The C Score (2.0)

Posts Tagged ‘Yang Yilin

These are some great photos of the Chinese Olympians from a Chinese magazine (I don’t do Chinese, so I can’t translate the text, maybe someone else will be able to?):

We’ve got He Kexin, Li Shanshan, Yang Yilin, and Jiang Yuyuan.

The first day of the World Cup Final is over, and here’s the sitch:

Cheng Fei wins!

Cheng Fei wins!

Vault:

Cheng Fei, unsurprisingly, took vault with a DTY and a laid-out Podkopayeva for a 15.050. Ariella Kaeslin took second with a Rudi and a 1.5 Yurchenko, losing to Fei by less than .05 (she finished with a 14.912), although naturally Fei didn’t pull out her biggest vaults. And Aagje Vanwalleghem took third with a 14.425, just over Elsa Garcia‘s 14.400. It appears that Vanwalleghem and Garcia actually had aBeijing uneven bars finals moment: they had the same A-scores and B-scores, but Vanwalleghem won.

Elena Zamolodchikova performed a DTY and a Yurchenko half-on 1.5-off but sat both down to finish sixth. (The second was also devalued to piked.) Apparently, though, she’s in shape, which I believe means better than she was at DTB.

Hiu Ying Angel Wong finished last with a full-twisting Tsukahara and a handspring front tuck, which she fell on. On the other hand, it was the first time a Hong Kong gymnast had made the WCF. Jana Komrskova also had an off day, after giving up her spot in Beijing to younger gymnasts, with a Yurchenko half on tucked one-half off and a Yurchenko full. IG seemed to suggest that she was not at her top level, despite being in shape.

Honestly, we all knew the vault final wouldn’t be very interesting, and that Cheng would win. The next highest-ranked person was Zamolodchikova, who didn’t seem to be in top form at DTB. Despite being ranked above Kaeslin, Komrskova has been out of competition for quite a while, so it was hard to imagine her being in top competition form. Apparently Garcia got the most applause of everyone — I know a lot of people were excited to see Mexico’s best gymnast ever back in competition! I certainly was. Too bad she missed the medals. I’m happy to see Vanwalleghem come away with the bronze, especially after turning down the International Challenge in Belgium that was also taking place this weekend. This is Belgium’s first WCF medal.

What vaults did we see? Obviously Cheng wasn’t going to perform her hardest stuff in this field. She did a DTY and a laid-out Yurchenko half-on 1.5 off, which gave her actually only the second-highest combined A-score (5.8+5.6=11.4), after Kaeslin. Kaeslin performed a Rudi and a 1.5-twisting Yurchenko, for an A-score of 11.8. The only other person besides Cheng to perform a DTY was Zamolodchikova, who complemented it with a Yurchenko half-on 1.5-off (recorded as piked), for a combined A-score of 11. Unfortunately she was not able to exploit that A-score with a high enough B-score, landing on her knees on both. Garcia, Boczogo and Vanwalleghem also all performed 1.5-twisting Yurchenkos. Garcia and Vanwalleghem then both performed a piked Yurchenko half-on 1.5-off to Boczogo’s handspring front one-half piked, giving them a .2 advantage over Boczogo. (Boczogo also fell on her 1.5 Yurchenko.) Komrskova and Wong had the lowest A-scores: Komrskova did a tucked Yurchenko half-on 1.5-off for a 10.0 A-score; and Wong did a full-twisting Tsukahara and a handspring front tuck, which honestly is a junior vault (A-score is 4.4) for a total of 8.6 A-score.

We actually saw more diversity in vaults than we would see in the average vault competition, but vault still remains the most boring event. The only competitive vaults performed were: DTY, Rudi, 1.5 Yurchenko and Cheng’s laid-out Yurchenko one-half on 1.5-off. Everything else we wouldn’t usually see from the creme de la creme of vaulters. If there’s any apparatus on which I’d like to see a burst of originality, it’s vault.

The Chinese could have swept on bars, but Yang Yillin scratched at the last minute

The Chinese could have swept on bars, but Yang Yillin scratched at the last minute

Uneven bars:

Honestly, the biggest surprise on bars was Yang Yilin’s scratch — with a “waist” (lower back) injury, according to Lu Shanzhen, which sounds like a pulled muscle. Apparently it is not serious. I certainly hope not! The title went to He Kexin with a 16.250, unsurprisingly, followed by Jiang Yuyuan, over .5 behind (15.700). Bronze went to Koko Tsurumi, who has really just amazed me recently. She was nearly .5 behind Jiang, but far ahead of Dariya Zgoba, who took fourth.

