Pavlova’s Prospects

Stoi favourite Anna Pavlova has had an interesting last few months of 2010.  After a Beijing that was equal parts tragic, comic and genius, she suffered a serious injury at the end of 08, ankle I think it was. Many of us assumed that would be the end of her career, and consoled ourselves with the thought that we’d always have this.

But then, she reappeared in 2010, in a comeback sufficiently legitimate for her to be named to the final 8 in worlds team selection. I for one had not seen that coming.

The non-Russian gymternet were in the dark about how she was looking in around August-September, because videos from the Russian Cup were kept somewhat under wraps, and Russian domestic scoring is not always decipherable. In Russian Cup prelims, Anna was top on beam and third on vault. Interesting result that got the gymternet buzzing, especially bearing in mind Russian weakness on beam.

The other results however were confusing: she was 3rd on vault again in AA but only joint 3rd on beam, and in the beam final she finished only 6th. So this was all inconclusive, especially without being able to see what she actually did. And although videos have slowly seeped out post worlds, presumably once the secrecy had done its work, I don’t think there’ve been any of her so far.

What did seep out though, were pictures of Anna with a heavily strapped knee. A few gymternet posters with Russian connections suggested that she was probably done at this point and was continuing to compete and be named to the worlds squad simply for funding reasons.  So although she’d posted scores suggesting she would be helpful on her 2 events, leaving Anna out of the worlds team was not really a controversial decision.

Sadly I concurred, and with a heavy heart thought that her final big performance would be yet again coming on the wrong end of a 50/50 decision, this time in the Olympic beam final.

But but but… then Voronin came.  I wasn’t as convinced by the beam set Bronwyn posted earlier, but here Anna is in EFs, and she looks fucking good doesn’t she? Second highest beam scorer in the AA, not sure about the EF.

Embedding is disabled, but you can watch it here.

So the big question is, has she got any chance of making it back to a major team?

On the one hand, Russia did well enough without her this year, and there are a glut of talented new seniors for 2011 and 2012. They’re a world and European champion team, they’ve got Komova on the way and they’re going to have to drop someone because of the 5 person team size in 2012. Plus, that knee is still strapped.

On the other hand, Russia used a not particularly world beating one eventer on each of Anna’s events in worlds TFs this year. Kurbatova on vault:

And Semenova on beam:

Don’t get me wrong, they both did their jobs fine, and these were key routines. Kurbatova had to get the team off to a solid start, and Semenova to right the ship after bars. Both of these athletes have won individual European titles on their events, so I’m not saying they’re crap. They just looked like they were winding down. They’re ripe for replacing. I suspect both will be out next year.

It’s telling that Kurbatova was bounced from the vault final despite being reigning European champion. It’s also telling that Anna’s Voronin beam sets are arguably better than Semenova’s from worlds.

Assuming Kurbatova and Semenova go the way I think they’re going, there’ll be two spare spots up for grabs. Obviously Komova is going to take one of their spare spots. But there’s still another one left. And Afanasyeva is only a one eventer after all (sorry Bronners).  There might be three available. I don’t know that Russia have three new seniors that are a shoo in for worlds.

So, let’s throw it open to the floor. Is there any chance of seeing Pavlova on a major team again?

Posted by Clara


15 responses to “Pavlova’s Prospects

  • Stoi!

    Loving the last two insights. I hadn’t factored in most of the gymnasts that Anna mentioned. Except Solovyeva. But although I really like her, it seems that she’s just too useless on any other event, and she’s very untested. On the other hand, beam is Russia’s weakest event. So if there’s going to be a one eventer anywhere, I guess it would be there.

  • Anna

    I think whether Pavlova has a shot will depend on how the other 1995 girls develop/ compete over the course of the year. If Russia are going to take a beam specialist then (if she is healthy/ still around- she seems to have disappeared the latter half of the year), I would say Solovyeva is better than Pavs at this point. She’s a headcase on other events but seems to be pretty consistent on beam and is world champion material imo. Belokobylskaya has also scored well on beam (IIRC beating Mustafina fairly recently?). In prelims if necessary she could also contribute on floor (I think she medalled here at Vorinin Cup) and bars (where she would have 2 skills named after her if she did a similar routine to voronin cup- piked stalder shaposhnikova and piked stalder tkatchev). Paseka is rumoured to have an Amanar in which case she’d score higher than Pavs on vault and is also decent on floor. If Malikova gets healthy then I think she could be a dark horse as she had a DTY on vault, a pretty good beam and a prelims worthy floor.

