Posts Tagged ‘Li Shanshan’

On the World Cup, day two

December 14, 2008

Once again International Gymnast leads the field in providing up-to-the-minute coverage of the World Cup. If you couldn’t catch it live, this is a very good alternative.

The home Spanish crowd got a nice boost when their countryman Issac Botella tied for the bronze on vault (with Russian Anton Golotsutskov, 16.075 each.) Botella showed a Kasamatsu 1.5 and a handspring double front. Golotsutskov showed a Tsuk double pike and the same second vault as Botella.

Olympic silver medalist Thomas Bouhail of France won the event, despite putting his hand down on his Tsuk double pike. He nailed his Dragulescu (16.575, the highest score of the competition thusfar, for a 16.225 average). Jeffrey Wammes of the Netherlands, a capable young gymnast who did not qualify for Beijing for various reasons, was second with a 2.5 Yurchenko and a handspring front double full (the same vault Raj Bhavsar used.)

On beam, up and coming Aussie Lauren Mitchell narrowly edged Russian Yulia Lozhechko for the title, 15.25-15.2. It’s nice to see Lozhechko, who was left off the Russian Olympic team for reasons that sounded like continuing discipline problems, is still competing, even if this wasn’t the 2007 European beam champion’s best effort. China’s Li Shanshan, who’s amazing when she stays on, suffered a few little wobbles and a low landing on her double pike to place third with a 15.15.

Other notable performances: Ukranian Daria Zgoba balked on her dismount, performing only a layout, Sandra Izbasa was OK but not spectacular for a 14.925, Cheng Fei looked completely distracted (13.825) and Brazil’s Daniele Hypolito may have received the lowest score of the final (13.425) but is probably relieved it wasn’t an 11-something like she had yesterday on bars.

On parallel bars, China’s young Feng Zhe turned in a spectacular 15.775, matched by French p-bar specialist Yann Cuchrat. Ukraine’s Valery Goncharov was nearly as good, scoring 15.675 for third. Every man in this final dismounted with a double pike.

Floor: Cheng Fei redeemed! The two-time world floor champ didn’t need to throw her biggest tricks (namely the Silivas) to outscore the field with a 15.375. Teammate and Olympic floor finalist Jiang Yuyuan threw a quadruple turn and dazzled everyone with her presentation for second (15.225). Tired-seeming Olympic floor champion Sandra Izbasa, who’s been in a hell of a lot of meets since the Olympics, was decent but not at her best (15.0, third).

Slovenian Aljaz Pagan, who unless he continues on to 2012 will always be the gymnast who really, really deserved to go to an Olympic Games, scratched from this WC final because of a back injury, a.

At his best, Pagan probably could have beaten Dutchman Epke Zonderland, an Olympic HB finalist who is just getting better and better. Zonderland took the title here with a 16.175, more than one-third of a point ahead of Philippe Rizzo of Australia (15.875). This one wasn’t even close.

In his final competition, Japan’s Hiroyuki Tomita finished a distant third after falling out of his double-twisting double layout dismount (15.325). It was not the way for one of the sport’s great champions to go out.

A few thoughts on event finals

September 4, 2008
He Kexins uneven bars win was controversial, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

He Kexin's uneven bars win was controversial, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Belatedly posted due to post-Olympic hangover, I think.

It was an improvement over 2004 (almost anything would be), but in this blogger’s opinion only, the judges still got a few things wrong during the three nights of Olympic event finals.

Namely…

Women’s Vault: It was blatant partisanship, giving Cheng Fei the bronze after she fell on the vault named after her. Or that’s what I thought at first. One has to remember, however, that the Cheng vault has a much higher start value than Sacramone’s double-twisting Yurchenko; high enough that Cheng can fall and still place higher than Sacramone. Add in the fact that Cheng’s start value on her first vault, which was beautiful, was 0.2 higher than Sacramone’s.

So although I don’t think a gymnast should fall and get a medal, the judges didn’t mess that one up — the code of points is to blame.

Women’s Uneven Bars: Some will say Nastia Liukin should have won it. Some will defend He Kexin’s gold. I say this: Bronze medalist Yang Yilin should have won. It’s gymnastics scoring 101: If all routines are valued as having equal difficulty, the one that has the least visible errors should win. He went over on one of her handstand pirouettes and took a step on her dismount.

Liukin went over on one of her low bar handstands and had the perennial form issues, as always, on her dismount. Yang’s routine, though less spectacular than either Liukin’s or He’s, had none of those errors. Andrew Thornton on Gymnast.com agrees.

Balance Beam: This one I agree with. Shawn Johnson was cleanest and performed her tons of difficulty flawlessly, even if Liukin has the artistry and extension. She deserves a gold medal for consistency alone, for having performed that routine virtually flawlessly in every competition since the 2007 American Cup (2007 Worlds event finals notwithstanding.)

Might have been different had not Liukin had the big hop on her dismount. Too bad Li Shanshan had another meltdown — I’d like to see her win a World Championship. When she’s on, she deserves it.

Women’s Floor Exercise:The multitalented Sandra Izbaza, a championship handball player before she dedicated herself to gymnastics, proved that tradition dies hard. So, consequently, did Gabriela Dragoi on balance beam.

The Romanians really need to embrace the artistic component of this code, and perhaps add some more ballet to their training, which was obviously a component of their gymnastics regimens during the 1980s but seemed to disappear during the mid-90s.

