Doha Live Updates

9:19 AM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Can be found here:  Event Finals Day 2. Women's BB, FX, Men's VT, PB, HB. (select 2nd tab on left for gym)

I missed Aurelie  Malaussena (FRA) and Ash Brennan (AUS).

Marta Pihan-Kuleza (POL) - big wobble on standing arabian - leg up, almost off, but saves it.. She's attacking this routine otherwise. Nice switch half - and I usually don't say that. Gainer full dismount. Her leo is black with purple and white swirlies and she has cornrows in her hair with alternating purple and white sparkles haha. Cute!

Giulia Steingruber  - elegant in black and her hair up in a bun. front pike. switch split, side somi.  BHS step out - layout to 2 feet. wolf jump, split jump. Aerial, back tuck. Full turn. Switch half.  Another Gainer full dismount. Pretty good - she attacked that.

The screens that say their name appear to be flickering. I certainly hope it's not for the gymnast's sake. Should have a "seizure inducing" warning sign but I think it might be the camera causing that - let's hope.

Mary Anne Monckton (AUS) - roll on mount, scale.  side aerial, loso, fast fall. front aerial - leg up. sheep jump. switch split, back pike. Full turn with leg up. Switch split half.  Switch ring? Split jump, straddle jump. RO, BHS, double pike, step back.

Lisa Katherina Hill (GER) - she got bronze on UB let's see how this goes. Onodi and slipped! that was scary but she fell to the side. Side aerial. She's incredible tall. Switch split. Think she was supposed to connect that to something. Full turn. bhs, loso. Switch half, bent at the hips a little. Side somi - she's unsteady from that fall. split jump, wolf jump? Double tuck, landed low and took a step forward. She doesn't look very happy.

Catalina Ponor (ROU) - also in black - sheer arms and . straddle mount. Switch ring - both legs up wobble. RO - layout. Double turn - relatively controlled. Onodi - bhs, lo 2 feet. Front aerial - bhs, loso. Switch split, full bhs - is that a Kotchekova? 2 jumps. Stuck double pike! And she basically said "damn straight!" when she saluted. Work it girl! 6.5/8.8 = 15.3 Romanians in the stand are happy!

Jessica Lopez (VEN) - so glad to see her again! It's been too long! Straddle half - feet flexed and big wobble. front aerial - bhs - loso. 2.5 twist dismount. She looks tired. I have no doubt her Olympic dream is going to happen, I just don't know how well she is going to do. We haven't seen her so she hasn't been building her reputation in the way others have been. 5.4/8.350 = 13.750, 4th place :(

Hannah Whelan (GBR) - 2.5 wolf? side aerial - back loso, off the beam. RO - 2.5 twist dismount. (6.0/7.425 = 13.425)

1. Catalina Ponor - 15. 3
2. Ashleigh Brennan 14.325
3. Marta Pihan-Kuleza 13.9

Women's FX
Didi Bulimar (ROU) is amazing at finding the floor! 5.8/8.925=14.625. amazing!
Ashleigh Brennan - how come no one talks about her floor routine? I like it! 5.4/8.5=14.9
Jiang Yuyuan (CHN) - JYY is back and so is her smile! 5.4/8.6 = 14.0
Lisa Katherina Hill - nice routine. I wish she moved a little more - like the movements were so static. Overall, it was nice. - 13.7
Marta Pihan-Kuleza - pretty good routine. The music fits her well and her choreo fits the music. (5.1/8.5=13.6)
Catalina Ponor - that routine was amazing! Before, it was Izbasa & Chelaru. Will it be Bulimar and Ponor? 6.2/9.075
Valentine Sabatou (FRA) - strong girl. she landed out of bounds but managed to keep a smile on her face. Her choreo fit the music, I thought. - 13.325. Would be higher if it weren't for .4 OOB I believe. (.3 for landing OOB + 1 more OOB)
Adela Sajn (SLO) - dramatic music and choreo - 13.675


Komova vs. Mustafina - Another Case of Grace vs. Power?

