Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Little Update..

Hi Guys,
I don't really have any gymnastics updates to share. I am in Romania at the moment, traveling around quite a bit. I am still waiting to get to a speedy, secure computer to upload my Euros photos for you.
Romania is fun. We are in Sighosoara, and have just had Easter breakfast with the family we are staying with, involving much egg smashing, lamb, cakes and the father of the house's mind-bogglingly strong homemade prune brandy.
I am having a wonderful time, but when i check out all my favorite blogs, i have been very envious of all that is going on, not having had much opportunity to keep on top of all the NCAA finals faffery that i love so much.
So Georgia won. Duh. Still, who cannot admire the hell outta that team's gymnastics prowess? They are amazingly steady and strong. I was sad to see UCLA didn't make it to the Super Six. I think that team will mature with age though. Give them a year or two, and i hope they will be back among the top contenders.
Obviously I am not doing the Maribor World Cup. It is way too far for me to backtrack considering I am heading to the Ukraine in a few days. I have to say, every time I see a road sign in Romania pointing to Deva I am like "oooh". If it was in the direction we will be driving tomorrow I would have stopped to get a pic of their 'Hollywood' style Deva sign, but alas it is not.
Anyway, sit tight my blogging friends, I return to Australia in the beginning of May and will get back to work. If updates are thin on the ground til then, I apologise.

Yours, the Couch Gymnast.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Event Finals!!

Yay Beth!

This is a quick update as i only have a short internet time, but the event finals today were awesome. My favorite day of competition by far. As you probably know already, Beth took both the bars and floor titles. Her bars were fantastic today, with no foot clipping and terrific handstands. Semenova was lovely for silver but she just did not have the wow factor of Beths high difficulty routine. It was great to see Anja Brinker take third. Her routine was nearly flawless and she has had a great week. It was good to see it end with a medal, though i was very sad for Becky Downie who has been narrowly missing medals all over the place this week (more about that later).

Ariella Kaeslin vaulted everybody out of the water, with the same as Sacramone's vault (?)including Julie Berger who is surprisingly powerful for such a wee, graceful thing and the dynamic Kalashnyk.

The Romanians on beam looked great. Though Tamarjan eclipsed her in the standings, i was very impressed with Gabrielle Dragois mature beam work. She was very calm for someone so young. Tamarjan has been so unsteady this week, it was good to see her medal.
Well someone asked me if i had something to say about Yana Demyanchuk. Well, i certainly do! After her terrible touch warm-up she was solid as a rock to win that beam final! Boy, that girl moves quickly! I have never seen a beam routine move so quickly. She actually had fifteen seconds to spare when it was over!!!
Valeria Maksyuta, whom I have admired for her very graceful, very pretty work this weak just fell apart on beam today without actually falling off. Maybe it was due to the fact she seemed to be texting someone furiously all through the others performances, only getting up to practise for a minute or two before going up last!!!
I was sad to see Jasmin Zimmerman fall. She has been a little firecracker all week. I like her floor music too. Just because she has done something different. And this week, and different floor music is more than welcome!

The floor final was the best though, in my opinion. It was such a great finale to the women's competition, though the crowd was confused about the scoring. They booed at the lowness of Vanessa Ferrari's score, though her tumbling passes included a double back and a double pike as two of them. I am glad Ferrari medalled though. She has worked like an injured dog for the Italians this week. The crowd also reacted badly to Semenova getting a far lower score than Tweddle. But although Semenova can dance rings around Tweddle, two of Semenovas landings were very, very low. The other thing i really came to admire today in Beths work, is not only her incredible tumbling and the improvement in her dance, but the precision of her leaps and the cleanness of her landing of them. She takes her time with them, giving the judges no opportunity to miss the fact she has landed them perfectly. That is smart.
The other thing the crowd was confused by, and so was i, was Sandra Izbasa getting a mere 13.900 (from memory). Did she not complete her twists? What gives? Anyone who has seen it, let me know. It was pretty great to see a thoroughly ticked off Forminte marching around to the judges, demanding the Why? Why? Why? of it all!

