The injury bug has reared its ugly head yet again. Yesterday, UCLA lost Sam Peszek for the season due to a torn achilles tendon. It goes without saying that this is a huge loss for UCLA. While many consider Vanessa Zamarripa to be the star of the team, Peszek is the rock. No matter what, she hits. Sam is a huge scoring member of the lineup on all four events. Her bubbly personality is an integral part of the team chemistry. Surely, she will rehab and become the team's biggest cheerleader. Val will tell us that she is contributing just as much, if not more.
What this does mean, is that UCLA is in a bit of a hole. Having already lost seven routines from the Super Six due to the graduation of Gerber, Hopfner-Hibbs and Frattone, UCLA is now down eleven routines. The other athletes are simply going to need to step it up in order to replace those routines. Many of the routines lost were not mere 9.800s or 9.850s, they were regular 9.900-scoring routines. UCLA will also be without freshman Peng Peng Lee for much of the season, though Val says they may decide to use her first year of eligibility and have her competed bars and possibly beam, as the NCAA Championships are being held on UCLA's campus. Given Val's ability to will her team into post season form, to motivate, to passive aggressively threaten and frankly, frighten her team to victory with her fierce stare, I expect the Canadian star to be in the bar lineup come April.
Freshman Danusia Francis was expected to contribute. Now, she will be needed to be a star. She cannot have a rough adjustment period. Though she didn't compete beam at the NCAA Championships, expect Olivia Courtney to be looked to for all-around leadership. After scoring a 39.800 in the Super Six, Zam doesn't have much room to improve, but Val will surely spur her on to make this her best season yet.
The key to the team's success will be Mattie Larson. In her interview on the Gymcastic Podcast, Val mentioned Mattie struggling with depression and post-Olympic blues. Nothing can help one can out of a funk like success, but someone needs to be motivated out of the funk to fit. It is a cyclical trap. Though she was scored generously during the Super Six, Mattie's performances were not up to her own potential. If UCLA hopes to be in the mix, Mattie needs to emerge as a star on the two events she didn't compete on last season. Ironically, vault and floor were why Martha was considering her for the 2008 Olympic Team.
UCLA suffered a huge loss yesterday, but one can never count out a team like the Bruins. Like ever.
Julia Lipnitskaya has withdrawn from next week's Russian National Championships. This may be one of the smartest decisions ever made. After suffering a concussion in training, Julia needs more time to recover. This year has been a season of some success, a growth spurt and various injuries. The reigning Junior World Champion does not need to be at her best this season. This is a time for adjustment, training and a time to avoid creating bigger problems. Allowing her some time to rest and recover is fine. She wasn't going to go to Worlds and no one benefits from damaging their confidence or reputation by skating when far from their best.
Kaitlyn Weaver will undergo ankle surgery for an injury sustained on Friday. The injury will keep Weaver and Poje out of the Canadian National Championships. It is unclear if petitioning to the World Championships would even be realistic at this point.
Takahashi and Tran have split. This is a huge blow to fans and to Japan's skating program. Takahashi and Tran were going to be an important factor for the Japanese Team in next year's Olympic Games. The difficulty of obtaining Japanese citizenship prevent Takahashi from finding a suitable partner, especially with the Olympics approaching. It is always terrible to see a budding partnership with so much potential calling it quits. Both skaters intend to continue competing.
Rudy Galindo and Lori Nichol have both been elected to the USFSA Hall of Fame.
My favorite, Mariya Livchikova, at the Golden Seagull.
Anna Dementyeva won the AA, UB and BB at the Voronin Cup. Anna Pavlova topped the rankings on VT and FX. While Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova performed watered down exhibition routines on bars, they displayed form that makes it foreseeable that they will be top performers at the European Championships. Juniors Evgenia Shulgunova and Maria Kharenkova performed well. Notably absent was Anastasia Grishina, which only raises questions about her future in the sport after her shaky performance at the Olympic Games.
Gymnastike interviewed Ashley Miller, though it appeared they didn't know much about her career at all. It is curious that she is bringing the 'college atmosphere' into her gym, as Miller actually stopped competing midway through her sophomore year, left the team (did not medical) after the season and cut ties with the Georgia program.
Elena Radionova hopes to be on the podium at (Senior) Russian Nationals and wishes to win the Junior World Championships. She appears to be quite the character, with a lot to say. She also points out that those who can't jump...go into pairs or dance... Oh, to be young and so outspoken.
Oklahoma is going to need to replace the scores of Kayla Nowak on multiple events. Brie Olson looks better than ever on bars and Rebecca Clark is looking ready to contribute a steady score.