Top 4 teams preview: Bars

Bars appears to be the event with the most settled lineups. We know exactly who’ll go up for Russia, China and the US, barring disasters, as they only have 3 usable bars workers each. Strictly speaking, the Romanians don’t actually have any, but there is some competition for their leadoff spot anyway.


As with vault, there’s a clear forerunner here. This time it’s Mother Russia.

Their lineup of Mustafina, Komova and Grishina is excellent & has been pretty much written in stone since Komova & Grishina were juniors;  all three of them are potential EF winners. Mustafina and Komova are more consistent than Grishina, who’s been very hit and miss with her upgraded routine. The Shap-half transition has not been kind to her.

However, even she has the option of sticking to a “safe” set and scoring around 15.3 for it.

This is what she did at Euros, and in all probability what they’ll be leading off with.

Nice work if you can get it, and the other two should be good for 15.8 each as a minimum. 47 is achievable: they were just a smidgen under it in the European team final, and this was before Vika’s dismount/piked Tkatchev upgrades.

Surely not even the Russians can headcase this rotation?

Lineup — Grishina, Mustafina, Komova


In addition to the class of the field, there’s also the trash. As usual, it’s the Romanians.

The competition for the non – UB slot on their team is always fierce, and 2012 has been no exception. There were a few delicious rumours about Ponor reinventing herself as an AAer, but alas the world was spared that sight. We are relieved and regretful in equal measures.

Romania did attempt to dredge up a bars specialist earlier in the year, but they evidently didn’t like what they found, and we can’t blame them. So they gave up.

Bulimar and particularly Iordache verge on the morally acceptable, although Iordache’s E-score really lets her down. She’s the token decent bars worker on the team – they usually manage one – but for our money isn’t in the same league as Nistor or Sofronie.

But it looks like the 3rd ranked bars worker is going to be Izbasa. Chelaru will lead off in prelims and at least she can be trusted to stay on, but in all likelihood she won’t quite surpass Sandy’s score. This was their big opportunity to field a TF rotation comprised solely of gymnasts in leotards that aren’t indecent, but it looks like they won’t be taking it. However, one never knows. They do have a bit of a history of high bench-warmer usage in TF’s, though.

I would say I don’t know how they have the nerve, the sheer brass neck to put that set up in an Olympic team final they hope to win. But I do know. It’s Machiavelli Belu. He has no shame.

Look to Romania to post yet another 8th ranked TF bars total, and not one of them to care. As well they shouldn’t, since they’ll make it all up and more on beam and floor. They should be aiming for around a 42.

As for China and the US, there may not be much to choose between them. We trust neither.

Lineup — Izbasa, Bulimar, Iordache


This event is something of a hole for the reigning World Champions. Despite Stoi!’s more hysterical scaremongering about Raisman leading off, the lineup will be Wieber, Ross and Douglas. For all the talk about the US bars hole, this isn’t too bad. If the three of them hit, they’ll be looking at around 14.8, 15.4 and 15.6 respectively. This would give a team total of about 45.8;  really rather respectable, and not a million miles behind Mother Russia. Unfortunately though, two of these scores can’t necessarily be relied on.

Wieber’s inconsistency is well documented. Credit to her and her coaches for an unusual, cleverly designed set that maximizes her strengths and legitimately got her to a world EF. But consistent she is not.

While she’s coming off a great run of hit sets at US Nationals and Classic, the fact remains that she typically is notably underpar in about 1 in 4 sets. This was the case in Tokyo, it has also been true in 2012. She has competed about 8 routines in 2012 – someone will correct me on this I’m sure-  and been weak at both Scam and US Classic. If she can keep her streak going throughout London, fair play to her, but forgive us for not assuming this will happen.

More controversially, Clara is also slightly concerned about Gabby.

