Posts Tagged ‘Steliana Nistor’

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.

Wrapping up the 2008 Europeans

April 9, 2008

Vanessa FerrariNorthernriver at Difficulty Plus Execution has it right:

…It still looks like Shawn doesn’t have any brutal competition for that all-around title, even with Nastia upgrading uneven bars like crazy. With Steliana Nistor still competing all-around at about the same level that she did at Worlds, and Vanessa Ferrari stumbling along…one wonders how Jade Barbosa is doing.

Ferrari didn’t have the best competition, but even with the fall on beam in team finals, what she displayed was a heck of a lot better than at earlier meets this season. She’d save herself a big deduction if only she’d do a regular full turn on beam instead of grabbing her leg, though.

Vanessa Ferrari, 2008 European Championships Team Finals, Balance Beam:

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.

Elizarova: Beijing spoiler?

November 21, 2007

Of all the Russian juniors who seem to have disappeared off the face of the Earth, I wonder most about 16-year-old Daria Elizarova, who was on the start list for the 2007 World Championships but did not compete.

Elizarova’s toepoint and presentation are reminiscent of the great Lilia Podkopayeva’s.

Lilia Podkopayeva, 1996 Olympic Games All-Around, Floor Exercise:

Daria Elizarova, 2006 Junior European Championships Team Final, Floor Exercise:

The obvious competitiors for all-around gold in Athens have presented themselves: Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Vanessa Ferrari, Jade Barbosa, Steliana Nistor and Pang Panpan if she’s in her 2006 form.

Gymnastics fans will now spend the winter months exhausting every possible upset scenario before the American Cup in March gives a better picture of how things stand.

Elizarova, who will be competing at the mini-Olympics that the Good Luck Beijing test event is turning into, should be scenario number one.

It’s over.

November 17, 2007

If she throws an Amanar, Shawn Johnson is likely to win the all-around competition in Beijing.

That’s right. The 2008 Olympic all-around competition is over.

An interview with Chow Liang by International Gymnast Magazine editor Dwight Normile affirmed that Chow’s prodigy, 2007 World Champion Shawn Johnson, will soon be back to full training following treatment for a stress reaction in her right shin.

“World champion gymnast suffers slight injury, gets better, returns to training” isn’t the news. What is, as Normile gently reminds readers, is that Johnson has and may continue working on her Amanar — a Yurchenko vault with 2.5 twists — which she came within a few seconds of performing at the U.S. Championships in August.

Chow couldn’t say what changes, if any, he would make in Johnson’s routines for 2008, but we might see her upgrade to a 2-1/2-twisting Yurchenko on vault. After all, she almost competed it at the Visa Championships last August. “We did it during the warm-up,” Chow said. “I almost had her do it — almost. I probably felt one month short (of preparation) back then. I didn’t want to take any risk.”

Johnson probably doesn’t need to do an Amanar to win the all-around in Beijing. But if she does, it would put everyone else nearly out of contention to catch her.

The 2008 all-around champ -- and this event is why.

At the 2007 Worlds, Johnson won by 1.25 points over Romanian Steliana Nistor and was 1.325 ahead of bronze medalists Jade Barbosa and Vanessa Ferrari, both of whom would have placed above Nistor had Barbosa not fallen on floor and Ferrari on bars.

But even crediting Barbosa and Ferrari with eight tenths by assuming their mistakes were flukes, Johnson is still pacing the field by more than half a point.

Risk of injury aside, Johnson has almost nothing to lose by competing this vault. Whether or not she stands it up, if she can get credit for attempting an Amanar, her start value on vault will balloon by seven-tenths of a point. If does stand it up, even with a huge hop or lunge backward, she’s going to get a score that’s out of this world. They might as well mail the gold to Iowa as soon as her feet hit the ground.

Recall Barbosa’s 15.9 for a decent Yuchenko 2.5 during the all-around final. Johnson got a 15.175 for a nice DTY.

Jade Barbosa, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Vault:

Shawn Johnson, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Vault:

We may see silver and bronze contenders attempting two-and-a-halfs just to get the start value boost. It’s almost surprising we haven’t seen it yet. Of the top 10 in Stuttgart, only Johnson, Barbosa and maybe Ferrari look as though they have what it takes to land that vault on their feet.

Barbosa would be a threat, as her tumbling is equally difficult, but she’s proven less consistent on her better events, and the small form breaks she gives away on bars and beam will likely keep her chasing Johnson. Although this might be selling the 2006 World champ a bit short, it doesn’t seem like Ferrari has quite enough power to do an Amanar.

Vanessa Ferrari, 2007 World Championships Team Finals, Vault:

Why is it that vault, arguably the least exciting event, always seems to decide these things? In 1984, it gave Mary Lou Retton the gold and enduring fame. In 2000, it cost Svetlana Khorkina what was basically presumed to be “her” victory. In 2008, it may well seal Shawn Johnson’s.

It’s almost funny — if either Alicia Sacramone or Cheng Fei threw a triple twisting Yurchenko, their scores would be so high as to put them in contention for the all-around gold, despite the deficiencies both have on bars.

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: