Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thoughts on 2013 Russian Championships

These are just my opinions and impressions of this meet. I'm basing it on the live feed videos and interviews that I have read. This event was to determine which 4 WAG gymnasts would make it to the European Championships. The full WAG results AA EF.

Grishina, Mustafina, Shelgunova
My impressions of this meet is that it was basically a practice meet for the top gymnasts. They weren't all at their best shape and peak. My theory is that Mustafina worked really hard on her new beam routine and wasn't too worried about getting her other events. With time she will work to get her other events up to par. She was pulled out of day 2 event finals to rest her knee. This is good that Mustafina is gaining more confidence on beam. Her DTY vault is still great as always. Her bar set is still great. Even if it's a watered down routine, in my opinion she doesn't have to worry about upping her difficulty for this year. If she wants to make it to Rio I think she still has time to figure out a new bar routine mid quad. I think it's a smart idea that she is focusing on beam. For floor she might surprise us with some upgrades but for this competition she looked tired and rusty on this event. I don't think she was ready to compete floor at this event and she'll be ready by Europeans. Mustafina is the new Russian all around champion with 59.850.  Russia really needs to keep this girl healthy and safe.

Anastasia Grishina did well enough winning AA 2nd and gold on UB. She does need to get her DTY consistent though. She crashed it in team finals. It seems she is a bit weak in terms of endurance. It's really hard for her to finish up a floor routine without crashing or staying in the corner for a long time. It seems she just needs a lot of repetition and practice to get consistent. Apparently she was feeling fatigue for day 2 event finals so she scratched that finals. I think it's a shame because it seems she is not a strong enough gymnast. Most likely her coaches just wanted to keep her safe and free from injuries as she is most likely to be the 2nd AA for Europeans Championships.

Maria Paseka
Perhaps another reason for letting Grishina off the hook was to give competitive competition for Dementyeva, Afanasyeva and especially for new senior Evgeniya Shelgunova. This was particularly a weak day 2 event finals, well actually day 1 was pretty weak as well. With no Mustafina and Grishina it was a competition to see who would be the other gymnasts to compete with them at Europeans. In day 1 EF, Maria Paseka won vault with a decent enough Amanar. She is in the mix for contending for a European spot. Valentina Rodionenko stated that the team will be Mustafina, Grishina and Paseka. The others must prove themselves worthy, mainly Dementyeva, Afanasyeva and Shelgunova. I still think the team is undecided between Paseka, Afanasyeva and Shelgunova.

On day 2 EF Dementyeva pretty much lost her spot. She fell on her 3/1 dismount off beam and had problems on floor, she botched her Memmel badly and fell. Afanasyeva still proved that she is relevant to team Russia. Like Mustafina, Afanasyeva is doing some interesting new beam combinations. She stayed on beam and looked good enough. Her beam was obviously a work in progress routine. She still did 6 acro skills in her routine so that tells me that this is her chance to just practice and not take this event so seriously. Her routine consisted of Kochetkova + split leap 1/1, truly impressive! Also Onodi + side somi + 1 1/4 spin! The 1 1/4 spin was unexpected for me. This routine is a risky routine but hopefully she'll get it down and figure out which skills she'll use and leave out. I'm guessing she most likely did not get credit for all her connections as her beam score was low 13.775, no D-scores posted. It's encouraging that Afanasyeva is working up the courage to do these combinations.

Goryunova, Afanasyeva, Polyan
Her floor was alright. Could have been much better. She is still the top Russian to have the highest floor difficulty. I think it's a bit sad for Russia but it does give Afanasyeva a better chance at making European and world teams. Her double layout is still sky high and powerful. She had some issues with her difficult whip + whip + 3/1 twists. Her spins are beautiful but at the end of her routine she went out of bounds on her double pike. Actually a lot of the gymnasts went out of bounds on their double pikes, hmm. Afanasyeva scored a low 13.600 and still won! It's great that Afanasyeva is still committed to continuing. It seems she will only get better on beam and floor with more work and time. Oh and she can still do a decent DTY which is good for her and Russia.

New Russian senior Shelgunova may have some bad form and execution faults but she is a steady and consistent competitor. She did a good job of staying on beam and doing an okay floor routine. She won beam with 14.050 and also won 3rd AA. Beam final scores were low but Grishina and Mustafina could have posted huge scores if they competed in EF.

Overall I was impressed most with Mustafina's and Afanasyeva's upgraded beam routines. It's great that Paseka can still do the Amanar, although it still looks scary with bad execution. Russia is not at full strength and they don't have the depth of USA so it's encouraging to see the Russian Olympians competing and getting back into the groove of things. It's early in the season so most of them will hopefully get better when the real competitions are on. I haven't forgotten about the talented Komova who is sitting out due to back injury. Hopefully she will be ready for worlds.

I think the Russian coaches still have a lot of decisions to make for the European team. Some things are still not clear. If they bring Shelgunova she could make AA finals if her other teammates falter but most likely that might not happen and she doesn't have much difficulty to contend for EF medals. So will the Russians just bring her for qualification? Or will they take Afanasyeva who could win a floor medal. Will Paseka still be able to do the Amanar in April for Europeans? As we all know she is not great on any other events. Paseka's bars is okay but if they have Grishina and Mustafina on the team Paseka's bars will not be received well by the judges. So basically she is a one event woman. I think Russia still has some internal competition. Also there are some up and coming world cup events. Afanasyeva and Paseka to the French Cup. Grishina, Shelgunova and Dementyeva to Cottbus Cup. Looks like Aliya will just compete at internal events.

Call me bias but I hope Afanasyeva makes it to European Championships. She missed 3 European Championships in a row, due to injuries or getting back in shape from injuries. Maybe this is her chance again? But on the other hand I feel Afanasyeva has been given many chances and maybe it's best for Russia to give other girls chances. I say maybe Shelgunova does need the experience and Paseka should be rewarded for her Amanar. I think Universiade will be perfect for Afanasyeva. Maybe Afanasyeva missing a lot of Europeans will be a blessing in disguise. Maybe she'll make it to worlds? I hope so.

I'm also glad to see that some other older veterans like Pavlova, Myzdrikova, Kramarenko etc are still competing. Pavlova's regional team won gold :)

*photo credits sportgymrus

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