Back later with gossipy stuff!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

And the Euros Crown Goes to....

Miss Smiley and Miss Cranky Pants!

Well, as you know, it was Semenova all the way today- almost boringly so. Lucky she has the whole package I require, grace, difficulty and no falls! I still can't post my photos so I shall do that in a couple of days when I have the cord.

Okay, here's my little round up. I just returned from the competition and I am so, so tired!

Stick of the Day: This one definitely goes to Afanasyeva today for her floor routine. She has had the dropsies all week and I am yet to see her nail a beam set- including today. In fact, remember how i was saying she would fall of just while standing on the beam? Well today she was doing that parading little walk she and Semenova do to get on floor and lost her balance slightly doing just that little bit! Lucky the music hadn't started! After that, her floor routine was awesome. She landed everything beautifully and didn't give in to the exhaustion on the last pass. And now, Afanasyeva has something to smile about!!

Yay the Couch Gymnast was Right Again of the Day!: This one goes to Ariella Kaeslin. Did i not tell you the girl looked awesome at podium training, and that she was improving with age? I feel vindicated! Izurieta of Spain was in third place until the last rotation when Kaeslin took over (wearing that heinous butterfly/creepy mask leo i so despise) at the last. I have to say i am glad. Izurieta,s vault and beam were solid and terrific today, but that floor routine? The tumbling was great, but the dance? Oh my lord, there was no dance. It was painful to watch.

Ouch of the Day: Poor, poor Youna Dufournet. She hasn't had the best week anyway, and today was no exception. When she fell (on her head) on her first or second pass I could tell she was near tears. Then, in her third, when she pretty much landed on her face, she really was crying. It was horrible to watch. Poor thing. I saw them icing her ankle, which must have been what got her. I tell you, i nearly had to shut my eyes i was praying so hard for her to land her last pass and not kill herself doing it.

Baulk of the Day: Emily Armi. What happened? I must confess i was half watching another routine but it seemed like she fell off uneven bars twice. She looked incredibly upset and like she didn't want to get back up. She spoke to her coach, then saluted and walked away crying. She did not, however, seem to be injured.

Outfit of the Day: Well you,d think it would go to a gymnast, or at least to the guy i saw wearing the horrifying red jeans and yellow sweater, but no, it goes to Khorkina. Yep, the queen was there, as rumoured. I could spot her make up from a mile off! At first, she looked quite nice, black slacks and a pink pinstriped shirt with white collar and white cuffs. She was also wearing skyscraper heels which i would be too scared to even put on, let alone deal with the incredibly steep steps of the Mediolanum Forum. Anyway, everything was fine until she popped a grotesque bright orange jacket over her pink shirt! Wear are the fashion police when you need to show a criminal a colour chart?!!!!

Bad Girl of the day: Well it's a toss up between Van Wallegham and Annemarie Tamarjan, both of whom neglected to turn up for the medal ceremony until long after it started!!! I had a feeling something was up when i saw that scary Romanian lady beam coach repeatedly calling someone on her mobile just before they all marched out. Then the P.A put out a call for both the AWOL girls, who still didn't show. Reasonably, they just went on without them. Aaagje ran in about a minute after they lined up, but Tamarjan was even later. As i was waiting for the bus back to the metro station, I saw the athlete bus with her up front behind her still-furious looking coach looking very sulky like she might have just been told off.
Annamarie had a tough meet too, falling once or twice on floor. Very sad particularly because that routine is gorgeous.

Dissapointement of the Day: I felt sad for Becky Downie when she hit beam today. She had been having a terrific meet thus far and even led after the first rotation. Her bars in the second were just fantastic, but then came beam. She fell once and then rolled back on her dismount. Dissapointing. She came back on floor too, which must have made that eleven-point-something score even worse, cos she coulda been a contender.

Trick of the Day: My favorite move today had to be Emily Armi's beam mount. It is a variation of Ferrari's (who was sadly lacking in comic value today- even the leo was acceptable) that begins with a double stag handstand, which she then planches a' la Ferrari. Very pretty.

