What to Watch for–AA
Well, today is the day when we do what I suspect Al will call “crowning the queen of gymnastics.”
There are basically two gymnasts battling for gold:
Gabby Douglas and Vika Komova are the most likely contenders for the top honors. Gabby is coming into this meet with the experience of hitting all four routines in a pressure packed competition; she was only US gymnast to compete All Around in team finals and she did fantastically. She is also coming in with a sky high AA score from TFs and the feeling of having already won big. In this case, of course, Gabby will be competing not for her team but for herself. This could either work for or against her; there is less pressure, which helps some girls and seems to mess up others. And although Gabby has hit beam wonderfully here, let’s not forget that she can be quite headcasey on the event. I’ve never seen her miss bars and her vault and floor should be basically fine–its possible there might be a stumble here or there–but her beam can be either wonderful or a disaster.
Komova is coming in with the highest qualifying score and a strong need for redemption after having a somewhat rough day in Team Finals. She didn’t mess up too too much, but she made some mistakes at the end of her beam set. She also did not compete floor in TFs but is capable of hitting well. However, Komova has an annoying tendency to headcase, especially on beam and to a lesser extent on floor. It is not at al unheard of for her to be on beam, feel like she going to fall, and jump off. I hope she can go out there and hit cleanly without talking herself out of it, but that’s an open question.
Aliya Mustafina is one pissed off diva (expect NBC to use diva roughly eight thousand times in their coverage tonight; for them “diva” means “tough competitor”). Musty wanted to win team gold badly, and she was the best gymnast in the world for awhile until she tore her ACL. Like Vika, she is looking for redemption here; she is also looking to reclaim her previous position as the best. However, Musty doesn’t have all of her old skills back, and although she usually has nerves of steel in TFs she wobbled all over the place on beam. If she busts out her rumored Amanar, lands it without breaking anything else, AND hits everything else, she’s a contender.
Aly Raisman: She won’t medal without big mistakes from the others because of bars. Aly just doesn’t have a great bars set. Now, she has done just a TON of work on this event in the past year or so and it looks better than it used to–but it is nowhere near as good at the other three gymnasts I’ve discussed. It just isn’t. Furthermore, Aly has never hit bars in an All Around final in a major international meet. She seems to be able to hit just fine when its for the team, but less so when its just for herself (which is kind of endearing actually). But look for her to hit big on beam and especially floor.
Larissa Iordache: This Romanian pixie is crazy cute. She was a favorite until she got to London and it became clear that she is a bit injured. She will still compete, but I don’t expect her to medal without major mistakes from the big three. Her bars also kind of suck, like most Romanian bars, which will hold her back from real success. Her beam and floor can be awesome though.
Rounding out the field are 19 gymnasts who don’t have a prayer unless the above five all falter quite badly, but they will still provide some exciting gymnastics. In particular look for Vanessa Ferrari on floor, Hannah Whelan of GBR to make a strong showing in front of her home crowd, and watch the Chinese to see if they can manage to hit as they are capable of doing.
So. Russia vs the USA, once again.
Oh. One more thing. Yes it sucks that Jordyn Weiber is not in this race. It really does. But let’s let the girls who made it have this, OK? We don’t need to discuss Jo constantly. Two per country sucks especially now that the Soviets are gone, but that is the rule, and Jo is a good enough sport–and friend–to be there cheering her friends on. Would the competition be tougher and more interesting if she HAD made it? Yes. But she did not, and so let’s accept reality and move on.
1. Gabby Douglas
2. Aliya Mustafina
3. Vika Komova (I just think she is going to wobble too much!)
4. Aly Raisman
5. Larisa Iordache
6. Vanessa Ferrari
7. Hannah Whelan
8. Huang Quashang