Apparently He’s routine was a little shaky. She had trouble on the 1/1 on the low bar, which has actually given her trouble in the past, but did her Jaeger combo, etc. — she competed full difficulty, with a 7.7 A-score. Interestingly, she received B-scores in the 7.5 to 9 range, which is pretty huge. Not sure what happened there. The top three had by far the highest A-scores, which I think tends to be the case on uneven bars more than on any other apparatus. Jiang was also in the 7’s (7.1) and Tsurumi had a 6.8.

Ouch (Koval)

Ouch (Koval)

The next highest score was Zgoba with a 6.2, then Anastasia Koval and Jana Sikulova with 6.0s. Koval finished a disappointing seventh after landing her head on the bar on a Stadler toe-on piked Tkatchev. Yikes. Zgoba also had a mistake, on her Pak to Stadler, on which she went the wrong direction. She actually had the same problem (on a different skill) on one of her routines at Beijing. Sikulova’s routine hasn’t changed much recently; I find it pretty boring, if technically correct. She finished fifth.

The disappointment of the day was probably for Daniele Hypolito, who honestly isn’t very strong on bars anyway. She finished with an 11.875 — ouch. She fell on two different elements — transition to high bar, when her feet slipped; and a Stadler. Apparently her score was also lowered by three tenths for some kind of neutral deduction, but I’m not sure what it was.

I think overall that bars always promised to be more interesting than vault. The three Chinese competitors (which went down to two went Yang scratched), were actually not ranked at the top of the list because they are relatively new competitors. We knew He was going to win, and that it was all but certain that Jiang would place. He could have had a fall and that still would not have made up the difference in A-score between her and Tsurumi. Anyway, there were two Ukrainians in the final. We know they have a beautiful bars heritage — and both are quite lovely on bars — but they are inconsistent and have fairly humdrum routines. It was great to see Sikulova — kind of like it was great to see Komrskova and Boczogo — but I didn’t really expect a medal for her.

As for originality, I was surprised when I made my bars Top 8 list to discover that bars have ultimately been pretty boring recently. Take a look at the dismounts we saw today: three double fronts, three double layouts. He did the only unique (by which I mean, not done by anyone else at this meet) dismount, a Tsukahara.

The FIG:

Yesterday when I read that the FIG was doing a “live broadcast,” I took them at their word, but in fact I was slightly unconvinced because there was no information about where you might see it. I wish the FIG would hire a publicity person for the Web site whose first language is English. (“Broadcast” is not the same as “commentary,” among other things) Seriously.

I don’t hate the FIG nearly as much as other people, but honestly IG‘s coverage was far superior to FIG’s. The FIG’s commentary was barely live — it was consistently far behind what IG was posting, and far less complete. (And, incidentally, the IG coverage was also done by a non-native English speaker.)

Also, do you think the photo galleries have been updated? The answer is no.

Here's hoping Sandra Izbasa (seen here Friday during podium training) takes gold on floor

Here's hoping Sandra Izbasa (seen here Friday during podium training) takes gold on floor

Tomorrow:

Tomorrow we see beam and floor finals. We’ll finally get to see Sandra Izbasa, and Cheng will be competing for two more golds, both of which are entirely within her reach. It will be exciting to see Li Shanshan on beam, especially after all the rumors flying around about her weight gain and return to her provincial team. Meanwhile, Hypolito and Zamolodchikova both have a shot at redemption (Hypolito on both events, Zamolodchikova on floor). But honestly I don’t think Hypolito’s beam will medal, and while she is powerful on floor, I really dislike the sloppiness (also true of Daiane dos Santos and sometimes Lais Souza — it’s a problem). I don’t imagine Zamolodchikova will pull it off, but it would certainly be exciting. On beam we’ll also see Lauren Mitchell, who is lovely on that event, as well as Sanne Wevers who is just so clean. And finally, perhaps the part I’m looking forward to the most: Jiang’s floor.

See you then!