2:56 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

from gym-skate blog

Back in 2008, Nastia vs. Shawn was the face of the “grace versus power” battle. The all around wasn’t just a fight for a gold medal but a question of what direction our beloved sport would take. Is the sport headed in the direction of difficulty at the expense of grace? Is it possible to be a power gymnast and be at the top? Did the Code of Points leave room for artistry to be rewarded or is it all about difficult tumbling? We all know how the 2008 battle ended. This year’s battle for the all around crown could very well be between another set of compatriots – Viktoria Komova and Aliya Mustafina. Is this another example of grace versus power?

Mustafina became a senior in 2010 and, in her debut year, became World Champion in the all around. She also competed event finals in every event, which is very rare these days since gymnasts need two vaults in order to qualify for vault event finals. In this sense, one could call her a true all-arounder. Her 2 vaults are an amanar and a round off half on, full off which earned her a silver medal in the event finals. She also earned silver medals on uneven bars and floor exercise but landed in 7th place on beam due to a fall. Personally, I think this was due to fatigue – how many gymnasts compete all around in both team qualifications and team finals, in the all around final, AND event finals in all 4 events? One word: Baller. [Let’s just hope that fatigue isn't an issue in London!]

I first noticed Komova at the Youth Olympic Games that were held in Singapore in 2010. What did I love about her? Probably what everyone else loved – her grace and line, but I also loved her pre-dance onto the floor before she got into her opening pose. Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life that make one happy. Her 2010 YOG FX can be found HERE. At 2011 Worlds, Komova received the silver medal in the all around, missing out on gold by just 0.033. She made event finals in uneven bars, beam and floor. Komova won gold on the uneven bars, perhaps redeeming her all around performance. Like Mustafina, Komova fell in the balance beam finals to finish in 8th place and then withdrew from the floor finals.

Based on Worlds, Mustafina has an all around gold medal, and silver medals in vault, uneven bars, and floor exercise. Komova has an all around silver and a gold on the uneven bars. Based on pure numbers, it seems like Mustafina wins out but we also need to consider injury. Komova was recovering from a nagging ankle injury during Worlds. Mustafina is now recovering, rather well, from her ACL tear. Komova recently underwent surgery again while Mustafina won the All Around at the Russian Championships and showed an upgraded and medal worthy uneven bars routine. I think the battle in 2012 between the two Russians will be very interesting.

Looking at vault, both Mustafina and Komova “have” Amanars – the coveted 2.5 twisting yurchenko worth 6.5 in difficulty. Mustafina tore her ACL at the European Championships in 2011 performing an Amanar but she insists that she will have her Amanar by the time the Olympics roll around. Komova was warming up the same vault at 2011 Worlds but decided not to perform them in competition – Team Russia decided to play it safe in the team final and all-around final. Komova tends to have a large step back in her Amanar while Mustafina tends to have smaller step but tends to “helicopter” her vault so we'll call them even on this event.

Uneven bars and balance beam is where the difference between these two lovely Russian gymnasts comes out. On uneven bars, Komova seems light as a feather and has such long lines, most visible to me during her pak salto. She flies – I don’t think there is another way of describing this. Her moves are so controlled and she gets good height and maintains good form throughout. On balance beam, Komova may not attack in the same way as Mustafina but she tends to be incredibly precise. Precision can also be her demise as we’ve seen her fall on things that many people believe she could fight for. However, Komova’s flight series is amazing – a back handspring connected to 2 back layout step outs. It’s a clean and refreshing method of showing how dominant Komova is on the beam and it also takes us back to better days of dance and along the beam flight series.

On the other hand, Mustafina is in attack mode, not necessarily in a Ponor-esque way, but I still feel like she makes very clear to the bars and beam who is boss. Instead of being light and airy, Mustafina is more aggressive. Her combination to the low bar is amazing. Originally, I was referring to her old combination of Tkatchev, Pak Salto, Stalder 1/2, toe-on to high bar. She shows control after the stalder 1/2 when she is in perfect handstand. However, at the Russian Championships she debuted this routine which featured an inbar stalder full, pak salto, stalder shaposhnikova 1/2 (EDE, +0.4 in CV), a routine with a 7.0 d-score.

