Notes on Worlds

I don’t have great Worlds reporting, that would be Brigid, who has the best coverage out there. What I do have is a few scattered thoughts about the whole thing.

Team: Well, Mother Russia has done it…for the first time. Given their storied history in the sport, I would never in a zillion years have guessed that Russia has never previously won a gold medal in a Worlds. The Soviet Union has, obviously, but not Russia on their own.

So they deserve some hearty congratulations. Aliya Mustafina was so fucking good. Others had some mistakes, and Russia counted a total of three falls, but they did a good job nonetheless. Ksenia Afanasyeva was lovely lovely lovely on floor. The other less awesome Ksenia was all right. Tatiana Nabieva fell on bars, which sucked, because oh my lord her release. Dementieva was mostly lovely. I do think it’s a little crazy that they won gold with three falls, but that seems to be the way the FIG is doing things these days.

China….was okay. They weren’t great, not nearly as dominant as they were two years ago and as they hope to be two years from now, but they were okay.

Australia I didn’t see much of. Alas, Lauren Mitchell fell on beam, which was terrible.

The U.S. We had some really awesome players. The superstars going in were Bross, Sacramone, Larson, and kinda/sorta Sloan.  Meanwhile,  Chelsea Davis apparently fought her way into the lineup for bars and vault before she alas dislocated her knee. Mackenzie Caqautto, who has never been known for her consistency, did exactly what her team asked her to do, leading off just fine for bars and vault. For which I say: good for you, Macko. Well done. Aly Raisman, who often gets a bad rap because she isn’t considered super artistic, was a solid fucking rock throughout prelims and TF. Bridget Sloan, who folks had lots of doubts about given her recent injured status, did a perfectly solid job on bars, showing once again that she is perfectly capable of rallying when needed.  Rebecca Bross hit her four routines with only very minor errors, once more proving herself as a backbone of the team. Alicia Sacramone did a spectacular vault. Her beam was reasonably solid, except for her front pike (the one in the interior of the routine, not the mount). I nearly covered my eyes when her foot left the beam, but out of sheer willpower she stayed on that beam. Mattie Larson, meanwhile, did not have a good Worlds: she didn’t do a punch front out of her 2.5 twist and she fell on her double pike. Honestly, as much as I love Mattie–and I do love Mattie, I think she is a really beautiful gymnast–she probably should not have been put up on floor. She’s a bit overly headcase-y. And her coaches should have prepped her better for the possibility of missing an ERG, or just arranged her passes in a smarter way. But then–AOGC, what do you expect? Let’s be clear, here: had Mattie hit and everything else gone the same way it did, the US would have won, but what if is a dangerous game to play. Let’s not throw Mattie under the bus here.  I know the U.S. girls were unhappy with their silver, but they shouldn’t be: they won it, and they did a good job. And the Russians were really, really good.

I was also very impressed with Romania. They are clearly still in a rebuilding stage, but they are looking better and better. Ana Porgras is just a gorgeous, gorgeous gymnast. I cannot wait to watch her in the future.

AA:

Well. Becca Bross. I thought she might well win, provided Mustafina left the door open a tiny tiny tiny bit, and Bross  did a decent DTY and hit a hell of a bars set. But then, on beam, she screwed up her standing arabian. She tried hard to save it, turning into a handstand (which would have been an epic save) but came off the beam. The poor kid. After last years Worlds to have a fall again is just dreadful. I felt horrid for her. But then she managed one of the most amazing comebacks ever. She went out there and hit probably the best floor routine she has ever done. Her double front to stag was quite nearly perfect. Her whole floor routine, in fact, was quite nearly perfect. And she did well enough to get a bronze medal. I think she should be tremendously pleased with herself. I’m sure she isn’t–I’m sure she is quite disappointed–but she really did do a brilliant job. Aly Raisman finally let the stress get to her and fell on her weakest event, one that she’d normally never touch in TFs. It’s OK, Aly, we still love you.

Jiany Yunyun charmed her way into a silver medal. Her beam was full of little wobbles and hesitations but her floor is still charming, although not as much as it was when she was younger and tinier (and not age eligible, probably).

