Russian National Championships All Around Wrap Up and Videos


Alla Sosnitskaya, Aliya Mustafina and Anastasia Grishina sweep the podium at the 2014 Russian National Championships. Photo by E. Mikhailova/sportgymrus.ru

The Russian National Championships are in full swing, with the first day of competition in the books. The all-around and team qualifications took place today in Penza, where World and Olympic gold medalist  Aliya Mustafina (Moscow) walked away with her fourth national title.  Mustafina scored a 59.566, nearly a point and a half higher than her fellow Moscow teammate in the silver position, Alla Sosnitskaya (58.067). 2012 Olympian Anastasia Grishina (56.467) rounded out the podium in bronze for a Moscow sweep of the medals.

Aliya Mustafina takes her fourth Russian National Title. Photo by E. Mikhailova/sportgymrus.ru

Mustafina had the highest scores on balance beam and floor. Maintaining her reputation as the reigning world champion on beam, she delivered a solid beam set earning her a 15.4, the highest beam score of the year at any of the major international events. Mustafina earned a deduction on bars for hitting her feet on the mat, which took her out of the top three on what is usually her best event.

Alla Sosnitskaya in silver. Photo by E. Mikhailova/sportgymrus.ru

Sosnitskaya is a second year senior, and has not represented Russia on the world stage. She had a solid meet, hitting four for four routines. Her best event is floor, where she had the second highest score of the competition with a 14.833.

Anastasia Grishina wins the bronze. Photo by E. Mikhailova/sportgymrus.ru

There were high hopes in the Russian camp that Grishina would really shine at this competition. While she managed to get on to the podium, her performance was not one that gives any confidence that 2014 will be a stronger year for her than she has shown in the past. Grishina has long been viewed as a talented gymnast who could really help round out Russia’s all-arounders for serious medal contention on the world stage. She has not yet been able to deliver that kind of performance, and many are hoping that this will be her year.

Viktoria Komova returns to competition. Photo by E. Mikhailova/sportgymrus.ru

One of the most anticipated aspect of the championships was Olympic silver medalist Viktoria Komova’s return to competition after a year and a half absence. Komova competed on three events. Her best event was no surprise, scoring 14.900 on bars which put her as the third highest score on the event. She competed a simple and low valued vault, did not compete on floor, and had a rough beam routine earning only an 11.6.

Surprising everyone, World and Olympic team medalist Ksenia Afanasyeva decided to compete at the last moment to help her team qualify. She came out with the second highest vault score despite heavily taped ankles due to her lingering ankle injury. World and Olympic teammate Tatiana Nabieva, and reigning Russian National Champion was also a surprise in the competition as she had declared her retirement from gymnastics over social media at the end of 2013.

Other notable routines included Russia’s vaulting specialist 2012 Olympian Maria Paseka, who had the highest vault score of the competition, scoring a 15.033. First year senior Daria Spiridonova put up the highest bar’s score with a 15.133, while 2013 World team member Anna Rodionova came away with the second highest score at 15.06. Second year senior Polina Fedorova scored the second highest of the day on beam with a 14.500.

Tune in to Russian gymnastics on their website at sportgymrus.ru, where the remainder of the competition will be livestreamed. Available videos from today’s competition are linked or shown below.

All Around

Aliya Mustafina 59.566  (3 14.733 9 14.333 1 15.400 1 15.100)
Alla Sosnitskaya  58.067 (4 14.700 6 14.467 4 14.067 2 14.833)
Anastasia Grishina 156.467 (10 13.867 11 13.900 3 14.400 3 14.300)

Top Scores on:

Vault

Maria Paseka: 15.033

Ksenia Afanasyeva: 14.933
Aliya Mustafina: 14.733

Bars

Daria Spiridonova: 15.133

Anna Rodionova: 15.067 (routine not available, but here she is a few weeks ago at Cottbus)

Viktoria Komova: 14.900

Balance Beam

Aliya Mustafina: 15.400

Polina Fedorova: 14.500
Anastasia Grishina:14.400

 

Floor

Aliya Mustafina:15.100

Alla Sosnitskaya:14.833

Anastasia Grishina:14.300

 

Kyla Ross Soars to Silver


The Uneven Bars Final was packed with talented girls and difficult routines. Unlike the vault finals, a number of different outcomes seemed likely. In fact, the only thing I got right on my bars predictions was Kyla Ross in silver.

Gymnastics Coaching tweeted: “looks like I’m going to be eating my words. … I’m the guy who said Kyla couldn’t medal on Bars.” And then I remember that I was of the same opinion earlier this year. I couldn’t be happier to be wrong. And I need to remember to wait til closer to competitions to form those opinions! Especially because Simone Biles almost medaled in bars!

