Posts Tagged ‘Aliya Mustafina’

Apparatus Finals, Day 2 – 2013 World Championships

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Men’s Vault

1. Yang Hak Seon (KOR) claimed the world title with a booming handspring triple-twisting front now named the Yang, and a Tsukahara triple-twist. I don’t know how he manages to twist so quickly!

2. Steven Legendre (USA) vaulted a superb Dragulescu with just a bit of a low landing that required a small hop to the side. He looked happy with his second vault, a high Tsukahara double pike with a step back.

3. Kristian Thomas (GBR) stuck his first vault, a Yurchenko double pike, and showed the fantastic form he is known for on this event (E=9.500, the highest of the final). Next he vaulted a tucked double front with just a hop backward.

Rounding out the Top 8: Kenzo Shirai (JPN), Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA), Diego Hypolito (BRA), Marius Berbecar (ROU) and Oleg Verniaiev (UKR).

Balance Beam

1. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) pulled it all together when it counted most, earning the gold medal on beam with a beautiful routine that included a switch split half to immediate Onodi. It was nice to see her supporting her younger teammate, Anna Rodionova, who is so elegant on the beam but unfortunately fell on her ff, Arabian.

2. Kyla Ross (USA) was spot on, and displayed beautiful lines on all elements. I enjoyed seeing her aerial front-sheep jump combination. After filing an inquiry, her score was raised to 14.833, just short of Mustafina.

3. Simone Biles (USA) also filed an inquiry following her beam routine and saw her score increase just enough to surpass Vanessa Ferrari (ITA). Love her full-in dismount. It reminds me of the old days. This is her routine from podium training:

Rounding out the Top 8: Vanessa Ferrari (ITA), Carlotta Ferlito (ITA), Shang Chunsong (CHN), Larisa Iordache (ROU) and Rodionova. Unfortunately many of the best beam workers ended up at the bottom of the pile, but that’s often the way the cookie crumbles on beam.

Parallel Bars

1. Lin Chaopan (CHN) & Kohei Uchimura (JPN) competed early on in the 9-man final, and boy did they impress! Lin was first up, and he and teammate You scrambled to chalk the rails after presenting themselves to the judges. His routine included the exciting Bhavsar and a nailed double pike dismount. Uchimura, not to be outdone, swung a nice giant to double pike and also stuck the same dismount (with a little arm swing!). The two gymnasts ended up atop the medal podium, each with 15.666 (D=6.700, E=8.966).

3. John Orozco (USA), returning from a knee injury, did a great set complete with tucked and piked double backs and a large Tippelt for the bronze medal. A door opened for Orozco, as his performance came on the heels of some disappointing routines by Vasileios Tsolakidis (GRE), Anton Fokin (UZB) and Brandon Wynn (USA).

Rounding out the Top 9: You Hao (CHN) with his smooth movements and fabulous double front-half out dismount, Epke Zonderland (NED), Marius Berbecar (ROU), Wynn, Tsolakidis and Fokin.

Women’s Floor Exercise

1. Simone Biles (USA) shone on floor as she executed her energetic choreography and trademark tumbling: tucked double-double followed by the Biles. Despite some hops on landings, she won in convincing fashion: 0.367 over the nearest competitor!

2. Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) flipped her way to silver with a tucked double double, a full-in to back tuck, a double tuck and a double pike. All landings were stuck except for a little hop forward on the first pass.

3. Larisa Iordache (ROU) commanded everyone’s attention and delivered such a spunky routine with tricky elements. I think everyone in the arena was disappointed when a 14.600 was flashed on the scoreboard. It did hold up, however, and Iordache found herself wearing the bronze medal around her neck. I was hoping she would win, because we haven’t seen this kind of artistry and enthusiasm in a long time. She is quickly becoming one of my favourites!

Rounding out the Top 8: Mai Murakami (JPN), Giulia Steingruber (SUI), Kyla Ross (USA), Sandra Izbasa (ROU), Ellie Black (CAN). I hardly recognized Izbasa with all that makeup(!), but I’ll really miss her once she retires. It’s too bad she fell at the end of her routine, but she got up with a smile. Her attitude is second to none, and she always shows such great sportsmanship. Murakami (quadruple turn) and Black (2.5-twist through to triple twist!) showed amazing tumbling and will hopefully finish on the podium in the near future.

High Bar

1. Epke Zonderland (NED) repeated his Olympic win in Antwerp with his usual amazing combinations. His 7.7 D score had him starting 1.3 ahead of Ryohei Kato (JPN), who of course had the misfortune of having to perform directly after the Flying Dutchman. While I do love seeing his extraordinary release moves, I do think his E score is a tad too high compared to gymnasts like Jossimar Calvo Moreno (COL) and Andreas Bretschneider (GER), who each scored lower.