Vault:

1. Cheng Fei (15.050)
2. Ariella Kaeslin (14.912)
3. Aagje Vanwalleghem (14.425)
4. Elsa Garcia (14.400)
5. Dorina Boczogo (13.787)
6. Elena Zamolodchikova (13.475)
7. Jana Komrskova (13.262)
8. Hiu Ying Angel Wong (12.712)

Uneven bars:

1. He Kexin (16.250)
2. Jiang Yuyuan (15.700)
3. Koko Tsurumi (15.250)
4. Dariya Zgoba (14.500)
5. Jana Sikulova (14.300)
6. Anastasia Koval (13.625)
7. Daniele Hypolito (11.875)

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

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!

Unsurprisingly, China has named Cheng Fei, He Kexin, Yang Yilin, Jiang Yuyuan and Li Shanshan to participate in the 2008 World Cup Final in Madrid. (See here.)

This FIG press release also confirms the participation of Sandra Izbasa, Elena Zamolodchikova and Suzanne Harmes. But it also notes the absence of Anna Pavlova and Oksana Chusovitina. I also assume that Ksenia Semenova won’t be present, but can’t confirm that at this point.

Some thoughts:

Vault:

With Chusovitina (who is ranked first) and Pavlova (ranked third) out, Cheng has the vault nearly locked up unless Zamolodchikova has massively improved since her performance at the DTB Cup. Alicia Sacramone is also up there in this ranking, followed by Jade Barbosa — neither will be there. Hong Un Jong may be the only real competition. And if that’s the case, I think Cheng can assume that this one is in the bag.

Uneven bars:

He is ranked only sixth right now on bars, but she’s the front-runner, with Yang second unless Beth Tweddle shows up. Nastia Liukin will obviously not be there, and I’m pretty sure Semenova is out as well. Dariya Zgoba is ranked high (second) but can’t truly compete against the Chinese start values.

Beam:

I think at this point, I might consider calling this for Cheng too. Pavlova, Johnson and Liukin are among the top eight, and won’t be there. Steliana Nistor is also out, and wouldn’t have taken first anyway, in all likelihood. Catalina Ponor, who is currently ranked first, hasn’t shown up in international competition in a while, so I don’t know what kind of shape she is in. Cheng’s biggest competition is likely to come from other Chinese women, and notably Li.

Floor:

This will likely be the most interesting battle, and it will probably play out among Cheng, Izbasa and — to a lesser extent — Jiang. Harmes is ranked tenth on floor, but I don’t think she has a chance at the podium with these players, unless we see a major mistake. Zamolodchikova could also theoretically compete on floor, but only if she’s in much better shape by mid-December.

The DTB Cup Finals were contested today, and Cheng Fei walked away with dominating victories on her three events, vault, beam and floor.

Cheng Fei on floor at the DTB Cup

Cheng Fei on floor at the DTB Cup

Before I go into the details, the news and how this affects world rankings. Results are at the bottom. This event was only televised in China as far as I know, but video of Cheng’s three victory routines is available on youtube from WangXiangu.

News:

  • Anna Pavlova was hurt on beam with torn ligaments in her knee
  • Yang Yilin came back from her problem on bars in qualifications to take third on beam and floor
  • Australia’s Lauren Mitchell performed extremely well, taking silvers on beam and floor
  • Cheng’s floor win moves her into first place in the world rankings

Rankings:

Fei will remain second in the vault rankings, unable to overtake Oksana Chusovitina’s giant lead. However, it looks like Chusovitina will probably not be able to compete in the World Cup Final in Madrid, meaning Fei will go into that event as the highest-ranked vaulter. Pavlova will remain in third. Aasje Van Walleghem will move into the high teens from a rank of 22.

He Ning‘s finish on bars won’t move her into contention for the WCF. Anastasia Koval, currently 15th, will move up, but she’s behind a number of strong contenders and even long-retired Emilie Lepennec.

Fei’s win on beam will move her ahead of Shawn Johnson and into fourth in the world rankings. She would have gone to the WCF on this event anyway. She will not, however, pass Pavlova, currently in third. Mitchell, currently ranked 27th, will move into the high teens in rank, but that probably won’t do much for her. Yang is not currently ranked in the top thirty.

The big news is that Cheng’s win on floor will move her above Sandra Izbasa into the first rank on floor. Neither Yang nor Mitchell are in the top thirty anyway.