    • Einseika

      I think the issue with Solovyova is that she really is purely a one eventer. Even when she hits, she’s just not very good on vault, bars or floor, which is a bit too much of a liability.

      Belokobylskaya has potential – I think she could actually be a pretty decent beam/floor specialist but she seems quite inconsistent, although her results have definitely been improving. Despite being able to do apparently anything out of an inside stalder, I’m not too optimisitc about her on bars though – I can’t recall her ever scoring particularly well there. (The inside stalder Tkatchev is already in the code as an E element by the way – Paola Galante got it named after her at Worlds in 09).

      Regarding Malikova, she also has a 6.1 D score on bars when she hits, although that isn’t very often. I don’t know about her though. She’s been out injured for a while, her DTY is not very good (Pavlova’s is definitely a lot better), and she’s always been wobbly on beam. She seems fairly consistent on floor and has some really well controlled turns, but that’s not really enough.

      I think Paseka would be an option if she got an Amanar, otherwise, I think her issues on bars (consistent with a decent high 5s D score but bad execution) and beam (falls a lot and has a low D score) outweigh her benefits at the moment.

      I never would have predicted at the beginning of 2010 that Dementyeva would end up doing three events in the TF for Russia at Worlds, so I am still kind of expecting one of these gymnasts to end up surprisingly playing an important role in Tokyo on that basis.

  • Clara

    I’ve lost the login link and can’t manage to get in any other way, so you’ll just have to approve me again Bronwyn!

    Thanks to the first three respondents for clarification on the injury.

    Betweentheolympics, Pavlova’s beam hit record is, like her TF record, actually very good. Beijing TFs is an exception. Admittedly a great big one. I’m not sure she’s any more inconsistent than any of the current (ie not 2011 or 2012) seniors except Mustafina. If my life were depending on the outcome, I’d use her on beam rather than Dementieva, certainly, and actually even Mustafina’s beam is quite risky given the issues with her acro series. Admittedly Dementieva brings more to the team than just beam, whereas Pavlova doesn’t really, which I think is significant.

    Additionally, Nabieva’s Amanar is playing with fire. She has failed to fully rotate it most of the times she’s competed it. Vault judging at worlds was a giveaway, but there’s no guarantee that will continue. I have my doubts as to whether judges at Euros, who have usually been stricter than worlds in recent years, would have credited her short Amanar in prelims so readily, for example. In a way I am kind of hoping for a wake up call for her at Euros so that this issue is taken seriously.

    Nn, Nabieva’s vault execution is a mess, but she does well relative to a lot of other gymnasts because she doesn’t take as many dynamics deductions as most, and nor is she generally off centre. There’s more scope to deduct for dynamics than for bent legs. Her scores at worlds were too high of course, but that was in the context of a general scoring giveaway, when she certainly wasn’t the only one to get a gift. So although I imagine her execution scores will be lower in the future, she may still be very competitive relative to the rest of the field. Imho her D score is the bigger risk.

    Bronners, obviously Afanasyeva is training all the events, but at the moment it’s hard to see how she’ll be needed on anything other than floor in TFs. If if if she were less of a headcase I’d absolutely say she was in the running for beam too. Prelims qualification is not an issue for Russia. They were 17 points ahead of the 9th placed team at worlds. That means they could use you and I for a couple of routines and probably still qualify. Actually, they should do that anyway.

  • Stoi!

    I don’t agree with Clara that Afanasyeva is only a 1-eventer. At least not for prelims. I retain that she still trains all 4 events, because this team (even with Komova) isn’t all THAT deep.

    Ksenia would be the lead off gal in prelims on vt, ub, bb, and hopefully her scores would be dropped. But it’s not as if Nabieva or Dementyeva are all that reliable. Still, I’d only have Ksenia on floor in team finals.

    It’s way too early to predict anything, but I think Pavlova has a shot at Tokyo. And not for the normal nostalgic reasons. Or maybe it’s because I like a clean DTY better than a FUG Amanar, I dunno.

