I haven’t seen all the videos from the competition, but I’ve seen quite a few. Here are some of my random observations based on videos and results from Day 1 in Berlin:
Mustafina’s floor was incredible – essentially stuck every single pass (just a tiny hop on the double Arabian). She didn’t throw the 3 ½ twist or the quadruple turn that she was training, but perhaps we’ll seem them in the finals?
Mustafina’s bars has truly become one of the coolest routines to watch of all time. Unbelievable how consistent she is with those extremely intricate connections. She won’t need to change much here at all to remain a contender for the Olympic all-around gold. I don’t particularly like her beam dismount though – I’d prefer to see a nice double tuck in place of that triple full, which is marred by the crossed legs, short twist, and awkward landing. I bet she’d do a nice double Arabian off beam too.
Dementyeva has become a mainstay for the Russian team – at least temporarily – and is definitely developing her competitive confidence. She is far from a shoo-in for the Russian team in London, but as for worlds this year, she’s a strong bet. She’s got plenty of areas to improve for next year, including more power in her tumbling and vaulting and more difficulty on bars, but as for now, it’s a delight to watch her grow into an international star.
Nabieva’s bars is looking better controlled. Like Mustafina, she’s got one of the coolest bar routines ever, and this one in Berline was one of the best she’s ever done. She’s taken out some in-bar skills she used to do, which could give her a little higher start value. Awesome stuff though.
Izbasa is looking better and better with each international competition…in Berlin she’s not only leading the floor standings but also tying for first in the vault standings!? Who would have guessed that? Her laid out Podkopayeva was absolutely fabulous! What’s interesting is she would have only needed just over a 13 on bars to be in the top 3 in the all-around, and close to a 14 on bars would have placed her 2nd all-around. If she decides to put a bar routine together she could be a legitimate all-around contender again. Her change in her second pass on floor has been quite a fruitful one, as she no longer goes out of bounds and actually still gets a tenth bonus for doing the leap immediately out of the triple full…very smart.
Although Romania as a whole had some struggles here (with Porgras being reportedly a bit under the weather), but overall I still think they are making tremendous strides as a team. With Izbasa now looking terrific, Porgras obviously just having an off-day but still one of the world’s best, Chelaru and Racea getting stronger and cleaner, and Catalina Ponor making an intriguing comeback, things could be looking quite good for Romania later this year and next year.
It’s great to see another contender from Italy rising up the ranks. Carlotta Ferlito isn’t quite ready to be an all-around contender, but placing third on beam in prelims behind the two Russian stars was absolutely huge. Great blend of difficulty, originality, and style.
Vanessa Ferrari can get in and out of shape very quickly. Although she stumbled out of her double pike on floor, she looked markedly more fit than she did just a couple of weeks ago.
Great to see Chusovitina still made the vault finals even after having some trouble on both vaults. I expect she’ll come up with better landings in the final and could still very well end up on the podium.
Beth Tweddle’s first arched handstand on bars was an indication of why she normally doesn’t cast all the way to a handstand – she has a loose midsection. She recovered amazingly well though, and the four-skill sequence that followed that mistake was out of this world.
Thoughts on the men’s prelims coming tomorrow!