Detailed report:

Bars was competed before vault today, but I’m going to do my discussion in Olympic order. By the way, I’m getting all of my information from the DTB ticker, which was incidentally a nice addition to the organization of this meet.

Cheng and Pavlova, given their start values, were the two to beat on this event, and wound up finishing 1-2. Both competed a a DTY and round-off half-ons with layout front half-offs. Fei completed her DTY with a small step for a 15.125 and also performed a solid second vault. Pavlova finished with a substantial enough step on the Yurchenko to finish with a 14.700 and a fall to the knee on the half-on layout front half-off for a 13.400. Aagje Van Walleghem of Belgium competed a Yurchenko 3/2 with a big jump forward on the landing and a well-done half-on piked front half-off to take the bronze. For those not familiar with the name, Van Walleghem has been around for quite some time (she is now 21) and competed at Athens, but missed qualifying to Beijing after a below-par performance at Worlds in 2007. Incidentally, Elena Zamolodchikova competed the same two vaults as Cheng and Pavlova, but with major missteps, including a bent forward landing on the DTY (14.625) and a fall forward on her half-on layout front half-off (13.825). She finished sixth. Despite the highest start value of the day on a laid-out Rudi (6.3), Ariella Käslin finished fourth after falling on the Rudi and competing only a Yurchenko full as her second vault.

Bars was a fairly low-key affair with only He Ningand Koval as legitimate contenders. They both began with 6.9 start values. Kim Bui and Jenny Brunner (6.6 and 6.5 start values) could possibly have competed against them, but had major mistakes and wound up with B-scores in the 7’s. He Ning threw both straddled and piked Jaegers, showed nice el-grip work and finished with a solid double layout dismount. Koval, the fifth-place finisher in Beijing, performed a piked Hindorff, a Stadler full-in to a high Tkatchev and a stuck double front dismount. The Germans, Brunner and Bui, placed third and fifth. Brunner performed a piked Jaeger and a layout front with half-twist dismount. Bui went from fourth in qualifications to fifth in finals after a problem on the low bar despite a nice Shapashnikova and a good Geinger with a Tsukahara dismount. Note that Yang probably would have been in this final if it hadn’t been for a fall on a 1.5 pirouette and a few steps on her dismount in qualifications.

The beam final finished in A-score order, with Cheng on top and Australia’s beam specialist Lauren Mitchell taking silver. Yang, depsite the problems on bars, came back for a third-place finish on beam (and floor, see below). Cheng had no major errors despite a step sideways on her 2.5 twisting dismount dismount, though she had some small steps, notably on her standing pike. Mitchell continues to do the squat double turn, which I hate, and had a problem hafter her layout stepout layout back, but finished solidly after perofrming a good aerial to two feet and a standing front tuck and a flick-flack to double pike. Yang performed an Onodi flip-flop layout step-out combo and had no major errors except a small step on her 2.5 twisting dismount. Yulia Lozhecko was wobbly on her front aerial to scale and side somis and performed only an OK double pike dismount to finish sixth. Most importantly and sadly, Pavlova had some major wobbles during her routine, including on the full turn, and fell on her dismount, injuring her knee.

Maybe the biggest news on the floor final is that Bui tied with Yang for third. Yang went OOB on her 2.5 twist and underrotated her triple twist mount. Apparently her triple turn was very pretty, and was quite nearly a 3.5. Bui performed a Tsukahara with a small step and nailed her 2.5 twist to layout with a half, 1.5 forward twist and double pike dismount. Cheng took first, as noted, with a piked Tsukahara, triple twist, 1.5 twist to full and a 2.5 twisting dismount. Mitchell finished second with a piked Tsukahara (OOB), a double Arabian, a nice double twist and a double pike dismount, all with generally strong landings, but fell out of her triple turn. Daniele Hypolito was a disappointment, finishing wiht a score in the 12’s with a double pike mount and an underroted 2.5 twisting dismount.