Lauren Mitchell did a pretty good job, especially with this great save on floor, essentially choreographing her way out of an OOB deduction. Loved. Porgras was lovely but her vault isn’t difficult enough to really challenge for medals: maybe next year.

And of course, Mustafina was quite close to perfect. She is one hell of a gymnast. She really did rock the all-around.

EFs

Vault: Finally, finally, FINALLY for A-Sac. Her vaults were high, pretty, dynamic, and clean. I hope to see upgrades from her next year–Amanar? Handspring double front (just for the hell of it? Please?) Some sort of crazy vault that we can name after her?

Mustafina’s Amanar was nice but her second vault was considered piked, not laid out, hence the silver medal rather than gold. Same with Nabieva–piked, not laid out.

Jade Barbosa came out of nowhere and rocked her two vaults to get bronze, which is pretty extraordinary and a big deal for Brazil!

Bars:

Poor He Kexin. She’s China’s bars superstar and this Worlds was really largely about this routine for her. I’m so sorry for her that she fell. Apparently she sobbed nonstop. Poor girl. She’s probably only about 16 now–she definitely wasn’t in Bejiing.

However. This opened the door for The Tweds. Oh, Elizabeth Tweddle. I was so hoping you’d win bars. Her routine is just so extraordinary, so spectacular, so innovative and exciting, and I am very glad that she won. She deserves some massive fucking kudos. Meanwhile Sloan hit a nice clean set and would have gotten the bronze had Bross not also hit with a higher D score. Naturally, Mustafina hit and was very pretty and got a silver.

Beam–Sac hit a great routine but it wasn’t good enough for a medal, what with other hit routines with higher D scores. Still, though, it was a hit cold routine, one of her best, and she looked thrilled with it. Bross hit cold and it was enough to tie for silver with Deng Linlin, which made me happy–good for Bross. She deserves a medal. Deng was OK–she seemed tentative and not super flow-y, but all right. I was bummed for Lauren Mitchell for awhile, since she finished just out of medal position, but then we got to floor finals and suddenly I was okay with the whole thing. Ana Porgras was her usual gorgeous self on beam and was good enough for gold, which was nice, and nice for Romania, as well. She is just crazy elegant. Mustafina seemed to sort of give up and came right off on her arabian, making this the first time she didn’t medal. Whatever, she can handle it.

On floor Afan apparently decided to compete with Larson for the floor routine that would break my heart the most and fucked up both her double lay and double pike. After she came off the floor Mustafina marched her right over to Ksenia Semenova, and may I say, the Ksenias are always my favorites to watch together.  Sandra Izbasa also screwed up, going OBO twice. Meanwhile, Mustafina did okay but seemed very tired–she competed, after all, in literally everything, prelims, TF, AA, all four EFs–she must have been completely and totally exhausted. I didn’t love Vanessa Ferrari’s fx routine but I must say her landings were awesome. Poor Aly Raisman, given the tie for 2nd, finished just out of medal position which was too bad. True she is not an expressive floor worker but her tumbling is excellent and she did such a great job in her first Worlds–I would have loved to see her take home a medal. Nonetheless, she should be proud. Diana Chelaru’s floor is a bit cutesy for me but the tumbling is nice and she did a good job to tie for silver. But meanwhile, just when folks were starting to think it was all over, Lauren Mitchell came in when her awesome tumbling, her good, reasonably expressive dance/leaps/etc, and WON GOLD. To which I say: FUCK YES LAUREN MITCHELL. First World title for an Australian woman ever. Lauren should be HUGELY proud.

 

For photos of the competition (and fun gossip!) see Brigid, as above. Gymnastike has interviews. Aunt Joyce has some other good photos and commentary. Blythe has some great stuff too, although the pictures there are all Brigid’s! But there are some good interviews.

I’m pretty happy with most of the standings–would’ve liked Afan to do better, and fewer falls all around, but overall I think this was a good, exciting, close Worlds with good podiums all around. And now…I’m ready for next year!

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