Zou Kai displays form that could be improved on floor exercise.

Zou Kai displays form that could be improved on floor exercise.

Men’s High Bar: This one actually made me kind of mad. Seems like overnight Jonathan Horton has turned from an amateur into a professional gymnast — the sort who points his toes at all times, who can deliver in the clutch and whose extension has improved dramatically. In the space of literally one Olympics, he’s matured from the X Games kid to an adult gymnast. From here on out, it could be a whole new world for him.

Which brings me to the point: He should have been the Trent Dimas of Beijing. He had the tricks and he had the form. Nice as his laid-out Jaeger full was, Zou Kai’s extension and swing were a lot poorer than Horton’s, and he wasn’t penalized for it. If a gymnast from France or Italy or the U.S. had done the same routine as Zou, I can’t help feeling that his B score would have been much lower. Horton deserved the gold here.

Chinese women’s team is…

July 25, 2008

The rumors were true. International Gymnast Magazine has confirmed that Cheng Fei, Jiang Yuyuan, Li Shanshan, Yang Yilin, He Kexin and Deng Linlin will represent team China in Beijing.

Team captain Cheng is the only returning 2004 Olympian but also the lone member of the 2006 World Championship-winning squad.

In China, gymnasts seem to flame out faster than they do elsewhere — perhaps it’s the emergence of stunning new talent like He and Deng that makes it that much harder to stay at the top.

Yang Yilin, 2008 Tianjin World Cup Event Finals, Uneven Bars:

Like the Chinese men’s squad named earlier, this is a dream team — if they can all hit in team finals. China’s reputation there is sketchy. If they hit in event finals, the Chinese could sweep the gold medals.

Whether they win team gold or not, China has certainly locked up the depth prize this quad. Talk about a country whose B team could challenge for a medal –not making the final Olympic cut was Olympic veteran Zhang Nan, artistic Sui Lu, snazzy Pang Panpan, powerful Xiao Sha, and 2006 World team members Zhou Zhuoru, He Ning .

Chinese Nationals: Quick hits

May 7, 2008

Cheng FeiCheng Fei: 16.1 on vault (Fei)
Jiang Yuyuan: 16.1 on vault (Amanar)
He Kexin: 17.3 on bars
Yang Yilin: 17.05 on bars
Pang Panpan: 16.15 on bars
Li Shanshan: 16.95 on balance beam

Granted, this is from an internal meet. Makes one think that we’re going to be seeing some similiar scores come U.S. Nationals in June.

(via International Gymnast Magazine Online)

China’s 2008 contenders

October 31, 2007

China's Zhou Zhuoru

The U.S. commentators didn’t think too much of her at the 2006 American Cup, but China’s Zhou Zhuoru likely made a bold statement about her ability to perform in big competitions at the DTB Cup in Stuttgart last weekend.

Zhou Zhuoru, 2006 American Cup, Uneven Bars:

The Americans seemed to a little more respect for Zhou after she was part of the team that toppled the U.S. at the 2006 Worlds.
Zhou Zhuoru, 2007 American Cup, Floor Exercise:

Zhou’s gold on balance beam and bronze on uneven bars at the DBT might be somewhat vindicating to the woman who is, in all honesty, probably classified as a “second-team gymnast” by others besides Tim Daggett. She given that she was designated the alternate for the 2007 World Championships in favor of less experienced teammates Li Shanshan, Jiang Yuyuan, Yang Yilin and Xiao Sha.

As International Gymnast Magazine put it, Zhouru’s performance “helped her Olympic cause.”

Exactly right. Although it’s extremely fun to discuss who’s on the bubble for making the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team (Memmel? Bieger? Hong? Peszek? Sloan? Everyone who isn’t Shawn Johnson or Nastia Liukin?) I’m wondering who’s on the bubble in other countries, particularly China, and Zhou is certainly one.

Compared to the 2006 Worlds, where the women won their first team gold and Pang Panpan became the first Chinese woman since Mo Huilan to almost walk away with a world all-around title, the Chinese performance in Stuttgart was probably something of a mixed bag.

Chinese newspapers made a lot of the fact that while the Chinese took home eight golds in Aarhus, they managed — horrors — only five in Stuttgart. Chinese coaches have pledged to up the difficulty of their gymnasts’ routines for Beijing.

China retained only two athletes — He Ning and Cheng Fei — from its golden 2006 squad, partially due to injuries and partially to give Li, Jiang, Yang and Xiao a chance to prove their abilities on gymnastics’ second largest international stage.

Whether or not they really did is a matter that hasn’t been explored too closely, except probably by the Chinese coaches. What is apparent is that the Chinese rivals the U.S.’s in depth – and not just on beam and bars.

China’s legitimate shots to make the women’s Olympic team include:

— Pang Panpan:

China's Pang Panpan

— Zhang Nan:

China's Zhang Nan

— Zhou Zhuoru:

China's Zhou Zhuoru

— Cheng Fei:

China's Cheng Fei

— Li Ya:

China's Li Ya

— He Ning:

China's He Ning

— Xiao Sha:

China's Xiao Sha

— Yang Yilin:

China's Yang Yilin

— Li Shanshan:

China's Li Shanshan

— Jiang Yuyuan:

China's Jiang Yuyuan

I’m sure there are others I’ve left out.

And now, a barrage of amazing Chinese gymnastics from this quad’s Olympic contenders and past Chinese greats:

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: