LOCKS: Aliya Mustafina, Anastasia Grishina, Viktoria Komova
OTHER CONTENDERS: Anastasia Sidorova, Maria Paseka, Anna Dementyeva
Strengths: Bars, difficulty, hairspray
Weaknesses: Inconsistency. Possibly floor, specifically the 3rd routine
Last week, Alexandrov announced what we all knew already: Mustafina, Komova and Grishina have been selected for the team. The other two spots are still open. Afanasyeva has tonsilitis, which was initially mistranslated as angina and almost gave me my own heart problem. Anyway, she won’t be going.
The other three spots are between Paseka, Dementyeva and Sidorova. Other bubble athletes such as Inshina and Belokobylskaya apparently aren’t in the running. Nabieva remains secluded in St Petersburg, there to either get her shit together or fester in seclusion whilst sufficiently far away to avoid contaminating the others.
Stoi! has previously advocated for a relatively experimental team, and there’s still room for that to happen.
One imagines that Grishina will be doing all four events. Last week in the tri-meet against Switzerland, she picked beam to headcase.
This was supplemented by the best vault we’ve ever seen her do, a watered down but hit bars set as per Stoi’s advice, and a couple of OOBs on floor. She is so annoying. We’re trying to decide whether it would be inappropriate or not to have a poll on which event she’ll balls up in Brussels. I think floor.
Grishina is more than capable of medalling on every event, indeed of winning several. We’re particularly interested to see how she does on vault. At the test event EF, she showed an Omelianchik with less lift than an octagenarian’s bollocks, but since then has been on an improvement curve to rival Cheng Fei in 2005. Except not cheating, obviously. At the moment, she is rocking a rather nice DTY and a Pod. Perhaps the Amanar isn’t such a silly proposition after all. Those vaults aren’t likely to be enough to win, but a minor medal is possible.
Komova has done only beam and bars recently, and has excelled. With Tweddle out, she’s the narrow favourite for the bars title over her teammates. We’ve seen no indication that either floor or vault will be ready. Even if they are, we don’t think it’s wise, necessary or a good use of opportunities for her to do either. She can stay as a specialist, and is perfectly capable of winning both her events. A fall in beam finals would be entirely predictable, but she should be shot at dawn if she doesn’t bring home the bacon on bars.
Mustafina also did AA last week, for better or for worse. She did an excellent DTY and is probably the team’s best scorer on vault at the moment. Nonetheless, if Sidorova and Paseka both make the team, we’d like her to sit that round out. Those two and Grishina need the experience, Aliya doesn’t.
Her bars and beam were also fine. Floor was pretty much a mess:
Odds are though, they’ll end up using her. Brownyn thinks she’s working on a routine with a double arabian, double tuck and just two twisting passes. She has a couple of E rated dance elements ready to throw in, so that should help. However, Russia are likely to lose a lot of ground to Romania on this event, even in a best case scenario and with Romania possibly being minus Izbasa.
And now we come to the three remaining candidates. Paseka and Sidorova are primarily in the running for vault. Paseka is a genuine one eventer, Sidorova less so. We assume that anyone who’s familiar enough with the sport to find our blog knows who Dementyeva is.
Alexandrov told us some weeks ago that the ideal team for London would be Grishina, Komova, Mustafina, Afansyeva and someone with an Amanar. Both Paseka and Sidorova are reputed to train them, although there’s no indication that either will have one for Euros. We’re unsure about sending Paseka just to do a DTY. If she does make London, it’ll be to do a more difficult vault. In those circumstances, it’s questionable how useful the experience of having competed the double, a vault she’s been doing for years, would be.
Dementyeva offers nothing, vault wise. Stoi! has previously considered the possibility of her being given the chance to do her DTY at Euros. But last weekend she did only an FTY, and limped throughout Her other events and scores were standard for her: 14.3 on bars, 15 on beam, 13.6 on floor. Her bars are irrelevant now, beam was fine, and floor shit but the second best on the team. As such, she would do BB/FX only, maximum.
If we don’t want Paseka to go, it has to be Demy, but actually we’re torn either way on this one, too. She could do with the numbers on beam and indeed floor- it isn’t out of the question that she do both in London TFs, depending on how things turn out. But limping is bad. And she isn’t the only one who’d benefit from a beam outing, either. It’s possible that if she were in Brussels, she’d do floor only. Seems a bit counter-productive when they have a genuine floor specialist, Belokobylskaya, sitting at home.
Sidorova is the most interesting of the three bubble athletes, and also the one who’s least predictable in terms of what she’ll be doing and offering by London. For this reason, we reckon she’s going.
Now, admittedly Alexandrov has implied that the 5th athlete for London will be there for vault only. But we think beam is much more interesting at the moment.
This is not to say that Sidorova can’t vault. Her DTY is fine, and she too is working on an Amanar. But like Paseka, we assume she can throw them in her sleep. And unlike Paseka, she isn’t coming off serious injury. No, what interests us is beam.
15.05 last weekend, and from a 6.3 D score. While Russia have four athletes who can outscore that, none of them is too reliable. Sidorova’s work isn’t as pretty as any of theirs, but a bankable 15 on Russia’s weakest and most inconsistent event is nothing to sniff at. So we want her on the team, and predict that it will happen.
Lastly, let us take a moment to remember St Anna Pavlova, who would fill the gap in this team to perfection.
Likely outcome: team gold if they keep it to no more than 2 falls. 4+ individual medals, depending on whether Grishina feels like facing the day or not.