Vault

1. Cheng Fei (CHN) 14.900
2. Aagje Van Walleghem (BEL) 14.275
3. Anna Pavlova (RUS) 14.050

Bars

1. He Ning 15.350
2. Anastasia Koval 15.050
3. Jenny Brunner 14.150

Beam

1. Cheng Fei (CHN) 15.425
2. Lauren Mitchell (AUS) 15.150
3. Yang Yilin (CHN) 15.075

Floor

1. Cheng Fei (CHN) 15.250
2. Lauren Mitchell (AUS) 14.675
3. Yang Yilin (CHN)/Kim Bui (GER) 14.075

Full results are available here.

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

Australia:

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

Brazil:

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

China:

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

Russian

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

Ukraine

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

The full roster is available here.

The Chinese national championships just ended, providing us with at least a glimpse into the depths of the Chinese gymnastics program.

Five of the Olympians placed in at least one event, although a number of them did not compete AA but rather focused on specific events. For me, this is the best news because it means Cheng Fei is sticking around, at least for now. If she stayed the whole quad, she could (I think) be the first Chinese woman to attend three Olympic Games. But I think it’s also possible she’s sticking around for a shorter amount of time, perhaps even just until the World Cup Final, at which she has a good shot at winning in two events (VT, where she currently ranks second and FX, where she ranks third). Cheng is the only one of the Chinese team to have a mature gymnastics style (no comment about what that says about age, particularly since Cheng has always had a more mature style …) and even though I like many of the other girls very much, she provides some good balance.

Yang Yilin took the title at this event, and took third on the UB finals. This may be the biggest news from these championships. Without placing in any other EFs, and with a UB routine watered down to a 6.7 A score (from 7.7 at the Olympics), Yang still beat her competition. This definitely bolsters the case of those who think she will be *the* major all-around contender from China, at least for the foreseeable future. (Third place at the Olympics doesn’t hurt either!)

As for other Olympians, Jiang Yuyuan competed only FX, but won there, beating Fei, who took third, and He Ning. He Kexin, unsurprisingly, took first on UB, where He Ning took second. Cheng of course won on VT. Deng Linlin tied for first on BB with two non-Olympians, Xiao Sha and Guo Wei. (Incidentally, Deng only competed this event.) Li Shanshan is conspicuously absent from any top three ranking, though rumor has it that all six Olympians were in attendance …

As for other gymnasts, the medal distribution should remind us that China had some pretty strong back-ups for the Olympics. Second in the AA was He Ning, who also took second on both UB and FX. She has been in the spotlight since 2006 when she took first in Doha and was a member of China’s first team to win gold at Worlds, and was an alternate for Beijing. Xiao Sha, the first Olympic alternate, has made somewhat of a comeback, taking first (in a three-way tie) on BB, as I mentioned. Not sure if she competed other events; she was apparently sick. The third alternate from Beijing, Sui Lu, who took first on BB and FX back in the May national championships, was absent as far as I know.

As for newcomers to the senior scene, a number of them performed quite well. (I have some comments on Chinese juniors in my Up-and-Coming Juniors series.)

The major deal is Chen Chuyan, who beat the better-known Cui Jie for the junior AA title earlier this year, and placed *third* in the AA at this event, though she did not medal in any EFs. This girl is clearly improving exponentially right now. Something to watch. I find her gymnastics a little boring, but certainly strong.

Cui, incidentally, was around, but didn’t break into the top three on any event. She did qualify to FX finals in third though (she has a great floor routine). Guan Wenli, who placed sixth as a junior at the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships but then disappeared for much of 2008, is back, qualifying fifth into UB finals.

The last thing that I’ll mention is that the overall scoring was pretty low at this event. Contrast most UB scores in the 15’s to He Kexin’s 17.325 at the nationals in May. This could mean either or both of two things: the girls are coming down from their peaks (which definitely seems to be evidenced by for instance Yang’s UB A score), or that in May the Chinese judges were artificially inflating scores. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised, and I think pretty much everyone at least suspects that national gymnastics federations artifically inflate their national competition scores right before a big international event. It makes sense. Anyway, it’s interesting.

