Posts Tagged ‘Yulia Lozhechko’

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 latest from Lozhechko

July 22, 2008

We won’t see this routine in Beijing, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Yulia Lozhechko, 2008 Dutch Open Event Finals, Floor Exercise:

Because of her height, Lozhechko is not a gymnast who makes tumbling look easy. But this isn’t really easy tumbling, either.

No Olympics for Lozhechko

July 22, 2008

Russian Yulia Lozhechko on her best event.

From International Gymnast Magazine:

While the Russian women’s Olympic team has yet to be officially announced, veteran Yulia Lozhechko won’t be going to Beijing, head coach Andrei Rodionenko said Monday.

Lozhechko, the 2007 European Champion on balance beam, has lost all chances for the 2008 Olympics. Ksenia Afanasyeva, Yekaterina Kramarenko, Anna Pavlova and Ksenia Semyonova already have secured berths, and Svetlana Klyukina, Daria Yelizarova and Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova are vying for the remaining two spots, Rodionenko said.

Good grief! OK, so Lozhechko’s been a bit up and down since winning the 2007 Europeans on beam, but when she’s on, she could make event finals on that event easily, perhaps even medal. There must be something seriously wrong for her to be eliminated at this stage.

Then again, Lozhechko has a history of disobedience:

Lozhechko, a World Cup gold medalist and three-time world team member, was given a three-month suspension from the team last fall for defying the coaches at the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart. In the preliminaries, Lozhechko was instructed to dismount balance beam with a simple double tuck, but attempted a more difficult Arabian double front to increase her chances of getting into the beam final. She fell on the dismount and was an alternate to the final.

Lozhechko was criticized by the coaching staff for “mental problems” following her subpar finish at the Russian Cup. After finishing 12th in qualification, fifth in the final and third on beam, she was nevertheless given the final invitation to the training camp in Leninsk-Kuznetsky. However, her Olympic chances ended there, Rodionenko said.

Yulia Lozhechko, 2007 World Championships All Around, Balance Beam:

She evoked Svetlana Khorkina in bodyline and movement, although apparently Rodionenko is less tolerant of “mental problems” than former Russian coach Leonid Arkayev was (hey, the man put up with The Diva for a decade, although Khorkina seemed to win more than she lost.)

With the more experienced four of the training camp — Pavlova, Kramarenko, Semyonova and Afanasyeva — confirmed, what an interesting choice between Grebenkova, Yelizerova and Klyukina for the final spot.

Harmes to Olympics, van der Leur done

June 24, 2008

Suzanne Harmes

While the U.S. Olympic Trials were happening, across the world the Dutch were quietly determining their own women’s Olympic team at the Dutch Open.

They might have called it the Russian Open instead. Russia sent what may well be its Olympic team — Anna Pavlova, Ksenia Semenova, Ksenia Afanasyeva, Svetlana Kluykina, Yulia Lozhechko and Ekaterina Kramarenko to Amsterdam with the expectation that they would dominate, and they did.

The Netherlands’ one-woman squad will apparently consist of new mom Suzanne Harmes, the only Dutch gymnast to meet the selection committee’s standards, which are still a bit unclear.

(more…)

Isabelle Severino — torn Achilles tendon

April 3, 2008

Isabelle Severino at the 2006 World ChampionshipsLooks like Isabelle Severino will not be participating in her third Olympic Games.

The 2005 European floor champion, a few days shy of her 28th birthday, tore her Achilles tendon warming up a full-in on floor during European Championships team qualification today, International Gymnast Magazine reported.

It’s a huge moral loss for France. Severino, a stalwart of the French national team for more than a decade, is also a highly capable all-around competitor. She’s taken the path less traveled in her career, working for Cirque du Soleil before returning to elite gymnastics for the 2004 Olympic Games. Severino was also the acrobatics behind Missy Peregrym’s Haley Graham in the 2005 gymnastics movie Stick It.

Romania, despite an injury to Cerasela Petrascu, was the highest team finisher in the qualifying round, blowing Russia off the mats by more than five points. Russia was without veteran Yulia Lozhechko, who reportedly is suffering from the flu.

So few slots, so many questions

March 7, 2008

In theory, by March of an Olympic year, we should be getting a better idea of who’s going to be on the Olympic team in most countries.

China is not most countries.

Here are Deng Linlin and Guo Weiyang, two from the People’s Republic whose success at the just concluded Doha World Cup may contribute to their own Olympic surge. Guo won gold on high bar in Doha. Deng won gold on beam and silver on floor.