Dang! of the Day: Also, Valentina Holenkova didn't have a great day, falling on her last pass on floor and generally not looking as confident as she did the past two days. She will have to pull of a corker of a show to get in one a bars or beam medal. Fingers crossed!

Injury of the Day: For those who doubt her 'injury' I saw poor old Goryunova watching the mens competition today, bandaged and bored, listening to her ipod and cutting off the skin on her hands. She was tucked in a corned and rubbing that ankle. I think we can safely say this is not one of those Russian switcheroo jobs or she was putting on a great show!

Event finals tomorrow. Go Beth!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Euros Qualification Round-up....

Hi again, guys.
It looks like a lot of people have had a lot to say about the Euros qualifications, but that won't, of course, stop me from putting my two cents worth in! This entry will be sans the news pics bvecause, being me- meaning incredibly forgetful- i remembered my camera battery charger, but not the cord to connect my camera to a compy. I borrowed my friend's the other day, but she has gone of to see Verona and Venice while stick in Milano with all the gymnastickery. So the photos will have to wait until we meet again in Slovenia. Really, it's a wonder I got here at all.
So, qualifications......

Here are some more scattty notes from the Couch Gymnast. I did not stay for the final subdivision because i had to leave, but here is some about what i saw.
(note. Yep, the Couch Gymnast is stoopid. It wasn't Demyanchuk who was the Ukrainian disaster at warm ups the other day. It was Koval. How could I get that wrong? Koval, i reckon, is looking a shadow of her gymnastics self. Watching her beam yesterday just made me cringe)

High Point of the Day: Beth Tweddle. Wowee. Lordy it was good seeing that bars routine live. I am fairly certain she clipped her foot on the low bar near the end, but it didn't stop her no-time-to-breathe-release-move-after-release move swinging. It was terrific. But I have to say, the big surprise was her floor routine. It was awesome, as you can probably guess seeing she beat out Izbasa. My friend, who woke up from her little nap (she only ever seems to come to the gymnastics with me when she is hungover) to have a big gasp and squeal at Beth's still uber-impressive tumbling. She has matured into a decent dancer too. Less like Memmel's flapping around and a little more on the grand posing side. it works. I can't wait to see the showdown between the tumblers on Sunday. Also, it was great to see Beth supporting the hell outta little Hannah Whelan in the subdivision they shared as she competed the all-around very nicely to find herself in 9th place. I expect good things from that girl.
BTW, anyone know where Marissa King is at?

Lowlight of the Day: This one is tricky. I can't decide between Vanessa Ferrari and Youna Dufournet. I felt terrible for Ferrari who splatted both on bars and beam. It was not a good day for her and her heavily strapped ankle. It really does say something for both the quality of the day and the still-present difficulty in Ferrari,s gymnastics that she is coming tenth in the AA qual.
As for Youna Dufournet, I expected more. Perhaps nerves played a part, but i thought she might become a big player straight off, but she really didn't impress me at all.

Laugh of the Day: Aside from the abovementioned Ferrari Footloose moment, the laugh of the day for me would have to go to Zoi Lima of Portugal ( the girl i said should NOT be doing a double front mount from beam, though she landed it heavily squatted yesterday). Zoi had a wonderfully rowdy, supportive Portuguese contingent cheering for her which was lovely. When she started her floor routine i found i was quite impressed with her pretty, albeit not very difficult routine to some Portuguese or Spanish guitar music. She at least had her dance on compared to some of the other girls out there who made me yawn. That said, my favourable feelings dissolved into a flat out belly laugh when, during her faffing in the corner before her final run, she launched into what i suppose was meant to be a slow, saucy little version of the Macarena dance! Gawd!

Sportswoman of the Day: Little Miss wrong-side-of-the-bed Afasanyeva frowned her way around the Milanoforum again yesterday. Got to say though, if i was performing the way she has the last coupla days i'd have trouble turning that frown upside down too. Splat on beam. Nice floor til she way under-rotated her double pike at the end. Bars was nice though.

