Monday, December 24, 2012

Top Ten: Uneven Bars

Here's the 2nd part of my Top Ten series: the Uneven Bars.

Given the plethora of amazing (and shitty) bar routines from this quad, picking just 5 for the best and the worst was ridiculously hard.

Don't take these to mean that these were the only good (and bad) ones - the majority of the Russians are amazing, but there are only 5 places here.

Top 5:

1. Aliya Mustafina, 2012 Olympic EF

In my opinion, the best bar routine of the entire quad. When it came down to it in EF, she knocked this routine out of the park. That third combination (Inbar stalder 1/1 + Pak salto + Stalder Khorkina) blows my mind every time she does that. For those of you who are not aware, that combo is INSANELY hard. She has to time the Pak perfectly so that she can push away from the bar and swing back up to the high bar. It's fucking hard. While watching this live, the minute she stuck the landing, I knew she had won it. Her dramatic eye makeup + leotard just screamed Olympic Champion. As my dear friend Aunt Joyce put it, Aliya's "eye makeup [was] quite terrifying." Bitch knew she had won it after she capped off that perfect routine with a stuck dismount.

2. Viktoria Komova, 2012 Olympic TF

If it weren't for that fucking orphan half-pirouette, this routine would probably be my #1. Her swing is just gorgeous, and this routine is probably her best landing of the double-double. I love her lines, her swing, the effortlessness with which she does all her skills, and just the overall look. Not to mention, bitch should go teach the flying squirrel how to properly do a piked Tkachev.

3. Anastasia Grishina, 2012 Olympic Test Event EF

Sorry if this is turning into an "I love Russia fest." It's just that the Russians are so fucking good on bars. This is the only time Grishina did the composition of this routine that I like the best, and well. She, like the majority of the Russians, has such a beautiful and natural swing that makes her gorgeous to watch. Jordyn Wieber could take a page or two out of the Russian bars book on how to properly swing bars. The London bars lineup of Grishina, Mustafina, and Komova was literally a clinic on how to do bars.

4. Tatiana Nabieva, 2010 Worlds AA and 2011 Worlds EF

Okay, I know that this is two different routines, but I love them both so much I couldn't decide which one to put in. The 2010 routine has her fuck awesome "Nabieva" skill, but the 2011 routine has a cool low-high-low-high sequence. Her world silver was actually quite well deserved. While she's quite infamous for her fugly form on vault, Nabs is also quite awesome on bars.

5. Ana Porgras, 2010 Worlds EF

Honestly, people just say Ana Porgras is good for a Romanian on bars. But that's not it. She's actually quite good on her own, ignoring that fact that she's Romanian. Her swing is natural and pretty, and that 1.5 was easily the best she's ever done in competition. Don't tell me that she's not good on bars when she has a World bronze medal and an extra World EF to her credit, plus numerous other minor medals on bars.
Now I know you're all going to say, where's Beth Tweddle and the flying squirrel? I like Beth, but she's not quite top 5 in my head. The flying squirrel needs to learn how to point her toes and how to do a proper piked Tkachev before she's anywhere near the Russians.

Low 5:

1. Alexandra Raisman, 2012 American Cup

I had a hard time deciding which of the many shitty and horrifying routines Aly's put out over the years to include her, but I thought her American Cup routine from this year stood out the most. If this piece of shit was properly scored each time she competed it, her E score would be in the 7s for a routine that didn't include a fall or some sort of meltdown. It looks like she's literally flexing her feet on purpose. Not even that she's just not pointing them, but it looks like she's deliberately flexing them. If I were judging this, I would deduct at least .1 for every leg separation and every time she flexed her feet. How this fucking piece of shit got into the 14s internationally several times this year completely baffles me.

2. Maria Paseka, 2012 SUI-GBR-RUS Tri-Meet

Not all the Russians are good on bars, and Maria Paseka is the clear proof of that. I happen to love her floor music, but this is one hot fuck of a mess. It's sloppy, there's no swing, tons of leg separations, etc.

3. Jordyn Wieber, 2012 American Cup

I chose this version of her routine to also highlight what a fighter she is, despite the fugliness of this routine. Not many people have the strength to pull that arch back and not fall over, but she does. That doesn't mean that this routine is good. Yes, the composition is different and unique, but she clearly cannot get through this routine without some mistake or another. I still don't understand why her Midwestern coaches didn't change this, when she had mistake after mistake with it. Her swing (or lack thereof) is the polar opposite of people like Mustafina and Komova. The whole thing is labored and clunky. She makes it look like work.

4. Vanessa Ferrari, 2011 European AA

There's just so much I hate about this. The 80000 leg separations, the muscling of the routine, and the fucking straddled forward giants that's she obsessed with. Why must she do those fugly forward giants, and WHY does she do them straddled? They're SO ugly! And all done in a horrifying leotard.

5. Lauren Mitchell, 2011 Worlds QF

So much is wrong here. The muscling of the entire routine, the way she catches the Jaegar AND the low-high transition so close, the partially flexed feet, and the overall fugliness of the routine. The only positive thing I can say about this is that she stuck the dismount, which wasn't even that good because it was SO close to the bar.

Finally, I love this routine so much, but it was my number 6, but I'm going to include it anyways as an honorable mention. A very deserving bronze medalist, who actually won not one but TWO European bronze medals on bars this quad.

It's December 24th here as I finish this post, so Merry Christmas!

Keep an eye out for the Top Ten of Beam post!

- IllusionSpin

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Top Ten: Vault

This is a new series I'm going to do as the calendar year of 2012 wraps up, and we head towards I new quad. I'm going to look back at each event, and pick my top 5 and low 5 for each event (in my opinion).

Important to note, one person will not appear multiple times on the same top or low, i.e. not all of Mckayla's vaults will appear here, only the one I think is best.

With that, I'm going to do these in Olympic order, which means I'll be starting with vault:

Top 5:
1. Mckayla Maroney, Olympic TF

Was there honestly any competition here? This was THE vault of the quad. While it wasn't totally perfect, given the setting and comparing it to everyone else's on that night, this should have gotten a 10 in execution. Still, pure brilliance out there, whether the idiot judges recognized it or not.

2. Ana Porgras, 2011 Worlds AA

This is definitely one of the most under-appreciated vaults of the quad, yet it was beautifully done. Somehow, those idiot judges found nearly a point in deductions. Seriously, who hires these judges? They always manage to find WAY more deductions than actually exist.

3. Aliya Mustafina, 2010 Waalwijk (NED-RUS-ESP-SWE)

Many people have actually not seen this vault before. This was from a small competition between the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Russia that took place shortly before the 2010 World Championships. Yes, her form is not the best (I think we've all harped on that enough), but a stuck Amanar is a stuck Amanar, ESPECIALLY without the extra bounce of a podium.

4. Anastasia Grishina, 2012 Euros EF

Not the most difficult vault, but very nicely done, minus the hop at the end. The Podkopayeva is a nice vault to watch, especially when it's as well done as the lovely Grishina does it.

5. Viktoria Komova, 2012 Olympics QF

Probably one of the better Amanars that she's done in her career. She doesn't get as much height as others, but this is fully rotated, and has an excellent, centered landing. It's even more impressive when you remember that she'd only been training this vault for a few months leading up to the Games. If she hadn't taken those lazy steps off to the side in the AA, she'd be the Olympic AA Champion and we wouldn't have to deal Douglas as the Olympic Champ.

Low 5:
1. Tatiana Nabieva, 2010 Worlds EF

Need I say more? A lovely combination of rancid form the entire way through + short rotation; who could want more? I still laugh when the Russians complain about the judges crediting the vault as a double, not a 2.5 - that vault was clearly at least 1/4 of a turn short.

2. Maria Paseka, 2012 Olympic TF

This was just a complete, fucking mess. She twists wayyyy early off the horse, terrible form, and of course the two huge, staggering steps off to the side. She can do this vault better - it was better in QF and EF, but this was just all over the place. Frankly, I'm not sure this vault would have helped more than a beam specialist.

3. Alexandra Raisman, 2012 Visa Championships Day 2

There is just so much wrong with this. The awful form, the uncontrolled landing, and of course her complete under-rotation of this vault. That vault is in no way, shape, or form a full 2 and 1/2 twists around. I frankly don't know why she bothered with this hot fuck of a mess of a vault. She was risking an injury every time she competed this vault, the team didn't use her score in the Olympics, and she didn't even compete it in TF. This vault scored a 15.3, when her DTY at Worlds last year hit as a high as a 15.233.

4. Sandra Izbasa, 2012 Olympic EF

After the whole debacle in the 2010 VT EF, you'd think she at least do this vault properly laid out. No - her knees are bent for at least the second 1/2 twist, if not longer. When she wasn't splatting in the EF, Mckayla Maroney showed how to properly do this vault. Which brings me to....

5. Mckayla Maroney, 2012 Olympic EF

Quite possibly the worst moment of the entire Olympics. I myself gasped out loud while watching it live when she fell. I'll admit, I was one of many who had basically declared her the 2012 Olympic Vault Champion before the event actually happened. I still believe, along with many others, that she is no question the best vaulter in the world. Unfortunately this happened on the day it counted the most. Just as she described it herself, she clearly did not get the block she needed here, which is why her feet slipped out from under her before she could even attempt to fight for the landing. A real shame. Just to show what this vault looks like when she does it in her usual amazing way:

Well, that's it for the Top Ten of Vault. Keep your eyes out for the Top Ten of Bars! Given the multitude of amazing bar routines from this quad, it'll be hard to only select the 5 best.
Happy Holidays!

- IllusionSpin

Sunday, December 2, 2012

GPF Predictions - Ladies

Here we go. GPF starts in 5 days. I may do predictions for the Junior Ladies, but I may have to watch the performances before I make any sort of legitimate predictions.
Anyways, for your information, here are the senior Ladies qualifiers in rank order: Ashley Wagner, Mao Asada, Kiira Korpi, Akiko Suzuki, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, and Christina Gao.

1. Ashley Wagner
Ashley's been on a roll this season, and I can't really see anyone getting in the way of her winning this, not even Mao Asada. While Asada did win both of her events, she looked shaky in both of them, and her NHK win was a joke. As Jackie Wong of Examiner discussed in an article after SA, Ashley now has a solid international reputation, and as long as she goes clean, she should take this. Nothing has led me to believe throughout all of 2012 that Ashley isn't going to skate clean, so I would be shocked if she didn't win this. It could also possibly be a landslide win. Expect a SP score around 64 or so, a LP score between 125 and 130, and a total score somewhere around 190.

2. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
This is where it gets tricky. Ashley seems like the obvious choice for Gold, but honestly, any of the other five could take silver and bronze. Last year, after winning both of her GP events, everyone thought Tuktamysheva would easily run away with the GPF, but she struggled in the SP and only finished 4th. Still, she's looked solid this season, and if she hits her jumps, she could easily be second. Or last.

3. Akiko Suzuki
Akiko has not only looked good this season, but she's probably headed to Sochi with revenge in her heart, given that she was completely robbed of the NHK title. I don't think she can quite get the silver, but bronze is well within her grasp. She also has a strong international reputation, she's the top finisher at this competition from Worlds last year (bronze medal), and she's looked better and better as she's matured and gotten older.

4. Mao Asada
Even though she won both her Grand Prix events, she looked shaky in both of them, as opposed to Wagner who looked at the top of her game here. Mao is still grieving from the death of mother less than a year ago. The memories of withdrawing and not making it back in time to say goodbye to her mother may haunt her at this year's GPF. She hasn't peaked yet this season, and I don't believe it will happen this week. This field is too competitive for her to expect that her shaky performances will make the podium.

5. Kiira Korpi
She has looked great this season, but I don't she quite has the technical level to challenge for a medal, nor the strong international reputation of some of the other ladies such as Suzuki and Wagner. Don't take this to mean she won't skate well - I think this will be a close final, given that these ladies are some of the consistent ladies skaters around today. I'm banking on Kiira skating solidly and having SP scores around 60, LP scores around 110-115, and a total around 175 or so. Her program components are her main weapon in this competition, since most of these ladies lean towards stronger on the technical side.

6. Christina Gao
I could be completely wrong here. However, Christina most likely wasn't banking on a withdrawal, and therefore was probably not training at full strength, given that she wasn't fully planning on going. I think she'll skate well, but she's just not quite at the level of the others, and while she's done well this season, she doesn't have a strong enough international reputation like some of the others ladies. She may also skate well and end up 4th, or skate well and still be 6th. I don't think this years GPF will be like last year when and injured Czisny made a mess out of her LP and finished a distant 6th. I think all 6 could actually be quite close this year.

To close, I think the competition will go one of two ways:
1. Ashley wins by a landslide and the other 5 are packed together, within about 10 points of each other or so
2. Ashley wins, but she's packed together with the other 5, albeit a teeny bit farther out.

Well that's it for the Ladies! I'll probably tackle Ice Dance next, since I'm a bit of a fan of Ice Dance.

Please read and comment!