I’m watching the Worlds competition online (universalsports.com). Sadly you can’t see the prelims on the site, only apparatus and all-around finals, but still something. I’m not all that interested in watching the men’s events as I find it less artistic and graceful looking and more about strength.
For all the people who complain about Tim and Elfie’s commentary, the people doing this commentary are even worse. Comments like “she’s hoping to improve on yesterday’s routine” for example are pointless and ridiculous. Well, duh. She’s certainly not hoping to do worse! Or the explanation that water can be used for more than one purpose. Really? You can drink it and spray it on things? I do like when they talk about the difference between the different countries.
The continuous comparison to the Chinese is a little irritating as well. We get it, He is pretty awesome. There’s a reason she won Olympic medals. And before people say, yeah but our Olympians (other than Bridget Sloan) aren’t showing so well at the moment: where our Olympians spent their post-Olympic year touring and doing little gymnastics, I imagine the Chinese gymnasts have been mostly sticking to their gymnastics and doing few tours and publicity.
I notice that Rebecca Bross and Kayla Williams’ builds are distinctly different than most of the other gymnasts in attendance. She’s very bulky and muscular (I know that sounds like an insult but it isn’t, she just looks very strong) while the others look toned but not particularly muscular. She’s still young and I think there will be some time before we see real consistency from her, but already she’s put up big results already and assuming that her body doesn’t wear out by the 2012, she could be quite the force in the London Olympics.
All Around Finals
Rebecca Bross and Bridget Sloan begin in third and fifth respectively. Two Chinese Olympians are in the mix as well, Yang Yilin and Deng Linlin.
Apparently one group is usually the power group. (That must be really hurtful for the other groups to know that no one really thinks they will likely medal but I suppose it does keep the excitement since the closest scores are kept together.) That group begins on vault and includes Rebecca Bross, Bridget Sloan, and Deng Linlin. Only one vault per girl in the all around. Yang Yilin is in the rotation beginning on Uneven Bars and lands basically on her head on the landing though the rest of her routine was strong. According to the commentators, this is Deng’s first appearance in an all around final. She still looks like a 12 year old, even missing a front tooth. (I’m slightly surprised they haven’t made her were a flipper, Beauty Pageant Style so as to avoid the whole “look she has a missing tooth, how old can she possibly be!” situation.) Yang Yilin looks taller and more gawky than she did last year.
Power group moves on to Uneven bars second. (Noticing some pirates music in the background, awesome floor choice!) I kind of wish balance beam also got music, maybe it would make them less nervous. It would certainly add a bit of interest to watching because it would make thinks feel a little faster.
They move on to balance beam next where Bross in the only one to perform a Double Arabian dismount. She looks perhaps better on this routine than all the others and scores a 15.3 which is one of the highest scores overall so far. One of the girls in the power group falls off midway through her routine after missing a connection. Sloan wobbles a few times during her routine but otherwise not too many mistakes. (She has not been making the same types of stuck landings that she did during Nationals.) We do learn some interesting bits like the gymnasts must touch their hips to the beam once however they choose. Girls seem to have difficulty on the 360 spin, another mandatory element, which I noticed during the Olympics. Nearly every girl bobbles on that. (Shawn Johnson was the smoothest with that skill from what I remember.) Deng Linlin seems to have a lot of difficulty, falling from the beam after falling onto the beam and going overtime. Bross leads after the third rotation and Sloan is in second.
Finally the group moves on to floor where apparently Bross has the ideal body type. I guess not surprising as that’s Shawn Johnson’s body type as well. But Nastia who has done quite well on floor in general has a totally different body type so clearly that’s not the biggest deal. (Remember what we learned in Centerstage? The wrong body type can still succeed!!!) Sloan has a move that she alone is performing at Worlds. Her stuck landings are back. Bross has a fall and some steps on her landings. Sloan takes the win with about a .1 lead.
