Posts Tagged ‘Aljaz Pegan’

Good News for Silver Medalists!

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I was pleased to read that the FIG has decided to allow all three World apparatus medalists in a pre-Olympic year to be automatically guaranteed a spot in the Games. In the most recent Olympic cycle, Krizstian Berki (HUN), Yuri van Gelder (NED), and Aljaz Pegan (SLO) all had the “misfortune” of winning the silver medals on their specialties at the 2007 World Championships. Clearly contenders for Olympic gold, they were denied the opportunity to attend the Games in Beijing simply because they had not won the event and because they were not so fortunate as to represent a Top 12 team that automatically qualified 6 gymnasts.

Berki, van Gelder and Pegan were unsuccessful in obtaining the Wild Card despite their best efforts to secure one. They had the disadvantage of hailing from gymnast-rich Europe, knowing that the Wild Card would most likely be given to a gymnast from an underrepresented continent. Pegan had the additional disadvantage of Slovenia having already claimed an individual spot when Mitja Petkovsek won on Parallel Bars at the 2007 World Championships.

In the end, the Wild Card was awarded to a gymnast from…Yemen. Now don’t get me wrong; I am all for the participation of a variety of gymnasts from around the world, and I’m happy for Nashwan Al-Harazi in what must have been one of the most exciting moments of his life. It’s interesting (and usually very impressive) to see what sorts of skills the gymnasts from countries like Yemen can do, but surely not at the expense of three gold medal contenders.

I hope in the future we will be able to see gymnasts like Al-Harazi compete alongside gymnasts like Berki, van Gelder and Pegan. Of course, even with the new rule, there will always be the fourth-place gymnast who might not earn a spot to the Olympic Games, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

Krisztian Berki (HUN), 2007 World Championships, Pommel Horse

Yuri van Gelder (NED), 2007 World Championships, Still Rings

Aljaz Pegan (SLO), 2007 World Championships, High Bar

And just for fun, here are Nashwan Al-Harazi’s floor routine and his Rudi vault. He’s a great twister!

Nashwan Al-Harazi (YEM), 2010 MAC Open, Floor Exercise

Nashwan Al-Harazi (YEM), 2010 MAC Open, Vault

2010 Montreal World Cup

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

“Shusuke Kikuchi!”…”Jad Mazahreh!”…the announcer put on some great accents as he presented the gymnasts at the second annual Montreal World Cup. Although the field was a bit sparse, there was some great gymnastics on display.

The class of the field on floor exercise was Japanese Shusuke Kikuchi, who won by 0.65 over teammate Kyoichi Watanabe and Canadian Kevin Lytwyn. His routine included three double layouts: layout Arabian double front, layout half-in half-out to punch front-1 1/4, and a double layout dismount. Throw in three more twisting passes, and there’s your winner!

Shusuke Kikuchi (JPN), Floor Exercise, 2010 Montreal World Cup

Jordanian Ali Al Asi showed some interesting skills as well, starting with a double-twisting double layout, showing off a really low planche hold, and ending with a double layout (hands down).

Ali Al Asi (JOR), Floor Exercise, 2010 Montreal World Cup

The Finns had two young gymnasts in the floor final, Sakari Vekki (who qualified in second place behind Kikuchi) and Tomi Tuuha. The Austrians also had two gymnasts at the Montreal World Cup: Marco Mayr, who qualified to most of the event finals, and Julian Egermann, who ended up only competing on vault. He was set to perform in the floor final as well, but he suffered a scary fall to his back during the general warm up and appeared to have the wind knocked out of him.

The crowd was treated to one of the international stars on pommel horse. Krisztian Berki of Hungary displayed superb extension and a lengthy routine on his way to the gold medal, 1.15 points over silver medallist Canadian Ken Ikeda.

Krisztian Berki (HUN), Pommel Horse, 2010 Montreal World Cup

Kevin Lytwyn gave the home crowd something to cheer for with his rings routine. He defeated Ali Al Asi, who led the field in qualifications, with steady iron crosses and a stick on his layout full-out dismount.

Kevin Lytwyn (CAN), Rings, 2010 Montreal World Cup (and Maria Karpova’s beam!)

Nathan Gafuik provided the other gold medal for the Canadian team on vault with his Yurchenko-2.5 (stuck!) and his tucked double front (just about stuck!). Kikuchi and Tomi Tuuha (FIN) were both close on Gafuik’s heels, each with a Kasamatsu-2.5 and a layout Rudi.

