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The USA women have become unstoppable on vault.  Three consecutive world champions and now Amanars coming out of the woodwork.  I’m stunned at how they have mastered this vault, and just how far ahead they are over the rest of the entire world on this event.

 

Diana Chelaru’s bars were atrocious.  Not even a decent free hip!

 

I love watching Larisa Lordache.  I think she accomplished her mission in New York, which was to establish herself as an Olympic all-around threat.  She is four events deep and probably an Amanar away from being a gold medal contender, but as for now we’ll have to consider her in the running for an all-around bronze.  I love her free swing and flight on bars, her confidence and style on beam, and her exquisite dance ability on floor.  Is she really a Romanian?

 

The Romanian coaches tend to put their hands in WAY too much on the girls’ bar routines.  It’s distracting, it gives the impression they aren’t ready to be competing the skills, and it occasionally leads to huge deductions.

 

Scoring seemed a bit strange overall…but it might have just been because the execution was so much more lenient than we’re used to seeing.  It may be that this judging was actually more reasonable than we see at most major competitions, so much so that it felt awkward.  I love seeing the 9.6’s on vault for Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman, because they were well-deserved.  There’s no way Wieber would have received an 8.966 E-score on beam at worlds for that, but if you watch it again, it seemed worse than it actually was because she just missed so many connections.  The deductions themselves weren’t all that severe.  I wouldn’t mind seeing execution scoring move in this direction because most of the time, there is nearly a point in deductions that are unaccounted for.

 

On a different scoring note, why did Larissa Lordache score so low on bars?  It certainly wasn’t perfect, but it was quite clean, and certainly should have outscored Raisman’s E-score, and probably Wieber’s as well.  Lordache received an 8.033 E-score, compared to Raisman’s 8.433 and Wieber’s 8.533.  I’m convinced the judges must not see some of Aly’s form breaks from the side.  Did Lordache’s coach touch her on that piked Yaeger?

 

I love Jordyn Wieber’s attitude and tenacity.  She has shown us time and time again her champion-like character…a truly rare ability to fight through mistakes, rebound from them, and perform the next event as if nothing happened.  I hope Viktoria Komova is taking notes.

 

I agree with Jordyn’s coach John Geddert when he said her fight on bars was one of the best he had ever seen.  When you watch her arched handstand in slow motion, it appears physically impossible to be salvaged.  Unbelievable tenacity and composure…not to mention core strength.

 

I don’t like Jordyn’s 2 ½ to leap on floor.  She had one of the best 2 ½ front layouts in the world, although as she started growing taller she started having trouble keeping it in bounds.  This current pass just seems way too elementary for a gymnast of her caliber.  I think changing that to a full-in would be much more appropriate.

 

Aly Raisman, it’s the Olympic year…GET YOUR FEET TOGETHER!  I prescribe for you the following, TEN TIMES DAILY: Shaposhnikova to overshoot handstand with a thin piece of paper held tightly between your feet.  If the paper flies out, it doesn’t count.  It’s not because we don’t like your bars…it’s because if you finally fix this you might end up on the Olympic all-around podium.

 

Mihai Brestyan, I don’t understand why you have Aly do so many skills in her beam routine that broadcast her biggest weakness in gymnastics…flexibility.  Should a gymnast who can’t reach 180 degrees on a split leap really be doing a very difficult tour jete- half…let alone FIVE different split jumps in her routine?  I would focus on skills that use her strengths rather than on ones that highlight this very noticeable deficit.  The acrobatic skills and dismount are awesome.

 

On a more positive note, Aly’s still right on track to make the Olympic team.  Her floor has become simply brilliant, and for this event alone she is incredibly valuable for Team USA.  That first pass of 1 ½ through to double Arabian punch front layout has to be one of the coolest and hardest passes ever done.  Her vault has now stamped her as “usable” by the USA in the Olympic team finals on this event, and now officially elevates her status to a legitimate Olympic all-around threat.  And her beam, though slightly off at this meet, is still one of the most solid and reliable in the USA.  If she stays healthy, I feel confident she’ll be in London.

 

Poor Rebecca Tunney’s beam was downright painful to watch.  That was one of the biggest meltdowns I’ve seen in a long time.

 

Gabby Douglas was, of course, the shock of the meet.  Watching videos of her in podium training, I was absolutely stunned.  Her line on bars has somehow become even straighter, and her newly revamped routine is even more spectacular.  Her vault, which she left to our imaginations at last year’s nationals and worlds, has surpassed all of our expectations.  Her beam carries the same big skills, but with much more confidence now.  The way she now shakes off little adjustments and pays attention to the in-between choreography suddenly gives the impression she’s done this before.  Not only did her Olympic stock just skyrocket, but she might have just changed the overall landscape of this Olympic team.

 

Gabby Douglas did show better control on her tumbling than we saw from her last year, but it still appears she’s going to fly out of the arena at times.  I think she could add a couple of bigger skills that could utilize this power more…I bet she could throw a double-double and/or a huge double layout, and could dismount with a full-in.  I also think some different music is in order for the Olympic year…that piece doesn’t quite seem to capture her new Olympic medal-worthy caliber.  I did, however, love seeing her smile out there in the midst of the routine – made her look like the star she was in this meet.

 

With five American Olympic contenders now capable of competing world class Amanars – McKayla Maroney, Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Kyla Ross – what will this do to the chances of gymnasts we consider “vault specialists,” like Maroney and Alicia Sacramone?  With just five spots available, obviously this changes things quite a bit.  I’ll have another blog on this, but as for now, suffice it to say that this Olympic battle just got even fiercer.  What’s really exciting is how many incredible all-arounders the Americans have right now, all of whom have plenty of individual big scores to be used in team finals.  This Olympic selection might turn out to be more of an all-around battle rather than a complex specialist-driven puzzle.  Isn’t that how it should be?

 

 

More to come on the Men’s American Cup, as well as an updated London Stockwatch.