Yang Yilin, He Ning, and newcomer Chen Chuyan

The AA medalists of the Chinese national championships: Yang Yilin, He Ning, and newcomer Chen Chuyan

The final standings:

AA
Yang Yilin
He Ning
Chen Chuyan

VT
Cheng Fei
Deng Shaojie
Shi Xiapeng

UB
He Kexin
He Ning
Yang Yilin

BB
Xiao Sha
Deng Linlin
Guo Wei

FX
Jiang Yuyuan
He Ning
Cheng Fei

Today: France and China

France

1. Youna Dufournet

This girl is France’s biggest hope at the beginning of the new quad. She wound up third in the all-around at this year’s Europeans, but she could have easily won silver. She went on to win bars and vault with a silver on floor. Actually, Dufournet’s a major threat on beam with an A-score (in 2008) of 6.9, including an Arabian, which observers wouldn’t have noticed at Europeans because she wound up with a fall in EF. But her score of 15.700 in qualifications led the rankings, and she probably would have wound up with an even higher score in EFs without the fall. (She took third in BB in EFs in France, competing against seniors, as early as 2006.) Beam is probably her weakest event though, as she competes tough skills but with a lot of balance checks and some flexibility issues (also true on floor). Dufournet’s vaults are right up there: a DTY and a piked Omelianchik, although her scores were actually low despite her victory on that apparatus. On UB, she’s very solid. She has the occasional form breaks (in her Jaeger particularly) and randomly does two Shapashnikovas. She’s not the most graceful bar worker, but she’s strong and consistent, somewhat like a Chellsie Memmel (not a useful comparison if you’re one of those who doesn’t like Memmel, which I do). In addition to the Jaeger, she does a good Geinger and a double-layout dismount. Her EF score was an impressive 15.625. On FX, I think Dufournet is suffering from a choreography problem more than anything — put simply, it sucks, and she could probably handle much more sophisticated stuff. Otherwise, she has kind of a Vanessa Ferrari feel, and does a nice piked full in and an Arabian, plus a 5/2 twist. Let me be clear: this girl is a major threat. She wins absolutely everything she competes in in France, including the “Coupes,” or junior championships, and the Championnats, which are for the top two age groups of juniors. Except the one time she didn’t compete earlier this year (just before Europeans), she won all of these in 2007 and 2008, including recently in June, and placed 6th in the Championnats in 2006. In the May championships by team, her Avoine team placed third, but Dufournet had the highest score of any competitor, including Laetitia Dugain, Marine Petit, Pauline Morel and Marine Debauve (all Olympians). She had the highest score on VT, UB and FX. What I’m saying is that at 14, Dufournet is better — or soon to be better — than all of her country’s 2008 Olympians. Watch out!

Youna Dufournet

Youna Dufournet

Chloé Stanic

I enjoy Stanic, but we are now moving into a more expected level of French gymnastics. Stanic finished 13th overall at this year’s Europeans and finished second at Coupes in 2007 and third at this year’s Championnats in June. In the same team meet mentioned above where Dufournet placed ahead of all the current seniors, Stanic placed a very respectable 7th (no junior besides Dufournet placed higher). Stanic’s other international experience is pretty limited, though she placed a respectable fourth in a France/Switzerland/Germany/Netherlands meet in early 2008 (Dufournet, unsurprisingly, took first there). On FX, Stanic has a decent Arabian, but otherwise she has Nistor-like splits (feet flexed … not a fan) and not enough difficulty. Her vault is probably her weakest event right now, as she’s competing only a Podkopaeva, as far as I can tell. She is pretty shaky and labored on BB, although she does have what I think is supposed to be a combination of a standing back pike to back tuck, which is interesting. Her bars are just alright, though she has a high Tkatchev and a decent straddled Jaeger. At Europeans, she fell on her dismount — otherwise, she would have easily qualified to EFs. However, I’m not sure whether there’s tremendous potential for growth in her bar set, but she does have room to at least tidy things up.

3. Aurélie Malausséna

Malausséna has oddly been given very little international experience by the French powers-that-be, which is curious because she regularly places second or third in national competitions, alternating with Stanic. She placed third in the 2007 and 2008 Coupes, and second in this year’s Championnats (she was ninth in 2006). Her only international experience has been a France/Switzerland match, in which she placed third, and a small international tournament before she reached elite. The likely problem is that Malausséna so far does not shine on any particular event, though she is consistent across all four. She has a Chellsie-Memmel like quality in some ways, though she appears to lack the extreme flexibility. She would also have a decent FX if someone would change her choreography, and if she upgraded a few passes — the most interesting one is a double pike. On BB, she throws some decent skills — a punch front and a standing tuck — but otherwise it’s kind of a yawner. Her key to success might be UB, on which she has thrown a piked Jaeger, if she could add some difficulty (right now she’s in the mid fives).