Nathan Gafuik (CAN), Vault 2, 2010 Montreal World Cup

Tomi Tuuha (FIN), Vault 1, 2010 Montreal World Cup

Kyoichi Watanabe showed a lightness in his clean work on parallel bars to win the title on this event. The two Canadians placed second and third, and they were the only gymnasts to perform double backs between the bars (a Belle for Ikeda and a Morisue for Lytwyn). Tomi Tuuha dismounted with a not-often-seen layout front full.

Kyoichi Watanabe (JPN), Parallel Bars, 2010 Montreal World Cup

Ken Ikeda (CAN), Parallel Bars, 2010 Montreal World Cup

High bar was as exciting as always, with a field that included Slovenian Aljaz Pegan performing his signature release skill. It’s funny to see Pegan in training with his legs everywhere, but then in competition he showed the Montreal crowd the routine and the excellent form that has won him so many medals. This time he lost the title by just 0.1 despite putting his hands down on his triple back dismount.

Topping the field was Kohei Kameyama, bringing home the third gold of this competition to his native Japan. The highlight of his routine for me was not so much his super Kolman or the layout full-out dismount, but his exquisite toepoint! It’s hard to see with his competition socks on, but I have never seen a male gymnast with such a great toepoint before. It was reminiscent of Lilia Podkopayeva and the Fraguas sisters! Canadian Jackson Payne grabbed the bronze medal despite a fall after an Endo-full to layout Jaeger. He ended with a stuck double twisting double layout.

Kohei Kameyama (JPN), High Bar, 2010 Montreal World Cup

Aljaz Pegan (SLO), High Bar, 2010 Montreal World Cup

Jackson Payne (CAN), High Bar, 2010 Montreal World Cup

And there you have it…. This is only the second time this city has hosted the Montreal World Cup event, and I’m looking forward to attending in years to come. Last year the women’s side had a very small field and it was cancelled altogether this time around, but hopefully in the years to come this meet will develop into a competition as great as the DTB Cup and the Glasgow Grand Prix.

Gymnix 2009 – Montreal World Cup!

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

The inaugural Montreal World Cup was a great success in the men’s field. Seasoned veterans such as Razvan Selariu (ROM), Krisztian Berki (HUN) and Daniel Popescu (ROM) won Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse and Vault, respectively. Danny Rodrigues (FRA), a finalist at the Beijing Olympics on Rings, won this event in Montreal with two Victorian Crosses!

Danny Pinheiro Rodrigues, 2009 Gymnix, Rings

Check out the Victorian Crosses at 0:27 and 0:53!

Aljaz Pegan (SLO) demonstrated the skill named after him (double front-half release) in warm ups on the High Bar but unfortunately didn’t end up competing.

Aljaz Pegan, 2009 Gymnix, High Bar Warm Up

Canadian Nathan Gafuik managed to win a medal in each final he entered: Silver on the Floor Exercise and Bronze on Vault. This World Cup was also a coming out party for Adam Kierzkowski (POL) who won Parallel Bars, and Marijo Moznik (CRO) who won High Bar. There were also several Japanese newbies who produced some fantastic gymnastics: gorgeous handstands on Parallel Bars, a high Kolman (full-twisting double back release) by Yosuke Hoshi, and a stuck Kasamatsu-2.5 by Koji Yamamuro following a lightning-fast run.

Koji Yamamuro, 2009 Gymnix, Vault

Unfortunately, the women’s portion of the competition left much to be desired, expecially on Vault where only Charlotte Mackie (CAN) was a serious competitor (Puerto Rican Maricarmen Rivera produced a decent layout Tsukahara first vault but only competed a handspring as her second vault). Mackie earned a medal of each colour in Montreal, including the Silver on floor Exercise and Bronze on Balance Beam.

Charlotte Mackie, 2009 Gymnix, Vault 2

Round-off, half on, tucked barani

Marine Petit (FRA) was the only Olympian in the women’s field, and she showed steady work on her way to winning Silver medals on both Uneven Bars and Balance Beam. While watching Mattie Larson (USA) on Balance Beam and Floor Exercise, it soon became clear that she was the class of the field. Indeed, she won the two events she entered by about half a point. Her teammate, Samantha Shapiro, won Uneven Bars by a whopping 1.075 despite having an injured foot that prevented her from competing on other events.

Mattie Larson, 2009 Gymnix, Balance Beam

Sometimes the best part about attending a gymnastics competition is spotting the former gymnasts! Coaches on the floor included Teodora Ungureanu, Elvira Saadi, Yelena Davydova and Galina Marinova, while Amélie Plante, Julie Beaulieu and Yelena Grosheva were spotted in and around the arena. I also noticed Yekaterina Privalova and Ioan Suciu as judges. I wonder which other former gymnasts were present that I didn’t spot?!