    For prelims, I’d go with…

    ( ) sits out:

    VT : (Dementyeva), Afanasyeva, Pavlova, Nabieva, Komova, Mustafina
    UB : (Pavlova), Afanasyeva, Dementyeva, Nabieva, Mustafina, Komova
    BB : (Nabieva), Afanasyeva, Mustafina, Dementyeva, Pavlova, Komova
    FX : (Nabieva/Pavlova), Nabieva/Pavlova, Dementyeva, Afanasyeva, Komova, Mustafina


    • einseika

      Pavlova’s main issues are her D scores and the fact that she’s not really even prelims worthy on two events (although it’s possible that floor will improve over the year I think). I really don’t think it’s particularly useful to take a gymnast just for prelims when they can only really contribute on half the events.

      Also, if you are a specialist, I think you really need to be a definite top three on one of your events to really have a chance. If Pavlova can be really stable on beam for the whole year I think she’ll be considered, but it’s a tough one.

      I’m not sure even the leadership factor works much in her favour either – she’s got the experience but she’s never really come across as much of a leader to me, and the kind of unofficial duumvirate of Mustafina/Afanasyeva seems to work quite well at the moment.

      • Stoi!

        “I really don’t think it’s particularly useful to take a gymnast just for prelims when they can only really contribute on half the events.”

        Yes, but who else would they take? If she can get a 1/2 decent floor routine, they have to take Pavlova before Kurbatova or Semenova. Right?

        And I agree with you about the “team leader” part. I never thought of Pavlova as a “leader” in any sense.

        Mustafina seems to be good at playing Mother Hen; being a leader has nothing to do with age.

      • einseika

        “Mustafina seems to be good at playing Mother Hen; being a leader has nothing to do with age.”

        Indeed. I was at Birmingham Euros and, even though Semenova was technically the team captain, Mustafina was obviously the leader despite it being her first big senior competition. She was always right there talking the others through their warmups and routines and making sure they had the right vault number flashed up etc. etc.

        For next year, I would put Pavlova ahead of Semenova, whose body seems to be totally giving up on her, and Kurbatova, but I guess I’m still expecting another one of the new seniors to make some progress and have some useful routines by October, whereas I’m not expecting Pavlova to make too many upgrades at this stage.

  • Rick McCharles

    A long shot.

    They’ll want a mix of youth and experience. But by then Mustafina will be experience.

    … I’d suggest they send her to prestige invitationals where the international fans can celebrate her.

  • nn

    WTF, I did not realize that Nabieva’s lowest vault ex was a 8.9…who’s shelling out the rubles?

    • betweentheolympics

      Nabieva’s vault execution scores on her Amanars (and the downgraded one) were all between 8.9 and 8.966. Actually, her yurchenko 1/2 ons scored less. Those were 8.766 and 8.866.
      I would much rather watch Pavlova’s vault than Nabieva’s, but if Nabieva is wrongly scoring about half a tenth higher, they aren’t going to use Pavlova. I’m still mad that Nabieva’s DTY scored higher than Pavlova’s at the Voronin Cup. Pavlova stuck hers, if I remember correctly. Maybe if the judges are harsh (AKA fair) with Nabieva during prelims, they would use Pavlova, but if the scoring is similar to Rotterdam, that probably won’t happen. I hope it does.

  • betweentheolympics

    Despite there being two open spots in the lineup, I’m kind of doubting that she can. She certainly could have this year. Komova fills one spot obviously, and also fills a team finals spot on vault and beam (bars and floor too, probably Dementyeva’s). I’m not sure Pavlova is top 3 anywhere. Dementyeva and Mustafina can score higher on beam if they hit, since Pavlova is still under 6.0 in difficulty and that Yang Bo is full of deductions. Mustafina done very well on beam in pressure situations; Dementyeva hasn’t, but neither has Pavlova. Her vault looks the best out of the Russians, but she would have to score .7 higher in execution to beat Nabieva which is very unlikely since Nabieva is scoring high 8s. If Nabieva scored 8.9, her lowest execution score on vault (somehow) at worlds this year, Pavlova would need 9.6 to match the score, which is virtually impossible. Mustafina and Komova’s amanars are better, so she can’t beat them.

    In the end, I think that somebody will not be used in team finals for Russia next year. I think it will come down to if the coaches want to bring a youngster for experience or Pavlova as a leader.

  • KP

    I thought the big post-Beijing injury was a torn ACL. That would explain the strapped knee. I know when I tore mine, I had my knee taped as a preventative measure for 6 months afterwards (not gymnastics, though; different sport). Likely they’re just being cautious?

  • nn

    she completely torn her ACL

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