2. Fabian Hambüchen (GER) seems like such a nice guy. I always see him in the background congratulating Uchimura on his All Around wins, and at the London Olympics and today in Antwerp he took the time to congratulate Zonderland on his win. Hambüchen looked thrilled after nailing his laidout double double dismount.

3. Kohei Uchimura (JPN) was flawless except for a hesitation in handstand following his Takamoto full. Through his 15 routines of these Championships he made nary a mistake and he came away with 4 medals, just like Simone Biles.

Rounding out the Top 8: Sam Mikulak (USA), Calvo Moreno, Bretschneider, Kato, Lin Chaopan (CHN). What a way to end High Holy Week!

Apparatus Finals, Day 1 – 2013 World Championships

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Men’s Floor Exercise

1. Kenzo Shirai (JPN) won the qualifying round by such a margin that the gold medal was his to lose. The best was saved for last, and Shirai performed 18.25 twists with fantastic landings before nailing his QUADRUPLE twist at the end of the routine. He looked elated at the end, and even King Kohei was on his feet for this one. Score: 16.000.

2. Jake Dalton (USA) won the silver medal with great form and some high-flying tumbling including a layout Arabian double front and a whip immediate piked Arabian double front. Video from prelims.

3. Kohei Uchimura (JPN) earned the bronze medal thanks in large part to his exemplary technique and his extraordinary landings. Interestingly, he had the lowest D score and the highest E score (9.100) in the 8-man field. I was wondering if he would pull out the triple twisting double tuck in the finals, but that tricky skill turned out to be a gamble not worth taking.

Rounding out the Top 8: Daniel Purvis (GBR), Digeo Hypolito (BRA), Steven Legendre (USA), Fabian Hambüchen (GER) and Scott Morgan (CAN). Poor Legendre had to compete with a butterfly fluttering around the floor mat!

Women’s Vault

1. McKayla Maroney (USA) was on a mission after her Olympic disappointment. It’s such a cliché to say she makes it look easy…but she does! Maroney threw down two excellent vaults (Amanar, Mustafina) to edge out her teammate.

2. Simone Biles (USA) came really close to Maroney’s vaulting average (15.724 to 15.595) and she too performed a superb Amanar as a first vault. Biles’s layout Podkopayeva second vault earned a 9.658 E score, but the D score just wasn’t high enough to beat the defending World Champion.

3. Hong Un Jong (PRK) performed a fantastic Amanar with a large step forward on the landing, and a RO-half-on layout Rudi with a large step back. Her high start values were enough to capture the bronze medal.

Rounding out the Top 8: Giulia Steingruber (SUI), Oksana Chusovitina (UZB), Phan Thi Ha Thanh (VIE), Yamilet Pena Abreu (DOM) and Chantysha Netteb (NED). Pena fell on both of her vaults, and poor Netteb hurt her knee on her first vault, a Yurchenko double twist.

Pommel Horse

1. Kohei Kameyama (JPN) proved there’s more than one Kohei on the block, and now they both have the same number of World apparatus gold medals: one! Kameyama displayed some really nice scissor to handstand combinations and one-pommel work at the beginning of his routine.

2. Daniel Corral Barron (MEX) and Max Whitlock (GBR) tied for the silver medal on this event. Corral Barron is the first male gymnast from his country to qualify to a World final (he also placed 5th on parallel bars at last year’s Olympic Games), and therefore the first to win a medal for Mexico. He swung high above the horse. Whitlock, who won pommel horse bronze medals at the Olympics and at the Europeans earlier this year, lost rhythm as he came down from a handstand, but managed to stay on and finish up well. His D score of 7.200 certainly helped him stay in the medals.

Rounding out the Top 8: 2009 champion Zhang Hongtao (CHN), Alberto Busnari (ITA), Robert Seligman (CRO) with the highest E score, Matvei Petrov (RUS) and Prashanth Sellathurai (AUS).

Uneven Bars

1. Huang Huidan (CHN) displayed gorgeous pirouettes, difficult transitions and a nice piked Jaeger topped off with a stuck full-twisting double back. It would have been a Chinese 1-2 with Huang in the silver medal position if Yao Jinnan had caught her Mo salto.

2. Kyla Ross (USA) had the highest E score of the competition despite some loose leg form in the first half of the routine. Nevertheless, she showed lovely lines and solid handstand positions and a stuck double layout dismount. Video from qualifications.

3. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) has added a Stalder-full toe-on full-twisting Shaposhnikova (Seitz) combinations to her routine since the Olympic Games and she nailed it here. She did the same 1.5-twisting double back dismount that helped her win Olympic Gold, but unfortunately this time she had to shuffle her feet upon landing.

Rounding out the Top 8: Simone Biles (USA), Sophie Scheder (GER), Yao Jinnan (CHN), Ruby Harrold (GBR), Beckie Downie (GBR).


1. Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti (BRA) showed some tremendous strength holds and he did a fabulous full-twisting double layout, but it seemed the rings were swaying back and forth ever so slightly throughout much of his routine.

2. Aleksandr Balandin (RUS) made a press to planche from a still hang look easy! He used his long lines to his advantage in his swing elements, and took a slight hop back after the same dismount as Zanetti.

3. Brandon Wynn (USA) made the most of his 6.700 D score, the lowest of the 8 finalists, and clinched the bronze with a good effort and a stuck full-twisting double layout of his own.

Rounding out the Top 8: Liu Yang (CHN) was fantastic on the apparatus but landed a bit too low to grab a medal, Lambertus “Yuri” van Gelder (NED), Samir Aït Saïd (FRA), Koji Yamamuro (JPN) and Danny Pinheiro Rodrigues (FRA). Pinheiro Rodrigues had a great routine going, complete with two of his signature Victorians, but unfortunately got caught up in the air on his full-twisting double layout and ended up falling. I felt so sad for Yamamuro, last to go, watching him pray for a medal while waiting for his score to come up. He did an amazing job, complete with a decent landing on a very difficult double-twisting double layout dismount, only to end up in 7th. This just goes to show the quality of the field.

Simone Biles Wins Worlds

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Simone Biles and Kyla Ross teamed up for an American 1-2 in much the same fashion as Kohei Uchimura and Ryohei Kato did for Japan. Ross lead after the third rotation by the slimmest of margins, but Biles proved unbeatable with her amazing floaty tumbling: tucked double-double, double layout half-out (the Biles!), 2.5-twist punch layout front, tucked full-in. Ross demonstrated her trademark consistency and good form on her way to silver.

Simone Biles (USA), AA, 2013 World Championships

Kyla Ross (USA), AA, 2013 World Championships

Aliya Mustafina (RUS) managed to pull herself together for the bronze medal after a dismal qualifying round. She has an uncanny ability to capture a crowd’s attention, and her gymnastics really looks fabulous with the exception of her form on the triple twist on floor. Iordache would have been in a tight race for bronze if not for the unfortunate fall from beam, arguably her best event. I’m sure she’ll be seeking revenge in beam finals on the weekend.

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), AA, 2013 World Championships

It’s a pity Jessica Lopez (VEN) withdrew from the All Around, allowing Vasiliki Millousi (GRE) in, because she qualified in 11th spot and would have been even higher if not for a fall from one of her best events, the uneven bars. Here’s her routine from preliminaries.

Jessica Lopez (VEN), Qualifying Round Uneven Bars, 2013 World Championships

Victoria Moors (CAN) will have her layout double-double named after her, having successfully completed it in the All Around. The 14.633 awarded for her stylish floor routine was the third highest of all gymnasts today, behind Biles and Larisa Iordache  (ROU). She did well to finish in 10th place, but could have placed much higher if it weren’t for the 12.300 beam score. Teammate Ellie Black (CAN) had a great beam routine for 14.133 (5th highest score) but just couldn’t put it together on her signature events, vault and floor, for 13th place all around.

Victoria Moors (CAN), AA Floor Exercise, 2013 World Championships

Larisa Iordache (ROU), AA Floor Exercise, 2013 World Championships

And the 2013 Longines Prizes for Elegance are awarded to…drum roll, please…Kohei Uchimura and Kyla Ross!

Longines Prizes for Elegance, 2013 World Championships

2012 Olympic Games – Women’s All Around

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

The day we’ve all been waiting for – the day the new queen of gymnastics would be crowned! With many more potential winners here than in the Beijing All Around finals, this competition promised to be exciting from beginning to end. Early favourite Viktoria Komova (RUS) and new star Gabby Douglas (USA) were neck and neck all afternoon long, but in the end it was Douglas who reigned supreme.

Gabby Douglas (USA), 2012 Olympic Games, Team Final Balance Beam

Douglas and Komova each started the meet with an Amanar, with Komova suffering a wonky landing that ended up off the landing mat. When all was said and done, this error could have been enough to cost her the gold medal. Even the floor routine of her life (15.100) was not enough to catch up with Douglas, who had 4 fantastic performances to clinch the top prize.

Viktoria Komova (RUS), 2012 Olympic Games, All Around Floor Exercise

I really wanted these two on the podium along with Aliya Mustafina (RUS), so it was a major bummer when Mustafina fell from the beam after her Arabian landed a little crooked (my sister said she nailed it in the one-touch warm-up). After the fall, it seemed that the rest of the routine wasn’t quite a crisp as usual. It really was an uphill battle for Mustafina right from the beginning, since she started 0.7 behind the top contenders on vault; she performed a Baitova, as opposed to the Amanar she used to compete before her untimely knee injury at the 2011 European Championships. But in the end, the fall didn’t cost her a spot on the podium, as she would have been in the bronze medal position either way!

