem: big skills with less-than-stellar execution. Nearly everyone here tends to be pretty sloppy, which is going to be a much bigger problem in the new Code, which is clearly an attempt to mitigate the effect of large skills. It’ll be interesting to see what their respect coaches do about this. Finally, although this is fairly common among juniors, their vaults lag behind their other events — here’s hoping they can all concentrate on this (especially with reference to form) a little more.

Today: Russia and Romania

Russia

1. Tatiana Nabieva (RUS)

This one’s easy. Nabieva, who won’t even be eligible for senior competition until 2010, placed first in the AA at the junior Europeans, and qualified to all of the event finals, taking gold on floor and silver on beam, vault and bars. She’s been around the international scene since 2003, at the age of 9! She’s progressed from being an adorable pixie-type gymnast to having a really graceful body type and great form. I am most impressed by her UB — she was cleaner at Europeans than Dufournet, who took first. She has great handstand positions, clean lines, great transitions, including a nice Pak. Her FX is still a little sloppy, but she nailed her double Arabian without cowboying it, and often sticks her triple twist, which at Europeans was a 2.5 twist. She’s got a pretty decent front with a half on beam and her leaps on beam are good. Her VT is probably her weakest event right now, with inconsistent form in the air (then again, she still placed second at Europeans). She’s neither way on the graceful side nor way on the powerful side, but this actually means that she’s a balanced gymnast — good tumbling and dance, maybe a la Anna Pavlova. She hasn’t been around at many other competitions — she was not, for instance, at Gymnix 2008, but in 2007 at that event she placed first in the AA and medalled in every EF, taking first on bars. This is one major AA threat.

Tatiana Nabieva at 2008 Europeans

Tatiana Nabieva at 2008 Europeans

Aliya Mustafina (RUS)

Mustafina is a dancer’s gymnast. She’s still a little immature on floor, and needs to grow into her choreography a little, but her dance already exhibits beautiful lines and hints of graceful greatness. I love gymnasts of the Shawn Johnson variety — I tend to prefer them — but Mustafina totally won me over. She needs to beef up her FX tumbling skills level, which explains a fourth-place finish on that event at Europeans, but she is amazingly graceful. I would say she will eventually have Nastia Liukin beat on this front, because I think Mustafina can manage to pull out some clean and elegant tumbling too. Because she’s a slightly less powerful gymnast, Mustafina is also not totally competitive on VT yet, in terms of constistency, where she competes a 1.5 Yurchenko. But I think she has the potential to do it like Liukin does — stuck, with perfect form in the air. On BB she shows great flexibility and has some nice strength moves. And for all the talk of her having fewer big tumbling skills, she does a standing back with a half — not too shabby. On UB, she has — unsurprisingly — nice lines, and good pirouetting skills. She has a tendency to arch in handstand though, which I think is a result of trying to make them too perfect — this happened to Liukin once, notoriously (I think in 2007 Nationals, but I could be wrong). At Europeans she qualified only to two EFs, placing fourth in both. In 2007, she was second to Nabieva at Gymnix and placed second on every event at the International Junior competition in Yokohama in 2007 (to Rebecca Bross, who swept gold in the AA and all four EFs). Overall, gorgeous gymnast.

3. Viktoriya Komova

If I were Elfi Schlegel, I would start here by mentioning how Viktoriya Komova is the daughter of Soviet gymnast Vera Kolesnikova, and therefore has loads of gymnastics DNA. Instead, let’s talk about how Komova placed third at Pacific Rim and the WOGA Classic this year. She also qualified for all four EFs at Pacific Rim, though she finished out of the medals in all of them (and the dreaded fourth in two of these). Her best event may be the vault, where she does a strong but inconsistent DTY. Her floor is not too shabby either — it includes a 1.5 twist to double Arabian and a triple twist dismount, and actual choreography that her dance actually stands up to. Again, some problems with consistency — two falls at WOGA — but if she gets rid of those, she’ll be a powerhouse. Her BB is packed with difficulty, including handspring to two layouts and a standing Arabian. She’s a high jumper too. She’s actually solid and aggressive on bars too, where she does a big piked Jaeger and a nice Geinger. A great all-around gymnast. Incidentally, she’s only thirteen.

Honorable mentions:

The tiny Anastasia Grishina is up first here because, well, she’s strong and talented and … twelve. She placed second among juniors at the 2007 Friendship Classic and sixth at Gymnix 2008. She also won the 11-14 Russian all-around competition in 2007 (none of the above three participated). At Gymnix 2008, Grishina’s biggest international event so far, she placed second on bars, fourth on beam and fifth on floor in EFs. On UB she struggles on her low-to-high transition, but she also is generally aggressive and does a high-flying Tkatchev to Pak. Even in the past year she has improved tremendously on floor, and is quite graceful and shows good flexibility, though she needs to up the difficulty a bit.

Grishina’s my pick for the biggest stand-out beyond the three I’ve already mentioned, but I’d also add Violetta Malikova, one of the Russian juniors at the Pacific Rim Championships in 2008, and Eleonora Goryunova, who placed eighth at Gymnix 2008. Malikova is a solid gymnast. On BB, she has a strong Arabian and good, light tumbling. She actually qualified to UB finals at the Pacific Rim, but after a form break on her Tkatchev to Pak and a fall on the dismount, she finished in seventh. So far, my favorite event for her is FX, where she has a strong, expressive routine, and almost always completes her twists. Goryunova is not a stand-out in terms of scores on any event quite yet, but she is competitive on all four of them, and qualified to EFs in three of these at Gymnix. But I think eventually she will be an excellent floor worker. She has superb dance and choreography, but unlike the other young Russians, also throws big skills, including a 5/2 twist to punch layout front. Incidentally, Malikova and Goryunova finished second and third, respectively, to Grishina at the Moscow Championships last year.

Finally, there are three other Russians who participated at Europeans, all of whom deserve mention: Anastasia Novikova, Anna Dementyeva, and Tatiana Solovyeva. All three placed strongly at last year’s Moscow Championships, with Novikova and Dementyeva placing second and third on vault after Nabieva, and Dementyeva taking second and third on FX and BB, respectively. Solovyeva is an excellent beam worker (though not at the level of Mustafina and Nabieva — though she did place third at Moscow Championships), and Dementyeva is actually a reasonably good bar worker.

ETA 10/7: I should also mention the sister of Mustafina, Nailya Mustafina, who placed third at Gymnix this year, and 12th at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships. She also placed second (to Bross, suffering her sister’s fate there!) at the 2008 WOGA Classic, beating Komova, who placed third. She is also only 12, but will be eligible for senior competition for the 2012 Olympics. She is more compact and stronger than her sister. On BB, she does a back handspring to back with a full. Despite falling on this skill at WOGA, she wound up with a 15.600. She also outscored Bross on FX. Her floor is unbelievable, especially for her age (great combination twists).

The Russian team:

This was the easiest ranking to do because the Russian juniors, led by Nabieva, are unbelievably strong. These gymnasts are not only talented, they have international experience, which makes a direct national ranking less important. Nabieva has routinely beaten Mustafina, mainly because her difficulty levels are higher, although actually — and especially compared to many other juniors — Nabieva has quite good form. The one problem I can see is that there are not as many Russian juniors floating around internationally as there are even Romanians. Either way, these three are excellent — all operating at least on some events at a senior level. Perhaps more importantly, the junior Russians participate internally in a number of competitions that include things like compulsories and work on a single bar, which give them a lot of work on basics at a high level of competition that other girls in other countries simply don’t have. Providing they stay healthy, I think we might need to acknowledge the resurgence of the “Russian threat,” especially if people like Semenova and Afanasyeva stick around. They also have a talented crop of very young juniors, including Grishina, who will be of the perfect age for 2012.

Romania

1. Amelia Racea:

Racea’s one of the only juniors of note on the Romanian team right now, which is a major problem. She placed fourth at this year’s Europeans, taking second on balance beam and third on floor. She’s not the most graceful of gymnasts, but she’s got pretty big skills. Her floor reminds me of that of Daniela Druncea, which means good tumbling with light, stuck landings, and questionable dance. Her beam is similar, composed largely of acrobatic skills and fewer dance elements (this will be problematic with the new code). Floor and beam are her best events, but she’s decent on vault too. In fact, in addition to taking the all-around title in Category II (1993-1995 births) in the Romanian junior nationals last year in September, she took gold on all three of those events. On UB she is Romanian — by which I mean low-scoring — but, in the only routine I’ve seen of hers (from Jesolo 2008), she actually had decent form and good handstand positions. UB is the only event in which she did not win gold — she took silver — last year, where her score also beat that of the Category I winner Diana Chelaru (see below). At the most recent Romanian Championships in Ploeisti, in July, she placed second to Chelaru on vault and second on beam. Unfortunately, like the other Romanians I’ll be discussing, she has limited international experience — in fact, it’s pretty much entirely from Europeans. Fortunately, though, she is on the younger side for this quad, so she still has time.

Amelia Racea at the 2008 Europeans

Amelia Racea at the 2008 Europeans

2. Ana Porgras

Porgras placed ninth at Europeans, and second to Diana Chelaru in Category I last year. She also had the highest score in team finals of any Romanian at Jesolo, and placed eighth (the highest Romanian placement) in the all-around. Porgras placed second on floor and first on UB and BB in the Junior Nationals in 2007, with a massive 16.450 on BB (she also won BB event finals at this year’s Europeans, with a 15.700). Her floor is solid, and I really appreciate that she flies high (instead of far) on her twists. My standards for Romanian bars are tremendously low right now (see below) so I’m quite pleased that she has decent form and only the occasional loss of tightness in her back. She’s not the biggest daredevil on BB, but she does the really nice Romanian-style acrobatics, combined with a fair amount of grace. She does one of the best aerials to arabesques of anyone, junior or senior, on the Romanian team (even though I’m not a huge fan of that skill). She looks like a senior on this apparatus. It’s not clear to me, however, where she was during Championships in early summer 2008. Here’s hoping she’s not seriously injured.

3. Diana Chelaru:

Chelaru was last year’s Category I champion in Romania, though she later scratched on event finals because of an injury. This year at the Romanian Championships, she placed first on vault and qualified to the other three event finals, proceeding then to place dead last in two of them. Not sure what was going on there. Chelaru has little international experience, which is a major problem. She actually was not at Europeans, and did not place at Jesolo. She was, however, the third highest-scoring Romanian at that competition in team finals, after Racea and Porgras, and was the only Romanian to compete at DTY. Presumably, the other juniors will be updating their vaults eventually, and I’m thinking Chelaru could go up to an Amanar. Chelaru’s also solid on beam and floor — though she needs to clean up her landings on the latter — and is prepared to compete on all four events, which is unfortunately more than I can say for the other Romanians below. Her weakest event, unsurprisingly, is bars — she scored only a 13.500 on that event at last year’s Nationals, and had major errors plus an A-score of 5.000 that gave her an 11.200 on that event at Jesolo.

Honorable mentions:

There are some interesting Romanians lurking around, but like the three I have already mentioned, they have limited international experience.

Larisa Iordache won Category III (1995-1997 births) last year. She’s tiny, and extremely young (she turned 12 in June), so it’s hard to say how she will hold up, but so far she shows amazing potential. We didn’t see too much of her at Nationals this year, but she did have the second-highest overall score on her Dinamo team during team finals (after Elena Chiric, a senior). She’s also among the more polished of these gymnasts, with especially nice form — and flexibility — on floor (where she placed second in 2007) and beam (first). She actually reminds me of a young Andreea Raducan.

Loredana Sabau, who placed third in Category I last year, was also strong, taking first on floor and vault and second on beam and bars. At this year’s Nationals, however, she only placed in one event final — third on bars — though she did compete respectably for Deva in team finals. She has not really shined yet in international competition, with a disastrous 11.700 on bars (B-score in the fives — she lost her swing on a giant, ending in a dead hang not once but twice) keeping her out of finals in Jesolo, and a sixth-place finish at Europeans (with only one qualification to EFs, on floor). Honestly, her floor is pretty terrible right now on dance, but she has good form in tumbling, particularly twists. Good form (and Dominique Moceanu’s mount!) but a lot of balance checks on BB.

Finally I would mention Diana Trenca and Madalina Neagu. Trenca placed second to Racea in Category II last year, and took two silvers, one bronze and one gold (on bars) in event finals. This year, at Nationals, she took second on bars among all juniors. In fact, I would say she’s probably the best bars worker among Romania’s juniors (though she had a major mistake at Jesolo. Neagu is a floor specialist, though she also placed second all-around in Category III last year. She has won both FX finals she has competed in Romania, and apparently got the biggest reaction from the crowd of any performance at Junior Nationals in 2007. She’s dynamic and only needs a little work on expressiveness. She’s also no slouch on other events, placing in EFs on both beam and bars (though the bars thing is relative).

The Romanian team:

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Romanian team, and I am seriously concerned about them. To be fair, their juniors rarely see the light of day before they become seniors, so the lack of international experience may not be so terrible. On the other hand, their juniors are exhibiting the Druncea symptom slightly — precise, big skills with almost no style (exceptions include many of the ones listed here, including Iordache and Neagu). The biggest problem here is going to be bars. Recently a big problem for this team has been that they have not kept up with the trends in bars. But from what I’ve seen of these juniors, the problems go much deeper — in Jesolo and at the Pre-Olympic Youth Cup in Bergisch-Gladbach (GER) we saw major form break after form break, falls, dead hangs, extra swings — and this from the girls I have mentioned here, including Neagu and Sabau. Really bad news.

Still to come: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, United States

Up next: France and China


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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