Ksenia Afanasyeva All Routines 2011 Mexican Open
Afanasyeva has been one of the more popular gymnasts in the world over the last three years. One of the biggest reasons is simply how beautiful she is to watch – she has that classic, balletic Russian style that seems to show through in almost everything she does. Even when she makes mistakes, her attention to detail – posture, head position, hand position, split positions – give her gymnastics such a legitimate look that it immediately demands respect. I think another reason has to do with a bit of sympathy from her fans, as she has had a tendency toward untimely large errors in major competition.
Fans may finally be able to toss the sympathy aside and simply resort to admiration for this newly crowned world floor champion. Her gold medal on floor at the worlds in Tokyo not only felt like well-deserved redemption for many of her past errors and often unjustly low scores, but it may have been just the impetus she needed to make her one of the serious contenders for the five-woman Russian team to be selected for London this summer.
Her all-around from this Mexican Open competition yielded a very strong 58.15. This appeared to be one of her better vaults, and although bars is still her weakest event, she does seem to be gaining more consistency here. Watching her on bars reminds me quite a bit of the great Russian Elena Produnova, who competed in multiple world championships in the mid to late 1990’s as well as the 2000 Olympics. Like Produnova, Afanasyeva has a unique blend of power, flexibility, and artistry and has a similar swing on bars.
On beam here she took out her Arabian, which she fell on during the all-around at the recent world championships, and replaced it with the aerial-Barani, which she competed back at the 2008 Olympics. Although Ksenia brings the most value to the Russian team on floor, she has always been quite solid on beam as well and is an excellent backup option for them on this event.
Even without her double layout on floor, she still looks to have the confidence, polish, and experience of a world champion. That was the best attitude turn she has ever done, and her landings continue to show more and more precision and control. Ksenia tends to debut a new floor routine every year, so it will be interesting to see if she comes up with yet another one in this Olympic year. This 2011 masterpiece will be difficult to top.