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), 2012 Olympic Games, Uneven Bars Apparatus Finals

I do feel very sorry for Alexandra Raisman (USA) who tied for 3rd but lost the bronze medal due to the tie-breaking procedure. That has got to be disappointing, especially after her uncharacteristically wobbly balance beam routine and after leaving out her punch layout front on floor. Sandra Izbasa (ROM), on the other hand, was fabulous on her 3 best events and probably would have been Olympic Champion if her bars had been on par. Dominique Pegg (CAN) rounded out a superb competition by hitting 4-for-4 (with some small wobbles on beam) for 17th, with a floor performance that started with a high-flying double layout. Poor Hannah Whelan (GBR) lost all hope of a Top 10 finish after crashing her Yurchenko-double-full for 0.000.

In the end, the results were as they should be. Congrats to Gabby Douglas! Over the past year, she has improved not only her gymnastics, but especially her consistency and her mental game. Congratulations are also in order for Viktoria Komova, who showed that she can fight right to the end, and to Aliya Mustafina, who displayed excellent sportsmanship with a positive attitude throughout the competition and in her support for her younger teammate.

Uchimura and Mustafina Win Worlds!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Another World Championships has come and gone, and all is right with the (gymnastics) world! The Russian ladies (Ksenia Afanasyeva, Anna Dementieva, Yekaterina Kurbatova, Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva, Ksenia Semyonova) finally won the team gold for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s hard to believe it took them 18 years to stand atop the podium, especially thinking back to the 2000 Olympic team that was jam packed with so many heavy hitters: Svetlana Khorkina, Yelena Produnova, Yelena Zamolodchikova and Yekaterina Lobaznyuk. Mustafina undoubtedly played a huge role in their win, with incredible scores on all four events. The question loomed: could she sweep all six golds?

On the men’s side, the Chinese team (Chen Yibing, Feng Zhe, Lu Bo, Teng Haibin, Yan Mingyong, Zhang Chenglong) reigned victorious once again! I was pleased to see Teng back in top form after injuries, having put his troubles from the 2004 Olympic Games behind him. They managed to stay ahead of an elegant Japanese team and a surging German team led by Philipp Boy.

The FIG has put together some amazing montages that capture the excitement in Ahoy Rotterdam.

Women’s Team Final, 2010 World Championships

Men’s Team Final, 2010 World Championships

Defending champion Kohei Uchimura (JPN) and new senior Aliya Mustafina (RUS) dominated every phase of the competition and rightfully ended up with the All Around crowns. They both showed unwavering confidence and flashes of brilliance. Uchimura is only the second gymnast in history to defend the World title, but at this rate it seems the entire quadrennium must surely belong to him! He defeated silver medalist Philipp Boy (GER) by a whopping 2.283. American Jonathan Horton grabbed the bronze medal by just 0.033 over Ukrainian Mykola Kuksenkov.

Kohei Uchimura (JPN), All Around, 2010 World Championships

Perfect gymnastics alert! Just about everything he does is textbook perfect, with added flair and cool confidence. I don’t even know what young gymnasts should study most…the triple twist at 1:12, the Yurchenko-2.5 at 4:50 or the gorgeous Kovacs that opens to vertical at 7:38.

The women’s all around medals were more cut and dried; Mustafina won by 1.034 over Jiang Yuyuan (CHN) and Rebecca Bross (USA) was another point behind in the bronze medal position.

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Vault, Apparatus Finals, 2010 World Championships

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Uneven Bars, Qualifications, 2010 World Championships

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Balance Beam, All Around, 2010 World Championships

Aliya Mustafina (RUS), Floor Exercise, Apparatus Finals, 2010 World Championships

This routine is one beautiful element after another. She gets so much height on her Arabian double front, and her triple turn is amazing. I love the little piece of choreography starting at 1:03 and leading into the final tumbling pass. That little step out of bounds after the triple twist was Mustafina’s second largest error in 16 routines. Not bad for a newbie!

This hauntingly lovely music, Hijo de le luna, has been in my head ever since she first performed in the preliminary round! I’m not sure how I feel about floor music with vocals but this is the perfect music for Mustafina, worthy of a world champion.

I’ll highlight the apparatus winners next time, but for now I’d like to pay homage to a wonderful coach, Boris Pilkin. When national team coaches told him he was wasting his time, doubting that the tall Khorkina could achieve much success, Pilkin stood by his protégée and turned her into one of the best gymnasts ever. His ability to teach proper technique and to invent new skills allowed Khorkina to be celebrated in the international spotlight for an entire decade, winning numerous Olympic and World medals for Mother Russia. He passed away in the night at the age of 82, just hours after watching the Russian women claim their first gold medal.