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French International Qualification Videos!

The finals at the French International is underway today, but I wanted to go ahead and post some videos and comments on some of the awesome routines from the qualification round.  I’ll have more over the next couple of days as the finals conclude (hopefully will get some men’s videos up as well).

Beth Tweddle Bars 2010 French International Qualification

Awesome routine as always, and this routine put her in first place in the qualification ahead of Olympic and world champion He Kexin.  Not to be overly critical, but does she REALLY need the bars to be that loose/bouncy?  I guess it obviously works for her, but I do feel that her cast handstands in particular STILL have a very loose look, made even worse by how much she straddles on them.  I never feel like Beth truly locks out a good cast handstand, which takes away from the overall look of the routine.  Could having the bars so loose have something to do with this?  I do think her Khorkina II has improved…not nearly as good as Nabieva’s or Mustafina’s but much better form than she used to have on it.

Beth Tweddle Floor 2010 French International Qualification

Good idea adding a split leap out of the first pass…this has already become a growing trend and I’m sure it will continue to be.  She’s usually rock solid on that 2 ½ to front full dismount, so that was a bit unusual but I bet she’ll clean that up for the finals.  This routine has really worked so incredibly well for her…she’ll certainly be the one to beat in the finals.

He Kexin Bars 2010 French International Qualification

In my opinion she is unquestionably still the best in the world on this event, and in fact I believe she is the greatest bar worker of all time.  The amazing thing is she will STILL draw criticism from many around the world, who often try to find the most miniscule imperfection they possibly can about He Kexin.  The truth is I wouldn’t be convinced the girl was truly human if I didn’t see at least a slight imperfection once in a while.  Obviously a couple of small body position errors on a couple of handstands and the short dismount, but I bet she corrects them in the finals.  I really would like to see her show a different dismount…perhaps a double layout would be better than the full out she has always done.  The release combinations are still OUT OF THIS WORLD, and I’m afraid anyone who says otherwise has some ulterior agenda.

Aliya Mustafina Bars 2010 French International Qualification

The bar routines of Mustafina and fellow first-year senior Tatiana Nabieva are two of the coolest things to hit gymnastics in the past year.  Both of them do Khorkina II’s that are downright magical, and their routines are just so intriguing to watch.  I love the fact that she’s connecting the stalder half immediately out of the Pak salto…a combination we rarely see anymore.  Everyone and her grandmother does a Pak salto now, but no one really does anything cool with it anymore.  Kip cast pirouettes (usually with deductions) are the norm out of a Pak, but this is a much smarter and more impressive route…I hope others will follow suit.  I do think her Tcatchev has gotten a bit lower for some reason, but at least she is still doing the Pak out of it.  Maybe we’ll see her cool 1 ½ twisting double tuck dismount in the finals?

Jessica Lopez Bars 2010 French International Qualification

The confidence and competitive momentum she showed at the American Cup continues.  Only a 13.95 for this routine…huh?  How awesome to see a gymnast from a completely obscure country (Venezuela) showing some of the cleanest and most consistent gymnastics in the world.  I love her coach’s reaction in the background as she is heading into the dismount.  I truly hope this continues for Jessica Lopez…our sport needs more gymnasts like her on the women’s side.

Youna Dufournet Bars 2010 French International Qualification

I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with her gymnastics since the world championships in London.  She has to be one of the most up-and-down, unpredictable gymnasts I’ve ever seen…one meet she’ll be landing on her head and falling multiple times and the next she’ll look like something just short of a world champion.  I really think she may be setting some world records in terms of LENGTH of a bar routine.  She never seems to do the same one twice, but one thing you can count on is that it will be a marathon!  She has done one even longer than this when she also includes a Yaeger in the routine.  I LOVE her Def and wish she would compete it every time, but even the combinations she shows here are awesome.  Great swing in the routine, great transitions, great handstands, and great form.  I don’t particularly like the somewhat random stalder blind to front giant pirouette at the end, but she is undoubtedly one of the best in the world on this event now.  Here’s an equally solid routine she did in podium training:

Youna Dufournet Bars 2010 French International Podium Training

Youna Dufournet Beam 2010 French International Qualification

Huge shame on the dismount!  Often criticized for her lack of flexibility and Onodi that usually stops completely midway through, there’s no denying Youna’s skill level here.  Her routine at worlds was solid and spectacular, and this one was very impressive as well.  The Onodi actually did keep moving a little better here.

Youna Dufournet Vault 1 2010 French International Qualification

Youna Dufournet Vault 2 2010 French International Qualification

She surprised many (including me) with a vault medal at the 2009 worlds, and she still looks to be on of the best in the world here.  Her Yurchenko 1 ½ is definitely improving (should be a double soon), and he laid out Podkopayeva is awesome.  She’s good evidence that simply standing up two solid vaults puts you in world medal contention on this event nowadays.

Wu Liufang Bars 2010 French International Qualification

Known more for being one of the few Chinese gymnasts to ever do a Shaposhnikova (a skill used and abused by most Americans), Wang has been gaining some valuable experience in the past year.  I’m not convinced she’s going to be a major player for the Chinese team just yet, as I much prefer Huang Quishuang and even Deng Linlin and Sui Lu.  But she’s definitely improved her full turns to handstand and is obviously being invested in by the Chinese team, so we’ll see.

Stay tuned for more videos and commentary to come!