Posts Tagged ‘gymnastics’

A mother-daughter tribute

Monday, March 23rd, 2015



I haven’t posted lately because I’ve been busy with my little daughter who was born last summer. I’ve still kept up with the world of gymnastics, though, and while there are some exciting things that have happened during the past months, artistic gymnastics seems to be going through a bit of a dry patch, particularly on the women’s side. Gone are the days when 10 or 15 gymnasts were legitimate contenders for all around medals. Simone Biles and Kohei Uchimura are dominating right now, as they deserve to, and they appear set to continue their trends of defending their crowns in upcoming competitions. The men’s side is a lot more exciting with all the apparatus specialists, but if the FIG reduces teams to 4 members then we can say goodbye to a lot of that excitement too.

Here are some bright patches I’ve come across lately:

The mother-daughter duo of Natalia Laschenova and Sasha Tsikhanovich performed floor routines with matching choreography 26 years apart. I love it! That 1989 Soviet team is one of my all-time faves, and it’s wonderful to see Tsikhanovich’s tribute to her mother.

Natalia Laschenova (URS), 1989 World Championships, Floor Exercise, All Around

Sasha Tsikhanovich, University of Bridgeport, 2015 Floor Exercise

Kenzo Shirai, Japan’s twisting machine, was criticized in the past for winning floor titles without showing any double saltos. Well, he has been working on several new tumbling passes, including a triple twisting double layout and a whip immediate triple-double. Wow! Oh, and he also throws a front full punch front 3.5 and a whip immediate quadruple twist….

Kenzo Shirai (JPN), training

Romania looks to be back in the running for Rio with the comeback announcements of Catalina Ponor and Sandra Izbasa, and with Larisa Iordache looking great on all events. This team is more and more stylish all the time. Never count Romania out!

Larisa Iordache (ROU), 2014 Glasgow World Cup, Uneven Bars

Catalina Ponor (ROU), 2012 European Championships, Balance Beam, Qualifications

Sandra Izbasa (ROU), 2012 Olympic Games, Floor Exercise, Team Final

Diana Bulimar (ROU), 2012 Olympic Games, Floor Exercise, Team Final

Andreas Bretschneider (GER) has mastered the double twisting Kovacs on high bar! Here he is performing it in his home country. The sky’s the limit!

Andreas Bretschneider (GER), 2014 DTB Cup, High Bar

And finally, a shout out to one of the most underrated gymnasts of this era: Jessica Lopez (VEN)!

Jessica Lopez (VEN), 2014 World Championships, Uneven Bars

Jessica Lopez (VEN), 2014 Glasgow World Cup, Floor Exercise

Did anyone else think the “Aging Beauty” headline on her International GYMNAST cover was a tad bizarre? I mean, she hardly looks like she’s “aging.” She may be 29, but you’d never guess it looking at her gymnastics, and she appears more physically fit than some gymnasts half her age! Oh well…at least the cover also said she “has never looked better.”

What other cool stuff has caught your eye lately?

Fan Favourites

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Who doesn’t want to see amazing gymnastics? Here are some routines that stand out for one reason or another.

Catherine Lyons (GBR), 2014 Junior Europeans, Floor Exercise

Sanne Wevers (NED), 2013 Osijek World Cup, Balance Beam

Claire Martin (FRA), Match Avoine 2014, Floor Exercise

Eythora Thorsdottir (NED), 2013 Dutch Championships, Balance Beam

Claudia Fragapane (GBR), 2014 European Championships, Floor Exercise

Barbara Achondo (CHI), 2014 South American Championships, Floor Exercise

And now for a completely different kind of routine (artistic in its own way?) :

Llomincia Hall (LSU), LSU vs Alabama, January 2014, Floor Exercise

Which routines have caught your eye this year? Let me know!

From Japan: 4.5 Amazing Twists And A Super Mario Bonus!

Friday, March 7th, 2014

There has been some cool stuff coming out of Japan lately. First, get a load of this 4.5.-twist punch barani from Kenzo Shirai. I can’t believe how much control he has and how quickly he twists. It’s out of this world!

Whoa!

And then there’s the hilarious flashback to the 1980s, with a Japanese gymnast in costume flipping around to the familiar tunes of Super Mario 1…complete with the power-up star and the flagpole at the end!

Azerbaijan: A Force To Be Reckoned With

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Good news: Anna Pavlova has a new country, and it’s Azerbaijan!!!

When I think of gymnastics in Azerbaijan, only Valeri Belenki comes to mind (as well as a few rhythmic gymnasts that I don’t know anything about!). Belenki was a member of the CIS Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics that totally dominated the gymnastics scene, earning the bronze medal in the All Around. Here’s his routine on parallel bars when he was forced to compete as an “Unattached” gymnast the following year since the newly formed Azerbaijan was not yet a member of the FIG.

