Posts Tagged ‘Sandra Izbasa’

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.

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.

10 things that should have happened during the Olympics…

October 7, 2008
Nastia Liukin was fabulous in Beijing -- as it should have been.

Nastia Liukin was fabulous in Beijing -- as it should have been.

…and did.

1. Nastia Liukin should have won the women’s all-around. With a highly respectful nod to 2007 World Champion Shawn Johnson, only Nastia combined the balletic artistry that makes gymnastics a truly special sport with the difficulty that makes people say wow. Not only that, she stuck almost all her critical landings during the all-around final — on vault, off beam and on that tricky front-full, front double full first pass on floor.

Liukin’s performance in that all-around final was a throwback to the “perfectionist” gymnastics of old — and hopefully, an inspiration to the perfectionist gymnastics to come.

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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.

In praise of Patrascu

July 3, 2008

Never mind that she’s not doing full-difficulty dismounts — Cerasela Patrascu belongs on the 2008 Romanian Olympic team.

Videos from the 2008 Romanian Nationals show that Patrascu, despite a knee injury at this spring’s European Championships, could have a positive impact on Romania’s fight for what will likely be a bronze medal in the team competition.

Cerasela Patrascu, 2008 Romanian Championships, Uneven Bars:

Cerasela Patrascu, 2008 Romanian Championships, Balance Beam:

Several months ago I picked the impressive Patrascu as the one to lead the Romanians in Beijing, ahead of Steliana Nistor or Sandra Izbasa. She, Izbasa and Nistor would be formidable on balance beam in team finals, for example. Sub in Gabriela Dragoi for Izbasa on uneven bars, and put Anamaria Tamarjan in for Patrascu on floor.

Beyond all that, Patrascu possesses an elegance, maturity and style rarely seen in Romanian gymnastics. To put it the way the American commentators might, Patrascu’s lines, knees and toepoint are indicators of the “international look” that appeals to World Championship/Olympic judges.

That’s been a rarity in Romanians in general since the early 1990s, and includes the Romanian gymnastics of this quad, where the beam and floor choreography has been more minimal and more cookie-cutter than ever.

Return of the shaky balance beam routine

May 14, 2008

Balance beam is a shaky event.For many years, the balance beam has been seen as the hardest event in gymnastics. It’s nerve-wracking, those four inches, four feet off the ground. And gymnasts have to do so much these days.

One of the things that makes Olympic champions like Carly Patterson and Andreea Raducan great is the way they almost never seemed to falter on that most precarious of events.

Seems like these days more gymnasts have major problems on uneven bars. Great all-around prospects who had difficulties hitting bars in competition or getting a start value that didn’t deflate all-around possibilities? The ranks burst with them: Vanessa Atler, Alicia Sacramone, Cheng Fei, Anna Pavlova, Sandra Izbasa, Jana Bieger, Catalina Ponor, Gina Gogean, etc.

So it’s almost refreshing to see a gymnast whose worst event is the old classic balance beam, who makes you bite your nails and get so nervous during the routine that suspense movies hardly compare.

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