Tag Archives: Catalina Ponor

Olympic Preview — The Individuals

Now that the teams are taken care of, let’s go for a spin around the neighborhood with the individuals.

Unlike the last Olympics, when Yamilet Pena was the only individual competitor to make any event final, quite a few single ladies should make a push at finals this year, if not challenge for medals. Some of the non-team countries have very strong programs, you know. Almost like they should be sending more than one gymnast or something…

To the events!

As has been the case for a number of years, vault is the domain of non-team gymnasts. Very few of the gymnasts on teams will even be attempting two vaults, maybe not even 8 of them. I could see a solid half of the vault-final field coming from this pack of individuals.

Hong Un JongNorth Korea – With an Amanar and Cheng, Hong is a strong medal favorite and the most likely challenger to Biles. She has already hit for the cycle this quad with a gold, silver, and bronze over the last three years and looks like a good bet for a second silver if Paseka is all Russia Back…

Giulia SteingruberSwitzerland – 2016 Euros vault champion and now pulling a total Sacramone by trolling the gymternet with videos of a handspring 2/1. Her rudi can compete with anyone’s score on any vault, but the problem child is the second vault, which should be a DTY but is sometimes not and is always nerve-wracking. She’s definitely in the medal hunt.

Oksana ChusovitinaUzbekistan – Doing the Prod now because why not. Given her theoretical difficulty with a Prod and often a Kas 1/1 second vault (7.0/6.0), she’s in the conversation, though the vault field is strong enough that she’s actually going to have to land the Prod in qualification to get back to the final. It can be a little Butt-a-Prod, but it can’t be a sitter.

Dipa KarmakarIndia – Samesies. Her Prod has been looking a little more realistic in the last year or so. No less knee-explody, but more realistic. The problem for Karmakar is that I actually liked her simpler Tsuk vaults back a couple years ago, but she has had to upgrade to the 6.0 to keep pace with everyone. It’s not as comfortable or consistent for her. Continue reading Olympic Preview — The Individuals

Why Romania Got It Wrong

Today, Romania kind of, sort of, probably, maybe, a little announced that Catalina Ponor will compete at the Olympics this year (because Romania) with Larisa Iordache as her second-in-command court jester, and to that I have to say….hrm. Incorrect.

It’s a difficult choice with arguments for both, but Larisa Iordache would have been the more prudent selection. Consider this the counterargument in favor of Iordache.

This quad is already lost for Romania. Nothing that happens at the Olympics will salvage it because the team didn’t qualify, but some manner of medal would at least symbolically indicate that there’s still life in the Romanian program. The only consideration for this spot should be who is more likely to be somewhere near medal form at the Olympics. At the Olympics. Not right now. At the Olympics.

That person is Iordache. Let’s break it down. Continue reading Why Romania Got It Wrong

Things Are Happening – July 1, 2016

A. The Greatest Uneven Bars Routine You Will Ever See

Step aside, Nabz. There’s a new sheriff in town.

I love Russian Cup soooooooo much. It’s difficult to quantify the amount Mustafina is over this routine. I would say she’s having none of it, but she’s actually having negative numbers of it. She gets about halfway through and is like, “Mission complete! Bye bye now.”

This is a COMPETITION routine.

I would rather watch this than a gold medal routine any day. I basically haven’t stopped laughing. Praise be to Aliya.

B. Russian Cup

Did other routines happen? Because it doesn’t even matter at this point. I’m set.

Afanasyeva did not participate because of her case of chronic Russia, but she is theoretically still in the running for Rio. They’re pretty much just planning to cover her in healing spells and wheel her out on a gurney for qualification, hoping for the best. I figured it would be Mustafina who would have to be carried around the Rio competition floor by four strapping German nurses, but it looks like it will be Afan instead. #cantpredictgymnastics. Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 1, 2016

Things Are Happening – May 13, 2016


1. Liu Tingting is a thing

Charitably, in our time of devastating gymnastics need with only piddling little world cup events to keep us warm, the Chinese Nationals have arrived to save the day. Get ready to have sudden and arbitrary opinions about the Chinese gymnasts again.

For reference, all the cool kids are super into Liu Tingting right now, in case you want to seem popular. She’s like the snap-bracelets-in-1989 of Chinese gymnastics. Everyone’s wearing at least three of her. The even cooler kids were really into Luo Huan for a second, but her existence hasn’t gone great in the last few competitions, so she’s like SO a month again. Off the face of the earth! Now they’ve moved on to Lu Yufei and Zhu Xiaofang.

But, in real results that don’t have anything to do with coolness rankings, Shang Chunsong won both the TF and the AA final, obvi. She remains China’s best and sole medal-competitive AAer. I mostly hesitate to have any expectations for Shang in the AA because her vault continues to be something that wouldn’t make the lineup of a top-30 NCAA team, but with Iordache undergoing an Edward Scissorhands amount of hand surgeries (see below), the Olympic AA field is starting to look quite shallow and weak. I still expect a Russian to pull it together somehow for bronze, but if it comes down to a fight with Steingruber, Black, Downie, etc, then Shang can win AA bronze in Rio.

In more noteworthy developments, Mao Yi is a real thing now. She made the Worlds team last year, but she was sort of in the “you’re also here” part of the team with Chen Siyi, at least in my mind. The DTY she’s showing right now, however, has far superior distance and chest position to the other options, who are still a little two-inches-from-the-table/show-me-on-the-doll-where-the-mat-touched-you, just like at 2015 worlds. Even more significantly, Mao proved here that her floor is not just usable but necessary in a TF scenario.

It’s appropriate to lose yourself in that quad spin, and while routines that rely on spins for difficulty make me more than nervous, it’s not just about the spin because of the tumbling combos, and China desperately needs this “arm wave and an uncomfortable smile” of a routine.

I’m all for the 3.5+front pike trend. It’s much less objectionable than the 3/1+front tucks, which are also still here in force and are among the reasons China gets stuck down in the 8.0-8.3 execution range instead of 8.5-8.7, with the under-rotating and the coming in horizontally. I’m still not sold on the idea that the CV makes those passes worth it since they’re such deduction traps, but the connections do guard against downgraded twists.

Another future Olympian, power specialist Wang Yan, continues to be not Cheng Fei at all, disappointing everyone. WHY AREN’T YOU CHENG FEI??? Continue reading Things Are Happening – May 13, 2016