The Final started off with Yao Jinnan. This title was hers to win or lose. If she hit, it was unlikely that anyone could beat her. But as has so often been the case with the Chinese in finals, she fell. Granted, the skill she fell on is crazy hard. But she has hit it again and again. It was so disappointing. She held herself together well until the finals were over, when she burst into tears.

Huang Huidan was up next, and put up an excellent routine. One Chinese coach has said in the past, if one of us falls, we all must fall. She seemed to break that tradition by staying on the bar and hitting a clean routine.

After her came Rebecca Downie. With high swinging bars and an innovative routine, Rebecca is a crowd pleaser. However, she too succumbed to the pressure of a World Championship Finals and fell off at the end of her routine.

Sophie Scheder followed with a clean, beautifully swung routine. She has such great lines on bars! She is a pleasure to watch, but was not able to challenge for the top spots.

Simone Biles came up next. I am still getting used to the fact that Simone qualified for a bars final. And she lived up to the spot, hitting her routine!

Kyla Ross followed Simone, putting up her ever consistent, ever beautiful bar routine. She bested everyone except Huang. Going into the last two gymnasts, could it be that America would go two, three; that Simone would medal on bars?

Not if Aliya Mustafina had anything to say about it. Aliya threw her heart into it. It was enough to overtake Simone, but not Kyla and Huang.

Last up was Ruby Harrold. Ruby has an innovative, interesting routine! She performed it well, but it was not enough to change the medal standings.

In the end it was Huang, Kyla and Aliya. Kyla and Simone both talked to the press in the mixed zone about being pleased with what they did and how they needed to go back and rest up for tomorrow.

The Bars Finalists – Start List, Predictions, Qualifications Scores and Video Roundup


Here are your 2013 World Uneven Bars Finalists. They will compete in the Saturday morning event finals session, starting at 8:30am. You can watch it here.

The gymnasts will compete in this order:

  1. 118 YAO Jinnan CHN
  2. 121 HUANG Huidan CHN
  3. 145 DOWNIE Rebecca GBR
  4. 150 SCHEDER Sophie GER
  5. 229 BILES Simone USA
  6. 232 ROSS Kyla USA
  7. 211 MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS
  8. 148 HARROLD Ruby GBR

The qualified in this order:

  1. YAO Jinnan CHN 15.433
  2. ROSS Kyla USA 15.133
  3. HUANG Huidan CHN 15.133
  4. DOWNIE Rebecca GBR 15.100
  5. MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS 14.900
  6. BILES Simone USA 14.800
  7. HARROLD Ruby GBR 14.600
  8. SCHEDER Sophie GER 14.566

My predictions for the podium….

  1. Aliya Mustafina
  2. Kyla Ross
  3. Rebecca Downie

The Chinese are without a doubt the leaders. But I just have a feeling they will both fall. I hope not!!! I think Aliya will pull an Aliya… come out super fierce for finals. But this one is pretty wide open. If Yao Jinnan hits, she will win it.

Here were their routines in qualifications:

1 YAO Jinnan CHN 6.700 (D) +  8.733 (E) = 15.433 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM2FniCtrys
2 ROSS Kyla USA 6.400 (D) +  8.733 (E) =  8.733 15.133 

3 HUANG Huidan CHN 6.600 (D) +  8.533 (E) =  15.133 

4 DOWNIE Rebecca GBR 6.600 (D) +  8.500 (E) =  15.100

5 MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS 6.200 (D) +  8.700 (E) =  14.900 

6 BILES Simone USA 6.000 (D) +  8.800 (E) =  14.800 

7 HARROLD Ruby GBR 6.300 (D) +  8.300 (E) = 14.600 

8 SCHEDER Sophie GER 6.400 (D) +  8.166 (E) =  14.566

The Top 8 All Around Finalists – Score and Video Round Up


Here are your top 8 All Around Finalists. They will be competing Friday, at 2pm EST. You can watch here Live. If you haven’t seen all of their performances, each score is linked to a video of their performance. (McKayla Maroney will not be competing due to the two per country rule). Also, for a taste of what’s to come, check out this playlist (or watch it below) of each of the top five gymnast’s qualifications performances back to back in Olympic order.

