As We Wait for Worlds - Vault

9:35 PM Arabian Punch Front 7 Comments

The Universiade Games proved to be an excellent preview for the gymnasts we might see in the 2013 Vault Finals. Of the 8 finalists, there were 6 with a chance of earning a medal. Maria Paseka delivered her cleanest Amanar vault yet and Russian teammate Ksenia Afansyeva surprised us further with another Amanar and somewhat better execution. We saw the 2008 Olympic Vault Champion Hong Un Jong return to competition and land two of the hardest vaults being competed.

You can watch the entire VT EF here or below:

In recent years, vault has been one of the best chances at a medal for countries outside of the Big 4 - USA, Russia, Romania, and China. However, the Big 4 has caught on and will return to the World Championships with more athletes competing 2 vaults. Afansyeva is an addition to Paseka for Russia, and Alla Sosnitskaya is waiting in the wings. Olympic Champion Sandra Izbasa is now joined by teammate Larisa Iordache. There are multiple Americans training 2 vaults alongside silver medalist McKayla Maroney. This includes Simone Biles, Elizabeth Price, Lexie Priessman, and Mykayla Skinner. While we haven't seen Priessman and Price's second vaults, Skinner proves to be competitive with the high difficulty combination of an Amanar and a Cheng. It will be interesting to see who makes the Worlds team and who continues to train 2 vaults throughout the quadrennium since it takes valuable time from training on the other events - most important for strong all-arounders like Larisa Iordache.

Here's a list of the vaulters with a chance of making finals at the 2013 World Championships. For those who have mocked vault finals previously, this is shaping up to be a very competitive final!


Why I'm Excited for Universiade

9:37 AM Arabian Punch Front 3 Comments

Alexa Moreno (MEX) via El Economista

The XXVII Universiade Games in Kazan, Russia are to be held this weekend - a combination of the words Olympiad and University as all athletes are currently registered in university. Gymnastics starts on Sunday, Jun 7 with the women's team competition which also serves as qualification to event finals.

Questions have been raised as to whether or not Aliya Mustafina will compete due to an illness that kept her out of training for the past week but knowing her, she will. I'm most excited to see what Tatiana Nabieva and Anna Dementyeva have to offer. Nabieva has been out for quite some time seeming to deal with ill-timed injuries and the body changes that tend to come with time off from the sport. Anna Dementyeva seems to be on the better side of the Rodionenkos after they removed her from the final group of gymnasts eligible for the Olympics. Later in 2012, she regained their trust by competing at a few international meets and doing fairly well. She'll be doing the all-around and just imagine what would happen if she comes out on top! Ksenia Afansyeva will be doing the all around but the more interesting facts are that she is listed as doing 2 vaults and will be debuting her new floor routine.

Elsa Garcia and Alexa Moreno should make their respective all-around and vault finals easily. I'm curious to see where the Mexican team places in comparison to some of these other teams. It will give us an idea of how they might do at the next team World Championships in 2014 even though lots will change between then and now. I'm particularly curious to see where Moreno lands in the vault final because vault at this years world championships may prove to be one of the most exciting and hardest to qualify!

South Korea
The other team I'm excited to see is Korea. During Worlds 2011, many were raving about the Korean team during training before the meet. Unfortunately, they seemed to implode during the actual meet and hardly made an impression. I'm hoping we get to see video of the excellent bar work, clean beam, and well choreographed floor routines that were once raved about.

North Korea
Chim Gym has PRK listed but without any names. If we see anyone, we might get an idea of who may get the spot to Worlds (North Korea has only reserved a place for one gymnast). I'm hoping we see one of their vaulters since rumors of triple twisting Yurchenkos have been around for year. This will be good international experience and exposure since PRK was only recently allowed to compete internationally again after an FIG suspension.

Overall, I'm excited to see the final placements. For example, where does a healthy Ellie Black fall compared to Russia's two all-arounders? How about Elsa Garcia, Yu Minobe of Japan or Great Britain's Hannah Whelan? Where will vaulters like Alexa Moreno place compared to Olympic finalist Ellie Black and Olympic Bronze Medalist Maria Paseka? German Lisa Katherina Hill has been making quite a name for herself on bars so where will she fall in a field consisting of Russian Olympians competing on home turf? Fellow German Kim Bui had great performances at the recent Anadia Cup but just missed the medals mostly due to D-score disparities. Will she medal this weekend?

List of competitors: here
Make sure to follow @ArabianPF_blog on twitter for info on live streams - ESPN3 (US only) should be showing it, as well as the FISU website. Stay tuned for updates!

Who are you most excited to see?