Finishing on floor exercise will be interesting for the two ladies considering they both can do very well on this event. Mustafina has a demeanor that demands your attention. She has a presence on the floor and her eyes just lure you in. Mustafina is graceful, but also very powerful. Her old routine had a 3.5 twist in it, a tumbling pass that only a few athletes have competed. In recent video, we have seen that Mustafina has her triple twist back and is also competing a 2.5 in her routine. I just hope all this twisting doesn’t hurt her ACL again. Here is her routine from the Voronin Cup in 2011 and this past week's Russian Championships.

Komova, again, is very balletic. She seems to fly effortlessly in her split series and is able to elegantly move her body in a way that makes the Swan Lake remix lovely to watch. In her floor routine, she has a double Arabian, double tuck, triple twist, and double pike as her tumbling passes. When she performs cleanly, she is a pleasure to watch.

Although Komova is dainty and clearly graceful, how can you not call her powerful when she too can do one of the most difficult vaults in the world? And while Mustafina is artistic, you cannot deny the power and intensity with which she attacks everything. Many people on youtube are calling Mustafina "The Queen" and describing her as mesmerizing. Both gymnasts are incredibly graceful but in different ways – one has such a peaceful fluidity to her movement while the other demands your attention with every move. They are both enchanting gymnasts but for entirely different reasons. The grace versus power debate comes up in these 2 gymnasts but they still manage to have the “style” and “artistry” that we gym fans live for.

Barring no major errors, I’m curious to see who ends up on top in London.


Cottbus World Cup - EF Day 1

9:42 AM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Hello Everybody!

You can watch the Cottbus World Cup HERE. The men are on FX, PH, and SR. John Orozco and Jesse Silverstein are in 7th and 8th on still rings but that event is terrifying to me, so no blogging for the men today. The women are on VT and UB. On vault, we can look forward to seeing Valeriia Maksyuta of Israel and the 2 Canadians, Dominique Pegg and Brittany Rogers. The uneven bars final seems very exciting with our first look at He Kexin since her fall in team qualifications at 2011 World Championships. The entire line up is exciting, I think. Also, Spain is proving to be a force to be reckoned with come 2016. Claudia Menendez is in 3rd place on vault and Beatriz Cuesta is in 8th on uneven bars. Should be an exciting finals!

Aww, so adorable. The athletes walk out with little girls for the ladies and little boys for the gentleman that hold their hands as they march in and sit in front of them as the athletes are presented to the audience.

Seeds are in parentheses next to their name.

1. Makhautsova, Volha BLR (7th)
She's wearing the leo the Russians have been wearing but in black instead of the shiny green.
VT1: (5.0/8.450) FTY, hop and step back as she saluted.  13.450
VT2: (4.6/7.600) ro, 1/2 on, pike off. Her pike fell apart early and she fell forward and had to put her hands down. 12.2
--> 12.825

2. Rogers, Brittany CAN (2nd)
VT1: (5.8/8.600) DTY. Pretty great! Tried to stick but had to take a small step to the side. Stayed dead in the center though. 14.400
VT2: (5.2/8.325) ro, 1/2 on, pike half off. Pretty large step back and it wasn't the prettiest vault. 13.525
--> 13.962

3. Marachkouskaya, Nastassia BLR (5th)
VT1: (5.0/9.125) FTY. She's a tall girl and seemed to get a good block, she got high in the air and definitely had enough time to finish her twists. Step back. 14.125
VT2: (5.0/8.625) fhs on, pike half off. Landed a little low and had to take a step to the side. Overall looked really good though! 13.625. She wanted to leave the "kiss and cry" before her score was announced but the little girl made her stay. Leo was a little too much green for my liking.
--> 13.875

4. Pegg, Dominique CAN (4th)
VT1: (5.3/8.575) 1.5 TY Her legs in the air were bent in the air, landed low and took a flying step forward. (13.775)
VT2: (4.6/8.7) FHS on, pike off. Another flying step forward. She stayed tight throughout the pike though. 13.300
--> 13.537

5. Sankova, Krystyna UKR (6th) - I like her leo. It's very Porgras/Pena-esque
VT1: (5.8) DTY. Large step back out of the white line.
VT2: (4.4) commercials :(
And now it's beach volleyball. Let's hope that it either comes back or we can find something by the time the Uneven Bar final rolls around.