Huh? of the Day: Well we all know I can be a bit vague on details, so it is probably no surprise that i didn,t place Valeria Maksyuta competing for Israel, despite her distinctive doll face and bangs. Instead, I kept looking at her compete, thinking 'who on earth is this lovely, polished and very pretty gymnast?' I loved watching her perform. She has a real presence about her, and although her work is less difficult, I didn't see her make one single distinctive mistake all day. her beam set was gorgeous.

Splatfest of the Day: Goes to Kim Bui. The poor girl was having a bad, bad day. Like Vanessa Ferrari she seemed to have whatever you would call the opposite of a magnetic attraction with the apparatus yesterday.

The Couch Gymnast Feels Good About Being Right For Once Moment of the Day: A Greek won the beam qualification Vasiliki Millousi by a sweet little margin over Tamarjan whom I did not see. Told you those Greek girls were lookin' good did I not?

Surpise (s) of The Day: I found Jasmin Zimmerman to be very impressive and I did not know much about her, so her gymnastics was alovely surprise. Every time I turned around she was looking really solid. I enjoyed the strength of little Emily Armi's gymnastics as well she was looking very good. And I saw her careening around the arena with her little pals after her subdivision looking very pleased with herself, which she well should.

Ouch of the Day: Goes to the Cypriot girl who cruched her foot badly on her last pass and dropped to the ground in a lot of pain. It wouls have been nice if her coach was actually watfching and had seen it happen and she wouldn't have had to be up there for so long. I saw them move her out of an ambulance and into a taxi outside, so hopefully her injury wasn't too bad. She seemed to be in a lot of pain though.

Yay of the Day: Of course this blogger is happy as hell to see her favorite baby gymnast Holenkova do so, so well yesterday, coming sixth AA. There is hope for Ukraine yet! Even the leo wasn't too bad.
(Can't say say the same for Koval, unfortunately!)

Wow of the Day: Goes to Adela Sajn for her double turn on beam. I didn't stick around to see if she knocked out the triple she was practising at warm ups the other days, but boy that girl can turn!

Blink and You miss it of the Day; Okay, either Belgian Aagje Van Walleghem was in the final subdivision (which i missed) or i plain did not notice her stellar performance yesterday to come in second in the AA qualification. Surely I would have noticed that. Surely? (actually, it is entirely possible. I blame jet lag)

Ah Vanessa!

I will be back a little later with my version of qualification events, but i have five mins on my email and wanted to share. It seems Vanessa Ferrari, despite sadly being unable to remain on any apparatus for more than thirty seconds at a time, has decided to play the part of the Milano Euros clown for us.Yesterday's bit of comic relief, after nearly throwing a hunk of chalk at a judge two days before, involved her leaning on a railing near beam to practice battements in her reeboks and accidently kicking her one of her sneakers halfway across the gym. Hilarious!
As if her leo isn't amusing enough!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

euros podium training...

Greetings From Milano!

So, I managed to drag my rather jetlagged butt (why oh why does Australia have to be soooo far from everywhere) to the afternoon and evening podium training sessions last yesterday. It was interesting but, as noted by Gymedia, not exactly impressive. Here is a bunch of randon notes. As i said, i didn,t see evryone, but here are some pics too. Not the clearest because although i was given a very flash camera when i left my last job, do you think i can work out how to use it efficiently without a flash? I am more your point and click kinda girl. So, gang, I have done my best!!!

As pointed out by Gymedia, there were lotsa spils yesterday, even by the seasoned girls. Of the Russians, i saw the Ksenia's warm up. They were both looking absolutely polished and lovely. Semenova was terrific, but Afanasyeva not so much. She was falling all over the place, although her dances work on beam and floor was gorgeous. She was even falling off beam, climbing up, standing there for a second, and then just dropping off! It was almost entertaining, except that she seemed to be in a FOUL mood. She only had smiles for Semenova, but when any of her coaches tried to address her she would either ignore them or scowl. I was very, very surprised. She still worked very hard, even getting up to do a few quick side somis after their session was over.
Semenova, surprisingly, didn't seem to be hitting her handstands on bars either but her beam was beautiful.

