All Russain women’s videos from this weekend’s Japan Cup!

Russia – Vault 2010 Japan Cup

Afanasyeva’s is very solid and a little improved actually.  She is looking fantastic and if she stays healthy, should be a shoo-in for the world team this year…and probably a serious all-around threat (keep watching and I think you’ll agree!).  Interesting to see Afanasyeva, Mustafina, and Nabieva all competing back-to-back-to-back here, because they’re going to be battling amongst each other for the two available all-around spots at worlds.  Mustafina’s vault is a little sloppy, but she could have done a 2 ½ here.  And actually Nabieva’s form has improved slightly (not quite as hideous as it used to be), and she could have done a 2 ½ here as well.

Russia Bars 2010 Japan Cup

HUGE toe-on laid-out Tcatchev from Nabieva!!!  That may have been the highest release move ever done on bars!  This is a “Church,” invented by Shavahn Church, although I think Nabieva’s is higher and more laid-out than Shavahn’s was.  I think she’ll need to connect something out of it to avoid this type of mistake though.  It’s great to see Arkayev giving Anna Dementieva a chance to prove herself here.  Many of us have seen her potential, but she really hasn’t been put on many major teams for Russia until now…AND she was put up on THREE events – bars, beam, and floor.  This is a great sign for her, and an indication that she is probably being strongly considered for worlds.  Mustafina’s routine was a little sloppier than normal, but still very good nonetheless.  Let her Tcatchev to Pak be a sign to many who do the boring Tcatchev, kip cast handstand to Pak…if she can pull a Pak out of that bad Tcatchev, so can you!

Russia Beam 2010 Japan Cup

Russia Beam/Floor 2010 Japan Cup

Dementieva actually had the highest beam score of the meet here…she really is lovely to watch.  Still some polishing to go, but it’s great to see how confident and relaxed she looks – several smiles from her throughout the competition.  I love the roundoff back handspring to triple full…a refreshing change from the overdone double pike, and extremely difficult.  Again, not an overly sharp routine from Mustafina, but even when she’s not at her best, she really is one of the most consistent gymnasts in the world.  She was a little off here, but she always seems to HIT.

A new standing Arabian from Afanasyeva…and a really good one!  She has really trimmed up and just looks awesome…that Pacific Rim meet probably did wonders for her regaining her confidence.  Not sure why she seems to consistently over-rotate that double back though.

Russia Floor 2010 Japan Cup

Floor has been the weakest event for the Russian over the past several years, and definitely the biggest area that has kept them behind the Chinese and Americans.  But I think that might be changing very quickly…where the HECK did that awesome double layout from Afanasyeva come from??!!  That is one of the best double layouts in the world, and she did it easily.  She scored an EXTREMELY impressive 14.7 here…easily the highest floor score of the meet.  This routine will be HUGE for the Russians at worlds.  I would actually like to see her put the piked full in back in somewhere as well…perhaps do the two whips to piked full in for the first pass, then come back with the double layout, and dismount with the triple full.  That routine would be incredible, although it already is anyway!  I did like her 2009 music better, but she always is beautiful to watch…can’t tell you how impressed I am with her.

Definitely not the routine Nabieva was looking for, but was that not the HIGHEST double Arabian you ever seen?!  She literally could have almost pulled another flip out of that!  I didn’t like how she nonchalantly prepared for each pass after that, almost like she didn’t care much…today’s rules supposedly deduct for that.  I’m not sure she’ll be competing floor for the team at worlds, but she’ll need to improve her for her all-around effort.

Dementieva’s routine was decent, but I’ve seen her do better.  The two whips were really nice, but the 2 ½ was not…2 ½’s don’t really work too well anymore with the current landing requirements.  She does that triple full so easily though, and she is very elegant.  Overall she made a huge statement by hitting all three of her events in a team finals format…I think she may be battling with Myzdrikova, Pavlova, and possibly Kurbatova for a spot on the world team, but she earned a lot of points in her corner here.

Overall, what a great tune-up for the Russian team for the world championships in October.  Nabieva and Mustafina continue to develop into team leaders and now have a tremendous amount of experience heading into their first worlds, Afanasyeva is looking better than ever and should be a team leader as well as an individual medal threat, and Dementieva served notice that she may be a great team player.

Much more from this competition still to come!