- Vault Finals- Vault is definitely my least favorite event. In part because it is so short and in part because while there is variety, it hardly looks like much difference between each vault (in terms of actual types of vaults not execution). Kayla Williams was the only American contender in this final which I think some people were pretty surprised about. One girl fell on both her vaults but with her high difficultly rankings it hasn’t left her scores much lower than the other girls. The qualifying scores were very close so this one could have been tight but Kayla Williams wins by a fair margin (about .6) Only she and one other girl broke fifteens at all.
- Uneven Bar Finals- this was pretty disappointing. Other than He Kexin’s 16, the scores were all in the 14s and there was no competition. Bross tied for Bronze and Sloan came in fifth. One girl struggled through her entire routine (even falling off in the middle) and I was surprised that she’s even made the finals at all. (Commentators, there are only so many times you can mention that the Chinese use different hand guards before people want to hit you.)
- Balance Beam- these finals include Yang Yilin (who is up first), Deng Linlin, Ivana Hong, and Koko Tsumuri. Yan Yilin falls off mid routine and has a couple wobbles but she sticks her landing well. She scores in the low 13s. The flow and appearance of the routine is taken into consideration by the judges. Ana Porgras of Romania qualified for the finals with the highest score but then she falls off the beam and wobbles a lot throughout. This is probably the most disappointing for her because she could have won gold if she had done things at her best. 3 dance elements are required on the beam, by the way. Deng Linlin looks pretty wobbly though not so bad as Yan Yilin’s issues. It’s enough to give her the lead with a score of 15. Koko Tsurumi is up next. She touches the beam with her hands for balance which is a deduction. Other than that one mistake she looks the cleanest of them all (not even really wobbling on her C turn which is the 360 turn). We also learn here that female gymnasts study ballet to teach them to maintain their balance on their toes. Ivana Hong wobbles a bit but certainly no more so than most of the other girls and scores a 14.55. I’m actually surprised at the overall unsteadiness of this event final. Lauren Mitchell of Australia who was in the all around but finished just out of metal contention finishes this event with a routine that includes a double full turn. Her routine is very solid looking and she scores a 14.875 which knocks Ivana Hong into Bronze, Deng Linlin takes home gold.
- Floor Exercise- Leading the qualifying round was Beth Tweddle (of Britain). Rebecca Bross, Lauren Mitchell and Deng Linlin were also in this final. Beth Tweddle’s first tumbling pass looked ridiculous (in a good way). She scores a 14.65. The next girl landed on her head at the end of her tumbling pass and the EMTs needed to come over and she couldn’t finish her routine. (See, ANY neck injuries would keep you off the apparatus EMILY KMETKO!) She was taken out on a stretcher. Rebecca Bross was up next (Bross is perhaps the most serious competitor ever.) She seemed much more stable this time around than during the all around and scored a 14.125, leaving Tweddle in the lead. Ana Porgras ties for third with Bross. Until they are knocked out by a Russian gymnast. Lauren Mitchell was next scoring a 14.55 to become second. Deng Linlin finished things off but only scores a 13.875.
I’m hoping something is done to get more people watching the sport (in the same way that I’m hoping Women’s soccer gets more of a following). Make It Or Break It probably helps a bit but would probably be better if it and Worlds coincided.
Another thing I’m curious about: in swimming the newer swimsuits played a huge role in the speed (and number of broken records) of the Olympics.I wonder if some new gymnastics outfit will be invented that will cut wind resistance or something to make gymnasts spin cut through the air better. (Obviously things like the type of uneven bars, padding on the balance beam, vault shape, springs in the floor, etc have had an effect on what the girls can do, but I wonder about the uniforms.)
Point of interest. Many people (including myself I’m sure) have said that things like smiling are not important during routines. However, as the commentators pointed out during Worlds, artistry is important and if they don’t see the artistry in your presentation they could deduct. Especially because deductions are partially relative. If they enjoy they might be more lenient.
For those who threw a fit about Martha Karolyi’s decisions for who to send to Worlds, the US did quite well and every girl they send medaled so clearly she knew what she was doing. Sloan got all around gold, Bross got all around silver and uneven bars bronze, Hong won bronze in balance beam, and Williams won gold on vault.