6. Menendez Gonzalez, Claudia ESP (3rd)
VT1: (5.8)
VT2: (4.8)

7. Maksiuta, Valeriia ISR (1st)
VT1: (5.8)
VT2: (5.0)

8. Achondo Andino, Barbara CHI (8th)
VT1: (5.0)
VT2: (5.2)
Hopefully we see more tomorrow.


Could Gabs do the Nabs?

5:58 PM Arabian Punch Front 3 Comments

Credit: Greg Long/Longshot Photography
Gallery found here

Gabrielle Douglas of the USA was the alternate at the American Cup since Americans Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman officially accepted their spots. At Worlds in 2011, she placed 5th in team qualifications and did not get to compete due to the 2-per country rule. On Saturday, Gabby had her chance to prove what she was made of.

Tweet! Tweet!
What if Gabby Douglas, the alternate "won" the American Cup, without scores officially counting? Could happen... She's looking fantastic @gymnastike

This was an interesting thought that later became reality.

Tweet! Tweet!
Douglas earned scores of 15.866 on vault, 15.633 on the uneven bars, 15.100 on the beam and 14.700 on the floor." USAG not saying her AA.. @betweentheolympics

USAG likely didn’t say the score because Douglas beat official champion Jordyn Wieber’s 61.032 with a 61.299 (with 2 OOB deductions).

Gabby Douglas attacked the American Cup competition with a new found confidence and grace. "When we won the team title it made me more confident," Douglas said. "I realized, 'Wow, I'm one of the best ones in the world.'" (source)

But, what I really want to talk about is the Flying Squirrel on bars. And some amazing quotes about her height on her release moves that came from the American Cup.

From the same article above, they said “she gets such great height on her release moves she can dust off the ceiling lights.”

Tweet! Tweet!
Love @gabrielledoug's bars routine. Believe she touched Jumbotron on one of her release moves. Carries herself with so much confidence now. @nrarmour

Someone else said something along the lines of: I’m pretty sure I could stand on the bar while Gabby’s doing her Tkatchev (if this was you, let me know and I can give you credit). And thus my question was born:

Could Gabs do the Nabs?

At the American Cup, Gabby showed up with a new piked Tkatchev. Her straddled Tkatchev is sky high and causes all of our jaws to drop as we stare in amazement. Now, she and Chow have added another high release move to her uneven bar routine. My one problem with the piked Tkatchev is that she doesn’t seem to travel much in the second part of the release so she has to angle her legs so that she can catch the bar. The picture below and this video has a pretty good view of what I’m talking about: here. You can she when she catches how she has to bring her legs back to the center.

Credit: Greg Long/Longshot Photography
Gallery found here

Spanny once mentioned that maybe Gabby should do a Hindorff and I’m sure that would add to the excitement of her routine. Chow has indicated that she’s doing more upgrades so maybe the Hindorff is one of them but Gabby gets so much height! What if her upgrade was the Nabs – a toe on laid out Tkatchev?

No woman has done a laid out Tkatchev, without the toe-on. What if the Douglas, a laid out Tkatchev, was the new move? I think she can do it! If she had more time, or keeps doing elite after 2012, maybe she could even work on the Liukin - a full twisting laid out Tkatchev. How amazing would that be? A girl can dream, right?


American Cup 2012 - The Good and The Bad

12:22 AM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

I have awful timing, starting a blog right before exams (we’re on trimesters). I am going on break next week so I’m not sure how often I will get to post. Either way, I wanted to talk about the American Cup and since I go to a touchy feely school, I’m going to do a negative followed by a positive to ease some of the Scam screaming that has been going on and because it’s helping me organize my thoughts.

Personally, I thought the coverage was a sh*t show. Instead of watching the girls on floor, we watched a very attractive man from West Germany put his grips on. There were so many commercials. As Bekah said, “The worst words you'll ever hear: "We'll be back to gymnastics in a moment, but first..." Why? I don’t care about the Saints (football). I don’t care about Tiger (golf). Show me more gymnastics! It’s one of the few times that gymnastics is on TV and it wasn’t even well advertised or run. A few friends were in the lounge with me and they just couldn’t get into the pattern of 1 routine, let’s watch the gymnast stand and hug and put pants on, followed by 5 minutes of commercials. (Yes, I am still bitter about 2011 Worlds Team Finals and watching Chuso put pants on while Gabby was on bars.) Also, there was a girl from Germany there? Who knew! I had no idea, thought we only had a male competitor from West Germany.

