The gymnasts who will likely be contending for the Russian world team…
Because four of the top gymnasts in Russia are all too young to compete in London, I see five gymnasts realistically challenging for this team. Of course Semenova and Afanasyeva are likely bets if they are both healthy, and both should certainly compete in the all-around. I think Kurbatova, Myzdrikova, and Goryunova will be fighting for the other two spots. We’ve all seen what Semenova is capable of (and she didn’t compete at the recent Russian Cup), but let’s take a look at some videos of the other four:
Ksenia Afanasyeva Vault 2009 Russian Cup
She can do this vault better, but still pretty solid…she’s been very consistent on this vault and this event will not hurt her all-around effort at all.
Ksenia Afanasyeva Bars 2009 Russian Cup
Perhaps ran out of gas a little at the end as I’m sure she’s still building up her endurance, but I love her swing on this event. That combination of toe-on full pirouette immediately to Khorkina II is very ambitious! She has a very clean and powerful look, which is evident in her cast handstands (at least at the beginning of the routine). She reminds me a bit of Elena Produnova actually. Remember she’s coming back from an injury, but when she hits this routine it should score well.
Ksenia Afanasyeva Beam 2009 Russian Cup
I have to admit I was one of the skeptics who thought it was a bit of a fluke when she ended up in the beam finals in Beijing…but she may be proving me wrong! What an amazing variety of skills, and she certainly showed the confidence of an Olympic beam finalist here…only one mistake the entire routine. This could end up in the finals at worlds if she does it this well.
Ksenia Afanasyeva Floor 2009 Russian Cup
Well obviously her tumbling wasn’t quite on, but she’s had a foot injury. This routine does show off her incredible dance ability though…great flexibility and amazing turns toward the end of the routine. I think overall she has an extremely strong all-around, and I expect she’ll be challenging for an all-around medal in London. Not a bad job here considering she wasn’t even expected to compete!
Ekaterina Kurbatova Vault 2009 Russian Cup
She can do that first vault better, but she’s the newest Russian vaulter…finally taking over the reigns from Zamalodchikova and Pavlova as a mainstay in international vault finals. She’s won multiple vault titles this year, including this one at the Russian Cup. I would expect her to probably make the finals in London, where she may have a shot at a medal if she nails them both.
Ekaterina Kurbatova Bars 2009 Russian Cup
I love this routine! What an AWESOME combination with the Pak salto immediately into a Khorkina II – incredibly cool! I’d like to see her clean up the feet separations, but this could be a finals routine at worlds for sure.
Anna Myzdrikova FX
This routine was from earlier this year, but it’s just a reminder of what a refreshing addition she has been to the international scene. Although we’ve seen quite a bit of originality on women’s bars and beam in the last few years, we certainly have not on floor. It’s great to see such a cool, innovative, and difficult first pass, followed up with an awesome whip to Arabian double front as the second pass. This would be great to see in the world finals in London…if she makes the team of course.
Anna Myzdrikova Vault
As you can see, she has two pretty strong vaults. Nice Yurchenko double full shown from last year, and the half-on handspring front layout as a second vault is strong enough to make finals at worlds if both are landed very well. I think this event gives her a big advantage over Goryunova for making the team, as Goryunova has had plenty of trouble with her Yurchenko double full.
Kristina Goryunova FX 2009
I’ve really been waiting for this gymnast to come around over the last year, and I must admit she’s been a bit more inconsistent than I anticipated. This routine from the American Cup was one of the best I’ve seen her do, though. Nice double layout…she’ll need to upgrade that 2 ½ punch front but pretty clean solid overall. She is a strong all-arounder, as you can see here:
Kristina Goryunova BB 2009
Kristina Goryunova UB 2009
Very strong routines! How about that Weiler kip pirouette immediate toe-on Tcatchev! I actually see her as more of an all-arounder than a specialist, since none of her routines are really medal-worthy (and barely finals-worthy at worlds). Her best shot for their world team may be as an all-arounder, and only if either Semenova or Afanasyeva is injured. I think Myzdrikova and Kurbatova probably have better chances as specialists, and thus may be better options for the world team.
I think at this point my prediction for the Russian world team would have to be:
Ksenia Semenova (AA)
Ksenia Afanasyeva (AA)
Ekaterina Kurbatova (V, UB)
Anna Myzdrikova (FX)
Alternate: Kristina Goryunova
Not having a third beam worker shouldn’t be a big deal because Semenova and Afanasyeva are their best two beam workers anyway, and can both make the finals. It’s an exciting time for the Russian team. We’re seeing lots of cool stuff, and for the first time in years, we’re starting to see a well-rounded program from this team…some of the top all-arounders in the world, some exciting specialists, and a host of incredible junior gymnasts. I think we’re going to see a different Russian team this quadrennium!