This award ceremony is long, strong, and down to get the friction on, so without further ado, our favorites of 2010.
Best Team :
Clara : Mother Russia, of course. With an honourable mention for Ukraine.
Bronwyn : Russia, who else. There’s been a lot of argument over “a team shouldn’t win with 3 falls”, and I’m not going to argue. But realisitically, other top teams made mistakes too. And without the d-scores to back them up. Regardless, that was one of the best team finals in AGES.
Davai, davai, davai, STOI!!!!
Best AA’er :
Clara : Mustafina. Dominant at Worlds in prelims as well as the AA, she was also the unofficial European AA champion. Trumps Komova because she did it when the pressure was on and also because her 4 event performances in Euros and worlds TFs were both extremely strong. She’s the most consistent top AA’er since Milosovici, and the best since Khorkina.
Bronwyn : Mustafina was definitely the most consistent AA’er of the year, but I’m going to spice things up a bit and go with Komova at YOG. Her performance in the AA was bloody brilliant. She made the rest of the field (besides Tan Sixin) look rather embarassing by comparison. Reminscent of late 80’s meets where Kim Kelly had to compete at the same competition as Laschenova and Bogi. Mustafina and Komova should pack one powerful kommie punch in 2011.
Best vault :
Clara : So I decided to not be obvious and to choose someone other than Sacramone, since she’ll be Bronwyn’s choice. It was tempting to go for Stoi! Favourite, Tanya Nabieva’s exquisite Amanar attempt in the world EF. A potent combination of short rotation and rancid form, what more could one want? Pavlova would be turning in her grave, if she were dead.
Instead though, I’m going a bit leftfield. Jennifer Khwela in the CWG final. Not the most difficult vaults, but beautifully and easily done. She clearly has enough power to upgrade, but isn’t it refreshing sometimes to see an athlete sticking to what she’s good at?
Bronwyn : Sacramone, and I actually believe that her vaults were BETTER than they used to be, especially the Rudi. My only complaint? When is homegirl going to STICK one of those bad boys? She’s going to need to upgrade at least one vault if she plans on wearing more gold.
Best bars :
Clara : Tweddle, but the routine she did to win Euros rather than worlds. For me, it was better.
Bronwyn : EDIT alert – I love Nabieva’s bars on the very rare occasion that she hits. Since Clara went with Tweddle, I’ll go with Grishina at Jesolo. I love the piked Tkatchev + Pak, the way she works with straight arms, the fluidity and swing, and the stuck dismount.
Best beam :
Clara : Porgras, Worlds beam final. Love her. There were a lot of comments made about whether she actually had more deductions than either Bross or Deng Linlin, but she had something in spades that neither of them had. Style.
Bronwyn : Porgras would be my runner up, and I actually thought her beam routine in AA was better. Again, I’ll go with Komova at YOG. She too has style and poise. And the big tricks.
Add back the big dismount, and we got a potential beam champ!
Best floor :
Clara : I enjoyed Romania in Worlds TFs much more than I’d have expected, but my favourite individual routine would be Mattie Larson at US Nationals.
Bronwyn : Some of it for personal reasons, but also because I love the routine, but Ksenia Afanasyeva during Worlds TF’s. She hit possibly the best floor routine of her life in a clutch situation, and set up Mustafina perfectly.
Best comeback kid :
Clara : Predictable or not, I can’t possibly see beyond Sacramone for this. It was so good to finally see her get hers on vault, even for someone who’s never been that big a fan, simply because she’s been so fucked over on vault in the past. She narrowly lost out on silver in Melbourne in a 50-50, when the winner was actually underage, so she arguably has some moral claim to the 05 title. And the less said about that evidently coked-up A panel in the Beijing vault final, the better.
Bronwyn : Sacramone. She didn’t just come back, but she came back with a vengeance. She looks (physically) in the best shape of her life and plays a pivotal role as team Mutha Hen.
Biggest Judging Fuckup :
Clara : None of the judging on vault in Rotterdam was much good, but the final particularly stands out. Luckily they got the winner right, and in fact Mustafina was lucky to get silver since her Amanar was wrongly credited. But the D-panel were about as bright as the ones from Beijing. The FIG can’t even manage to apply their own rules. They had a memo go out only a few months before saying that vaults like Mustafina and Nabieva’s second ones could only be credited as laid out. Honourable mention for the failure to notice that Kaeslin’s DTY attempt was also short.
Bronwyn : I’ll go with the same judging sitch as Clara mentioned, but rather than blame the judges, I’d like to blame Rodionenko for practically shimmy’ing up the judges table to argue about vaults that were (correctly) (dis)credited. My only gripe is that they gave Mustafina credit for the layout position in quals, but not in finals. They discredited Nabieva’s Amanar in finals, but gave it to her all week when it looked pretty much the same to me? So I guess there’s 2 sides to my story. My debate teacher always told me I should have went to law school.