Rk Name NOC Total Vault UB Beam Floor
1 BILES Simone USA
60.133
15.900 14.800 14.400 15.033
2 ROSS Kyla USA
59.198
15.166 15.133 14.566 14.333
3 YAO Jinnan CHN
57.965
14.766 15.433 14.100 13.666
4 IORDACHE Larisa Andreea ROU
57.865
14.933 13.166 15.266 14.500
5 MUSTAFINA Aliya RUS
57.165
14.966 14.900 14.133 13.166
6 MARONEY Mc Kayla USA
57.149
15.850 14.300 12.666 14.333
7 SHANG Chunsong CHN
56.998
13.966 14.400 14.866 13.766
8 FERRARI Vanessa ITA
56.915
14.366 13.833 14.216 14.500
9 STEINGRUBER Giulia SUI
56.465
15.366 13.233 13.833 14.033

World Podium Breakdown – All Around


Though many exciting players have dropped out due to illness or injury, the 2013 Worlds All Around competition could actually almost live up to the expectations we all had of last year’s Olympic All Around Championships. The USA brings in two very strong all arounders in Simone Biles and Kyla Ross, who have both posted over a 60 all around score this year. Aliya Mustafina comes in healthier and more competitive than she has been since her injury. And Larisa Iordache has a chance to put in the performance that we all wanted to see last year. Any one of them has the ability to take the gold, and great gymnastics is in store.

The top five all around scores that have been posted this year mostly happened at the gymnasts’ perspective Nationals. Simone and Kyla pulled the top two, each scoring a 60.5. Aliya is right behind them with a 59.85. A new name to the all around podium possibilities this year is Giulia Steingruber from Switzerland. She scored a 59.4 at the Swiss Championships in early September. Larissa rounds out the top five of the gymnasts who will be competing at Worlds with a 58.55.

Simone and Kyla both looked great at US Nationals, and each still have a little bit of room for improvement. That is a great place to be going into Worlds. Simone comes in a full point ahead of Kyla in difficulty (D) scores, which usually means that Simone has to falter for Kyla to beat her. However, Simone has not had the most consistent history, and in her first major competition on a world stage, it would not be unheard of for her to do exactly that. Kyla has the advantage of her Olympic experience. She has been there, done that and just seems to get better under pressure. That being said, the USA has seemed to train their gymnasts to be machines on the world stage, and Simone is likely to be as well prepared for a solid competition as the past two years of girls have been.

Aliya also has a solid run at the gold. Reports are that she has had a cold, and isn’t as prepared as she would like to be. But she will be adding difficulty to her bars routine, putting her .5 behind Simone and .5 ahead of Kyla in the difficulty (D) score. It would be wonderful to see the delightful, mature Aliya combine with the fierce, unflappable Aliya of 2010 to grace the world stage. She is such a special gymnast, and seeing her return to an even better version of her former glory would be an incredible delight.

Giulia has dominated the all around in Switzerland for the past three years. However, this is the first year she has posted an all around score high enough to make a run for the podium on a world stage. Rumors are that she looked fantastic at the Swiss Championships. What a wonderful thing it would be to have a Swiss gymnast on the podium!

Last, but most certainly not least is Larissa. Everyone had such high hopes and expectations of her going into the Olympics. Something as common as plantar fasciitis hampered her dreams and our hopes for her. It would be wonderful to see a fully healthy Larissa come out and perform like we were all hoping to see last year.

It is unlikely that we will see anyone out of these top five on the podium. But anything can – and usually does- happen in elite gymnastics. Here is hoping that each of these girls comes into the all around finals healthy, happy and able to perform at their peak level. No matter what the order, that would be a win for all gymnastics fans.

The All Around Finalists


The all-around gold medal is the most coveted individual gymnastics achievement. When people refer to the champion, they mean the all-around champion. This Olympic year has an EXCITING all-around competition in store! Most years in women’s gymnastics there is a battle between two, maybe three gymnasts for the gold medal. This year, that is not the case. This all-around final will have five gymnasts who could win the gold medal.

There are twenty- four gymnasts in all who qualified into the All-Around finals. Here are the top five who will be vying for the podium. Who will end up on top is anyone’s guess. Hold onto your hats ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a wild ride!

Viktoria Komova (60.632/25.7 Qualification)

After losing the gold to Jordyn Wieber last year by the smallest of margins, Viktoria comes into these Olympics ready to do battle – and win.  Her slight form hides the incredible power underneath. She dances like a ballerina, vaults with power and grace, swings bars like she was meant to live life in the trees and tumbles on the beam as if she was light as a feather.

Viktoria debuted her amanar for the first time in her senior career during qualifications. Adding that to her arsenal along with one of the most difficult, perfectly executed bar routines in the world right now gave her the edge she needed to qualify in first. Her beam and floor routines are both exquisite, but not very consistent. She tends to either hit or miss on beam and is often plagued with low landings on floor.  She will have to bring her best to keep her place at the top of the podium.

