Anyone who likes gymnastics enough to find us will probably be aware that the US are the runaway favourites, even after injuries to three key players. It’s a pre-Olympic year, so that only means one thing : I predict they’ll continue the ’03 and ’07 pattern of cutting it much finer than they should, but getting there in the end.
China and Russia both have the potential to beat Romania, but they won’t. Recent history suggests that Romania will count no falls, but we can’t say the same of Russia and China. If Mother Russia were to have a good day, they’re challengers for silver even minus Paseka. But it’s hard to imagine that they’ll out-consistent the Romanians, who last counted a fall in TF’s in 2007.
Romania has suffered a late setback with the loss of Izbasa, but I think they’ll still be on the podium. She would’ve done vault and floor. Being without her will probably lose them about 0.2 on vault, and perhaps 0.8 at most on floor; she was loads better than the rest of the world on floor, but it’s the event where it’s most difficult to separate yourself from the rest. So paradoxically, losing your top floor worker doesn’t matter as much.
As this is an Olympic qualifier, arguably the next tier down will provide just as much entertainment. It did in 2007. The selection process has been jiggled with, and is now eye-wateringly random, but I can just about comprehend that the 1st-8th ranked teams in Tokyo will qualify to London as of right. Then 9th-16th will go to the test event, where 4 more spots are available.
Realistic contenders for the 5th-8th spots are: Japan, GB, Australia, Germany, France, Canada, Brazil, Spain, Ukraine and Holland. It could be very close. I’ll go with:
Ukraine will fall all over the place. Sorry Bronners, but you know I’m right. The memory of 2010 Euros lives with me yet.
As Clara pointed out, the US are the clear favorites, but like most, I don’t trust this team.
Vega & Douglas will do bars in team finals, and that scares me. I didn’t think either of them would even be on the team, let alone contributing scores in team finals. But the vault trio of Sacramone/Maroney/Wieber should balance out any bars hiccups. The US’s vault tally should be the highest event score of the day. There’s been some concern over whether Sacramone or Maroney should be the third floor worker. We always dwell on the fact that Sacramone is incapable of sticking a landing, but Maroney’s haven’t looked much better – and I have a sneaking suspicion that the international judges are going to clobber her for that wretched third pass. So I’m banking on Sacramone.
The US should be as good as gold. This is there’s to lose. As I told a poster on WWGym, they should be fine granted Douglas doesn’t pull a Kramarenko and run into a piece of equipment.
China has a little bit of everything – the veterans (JYY, Sui Lu, HKX), a fabulous 2-eventer (Wu Liufang), and their 2 new senior stars, Yao Jinnan and Tan Sixin. I suspect their trickiest event will be vault (Tan’s DTY scares me), but it shouldn’t be a big enough detriment to keep them off the podium. This team is better than last year. So good that Huang Quishuang is the alternate. Good enough for silver, imo.
Russia lost Paseka’s Amanar, but (re) gained Komova’s. I had a feeling she’d chuck one sooner or later, and she did in podium training. It’s not as good as it was last year considering her injury, but it’s better than Nabieva’s. Which isn’t saying much. Nabz should just stick with a clean (well, clean for her) DTY this time around.
If (and it’s a big if) they can stay relatively consistent, I can see them on the podium. They’re relying heavily on big scores from Komova (mid 15’s on vault & bars), but the rest of the team will have to be on point as well.
Afanasyeva was better than both Komova & Dementyeva in podium training – she looks like a LEADER. She is a leader. Let’s hope she brings her A-game. No headcasing, please.
Russia’s scariest event will be beam. Afanasyeva hit in podium training. Dementyeva & Komova, who both have higher scoring potential did not. This past week, Komova has had trouble on her a) 2-layout flight series, b) L-turn, c) double turn, and d) her side somi. Did I forget anything? I’ll have to wear my skid proof undies just to make it through her beam routine.
Podium training is never necessarily a clear indication of how our beloved Mutha Russia will perform in the big show. So I’m not too terribly worried.
I’m not quite as high on the Romania crack as Clara. My favorite thing about this team besides Ponor’s comeback is the inclusion of Bulimar. She’s going to WOW on floor, and even submitting a new skill; a nifty switch side 1/1 turn. You can see it here. A bit short, but we’ll forgive her because a) she’s cute, and b) we’re shallow.
Porgras & Ponor will have to post monster beam scores (they will) to make up for what should be a predictably lackluster bars rotation. Porgras & Racea will do their twin (cheaply-almost-identical) sets for 14.5′s, and their lead-off gal (Haidu or Bulimar) will set them up with something that might crack a 14. Nothing exciting, nor nothing Octavian would slap you for.
I’ll have higher medal prospects for this team when Iordache is in the mix.
My ambitious thinking is that Livchikova will carry Ukraine’s weight on her itty bitty shoulders, and they’ll qualify an entire team without having to attend the test event. Since Clara is triflin’ and downplaying Lilia’s little protégé’s, I’ll drop her hometeam GBR down to 9th. Oops.
Livchikova is vaulting a DTY again btw. It’s not wonderful, but it’ll help. She’s a diamond in a deep deep Ukrainian rough.
More to come…
B & C.