Clara : Since Becky Downie has apparently undergone a total character change and Afanasyeva astonished us all by hitting her floor when it counted at worlds, it’s got to be Team Ukraine at Euros. I was in the arena, and lost count of the total number of falls, I think possibly 7 in the first 2 rotations, then OOBs on floor. Magnificent. It broke my heart that Bronners wasn’t there to share the moment.
Bronwyn : I could write a book about this topic, really. Mattie Larson would be a good choice, but I’ll go with Afanasyeva. She got 2010 off to a shiteous start by missing the Euro’s team, which raised eyebrows across the gymternet (thanks, Denn), and was relegated to Pac Rim, where she did pretty damn good.
She beat Mustafina & Tsurumi at Japan Cup, and appeared to be getting her shit together. But in typical Afan style, she absolutely bombed her bar routine in quals, and handed her AA spot to Nabieva, forcing us to watch her fugnastics in all-around finals. Though she delivered a brilliant floor routine when it counted, she made a spectacle of herself in finals (when the title should have been hers outright).
She looked absolutely whooped (perhaps too many cocktails with Philip Boy the night before?), and did it all in a FUGLY leotard. But she is drama. And we love drama.
Biggest disappointment :
Clara : Huang Qiushuang. I’ve had a soft spot for this one for a while. She was screwed out of a worlds berth last year, possibly for political reasons given that she too has more than one DOB out there (do a search on GGMB if you don’t believe me, unless certain posts have entirely coincidentally been deleted now). Certainly she was injured, but so was Yang Yilin, who got the 4th spot instead. She finally gets her chance, and she makes an arse of it. Not just in the Worlds AA, but with He Kexin’s fall, she actually had an outside chance of beating Tweddle for the bars title. Rounded up the year by losing the Asian Games AA title to Sui Lu after Jiang Yuyuan had obligingly headcased prelims. Devastating.
Second biggest, Ashish Kumar not getting to go to Worlds? Why?!
Bronwyn : Ukraine. Not that I expected them to do spectacular things, but they really shat all over the place. Demyanchuk makes beam finals at Euro’s, then falls in finals. Makes beam finals at Worlds, falls in finals. Kononenko medals on bars at Euro’s with a FABULOUS routine, misses Worlds with injury. 6th in qualifying at Euro’s, dead last in finals. No all-around finalist in Rotterdam. I know money is tight, but someone really needs to whip them into shape. And who could forget the spectacular perfomance below for an 8.225?
Most surprising result of the year :
Clara : GB team silver at Euros. They were always going to make a good run at bronze but nobody saw silver coming. If you’d told me this time last year that not only would they come second, but they’d be nearer to gold than bronze and would push Myzdrikova into not headcasing beam, I’d have told you to fuck off.
Bronwyn : Marta going out on a limb and sticking Larson on floor in TF’s. Because Larson has the potential to be absolutely brilliant here, I would have done the same. But “risk-taker” isn’t the first term that pops into my head when I think of Marta. Cyclops, maybe. Risk-taker, no.
Most exciting high bar routine :
Clara : I’ll handle this alone since Bronwyn is a MAGtard. Japan in worlds TFs. I got home just in time to see the final rotation. China obviously have some great stuff on the other events, but they look like absolute turds on toast compared to Japan on high bar.
Best meltdown :
Clara : Dragulescu in worlds prelims. Shit warmed up.
Bronwyn : Afanasyeva, again. Bars qualification in Rotterdam. Misses first pirouette, but covers half-assedly. She goes the wrong way on the HB, tries to cover and switch her release moves. Forgets what she’s doing, adds about 200 kips, jumps off. Gets back on, falls again. This routine was a hot fuck of a mess.
Favorite stuck landing :
Clara : Bross’s first pass on floor at worlds AA. Generally her routine disgusts me, but it would be impossible not to respect The Fightback in this instance.
Bronwyn : Mustafina, bars, Worlds TF’s. I’m counting this as a stick, as this dismount is nearly impossible to do so. And way to be phenominal after your headcase teammates potentially gave away the gold.
Karma award :
Clara : He Kexin. Actually, I felt bad for her when she cried, but this is what happens when athletes are peaked two years before they’re legal. Her fake DOB cheated two athletes out of major titles. One of them got one back here (Tweddle was the legitimate winner in Beijing since the two Chinese were underage and Nastia appeared to get away with a short handstand). Many of us had been saying for a long time that the injury and puberty bugs weren’t going to stay away forever, and that it would harder for He Kexin to overcome them than for many others. It’ll be interesting to see if she manages to do what many Chinese athletes before her haven’t, and makes the transition. She is after all a colossal talent.
Bronwyn : Sandra Izbasa. Don’t say that you only care about team results, and not leaving Rotterdam with an individual gold medal goodie bag, and follow it up by making a Barbosa-style spectacle of yourself replete with a horrifyingly blinding dye job. Suck it up, Sandy.
Stoi! readers : What are some of your favorite moments of 2010?
Cheers to a happy/healthy 2011!!!
<3, Bronwyn & Clara