Posts Tagged ‘Koko Tsurumi’

Should Jordyn Wieber compete at the American Cup?

January 14, 2009

Jordyn Wieber

Jordyn Wieber

News that the 13-year-old Junior U.S. champion will be making her (two years premature) senior debut at the American Cup next month in Chicago is turning some heads on two popular blogs.

2008 Olympian Bridget Sloan has also been confirmed as a competitor. The other two U.S. positions for the women’s competition have yet to be filled, although according to this article from the Los Angeles Times, the other women’s competitors will be Rebecca Downie (Great Britain), Koko Tsurumi (Japan), Ksenia Afanasyeva (Russia) and Jessica Lopez (Venezula and the University of Denver). That leaves two more (ostensibly U.S.) spots to be named.

Back to Wieber. The debate from commenters at Gymnastics Coaching and Triple Full includes these sentiments:

“I think [Wieber's coach John Geddert's] nuts… If she’s not going to be a senior for 2 two more years and he’s pushing her into a senior level comp this early? Nuts.”

“From what I have heard, the National Team Staff select the gymnasts to represent USA at certain meets. They can say no, but if they did they would be at the bottom of the list for a long time. That’s said to be why Melaine Sinclair and Kassi Price never made the teams that mattered.”

“I mean come on.. she can’t even compete as a senior! It’s just ridiculous…”

“Jordyn is one of the best in the US right now. Why shouldn’t she get the opportunity to compete. It’s not like the rules for junior meets are any different than senior meets.”

“USAG need a headliner for this meet. Bridget Sloan doesn’t fill the bill imo. They need to break the “next big thing” to get some attention.”

I’m not liking this. Seems to me that juniors should wait to compete at the AmCup until they get til senior status. I’d like to see Sloan, Lorthrop, Shaprio and Larson at the Cup.

Hmmm. If memory serves, the last super-young gymnast to compete at the American Cup was Kristal Uzelac of Parkette’s in 2001 (she would have been 14 at the time). Bianca Flohr of Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy competed in the preliminary round of the 2006 American Cup at 15. Uzelac had certainly proved that she deserved to be there — she was the two-time U.S. junior champion and being talked up as the next big thing.

It wasn’t her greatest competition. Uzelac was good on vault and floor but fell on beam on a Rulfova. Was she pushed into the senior ranks too soon? Maybe. In the long run her career fizzled because of injuries and burnout. Could those have been prevented by not training super difficult things at age 12? Maybe.

Then again, Nadia was at the inaugural American Cup (1976) at 14. And scored a 10 on floor.

Is this a good idea for Wieber? What do you think?

12 to watch in 2009 — a recap

January 8, 2009

Japans Kohei Uchimura is likely to be very successful in 2009.

Japan's Kohei Uchimura is likely to be very successful in 2009.

Posted late last month and early into this one, here are my picks for who will make waves in 2009:

    Sabrina Gill, Canada
    Kohei Uchimura, Japan
    Jeffery Wammes and Epke Zonderland, Netherlands
    Viktoria Komova, Russia
    Fabian Hambuchen, Germany
    Larissa Iordache, Romania
    Samantha Shapiro and Jordyn Wieber, USA
    Alexy Bilozerchev, USA
    Tatiana Nabieva, Russia
    Nathan Gafuik, Canada
    Cui Jie, China
    Benoit Caranobe, France

Honorable mentions: Peng-Peng Lee and Charlotte Mackie, Canada; Becky Downie, Great Britain; Koko Tsurumi, Japan; Paola Galente, Italy, Ksenia Semyonova, Aliya Mustafina and Nailia Mustafina,  Russia; Sergei Khorokhordin, Russia; Alexander Vorobyov, Ukraine; Stephen Legendre, USA; Thomas Bouhail, France; Zou Kai, China; Louis Smith, Great Britain. Good luck to all in 2009.

The weeks in review

November 25, 2008

There should be a blog that keeps tabs on all the gymnastics blogs.

Tidbits of the week: Triple Full reports that 2006 World Champion Vanessa Ferrari is having a sort of identity crisis. Ongoing injuries have hindered her training, and she’s gained some weight. Nothing precipitates an identity crisis in gymnastics like the expansion of a couple inches of waistline. It seems doubtful that the feisty 2006 World Champion will be able to make a tremendously successful return to elite international competition.

Rick at Gymnastics Coaching reports that Georgia is once again on top of the yearly NCAA coaches poll, followed by perennial runner-up Utah. And that Bela Karolyi called accusers Trudi Kollar and fellow defector Geza Pozar “trash” for their accusations of Bela and Martha Karolyi’s abuse. Tactful. Very tactful.

Before becoming U.S. Team Coordinator, Martha Karolyi was the shadow behind Bela, who obviously prefers the spotlight. Rick calls for her to address the abuse allegations, as well. I kind of doubt she will. Or that USA Gymnastics will make her.

A flurry of competitions, including the Milan Grand Prix, Toyota Cup, Massila Cup, Asian Championships and DBT Cup have taken place in recent days. The rule of thumb has generally been that if you dominated during the Olympics, you dominated these competitions too. Stars include Cheng Fei, Jiang Yuyuan, He Kexin, Sandra Izbasa, Koko Tsurumi, Lauren Mitchell, Fabian Hambuchen, Maxim Deviatovskiy.

“Competing” against a weak field, U.S. gymnasts Samantha Shapiro, Corrie Lothrop and Olivia Courtney steamrolled everyone else at the Pan American Union Championships. Lothrop won vault, Shapiro bars and beam, and Courtney floor.

Japanese Olympic teams announced

May 8, 2008

Japan's Mayu KurodaBarring injury, the Japanese men’s team competing for gold in Beijing will be Hiroyuki Tomita, Kohei Uchimura, Koki Sakamoto, Takehiro Kashima, Makoto Okiguchi, Takuya Nakase.

The women’s team, announced at the same time, is Kyoko Oshima, Miki Uemura, Yu Minobe, Koko Tsurumi, Yuko Shintake, Mayu Kuroda.

Japan is the first country I know of to announce its Olympic teams, although it’s been speculated that China’s women’s team will consist of Cheng Fei, Yang Yilin, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and two others. The Japanese men were second to the Chinese by a sizeable margin at the 2007 World Championships. The Japanese women grabbed the 12th and final team berth to Beijing.

(Via International Gymnast Magazine Online)

Sixteen years later…

April 16, 2008

Here’s 1992 Chinese Olympian He Xuemei, trying to make the Japanese Olympic team in 2008.

He Xuemei, 2006 Japanese Championships:


(more…)

Memmel, Sloan successful at Toyota Cup

December 14, 2007

Apparently not everybody dislikes Chellsie Memmel’s new floor routine.

Chellsie Memmel, 2007 “Good Luck Beijing” International Invitational, Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Take the judges at the Toyota Cup in Tokyo, for example, who were fond enough of it to award Memmel the gold medal on that event over Romania’s Steliana Nistor and American Bridget Sloan.

Bridget Sloan, 2007 “Good Luck Beijing” International Invitational Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg6vgWL5ah0]

Other results, courtesy of USA Gymnastics:

Uneven bars
1. Iryna Krasnianska, Ukraine, 15.650
2. Steliana Nistor, Romania, 15.550
3. Bridget Sloan, USA, 15.300
Other U.S. finish
5. Chellsie Memmel, USA, 14.800

Balance beam
1. Steliana Nistor, Romania, 15.900
2. Chellsie Memmel, USA, 15.650
3. Koko Tsurumi, Japan, 15.450

In the men’s competition, veteran Yewki Tomita put up a respectable 13.85 on high bar and a 14.55 on pommel horse.

A new thought from Bruno Grandi

December 5, 2007

Bruno Grandi, President of the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique.FIG President Bruno Grandi  is saying he doesn’t want gymnasts competing internationally until age 16. Period.

China’s Xinhua news service reported today that Grandi, on hand for the Good Luck Beijing International Invitational, told a reporter he was pondering raising the age limit for all international competitions to 16 after 2008.

“Sports like gymnastics should not be there for kids,” said Grandi. “Gymnasts should only be allowed to compete in international stage when they are mature physically and mentally.”

A gymnast must already be 16 at the end of an Olympic year to be eligible to represent his or her country at the games. At the 2007 World Championships, several 14-year-olds, including the USA’s Ivana Hong, France’s Marine Petit and Japan’s Koko Tsurumi were allowed in because each be 16 by the end of 2008. The number of 15-year-olds who make an impact at international meets every year is beyond counting.

