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.




16 comments:

  1. True. Though what Russia may have working against them going into the Olympics is that they are by no means as deep as the USA. IF (big if) Komova, Musty, Grishina and the other jr russian whose name escapes me are all healthy (+ Demy or Afan or whoever else) they will definitely be up to the challenge.

    However, with today's win, the USA showed that they can put up an A-/B+ team and still run away with the gold given that they have so many solid performers. Looking forward several americans are doing top of the line vaults (Ross amanar, Wieber amanar, Maroney amanar, Raisman amanar capable, ASac's Rudi, SJ's retraining her amanar or at the very least does a solid DTY). USA also has solid bar workers: Wieber, Douglas, Li, likely Luikin, likely Sloan (we'll see in a few weeks), and Macko. Solid beamers..... my point it, the USA is stacked and they'll likely be a few girls to go down with injuries per usual prior to London. BUT, that won't hurt team USA, gaps can easily be filled.

    IF Russia looses one of their aforementioned golden 4 they are in big trouble. I totally hope this isn't the case, I would hate to have a boring Olympics as I found this worlds to be incredibly dull with such a dejected Russian (& Romanian & Chinese) team :/

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  2. Also, if Romania hasn't figured out after TF that they HAVE to get their bars shit together if they ever hope to win another team gold, then I don't know what will do it. They were rock solid on beam, and better than China on vault, but those bars scores are just totally ridiculous.

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  3. We kicked the Soviets' asses!

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  4. If the Russians can get their confidence back (aka a strong leader that is determined like Musty) they can be seriously dangerous even without much depth. Their artistry allows them to score above the US in every routine but vault, if they can get the amanars back I doubt the US can find a team to match them. Like in the Shawn vs. Nastia debacle, international judges will favor artistry over power if they are given the option.

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  5. Bland gymnastics that hits?!?! Is that what this sport has been reduced to? Its just sad! As I watched the US compete I thought good for them, they worked hard and all. Then when the competition was over I wondered if I would save this competition to watch it again... No! It was boring, the US has bland gymnastics, a lot of arm waiving, no choreography, overall bad feet, bad leaps, bad turns. No passion, no inspiration, nothing exciting... Just 12 bland routines that hit!

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  6. The Russians really just gave it away and lacked passion throughout the meet. They couldn't fight the momentum and gave up.

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  7. People that celebrate average gymnastics beating great gymnasts on an off day baffle me. Is it about patriotism or the sport?

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  8. As much as I agree that a lot of the US girls lack artistry compared to the other teams, the fact is that they are a solid TEAM. Talking about Russia w/ 4 girls that are critical to winning speaks to the poor system, if 4 girls out of one country are what are needed to win compared to over a dozen girls from another country touted for a team it's completely different! The 3-3 count is awful and encourages teams that have 2-3 great gymnasts to prevail over a team with 12+ great gymnasts...it's making it more of an individual than team competition. Honestly, the FIG needs to get their crap figured out, too many injuries and now only 5 girls on the olympic teams?? Ridiculous, why even bother with a team competition anyways?

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  9. I have to laugh at the morons who come out of the woodwork to defend the Eastern Blocs at all costs. Off day my ass. The team blows without Mustafina, and even with her, this team has serious technique and form issues, esp. on vault. Nabieva is an inconsistent mess and Komova apparently can't hack it when it counts. And they presently have no depth. We beat them by FOUR POINTS. If you cannot hit, then you are not the better team. End of story.

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  10. @Anonymous 10:08 PM

    Really, the US won simply because Russians had an off day? Don't be obtuse. With the exception of Komova who's clearly not at full strength yet, the performances that the other Russians had were pretty much par for the course. The Russians were fantastic last year, but they won in part because Mattie gave it to them with an uncharacteristically bombed FX routine. China did what China does a lot-- mess up under pressure. As for Romania, surely you're not suggesting that they're a better team than they performed?