The Italian faction was very delighted to have a last minute Vanessa Ferrari in their midst. They followed her around the rotations excitedly snapping pics and chasing autographs. She was looking okay, muscling a lot on bars. Her beam was solid, and her planche mount still looks strong. Her tumbling was okay on floor, with a lot of stewpping, and she is back to her old music (?). No more 5th element voice music.
In fact i heard the same floor music (not Ferrari's) three times! It is whatever Ariella Kaeslin uses. Speaking of Kaeslin, I wasn,t exactly concentrating on her, but every time i turned around, she was there doing something solid. I was very impressed given the level of the day's practice by everyone. She seems to be improving with age!
Ferrari was funny to watch warm up. She was very organised and moved around like a little lightning bolt. When the girl presented themselves to the judges before beam, she grabbed a lump of chalk on the way their, lined up, and efficiently started in on her hands as they stood there. As soon as the line up was finished, she flung the chalk and got up on beam, not noticing, that she has tossed it right at a judge in the other corner! Her coach tried to intercept but missed. That cracked me up.

The Belorussioan gymnast (Alina Sotnikova?) had some lovelydance work on floor, but her tumbling was not terribly difficult, starting with a double pike for her first run.

My favorite gymnast of the days was definitely Valentina Holenkova. Her work was pretty and she was just so darn chipper! If she stepped on landing, she would laugh and roll her eyes. She smiled all the time, laughed with her coach, but was working really really hard. It was nice to see.
The other Ukrainian girl i saw, and i can not for the life of me figure out who it was was a walking, tumbling dancing disaster in everything she attempted. It was truly painful to watch unfortunately.

Speaking of lovely to see, the Swedish delegation were a great gang to watch. There was a lot of visibly cameraderie and affection between gymnasts and coaches even thought the gymnasts i saw (sorry, not sure who) were visibly struggling on floor. One of the girls was in tears the whole floor rotation, but her coach managed to jolly her out of it and get her to have another go in the last few minutes.

Youna Dufournet's tumbling was impressive, but her dance...was..not. But we already knew that!

The small crowd was very happy to see the two older Romanians, Izbasa (in her hilarious pink legwarmers) and Tamarjan swagger in with Forminte. They basically took over the show, while the girls in their training rotation prowled nervously around them. Some evn asked for pics with Izbasa, who happily complied.
Tamarjan warmed up all four events, while Sandra only did beam and floor, as expected. Her beam was absolutely rock solid, though not as pretty as Semenova's.
Her floor routine was, well, frankly, dull. Her tumbling is still strong, despite strain, but the dance is not great. Tamarjan's on the other hand, was exquisite. They should combine, because it would be superb! Tamarjan's double layout- when she landed it- was terrific too.

Honestly, i felt quite sorry for the other girls on their rotation during floor. When it came to the time when each girl was meant to run through their routines with music, the Romanians started. Then when they were done, they just kept tumbling. The next girl to go up was nervously waiting to do her floor but the Romanian's just didn't seem to notice and it seemed like no one dared point out that they should move so everyone else could run through their routines!

It was nice to see our patron saint of the bad leotard, though she was looking reasonably normal. She worked the hell out of her triple turn on floor but just wasn't hitting it. In fact, she was one of the hardest working gymnasts out there. She didn't seem to be strapped or injured, which probably helped.

What else. I saw a Portuguese girl attempting a double front from beam that was so, so low it just made me think she should NOT be doing it at all.

While I was watching a floor rotation, the Greek girls who were training on beam kept catching my eyes. Stefanie Bismpikou must have started a tradition there, because they looked lovely though i had no idea who they were!
The Frenchies, Petit and Dufournet both looked good on floor, but were less impressive on beam.

I missed seeing the Tweds, which was sad, but am looking forward to seeing her at qualifications tomorrow!

So, that's enough Euros prattle from me. As said, not to exciting. Nothing too spectacular. In fact, less than great all around. Hopefully tomorrow will be more exciting!