Honorable mention:

I should probably start with Marine Brevet, who charmed a number of observers at this year’s Europeans. From afar, she looks not unlike Nastia Liukin, which might be one of the reasons. Up close, I don’t really see it, though she does have long lines. She has absolutely terrible bars — even beyond the more complex skills, she cannot do a kip without major leg separation. Internally, she has had somewhat of a meteoric rise. She is a 1994 kid, and was ranked fourth in her age group in 2007, during which time she placed sixth at Coupes and second at the Championnats in the category below junior elite. This year at Championnats, she placed sixth. Her best event right now may be BB (she qualified to EFs at Europeans, though she placed last), but there her most interesting skill is a split jump to arabesque. On FX, she just doesn’t have the difficulty yet, and one of her four passes is a 1/1 twist. Ultimately, she seems to have the form to improve upon, but we’ll have to wait and see if she does it.

The only two other French gymnasts I’ll mention are Marie Gaffino and Léa Kemayou. Gaffino placed fifth at this year’s Championnats, and eighth in 2007. She placed first in 2007 at one of her only international events, the Tournoi International du Pas de Calais, and was a member of the 2008 Europeans team. Right now her two best events are BB and FX, where she uses a modified version of Daria Joura’s music. She does some good twisting and is reasonably expressive. On BB she does a nice standing back pike (and a back tuck, like Stanic). Finally, Kemayou is France’s current power gymnast. She’s a strong vaulter and a decent bars worker, though she sometimes looks a bit clumsy. She’s one of the most aggressive beam workers the French have, and she seems confident. I think she actually has serious potential on BB (maybe a la Alicia Sacramone?).

The French team:

What we’re looking at here is Italy in 2006 — an assortment of fairly talented, but not internationally competitive, girls — plus a stand-out who pulls off pretty impressive showings in international competitions. Though I don’t think Dufournet will get the same form criticisms Ferrari got. She’s actually downright impressive. Otherwise, I don’t see much change in the potential standings of the French team. In addition to some form issues, the real problem is difficulty level. Few of their girls are even doing Yurchenko vaults, much less the type you need to stay competitive. They have a handful of good releases on bars, but nothing fancy. Same problem on beam. On floor, their choreography is very hit-or-miss. Overall, we’re still waiting for a team breakthrough. (Incidentally, the French run their program very much like the Americans, though their best gyms are state-run: they have decentralized training with occasional verifications. The difference being, of course, that there are around six times more people in the United States than in France ….)

China

1. Cui Jie

Cui Jie is the obvious choice for the next big thing coming out of China. Though she looks young — whatever that might mean about her — she is 14 and will be able to compete as a senior in 2010. Her biggest meet to date was the 2008 Pacific Rim Championships, in which she placed seventh AA. She would likely have placed much higher, however, if it hadn’t been for a fall on her dismount on bars leading to a score of under 13. She qualified to two EFs and placed sixth on vault and first on beam with a score of 16.025 (a tie with Rebecca Bross). At the Chinese Junior Nationals that took place last week in Yunnan province, Cui took second in the AA to the little-known Chen Chuyan. More importantly, at last year’s nationals, competing against seniors — including the eventual 2008 Olympic team — Cui took seventh on BB on fifth on FX, placing 11th AA. Already in 2007, Cui tied for sixth on FX and qualified 13th to the AA. FX is widely considered to be Cui’s best event. She has a good routine, despite a needed choreography upgrade, and sells it well. She performs an Arabian double front, a Rudi, and nice twists overall. She also does a nice twist to layout punch front and has very precise landings. She also does a double leg-up turn. On BB she general scores very high (see above), and does some big skills: punch front to Rueda, Korbut, double tuck dismount. She also performed a 1 1/2 turn at Intercity Games in 2007 instead of the ubiquitous leg-up turn, but had switched to the latter by Pacific Rim. Would be great to see her do a double turn in the future. Cui could stand to upgrade her UB, although she generally speaking has nice lines and good form. She does a nice Tkatchev and a decent Jaeger, and also has a lovely Pak. Had she not fallen on her double front at Pacific Rim, she likely would have received a respectable score. VT is Cui’s weakest event, as she still competes a Yurchenko full regularly, but I assume she is planning to upgrade. Overall, I think this gymnast is currently the best junior in China. She has good form, nice presentation, and is solid on three events.