    I'm not blind to the fact that the US is not an artistic or high-risk program which often belies the difficult elements that they do perform. But I think they deserve a little more credit than what you described. Perhaps you prefer Nabieva's bow-legged layout tkatchev or Mustafina's twists with crossed feet? Meh, to each his/her own.

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  11. Whoops - I forgot. Anyone without an American flag on their leo is tantamount to God's team, and regardless of whether they fall of beam 10 times, can't twist on vault to save their lives, go OOB on every pass and smack their faces on bars, they're ALWAYS the "better" team and were "robbed" of the gold. The U.S. has won team gold at Worlds three times. Russia has won it once. The U.S. has beaten Russian at the last two Olympics, and in 2008 Russia did not even make the podium. Get off it people.

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  12. [Quote]As much as I agree that a lot of the US girls lack artistry compared to the other teams, the fact is that they are a solid TEAM. Talking about Russia w/ 4 girls that are critical to winning speaks to the poor system, if 4 girls out of one country are what are needed to win compared to over a dozen girls from another country touted for a team it's completely different! The 3-3 count is awful and encourages teams that have 2-3 great gymnasts to prevail over a team with 12+ great gymnasts...it's making it more of an individual than team competition. Honestly, the FIG needs to get their crap figured out, too many injuries and now only 5 girls on the olympic teams?? Ridiculous, why even bother with a team competition anyways? [/Quote] I have to defend the Russians a little bit. Look its not just about how many injuries a team has. Its who gets injured and what events they compete.

    IF it had been Wieber than Bross who had been injured, the US would have been much more screwed. If it had been Maroney instead of Mack, the US would have been screwed.

    Esentially going in this season if you plan both teams the US was counting on being able to stack vault. The US kept 2 of their planned vaults healthy for the season.

    The Russians were planning on stacking bars and also holding off the Us on vault with 3 Amanars on their own. But what happened to them is two of their best vaulters were out injured and the third vaulter had been in the competition but not ready for the Amanar. And they even lost a great bar worker....

    If this had been the Olympics, the Russians would have probably taken Aliya for bars only. And that would have more than erased the vault deficit.

    And Aunt Joyce they may very well need Nabs bars next year, which is why having her risk life and limb for an Amanar isn't smart.

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  13. How you can say the US routines were all bland is beyond me. They had incredible execution in their tumbling and vaults (Maroney? you seriously thought that was bland?), not to mention superior difficulty. No, this is not an artistic team. But you have to be honest with yourself in that WAG is not the same sport it was 20 years ago... and it never will be. Get over it. And if you really want artistry, you are going to have to settle for inconsistency (UKR) and/or bad attitudes (Komova) with what we have currently. Mustafina and Komova are rarities and should be appreciated, but you have to come to grips with the reality that WAG will never be Mostepanova-Dudnik-Dobre-Yang Bo again. That time has passed.

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  14. @Anonymous at 5:15: I don't think being mentally and physically exhausted is the same thing as a bad attitude?

    And then there's this mess: "But you have to be honest with yourself in that WAG is not the same sport it was 20 years ago... and it never will be. Get over it."

    Well, why should we? Why should we settle for bad technique, flat feet, lack of dance ability or zero musicality? (And for the record, the Americans are not the only team with some or many of these qualities). Why should we abandon what a lot of people think made the sport great, and what can make it great many years into the future?

    Saying "Get over it" is like settling for a cold mushy burger when you've experienced juicy, tender filet mignon. You'll never forget that amazing taste and you'll continue to be dissatisfied with your current meal, and hope something better is coming for the next course.

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  15. If we are meant to forget it and settle for a bunch of crap, then it should not be called Artistic Gymnastic. When many of us talk about gymnastics we remember Nadia's perfect 10, Boginskaya's style, Khorkina's uniqueness, Shushunova's fierceness. It's about passion and style which the US team that competed last night just doesn't have! It's not just about execution and bad feet, it's about something exciting, innovative, visionary even, stuff people talk about after 10, 20 years. It's not about the boring, boring, boring that is Weiber and Raisman.

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