What We Learned From Euros

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Source: Grace Chiu via Gym Examiner slideshow

Larisa Iordache (ROU) is ready

Larisa placed 1st in the unofficial All-Around with an amazing score of 60.132. Although Komova and Mustafina did not compete the All-Around, Larisa beat 2nd place Anastasia Grishina of Russia by more than 2 points. Iordache was incredibly steady on each apparatus, including bars. We also saw the return of her old floor music along with her new double double. My favorite thing about Larisa is that she is performing in this routine. The fast paced music along with the fast paced dance forces you watch her. Her tumbling is fabulous, as well. She scored a 15.133 with this routine in qualifications.

Iordache fell on beam in the team final but was set to anchor for Romania on floor. Even if a gymnast does not look at the scoreboard, Iordache was set to compete after the score for the Russians had been tallied. I'm sure she could sense the tension in the environment and knew that a fall could cost her country the gold medal. She was still able to come back and perform admirably on floor exercise. This gives me confidence in her ability to be the anchor as well as her ability to handle the pressure whether it be in the team final or all-around in London.

3-up, 3-count can be deadly

Romania beat the Russians in qualifications with a 177.472-172.562. Russia has an almost 4 point lead based on uneven bars with Mustafina's errors (apparently she bent her knees on 2 giants), they lost it quickly on floor exercise where they had to count a fall from each Mustafina, Grishina, and Sidorova. The lead they gained on uneven bars quickly deteriorated. Although 3-up, 3-count makes it more exciting to see who can hit, we get to see so few gymnasts. It also makes it incredibly easy for a team to slip from being on top to maybe slipping out of the top 3. Either way, the 2012 Olympic Games just got a lot more interesting with Romania beating Russia by almost 5 points in qualification.

Vault Event Finals will be very interesting

The gymnasts that placed in the top 3 are all likely contenders for an event finals bearth at the Olympics. Oksana Chusovitna (GER), Sandra Izbasa (ROU), and Giulia Steingruber (SUI) are all known for their vaulting. Russia also surprised by having 2 gymnasts doing 2 vaults. Anastasia Grishina, who made it to the finals here as well as at the Test Event in January, is also an all-around gymnast. It will be interesting to see if the Russians choose to develop her 2nd vault or to work on her other events. We also saw the return of Youna Dufournet of France to the list of vaulters. She might have made Event Finals had she not fallen on her second vault. Let's not forget that Youna Dufournet, who is normally known for her bars work, is also the 2009 Worlds Vault Bronze Medalist. It will be interesting to see who makes the finals with the possibility of an American being a big question mark, perhaps the return of Cheng Fei of China, Jade Barbosa from Brazil, and Yamilet Pena of the Dominican Republic. (I had to add her. What if she really lands the Produnova?)

The Intranational Battles

In 2008, the buzz story was which American gymnast would take the All Around crown. This year, the event finals will have battles within countries. As we saw on uneven bars, Russia has a terrific trio in Mustafina, Grishina, and Komova provided they all hit. Many wondered which 2 gymnasts would make event finals.

On beam and floor, Romania will have a battle going as well. Four gymnasts are pretty much locks for the Romanian team - Catalina Ponor, Larisa Iordache, Sandra Izbasa, and Diana Bulimar. The only thing that might sway things are injuries. I'm not convinced that Izbasa is at 100% and will compete all around at the Olympics. Perhaps, she will choose to focus on floor and maintaining her Olympic Floor Champion title. However, Izbasa has Ponor, the 2004 Floor Olympian on her team, as well as the newcomer, Iordache, with her engaging routine and sky high double double as competition. Bulimar is also a Worlds event finalist on floor and a Bronze Medalist in the Youth Olympic Games. I have no doubt in my mind that one of the Romanians will be on the floor podium. The question is which two will have the opportunity to try?

Vault is Making/Breaking Teams

This isn't necessarily new but it became apparent that vaults are definitely swaying the placement of gymnasts on teams. At an earlier meet, we saw Ellie Black of Canada has 2 vaults that could contend for vault event finals and we also saw her exciting 2.5 twist through to triple twist on floor. Now, Ruby Harrold, who was not originally named to Great Britain's European team, has a double twisting Yurchenko and a very nice bars set. Rebecca Tunney, also of Great Britain, has had a rocky year. She nearly stuck a double twisting Yurchenko in qualifications. We know that Russia is eagerly waiting for the day that one of her athletes can do the Amanar, the 2.5 twisting Yurchenko. This one event, this extra half twist, is making the Olympic Dream come true for some of the girls. Many of these athletes were not on potential Olympic teams until they debuted their vaults. It will be interesting to see how this balances out on the other events and how national coaches and federations choose the athletes to represent them at the Olympics.

D-scores & Connections matter, a lot

There is no doubt in my mind that every athlete and country knows that they need a decently high difficulty score to even be a decent contender for placement at the Olympics. I think D-score will be a huge issue, especially for the country that starts on beam. Although Russia lost to Romania by 0.752, Russia lost 6-tenths in connection value just based on their first 3 routines (down .2 to 5.8 for Grishina, down .4 to 5.6 for Komova). On the same note, Romania lost 2 tenths from each Iordache and Ponor on floor.

Pictures all from Grace Chiu via examiner.com. Link to slideshows below
Junior Podium Training: RUS/ROU
Junior TF
Senior TQ Part 1
Senior TQ Part 2
Junior women AA
Senior women's TF