The positive is that they eventually they showed Gabby Davis, I mean Douglas, on beam AND on floor. I was shocked but super excited.

Negative – Tim was being a negative Nellie! Actually, they all were. First, he was being an OOB Nazi. Then, Al said that poor Rebecca Tunney would need Dr. Phil after her beam routine. Are you serious? I’m slowly starting to like Elfi more and more. I don’t know if it’s because she talks less but she doesn’t seem to be full of garbage. She talks about the sport, the elements, strength, flexibility, all that good stuff. It’s still not as much as I would like but I think she helps viewers appreciate the little things. And her wow for Gabby’s double tuck split connection seemed genuine.

And the positive is that Tunney just looked absolutely adorable in her leo, don’t you think so? It's a white leo with the Union Jack on the back. She also had red, white, and blue scrunchies in her hair. Adorable! I am also glad that there was coverage. So thank you for that, NBC.

Negative - The scores were all over the place. Personally, I don’t like Wieber’s new front handspring – full – back handspring connection. I know she wasn’t awarded the connections but how was her e-score higher than Aly’s? I know we can talk Aly’s splits and toes to death but I thought Wieber’s wobbles during her routine, especially that new connection, was not worthy of an 8.966 e-score. I’m not bringing this up to point fingers but more so someone can help me see deductions that I’m not seeing.

The positive is that I think Aly had one of her better all around performances. The gymnastics fan world has gone in a frenzy over Aly’s bar score but it is what it is. Other than the bent legs on her Tkatchev, it was a pretty good routine for her (anyone want to explain the Wieber-Aly e-score difference to me because I’m not quite seeing it here either considering the form breaks both had). I also think that she actually performed her floor routine. It’s like she had an extra little sass in all her moves. It makes me excited for what improvements she’ll make by Classics. Oh, and her Amanar. It looks so good! I’m of the opinion that no one should score higher than Maroney but Team USA now has 2 more solid Amanars. Crazy!

Negative - I didn't like the constant comparison with the American Cup in MSG and winning the all around gold medal. I've decided I don't really like comparisons. I think my main example is calling Shawn Johnson the next Mary Lou. I don't think that worked out so well for her.

Positive - A comparison I would like: the year Nadia Comaneci won is also the year that Bart Conner won. And now they're married and adorable.

Bart and Nadia


Why You Should Be Excited for Nastia's Floor Routine

4:53 PM Arabian Punch Front 3 Comments

With the Nastia Liukin Cup coming up tomorrow, I figured we should take a little time to talk about 2008 Olympic All Around Champion Nastia.

Nastia announced her comeback during the 2011 World Championships, and shortly after, we saw a few tweets from Nastia to a certain @travISova. Travis Wall was on Season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance. He was one of the top 2 male dancers of that season but did not garner enough votes to win the title. Here is Travis’ audition for the show: here. He does a few back handsprings here too!

From that clip but you can clearly see the technique and passion that goes with his dancing. Another clip of him dancing on the show, my sister’s favorite, can be found here. That dance was choreographed by Mia Michaels and won an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography.

That was during Travis’ season back in 2006. Now, Wall does an amazing job choreographing dances that can relate to people from all walks of life. He finds a way to take a familiar story and turns it into something beautiful. He also has a way of showing off the dancer's lines and her ability. I can only imagine what he’s made for Nastia.

All 3 of the videos linked to were nominated for Best Choreography at the 2011 Emmy Awards. While watching these, keep in mind that these pieces were made for duos but you can still take a few segments that could go nicely in a floor routine between the required leaps and tumbles.

[Embedding was disabled so please click on the link to go to youtube, opens in a new window]
1. How It Ends – Neil and Kent

2. Collide – Kent and Lauren

3. This one is my favorite. Starts at 0:52. Fix You – Robert and Allison.

Travis Wall's choreography is pure gold and I can't wait to see what he's put together for Nastia. Maybe a few of those sequences can go in a beam routine too!

sources: @NastiaLiukin