Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The Power of Momentum
Russia failed to defend its world title and much of it could be seen in the demeanor of the team members throughout the competition. Once the Russians finished vault, it was as though they already knew just how difficult it would be to make up ground. The Americans started the day on their best event and it was smooth sailing from then on. It is difficult to come from behind when another team is having the meet of its life. Unfortunately, being in the same rotation appeared to have gotten to the Russians and the mind games failed them.
After losing Aliya Mustafina at the European Championships, the Russians made the wise decision to keep its team in tact and go for easier double twisting yurchenkos. This was wise with Olympic Gold the ultimate goal, but they dug themselves into quite the hole and put a lot of pressure on their bar and beam lineups. Choosing to perform DTYs, the Russians needed to nail them. While they worked on landings in the warm up, their execution was not where it needed to be. Ksenia Afanasyeva's vault had a great landing, but her leg form could've been much tidier. Komova doesn't look ready to compete her Amanar just yet and opted for a strong DTY. It was the team's best vault. The biggest faux pax came from Nabieva, whose easier vault had just as poor execution as her Amanar. This is one case where playing it safe cost them, as she is unlikely to be on the Olympic Team to begin with. Nabieva's DTY was sloppy and the landing was far from aggressive. Nabieva looked dejected as she walked off the podium and the entire team responded in kind. Note that (arguably) the best team in the world struggled on the event Bruno Grandi has been itching to get rid of for years.
Dementyeva is not the world's greatest bar worker. Having to use her was not the end of the world, but the team needed out-of-this-world routines by Komova and Nabieva. Komova delivered, but her routine was a bit safe. We've seen her go for the handstand on the half pirouette (that needs to go) before her dismount, but she looked a tad dubious the entire day. If there is one place where a lack of training time can catch up to you, it is in three-up, three-count at the World Championships. The lost few tenths hurt the team, but the conservative nature of the performance was indicative of things to come. Nabieva needed to redeem herself with a huge bar routine. The anchor of the Russian team lost a good five tenths for the team and the gold was all but gone by that point. Russia lost a point on bars along with its competitive advantage.
After the Americans nailed beam, the Russians knew gold was all but impossible. If they had any hope of pulling off a miracle, it ended with Anna Dementyeva's tentative performance and Komova's fall. Mother Russia did not go down fighting. They conceded the title the way Khorkina would after making an error in an All-Around final. Perhaps blowing team finals is a good omen for Komova, but it likely doesn't erase the sting she's feeling at this very moment. If all things were even, the Russians should score 15+ on beam across the board given the quality of their work. This was not their day by any means.
Despite possessing stunning floor routines, the Russians half-assed their way through their final event. Komova's errors may have stemmed from a lack of training time, but she was able to pull it off in qualifying. Her mind appeared to let the injury get to her a bit more when the added adrenaline of team gold was no longer present. Even Afanasyeva gave away landing deductions that just don't bode well for a team that is expected to dominate next year.
For a comparatively experience team, today's team final was an utter disappointment. They were not able to handle starting off in a deficit and the loss of momentum proved to be their undoing.
Routines after the jump.