Now, we want to state for the record that Stoi! loves her. We really do. Her set is just stunning, she’s been very consistent with it for a long while now, and whatever happens we anticipate a big 15+ routine from her. No, the only worry is her feet during her piked Tkatchev. Sometimes she shuffles them to the side a bit, to make sure she clears the bar.

If the international judges don’t like it, that could be a 0.3 deduction. Which would leave her with a 15.2 rather than 15.5 – although they may not actually be able to see it from the side. Still a damn fine score for a damn fine routine of course, but it’d also be a damn shame. Either way, while the US could do very well on bars, they could also end up bringing in about a point less than they really ought to.

Lineup — Wieber, Ross, Douglas


Then of course there’s the Chinese. Their lineup will be Yao Jinnan, Huang Qiushuang and He Kexin. As with the US and Russia, we can be pretty much certain of this because of lack of other options: Sui Lu is unusable and Deng Linlin’s consistent but labored set won’t break 14.

Because of consistency issues, it’s hard to reliably guess what they might score. Yao Jinnan can be trusted to hit, but the other two certainly can’t. A repeat of their tag team fuck up in the 2010 Worlds EF is a very realistic possibility. Additionally, their huge D-scores can be quite deceptive because they tend to also get hammered on execution.

He Kexin is utterly impossible to predict. She isn’t quite at the level of Tweddle and the Russians, so shouldn’t be too close to 16, but can easily score 15.5 if she feels like it. Or 11. The last time she did a routine for Team China that wasn’t a total fail was during the 2010 World Team Finals. That was a looong time ago. In Tokyo, she melted down to the extent that she wasn’t even used after prelims, and even if we confine ourselves to 2012, she’s been completely unpredictable.

Her best effort came in the National Games event final back in May, following on from a laughable attempt in the earlier rounds. While she’ll never again be able to hit the heights she did when she was underage, it was a very useful set.

As with Jordyn Wieber, the issue isn’t the scoring potential of the routine. It’s whether she’ll be able to get herself through a set which is at the limits of what she can realistically achieve. We shall see.

Elsewhere, Huang Qiushuang scored an over generous 15.2 at Zibo earlier in the year – 14.9 is usually more like it – but has spent the rest of the year eating mat. Stoi! has a bit of a soft spot for her, but she absolutely will miss at least one TF routine and this one is looking like the frontrunner. We’ve seen Yao Jinnan’s set score between a mid-14, and mid-15 depending on how short her handstands are, so somewhere in between (15’ish) seems a likely bet for her.

Lineup — Yao Jinnan, Haung Quishuang, He Kexin

Likely order:

1. Russia

2. China, if they choose this moment for their first hit bars rotation of the quad

3. USA

4. Romania

The first and last are obvious, so the main interest comes in the US v China battle, and the margins between teams. Russia would ideally like to be at least 1.5 ahead of the US and China, and anything less than a point will be a missed opportunity. Romania could do with averaging 14 per set, but may fall short.

– Clara & Bronwyn

5 responses to “Top 4 teams preview: Bars

  • M

    Great Write up

    I agree Russia’s best event is this one and hope to see surprises in their bars routines.

    Lol, poor Romania – I don’t know why they don’t have any athletes who can do good bars.

    Damn you said it with such certainty that Huang Qiushuang will miss at least 1 TF routine. Poor Huang. I do agree with HE though, unpredictable.

    I wonder what you would do if some of these people surprise you? lol

    Can’t wait for beam writeup, I have a feeling it will be hilarious, just by what you’ve always said about beam esp in terms of Russia and China.

  • Stoi!

    No. We like making leotard jokes.

  • russiangymnastics

    Strangely, regarding her leotard, Ponor answered on twitter “IS JUST THE WAY THEY ARE I DONT LIKE IT TOO BUT I CANT DO NOTHING :(” Sorry, the cap letters are hers. Really you can’t do anything Ponor?

    • Alice

      Really, do you think .. this will count so much? Ponor will be great on beam and floor also. And she will do her job also at vault..with or without his leotard..So stop it with this..

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