Valeri Belenki, 1993 World Championships, Parallel Bars Finals

Anyway, from now on Pavlova will represent her adopted country internationally, which means we should see her at the World Championships once again. Woohoo! In the past few years, the powers that be in Russia weren’t even considering her for a spot on World and Olympic teams, which was a real tragedy for gymnastics purists everywhere. Now we’ll get to see her in major competitions as she displays her elegant floor routines and aims for a medal on the balance beam. Here are some of her recent routines that were only seen in minor competition:

Anna Pavlova, 2011 Vault

Anna Pavlova, 2013 Uneven Bars

Anna Pavlova, 2012 Balance Beam

Anna Pavlova, 2013 Floor Exercise

Azerbaijan also picked up a couple of other top Russians, Konstantin Pluzhnikov and Yulia Inshina. Pluzhnikov was replaced as Russia’s rings specialist by Alexander Balandin at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds, so hopefully he will be able to contend for medals under a new flag. Inshina won a silver medal with her Russian team at the 2011 World Championships, but now that she represents Azerbaijan, she will have no trouble qualifying to Worlds and other major events.

Konstantin Pluzhnikov, 2011 European Championships, Still Rings Finals

Yulia Inshina, 2011 World Championships, Balance Beam Finals

Go Azerbaijan!

UPDATE: December 4, 2013.

Anna Pavlova represented Azerbaijan for the first time at the 2013 Voronin Cup in Moscow this week, placing 2nd in the All Around behind Ukrainian Alyona Vasilyeva. Pavlova’s teammate, Marina Nekrasova, finished 3rd AA.

UPDATE: March 7, 2014.

Azerbaijan has recruited 15 more gymnasts, headlined by 2012 Olympian Oleg Stepko of Ukraine. Stepko won the gold medal on parallel bars at the 2013 European Championships and two golds and two silvers at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. This blow to Ukraine comes on the heels of Nikolai (Mykola) Kuksenkov’s move to Russia.

Gymnix 2013

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Gymnix 2013 has come and gone for another year. Here are some of my sister’s observations:

-Romanian Andreea Munteanu stuck a very nice back-handspring to tucked-full on beam

-Heaven Latimer (CAN) did a very high back-handspring, back-handspring, layout-full on beam

It was even better here in this training video:

-my favourite floor routine was the very charming Maria Bondareva‘s (RUS) performance to music from “The Artist”…age appropriate cuteness and great presentation

-a French gymnast got no distance on her double pike bars dismount and clipped her feet on the bar…quite scary but she landed without injury (in a heap but not on her head or neck)

-Shallon Olsen‘s double-twisting Yurchenko was by far the best vault of the competition. Most gymnasts competed a Yurchenko-full and if they did a second vault, it was often a layout Yurchenko.

-prior to marching in for event finals, Russians Maria Bondareva and Anastasia Dmitrieva seemed to be chatting with Canadians Shallon Olsen and Aleeza Yu…I’m not sure how well they could communicate, but there were smiles and laughs aplenty!

-after the medal ceremonies, all gymnasts participated in a Flash Mob (some were more enthusiastic than others, but all seemed to know the choreography)

-Laura Jurca (ROM) and Marine Boyer (FRA) both suffered injuries on floor…Jurca hurt her ankle and had to stop her routine, while Boyer gave herself some major rugburn on her final tumbling pass

-Toni-Ann Williams from Jamaica showed some very difficult tumbling passes (double layout, full-twisting double back, two whips to double back) as well as a running double front dismount from beam. She will be a great addition to NCAA gymnastics next year!

-the three Romanians sported some very snazzy black leg warmers throughout the weekend

-2004 Olympian and former Gymnix competitor Amélie Plante was on hand to present awards, including one named after her

-the Japanese team displayed their trademark elegance and lovely presentation, and were hugely popular with fans, who rushed down to high five them whenever they walked by the bleachers

-the young team from Belgium showed very nice routines on all events and have tons of potential (remember, Belgium just missed out on full team qualification to the 2012 Olympics)

-the three Romanians (including the injured Laura Jurca) and the four Russians posed happily for photos after the competition

FINAL RESULTS:

Team

1. Russia (Maria Bondareva, Anastasia Dmitrieva, Ekaterina Sokova, Polina Spirina)

2. Canada (Brianna Clark, Heaven Latimer, Shallon Olsen, Aleeza Yu)

3. Japan (Yuna Hiraiwa, Marina Kawasaki, Sae Miyakama, Yuki Uchiyama)

All-Around

1(t). Maria Bondareva (RUS) and Anastasia Dmitrieva (RUS)

3. Yuki Uchiyama (JPN)