She didn’t do too shabbily on vault, either, winning a bronze behind Germany’s Oksana Chusovitina and Russian Anna Pavlova.

Deng Linlin, 2008 Doha World Cup Event Finals, Vault:

Guo Weiyang, 2007 Chinese Nationals Event Finals, High Bar:

Ksenia SemyonovaMatters aren’t much clearer when it comes to the prospective Russian women’s team, either. Ksenia Semyonova is the reigning world champion on the uneven bars, but Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova keeps coming up with big results at smaller meets. Ksenia Afanasyeva had a great competition at last week’s Russian Cup.  

Add veteran Pavlova to the mix, as well as the stalwart Yelena Zamolodchikova, Svetlana Klyukina, Yekaterina Kramarenko, Polina Miller, Kristina Pravdina, Anna Grudko, Irina Isayeva, Daria Elizarova and Yulia Lozhechko. There’s no dearth of talent in Russia.

Who goes? Who stays? Who knows?

Good grief.

Lozhechko, Khorokhordin rebound to win Russian Championships

February 29, 2008

Russian Yulia Lozhechko capped off her comeback by winning the Russian Championships.What a comeback for Russian veteran Yulia Lozhechko.

The timeline of Lozhechko’s last six months goes something like this: September: Competes at the World Championships in Stuttgart. Falls on her beam dismount (a Patterson, or an Arabian double front) in team preliminaries, which knocks the 2007 European balance beam champion out of event finals.

October: Is unceremoniously thrown removed from the Russian National team for not obeying her coaches and throwing a safer dismount on said beam routine.

February: Makes stunning comeback to win the all-around at her first competition back on the national team.

Lozhechko literally came from out of nowhere on the second day. She wasn’t even mentioned in International Gymnast Magazine’s rundown of the preliminary competition. Russian veteran Anna Pavlova, apparently on the strength of her new Amanar vault, bounded into the second place spot behind Lozhechko. A duo of Ksenias (Afanasyeva and Semyonova, the latter the defending world bars champion) took bronze.

“I trained this for a long time — in fact I learned it six years ago,” Pavlova said. “Awhile back Yelena Zamolodchikova was doing this vault, when I was just beginning, but for many years nobody was doing it. Certainly, I had some silly mistakes over the course of the competition, but of all the apparatus I am happiest with how I performed on the beam.”

Other than Simona Amanar, who threw the vault in competition once and only once, I believe Zamo was the first woman to do the 2.5-twisting Yurchenko. It was at the 2001 French International, if memory serves.

That competition also featured a fabulous vault by 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Yang Yun of China, who threw one of the more perfect handspring front layouts ever done in international competition. She literally looked like she was flying.

Yang Yun, 2001 French International, Vault:

Russian veteran Sergei Khorokhordin came from behind to steal the Russian Cup title from 2007 European Champion Maxim Devyatovsky, who was also pulled from the Russian team for bad behavior in Stuttgart in September. Deviatovsky’s crime was pulling out of the all-around in a show of poor sportsmanship after he took himself out of contention for the title with a fall on parallel bars.

He also left the arena before the meet was over, which may have gotten the Russian delegation in some hot water with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) since it’s against the rules for a non-injured gymnast to do so.

Devyatovsky certainly limped around quite a bit after that rotation, but coaches seemed to think he was faking. Maybe the FIG did too.

Devyatovsky had been in position to make a Lozhechko-like comeback (he was first in the qualifying round) but finished fourth after a fall on high bar. Yuri Ryazanov was second, ahead of Dmitry Gogotov.

Lozhechko back on Russian team

February 27, 2008

Russian Yulia Lozhechko on her best event.

This apparently states that 2007 European Champion Yulia Lozhechko is back on the Russian team.

Since it’s in Russian, I can’t read it, other than a very poor Babelfish translation. But I’m more than willing to believe it.

The Russians, struggling somewhat this quad they way they did from 2000 to 2004, are sorely lacking leadership. Lozhechko, who was suspended from the team after the 2007 World Championships for apparently throwing a dismount her coaches told her not to during team prelims, has the experience and talent to provide it.

Barring injury or a huge lack of preparation, the Russians would be foolish to leave her off the Olympic team.

If she has kept up her skill level and manages to hit her beam routine in the Olympic prelims (maybe this time she’ll take her coaches advice and save the Patterson dismount she threw in Stuttgart) she should be a shoo-in for event finals.