2. Huang Ying

It says something about the low visibility of the Chinese juniors that I have put second a gymnast who has placed in recent competition only in EFs at Pacific Rim (she has not placed in any Chinese national competition that I know of, except perhaps at the most recent Junior Nationals, for which I do not yet have full results). In the Pacific Rim format, teams compete in a 6-5-4 format, and Huang was used only on beam and floor. However, she eventually placed 3rd on BB, with a score of 15.925 (15.750 in team competition), and 5th on FX. I’m actually not at all familiar with Huang on other events, but she is excellent on these two (as opposed to Wenli Guan, below, who is reasonably solid on all four but a stand-out on none). Huang has beautiful dance and high leaps on floor, and also does a 5/2 twist and a 1 1/2 punch front full. Her best event is BB, where she starts with two flip-flops to layout to Korbut, and an Onodi back tuck. Her dismount is a decent double pike. I can see this gymnast becoming an excellent specialist.

3. Wenli Guan

I’m going to take a risk here and put Wenli here despite the fact that we have not seen her since Pacific Rim, including at the Chinese Nationals that took place in June and the Chinese Junior Nationals that just concluded. I was unable to find any information about why that may be. Wenli, until Chen (see above), is the only junior who has beaten Cui in competition. She took sixth at this year’s Pacific Rim, also placing fifth in UB event finals. So far, Guan has not stood out on any particular event, though she does do a standing Arabian, a flip-flop to back tuck and a double full dismount on BB, and looks able to upgrade other skills on that event. She has long lines on UB, and placed a respectable 5th in EFs at Pacific Rim, but needs to seriously upgrade. Same problem on FX and on VT (Yurchenko full). I’m not in love with this gymnast, but she seems solid enough, though I think she has trouble with power skills. Although actually that may not be so bad with the new CoP.

Honorable mention

The data on Chinese juniors is scant at best, but I’ll mention a few more to look for. First, I suppose, is Chen Chuyan, who took the all-around over Cui in Chinese Junior Nationals. I unfortunately know basically nothing about this heretofore larely unknown gymnast, though she did place 16th in the AA at last year’s nationals (behind Cui).

Of more interest, to me at least, is Li Lijun, who placed third at the most recent Chinese Junior Nationals, behind Chen and Cui. She is already reasonably solid on three events, particularly FX and UB. Before this competition, Li was only vaguely known, as a pretty gymnast not unlike Fan Ye. She is extremely poised on FX, and does some nice, controlled tumbling, although it is largely twists. She seems relatively tentative on BB, and doesn’t do any superbly challenging skills, and has the same problem on VT, where she does a Yurchenko full. So far her best event is likely UB, where she has nice lines and does a strong Jaeger and Tkatchev, a nice Pak, and a good double layout dismount.

The Chinese team:

The Chinese juniors really have not seen enough international competition for us to be able to rank many of them with any consistency. This on top of the fact that reports of the outcomes of national competitions are extremely hard to come by. Cui is by far the most interesting of the upcoming juniors, but there are a few others who will be good specialists at the very least. Among them, however, my main concern is that there are no powerful gymnasts to replace people like Cheng Fei. (On the other hand, the relatively small Jiang Yuyuan can do an Amanar, which was not always the case, so there’s nothing to say the others won’t upgrade. Especially because vault comes last for a lot of juniors.) Perhaps the best thing for the Chinese team is that a number of gymnasts from the 2008 Olympic team — including the great Cheng Fei, who has suggested she will continue through 2009 and has not ruled out 2012 — are likely to continue, including He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan, and Yang Yilin (the last of whom has a shot at gold at Worlds in 2009). This does not even include a number of other gymnasts, including Li Shanshan, Xiao Sha and Sui Lu, who were all contenders for the team but did not make it for various reasons. There’s also Huang Quishuang, a new senior who competed well at Pacific Rim, placing fifth in the AA, second on BB and fourth on FX (though her vaults need serious upgrading). That is to say, China remains deep on the senior level, and likely has plenty of juniors waiting in the wings (even just demographically speaking!). This gold was not a flash in the pan.

Up next: Italy and Great Britain


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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