Alexandra Raisman (60.391/25.3 Qualification)

Aly is known to be one of the most calm, consistent competitors there is. Long overshadowed by higher scoring teammates, Aly shocked the world and herself by qualifying in as the top American. She comes in with the highest difficulty and most consistency on vault, beam and floor. However, her lower difficulty on bars, along with her poor form on this even is what keeps her from the top of the podium. She was fourth at last years world championships with a horrible mistake on bars.

Aly did the best vault of her career in qualifications, cleaning up her form issues and landing with just a small hop.  She did the best bars routine she has ever done by far during podium training, seemingly to finally overcome her form breaks.  She is generally rock solid on beam, and has scored the highest floor scores in both the team and qualifications.  Overall, Aly does not have high enough difficulty to win gold without mistakes from both Gabby and Viktoria. But her rock solid, consistent performances make her a gymnast you should not count out. After all, as we have seen, anything can happen in the pressure of the Olympic spotlight.

Gabrielle Douglas, USA (60.265/25.3 Qualification)

Gabrielle, or Gabby, has been a rising star this year. Last year, she was known for her high flying bar routine, but her mental game was just not strong enough for her to be an all-around threat. This all changed when she came roaring out of the gate as an exhibitionist at the AT&T American cup. She unofficially (her scores did not count as an alternate) ran away with the gold. Since then, Gabby has been inching away at Jordyn Wieber’s lead in every meet until she finally overtook her by .1 at the Olympic Trials.

Gabby comes in with one of the highest potential start values of the group. She has the physical ability to blow away the competition. What remains to be seen is if she can continue improving her mental game and hit the routines when they count. She qualified in third because of a large error on floor. However, she hit four for four during team finals, and her All-Around score there would have easily won the title.  If everyone brings out their best and they all hit, Gabby most likely wins. She will have to keep control of her nerves to stand on top of the podium.

Aliya Mustafina RUS (59.966/24.7 Qualification)

In 2010, Aliya was a star. In fact, it seemed she was on her way to becoming one of the gymnastics greats. Had we ever seen someone who could vault with the power and amplitude she attained and dance like a prima ballerina on floor? Someone who’s beautiful swing on bars was only outdone by her lightness and sureness on beam. Aliya won the all-around. She led the Russian team to gold. She qualified in EVERY event finals and placed on the podium in all but beam, where she had her only mistake of the entire competition. She looked unstoppable.

Unfortunately, an injury has put a serious roadblock in her path to glory. In 2011, she tore her ACL at the European Championships while performing her famous amanar. Her recovery has been difficult. She has grown and is still not used to her new body. But she has continued to train hard.

Aliya has yet to show the level of gymnastics and performance she attained in 2010 this year. She is not competing with the level of difficulty she formerly attained.  But Aliya has a competitive drive, a fierceness and focus on the competition floor like few others. She has that undefinable quality and mental drive that propels her to the front. Her team loss will only drive her more. I would not be surprised at all if she ends up on the podium.

Larisa Iordache (57.8/24 Qualification)

Larisa’s junior showings made her highly anticipated as the Romanian all-around contender at the Olympics.  She has a charming floor routine, one of the most difficult beam routines being performed at the Olympics, a solid vault and a very decent bar routine.  Her achilles heel at these Olympics has in fact been her heel. She has plantar faciitis in her left heel and has not been able to put in a great deal of training over the past week.

This has definitely shown in bother her qualification and team performances. She has not been on her game. Hopefully the additional days of rest and training will allow her to continue on the trajectory she has been on her entire career – a place on the Olympic All-Around podium.

In addition, Deng Linlin from China qualified into the top group. This group will all compete together, starting on vault.  It should be noted that Larissa did not qualify in this group and will start on bars. Once again, we all want these women to go out and have incredible, hit competitions!

 

 

 

 

Names to Know: Aliya Mustafina


In 2010, Aliya was a star. In fact, it seemed she was on her way to becoming one of the gymnastics greats. Had we ever seen someone who could vault with the power and amplitude she attained and dance like a prima ballerina on floor? Someone who’s beautiful swing on bars was only outdone by her lightness and sureness on beam. Aliya won the all-around. She led the Russian team to gold. She qualified in EVERY event finals and placed on the podium in all but beam, where she had her only mistake of the entire competition. She looked unstoppable.

Unfortunately, an injury has put a serious roadblock in her path to glory. In 2011, she tore her ACL at the European Championships while performing her famous amanar. Her recovery has been difficult. She has grown. But she has continued to train hard.

Aliya has yet to show the level of gymnastics and performance she attained in 2010 this year.  But Aliya has a competitive drive, a fierceness and focus on the competition floor like few others. She has that undefinable quality and mental drive that propels her to the front. I would not be surprised at all if she ends up on the podium.