Saturday, May 10, 2008

Chinese Gymnastics Championships and Tidbits from the Gymnastics World

Above: The Chinese are looking for their gymnasts to dominate all at the Olympics. It looks like gymnastics spectators will see lots of images of the Chinese flag at the medal ceremonies in Beijing.

The Chinese National Gymnastics Championships are going on right now, with event finals still to take place. The Chinese women are looking stronger by the minute and the reports from the recent Karolyi camp that gymnasticsbabie from the addicted2gym blog posted were not overly promising. China is oddly putting their nationals very early in the run towards the Olympics. China has made several administration errors in the past which have detracted the team's potential, both in terms of politics and consistency. Choosing their best Olympic team ever too early is not a wise task for a team so determined to get gold. Whether there will be a Chinese Olympic trials after this I do not know, but if anyone does know please leave a comment. The Chinese gymnasts are looking great, but they may peak at the wrong time.

Thoughts from the Chinese Nationals (team + AA finals)

  • Gymnastics is a sport Chinese take huge pride in, and yet I didn't see a single person in the stands during "team finals". As a dancer, I know performing in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people is a hell of a lot different than just rehearsing in front of a few people. Though I've never had to flip down a 4-inch wide beam, dealing with nerves and pressure is historically China's weakness, and ability alone is not going to get them gold if they can't block out the pressure.

  • Last year at the Chinese Nationals, the judges gave severely low scores to the girls. However, this year the judges are going all out with ridiculously high scores that rival the scores of the Scam Cup. China is clearly trying to prove the world that they are the best at all costs, and the USA judges are likely to respond with super high scores at their Nationals. Expect scores at the Olympics to be similar to that of last year's Worlds: generous but not overly generous.

  • I'm very happy Jiang Yuyuan won the AA with a 63.3. Scores at Scam for Liukin (63.425) and Johnson (63.1 with a fall) were perhaps a bit more generous than those of the Chinese Nationals, but not much. This proves that Jiang is capable of even winning the AA on a good day, but the judges will likely boost up the scores of Johnson, Liukin, and Ferrari/Nistor more than those of Jiang. This will be especially true if China wins the team final.

  • Yang Yilin has a 7.7 A-score on UB! AAAAAAAH! The Chinese are going all out in the upgrade department, and Yang managed a generous 15.95 in the AA final even with a fall on UB. This cost her the Chinese AA title, but Yang has come back strong from her Cottbus injury and is improving greatly towards her hope of an AA medal. However, her under-the-radar placements and lack of personality will not make the AA final judges vote in her favor.

  • Cheng Fei's new FX music doesn't suit her at all, and I frankly don't think Cheng is going to win FX gold in Beijing. (her tumbling in team finals was relatively weak) Cheng is a polished, but inexpressive dancer, and the more dramatic flamenco-like routine she had for what seemed like ages suited her more appropriately, as did her Don Quixote routine at the '04 Olympics. With that said, Cheng looked strong on vault and beam and has made event finals (obviously) on those three events.

  • He Kexin has yet to miss her UB set. She's on the team for sure, but will she respond readily to the intense Olympic pressure? At this point I have serious doubts about her age.

  • Zhou Zhuoru made UB finals, but not FX finals. Her floor exercise, set to the music of "Politics at Work" from the Jackie Chan movie "The Myth," is filled with drama and emotion. In my opinion, Zhou's choreography on floor is some of the best I've seen in this entire quadrennium, though sadly I can't say the same for her relatively weak tumbling.

  • Zhang Nan has improved, but I still don't believe she will make the Olympic team.

  • Li Shanshan hit an outstanding beam routine in team finals, closing in on Xiao Sha's apparent hold on the final specialist spot on the team. However, Shanshan needs another great routine in event finals to potentially go to the Olympics.

  • Deng Linlin was very shaky in team finals, falling on beam and floor. However, she came back to place 3rd in the AA.

  • Sui Lu is looking good and the Chinese coaches may feel her high A-scores are enough for the team.

  • China's outstanding difficulty has the potential to kill any hopes for the USA girls to win. However, this great difficulty can lead to injury, inconsistency, and not being able to peak at the right time. China's administrative errors are likely to continue, now that the whole world is watching them.

  • Event finals will be taking place shortly. Go to International Gymnast magazine's site to see the official list of qualifiers.

Other Tidbits from the Gymnastics World

  • Addicted2Gym and Gymnastics and Stuff posted thoughts on the recent events of the Karolyi training camp competition; I advise you to check them out.

  • Japan named their Olympic teams. Women: Kyoko Oshima, Miki Uemura, Yu Minobe, Koko Tsurumi, Yoko Shintake, Mayu Kuroda. '92 Chinese Olympian He Xuemei's Olympic comeback was unsuccessful. On the men's side, reigning World AA bronze medalist Hisashi Mizutori failed to make the team with a 17th place (!) finish at the Japanese Nationals. Apparently, he has a severe shoulder injury, but if he is indeed recovered by the time Beijing comes around the Japanese will be slapping themselves in the face with their unquestionably early team selections.

  • The Russian men defeated current World bronze medalist Germany at the Europeans in Laussaune. An apparent resurgence for the Russian men is bad news for Germany and USA's quest for an Olympic team medal.

  • Martha Karolyi has invited several USA national team members who have yet to compete this year to a "friendly" (i.e. not much pressure) international meet at the Karolyi ranch. Among them are Chellsie Memmel, Alicia Sacramone, Ivana Hong, Darlene Hill (the Inside Gymnastics article called her "Darling Hill" UPDATE: Darlene has officially gone back to her birthname of "Darling"), Ashley Priess, and age-eligible juniors Mattie Larson and Corrie Lothrop. This meet was created so that Martha K. can look at these bubble girls and see what shape they're in and begin deciding who will go to Beijing (if she already hasn't LOL). Athletes from Italy, Germany and Canada are scheduled to take part. Italy is unlikely to send Ferrari, but Germany may send some of their top girls. I would love to see Marie-Sophie Hindermann again, she's one of my favorites from the German team because of her smile, excellent body line, and good form on her double front UB dismount. (She doesn't cowboy her legs! YAY!)

Opinion of the Day

Samantha Peszek should stop screwing around with uneven bars upgrades in favor of doing the Amanar. Sam looks to have enough height and power to do a Yurchenko 2.5 twist but there was no word from the recent camp that she was doing it. UB upgrades aren't neccessary, despite the fact that the national team staff is frantically trying to get girls that can swing bars. Sam P. ain't bad on bars, but she has yet to outscore Shawn Johnson. Peszek showed improvement on every event at the 2008 Scam Cup, finishing 3rd AA. However, Peszek needs to maximize her strength (vault) for the good of the USA team. Sam even being aloud to compete AA at the olympics is unlikely, but if Sam is really training an Amanar and successfully lands it at Nationals/Olympic Trials than I will be extremely happy for her. However, if Peszek comes to compete with a DTY and decent UB work than she has obviously not been intelligent with specifically what she can contribute to the team.

Interesting Note: Darling Hill trains at Will-Moor School of Gymnastics, the same gym Jennifer Sey went to before and after training at Parkettes.

Next Post: Chinese Nationals Event Finals Analysis

That is all.

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