Junior international meets, while not necessarily indicative of who will be good once they reach the senior level, allow gymnasts to gain experience competing under pressure. Not only that, they get exposed themselves to international customs and friendships. Why Grandi would want to ban something so obviously beneficial seems extremely strange.

Grandi is already controversial for his outspoken stance on the current code of points. He was adament about shelving the perfect 10 system that was used before 2005 and still speaks favorably of the new system that seems to give difficulty an edge over execution.

“Gymnastics should not be framed by ‘a set mark ‘. The new scoring code is a way of encouraging athletes to challenge their courage and high-point.

“The increase of routine difficulty is a trend inevitable. This trend won’t change after the Beijing Olympics, but gymnastics is not acrobatics and keeps the traits of art and beauty in additional to competition,” commented Grandi, adding FIG won’t neglect the attraction of expressive force in the sport on its pursuit of difficulty.”

The Worlds Awards

October 26, 2007

A new Longines Award?

Northernriver at Difficulty Plus Execution made a terrific observation about China’s Jiang Yuyuan in some comments about the latest issue of International Gymnast Magazine today:

…if Longines (also known as “That Watch Company in Cahoots With FIG”) ever made a “Prize For Cuteness” to go along with their “Prize For Elegance” (ha), I’d nominate “Yuanyuan” quicker than it takes Shawn to say “It’s such an honor.”

What else might Longines have given awards for at the 2007 Worlds? Below are a few suggestions, inspired by the absurdly named Longines Prize for Elegance, which was bestowed on Shawn Johnson in Stuttgart.

Don’t get me wrong: Johnson is dynamic, steady, inspiring, humble, immensely talented and a whole lot of fun to watch, but elegant is not an apt description of her abilities. It would be better if Longines had decided to replace the word “elegance” with “sportsmanship.” On and off the competition podium, Johnson certainly deserves an award for that.

Without further ado, here we go:

The Longines Award for Vaulting Without Actually Running: Beth Tweddle, who performs a respectable Yurchenko one and a half twist after about five steps.

Vaulting, yes. Running: Not really.

Honorable mention to Romania’s Razvan Selariu, gets a tremendous block off the horse despite doing little more than “trotting” down the runway.

Razvan Selariu, 2007 European Championships All-Around, Vault:

The Longines Award for Reputation Salvation: That goes to Nastia Liukin, who looked mostly like her indomitable old self despite an few floor mistakes and two falls on balance beam over four days of competition. Those who wrote Nastia off after the U.S. Championships will surely be reconsidering now. Honorable mention to the U.S. men’s team, who hauled themselves from 13th to fourth in the world rankings, showing a lot of naysayers that they are indeed clamoring for a place on the Olympic podium.

Nastia Liukin, 2007 U.S. Championships Prelims, Uneven Bars:

Nastia Liukin, 2007 World Championships Team Prelims, Uneven Bars:

The Longines Award for Falling: This is for Yang Wei, who took one of the more dramatic falls I’ve ever seen on high bar during the men’s all around final. And he wasn’t even doing a release move! Unlike some of the less muscular gymnasts, Wei seems to have some trouble doing in-bar elements and twisting his body around on this apparatus. That performance might be written off as a fluke, but one has to recall the disaster in Athens that cost him the all-around title.

Yang Wei, 2007 World Championships All-Around, High Bar:

The Longines Award for Longevity: There are so many gymnasts this award could go to: Russia’s Elena Zamolodchikova, Germany’s Oksana Chusovitina, France’s Isabelle Severino, Brazil’s Daniele Hypolito, Bulgaria’s Jordan Jovtchev,  or even Yang Wei himself, who competed at the American Cup nine years ago. My choice is the Czech Republic’s Jana Komrskova, a tall, elegant vaulting specialist who has competed internationally since 1998, when she was sixth in the all-around at the junior European Championships. Competing a relatively simple (for this code) Podkopayeva and a Yurchenko full, Kmorskova performed with dignity and grace during the vault final. And she stuck her landings.

Jana Komrskova, 2007 World Championships Event Finals, Vault:

The Longines Award for Most Consistently Overscored Routine: Steliana Nistor, balance beam. To Nistor’s credit, she should also receive the Longines Award for Graciousness: Throughout event finals, Nistor could be seen congratulating the other girls in the competition on their performances and accomplishments, whether they were her teammates or not. She’s an example of the way gymnasts should behave.

