An incredible beam final!

Well if you can take anything away from the women’s recent Chinese Nationals in Xiantao, it’s that their skills on beam aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I was so blown away by the depth and quality of their beam routines in the final that I decided to show you every single one of them! To show you just how strong they are on this event, at the end I also added in one of their well known Olympic stars who didn’t even MAKE the finals in this phenomenal field. Most of the routines below are actually from the event finals, but I did pick a couple from qualifications if I thought it was a better routine.
Before we watch the routines, here’s a look at the top three finishers: You’ll see very shortly there’s one gymnast I felt should have beaten all of the medalists, but strangely she didn’t even place in the top three. See if you can pick out who it is before reading my comments!
1. Xiao Sha 15.525
2. Tan Sixin 14.80
3. Deng Linlin and Chen Yixin 14.65 (Tie)
Xiao Sha BB EF 2009 Chinese Xiantao Nationals
Aside from the wobble in her first series (and left out the Korbut), an amazing routine!
As you can see above, she did win this event with a 15.525 (in addition to her all-around victory). When you get to the secret star, decide whose routine you think is better!
Tan Sixin BB EF 2009 Chinese Xiantao Nationals

Awesome set! This routine scored a 15.25 in qualifications and then placed 2nd with a 14.8 in the finals. I love the way she really stretches out that layout, and following the trend of Xiao Sha and Li Shanshan (among other Chinese gymnasts now), she adds the Korbut immediately out of it. All of her landings were really solid here, and she has a nice clean and sharp look.

Chen Yixin BB EF 2009 Chinese Xiantao Nationals
Although nothing really blows you away, there’s something very solid and confident about all her landings. It looks like it would take a bulldozer to knock her off the beam! She took the bronze with a 14.65, tied with Olympian Deng Linlin:
Deng Linlin BB Qualifications 2009 Chinese Xiantao Nationals
Well she might not quite be in her top all-around form (I know she just competed a Yurchenko full on vault, for example), but she certainly is on this event! This was a top-notch routine, just like she performed in the team finals of the Olympic Games last year.

Cui Jie BB Qualifications 2009 Chinese Xiantao Nationals
We may be seeing her in the next couple of years as well! She also has some great work and some unique combinations. In the finals she actually connected that opening front pike immediately to the back handspring to Korbut. I think the highlight of the routine might have actually been her full turn combination – one of the few in the world I’ve seen truly hold her leg up at the end of the turn, and then she connects it beautifully into another full turn. After seeing so many poorly done ones in the last couple of years, that is much appreciated!
Hu Yuhong BB EF 2009 Chinese Xiantao Nationals
Another impressive one…I think you’re starting to see what I mean about this beam final!
Zhang Yelinzi BB EF 2009 Chinese Xiantao Nationals
There she is…she’s the gymnast I thought should have won this final. WOW! What an unbelievable routine – I would say one of the best I’ve seen in quite a while. I’m not sure what she scored, but does anyone have any idea why she didn’t flat out WIN? She has an amazing blend of difficulty, execution, elegance, and confidence. That first tumbling pass was out of this world, and she followed it up with a perfect front with a half. She made all her connections and hardly had a single wobble. What do you think…is this world champion caliber?
Sui Lu BB Qualifications 2009 Chinese Xiantao Nationals
This was the Sui Lu I first remembered seeing last year at their nationals when many of us thought she might have had a shot at grabbing a spot on their Olympic team. Unfortunately she didn’t keep showing this type of performance leading up to Beijing, and she didn’t end up making the squad. She still struggles with consistency, and in fact she ended up grabbing the beam on her front-half in the event finals here. But when she’s on – watch out!
Li Shanshan BB Qualifications 2009 Chinese Xiantao Nationals
What a shame! Obviously that dismount kept her out of the finals, but otherwise she looks pretty much back in top form. It’s interesting that many of her teammates are now doing several of the combinations that she popularized…sometimes better than she does them.
What an amazing battle these girls (and probably others) are going to have to earn spots on their world teams over the next couple of years! How can you possibly pick a beam specialist among them?
Stay tuned for even more videos and commentary from this competition!