Yulia Lozhechko, 2007 World Championships All-Around, Balance Beam:

Yezhova makes her return

November 13, 2007

The latest comeback kid: Russian Lyudmila Yezhova (now Lyudmila Yezhova Grebenkova), who at 25 is no longer a kid.

Doesn’t seem so long ago when Fan Ye and Yezhova went 1-2 on balance beam at the 2003 Worlds in Anaheim.

Fan Ye's perfect sheep jump on balance beam, via Grace Chiu photos.

Fan’s routine in event finals, which received a whopping 9.812, was described by one as “the closest one has come to perfection” in a very long time.

Fan Ye, 2003 World Championshiops Event Finals, Balance Beam:

But Yezhova was no slouch either.

Lyudmila Yezhova, 2003 World Championships Event Finals, Balance Beam:

Both appeared again at last weekend’s Glasgow Grand Prix, where Grebenkova signalled her return to the international scene by taking top honors on her best event. It wasn’t quite the rivalry of 2003. Fan, eighth in the qualifying round, improved to finish fourth.

As she, Zamo and Khorkina proved at the 2004 Olympic Games, Russians are able to maintain top skills despite achieving a so-called “advanced” age. But if Grebenkova makes the 2008 Russian team, she’ll be one of the first to make her comeback and actually compete for the mother country.

Others who have been considered too old to contribute to traditional Eastern-bloc powerhouse teams have migrated to other countries — Oksana Chusovitina bounced from Uzbekistan to Germany (and trained for a short period of time in the United States), while Viktoria Karpenko and 1996 Olympian Yevgenia Kuznetsova emigrated to Bulgaria. Former Ukranian Alona Kvasha is rumored to be training for Australia.

Alona Kvasha, 2000 Olympics Team Qualification, Floor Exercise:

It’s worth noting that the mother country could certainly use someone like Grebenkova right now. Yelena Zamolodchikova looks more like a shadow of her former self every year, Svetlana Khorkina has finally disappeared, Anna Pavlova still lacks consistency, Nadezhda Ivanova retired with an illness, Yulia Lozhechko is off the team until further notice and many of the fabulous Russian juniors everyone spent 2006 reading about have been injured. The door is wide open.

Some Yulia Lozhechko support

September 26, 2007

Russian Yulia Lozhechko on her best event.

Suspended from the National team or not, I still think Yulia Lozhechko is one of the best gymnasts in Russia — and the world.

The 2007 European balance beam champion ha swonderful precision on both beam and floor exercise. Like American Nastia Liukin, Lozhechko is a taller, long-legged gymnast, but she demonstrates a durability and a precision on her signature events that Liukin sometimes lacks. There’s also a bit of Khorkina-like steel mixed with that Russian grace. I’m especially taken with the dainty front somie that she lands on one foot in a scale.

Lozhechko on beam, 2007 World Championships, All-Around:

And Floor in Prelims (look Ma! No back handsprings!):

According to Russian head coach Andrei Rodionenko’s statements to the media, Lozhechko was dropped from the Russian team for the remainder of 2007 after the World Championships for disobeying her coaches and throwing a Patterson (a double Arabian) off balance beam during the team preliminaries.

Lozhechko struggling with the Patterson dismount during podium training:

Rodionenko claimed that Lozhechko didn’t water back because she was focusing on qualifying for event finals and instead ended up costing the team points, International Gymnast Magazine reported.

Even if in her heart Lozhechko was really competing for herself alone up there on beam, her goal was still to get the highest score possible. It’s one of the nice things about gymnastics — gymnasts benefit themselves and their teams at the same time. If she had disobeyed her coaches and landed the dismount successfully, made it into event finals and medaled, would she still have been penalized? Doubtful. Rather, she probably would have been proclaimed the new Khorkina; Sveta certainly went her own way and was Russia’s beloved “diva” for three Olympiads.

Lozhechko’s situation brings up another important question: In any situation, does a gymnast have to follow his or her coach’s instructions? I’m not suggesting anarchy; it’s one thing when, as in the case of Maxim Deviatovsky, a gymnast is disobedient simply because he had a couple of poor routines. It’s quite another when a gymnast makes a judgement decision. After all, they’re the ones that are performing.

I hope Lozhechko weathers this controversy and returns stronger than ever in 2008. With a more difficult vault, she could be an all-around contender, and regardless of which beam dismount she throws, if she hits it and the rest of her routine, she could find herself a contender for a gold medal in any competition.