Steliana Nistor, 2007 World Championships Team Prelims, Balance Beam:

The Longines Award for Amazing Saves: Vanessa Ferrari, uneven bars, team finals. Ferrari, like some of the Ukranians, sports grips that appear to be nothing more than folded bits of tape. One of them actually came off her hand about halfway through her bar routine during finals, and Ferrari, in the middle of her inverts, basically just shakes it off and keeps going. Even though she had to improvise a little bit at the very end of the routine, it was a really nice job on her part. Rick at Gymnastics Coaching has already mentioned this in his blog. To use his words, “What a fighter!”

Vanessa Ferrari, 2007 World Championships Team Finals, Uneven Bars:

The Longines Award for Most Overused Word by American Commentators: That would be “gassed,” as said several times by both Bart Connor and Raj Bhavsar to describe the state of most competing in the men’s all-around final. Perhaps the best illustration of this is Hiroyuki Tomita’s reaction after falling from the pommel horse due to fatigue as much as anything else, when he walked over to the chalk bin and simply sat on his haunches for several seconds, the way gymnasts do when they’re, well, gassed.

Gassed?

The Longines Award for Most Impressive Yang Wei Performance: Still rings. Yes, he won parallel bars over a field of gymnasts that specialize in that event, but on rings Yang performed what looked like a swinging double layout and capped off the routine with a stuck double double layout dismount. Awesome. Honorable mention for his vault in team finals.

Yang Wei, 2007 World Championships Team Finals, Vault:

The Longines Award for Coolest New Trend: Double front dismounts off rings, particularly Hiroyuki Tomita’s double front pike with a half out.

Hiroyuki Tomita, 2007 World Championships Team Prelims, Still Rings:

The Longines Award for Endurance: Everyone who competed in both the men’s team competition and all-around, which were held less than 24 hours apart, but particularly to Korea’s Yang Tae-Young. The reigning Olympic bronze medalist was the only gymnast to do all six events at both competitions.

The Longines Award for Best Split Jump Ever: Japan’s Koko Tsurumi. It was the highlight of a beautiful balance beam routine.

Koko Tsurumi, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Balance Beam:

The nefarious full turn with leg held up

October 25, 2007

Amazing how this relatively low-value skill appears to be more difficult for many gymnasts than, say, a back handspring, layout stepout series.

In her commentary for WSCN at the 2007 World Championships, Tasha Schwikert noted that she’s seen so many people do full turns with their leg up on balance beam and either fall or take a major deduction that she’s wondering if it’s even worth the risk.

I agree. Few look truly calm doing this skill, even when they pull it off flawlessly. And that happens a lot less than one would think.

Koko Tsurumi, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Balance Beam:

Yang Yilin, 2007 World Championships Team Qualifying Round, Balance Beam:

Xiao Sha, 2007 Chinese Nationals Event Finals, Balance Beam:

Ekaterina Kramarenko, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Balance Beam:

Vanessa Ferrari, 2006 World Championships Event Finals, Balance Beam:

More sympathy should be given to Li Shanshan, who fell doing a much more difficult variation of this skill during event finals at the World Championships. Ferrari also often takes a small deduction for it, but props to both for doing something truly difficult.

Li Shanshan, 2007 World Championships Event Finals, Balance Beam:

Vanessa Ferrari, 2007 European Championships All-Around, Balance Beam:

One of the most beautiful, albeit slightly overrotated, turns with the leg held way up was done in 2001 at the American Team Cup by China’s Kang Xin. What’s most impressive, I think, is the way she sold it — and the rest of this marvelous routine.

Kang Xin, 2001 American Team Cup, Balance Beam:

The subject of deceptively hard skills on balance beam brings to mind the compulsory beam set from 1992 to 1996. The cartwheels, forward rolls and fouette jumps gave four of the Mag 7 (and numerous others, including Simona Amanar and Kui Yuanyuan) all sorts of problems in Atlanta.

Jaycie Phelps, 1996 Olympic Compulsories, Balance Beam:

Amanda Borden, 1996 Olympic Compulsories, Balance Beam:

Dominique Dawes, 1996 Olympic Compulsories, Balance Beam:


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