Memorable Moments: A Fan Perspective of the 2014 European Championships Part 2

7:53 PM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

2014 Sofia European Men's and Women's Artistics Gymnastics Championships Facebook

If you missed Part 1, you can go back and read it here


Second day, senior team All-Around competition

This was perhaps the most attended day, so I’ll talk about attendance now. I’ve heard people on several occasions mention Armeec arena is “huge” and “much bigger than the one in Antwerp”. Guess what? It isn’t. Not when it comes to seating. The Arena was setup in reduced capacity, and total seating was less than 13,000 including media gallery. The Antwerps Sportpaleis is listed to have a minimum capacity of around 15,000. What caused this sensation was probably the poor attendance. How poor? I’ll go on a limb and say that if you took the entire crowd, and subtracted media, delegation members, officials, and members of the gymnasts’ immediate family, you’d have a hard time filling a double-decker bus.




Highlights from Senior C-IV

Aliya Mustafina
In Sofia, we had a chance to see a different Aliya Mustafina. She was still recovering from injury, yet competed on 3 events (no floor) to help her team through these Euros, and boy, did they need her. Perhaps more than contributing scores, Aliya acted as role model and inspiration to the young gymnasts on her team, this quote from Maria Kharenkova says more than anyone else ever could “As for Aliya she is our sister, our world star, our coach and even our mother, she is all for us. We are all very happy.”

Team Romania
After all the hardship and turmoil within the Romanian program, this Euros team gave a golden performance well worth the 1st place podium finish. In top form, and led by Larisa Iordache with a healthy Diana Bulimar, provided a good example for the difference injuries make. Their performance was in sharp contrast to that of the Russians, who looked to be missing Afanasyeva and Komova more than they expected. If these two teams perform the same at worlds in China in few months, the Romanians may stay on the podium, but the Russians won’t.

Team Great Britain
So much has already been said and written about these unforgettable and historical Euros for the British team. I can just say that it was a privilege to witness, and from the same rows as the GB delegation no less. Parents, coaches and team members were all cheering, and they do have a distinct style! They rarely cheer together, it’s mostly one person at a time, and they’ll use a gymnast’s name, short version of name, and nickname, alternating the three.

Last day, junior and senior event finals

This day was different because it was the longest, morning till after-noon. The Arena crew allowed spectators to go out to the city for lunch without stamping or validation. That was a good thing because the arena concession stand had close to nothing. All event finals were excellent; I took advantage of the attendance situation to move around, so apart from vault, I was really close to the best apparatus specialists in Europe doing their routines like only they know how. I waited with the other gym fans for a good 2 hours after the competition ended, and got to take pictures with some of the gymnasts. They are noticeably more welcoming of the concept of meeting fans when the competition is entirely over.

Highlights from junior and senior C-III



Giulia Steingruber
Girl bounced back! She had a bad TF just a day before, where she struggled with a downgraded floor routine (watch here), and wobbles and a fall on beam. Giulia returned in strength to earn her second consecutive vault gold, and floor bronze (watch here).

Vanessa Ferrari
Very glad I got to see her floor routine up close before she retires. She has a unique style that you just can’t ignore and won’t forget.

Larisa Iordache
Like a boss! Larisa qualified to all finals and did very well. Hard to believe in London she was the young prospect, and now she’s an “elder” of the team, elegant and steady for everyone to look up to.

Uneven Bars final
My favorite apparatus and it was one to remember. A spectacular performance from the two GB Girls, who seemed to be in their natural place, at the top with the Russians.




Roxana Popa
She had it rough these Euros. Seemed to be somewhat underscored, her scores were the only one to get jeers from the crowd. However, she didn’t let that reflect in her performance, and remained a charismatic fan favorite. Fun fact: The Romanian crowd cheered for her like they would for one of their own.

Final thoughts
This was my first big meet, and I can definitely say I was "bitten by the elite meet bug". I was amazed by the level and variety of gymnastics I saw right from the start, and it kept getting better! Meeting fellow fans was wonderful and fascinating; I’m looking forward to seeing them again next year. I’m very glad I had the chance to attend, and would definitely recommend it to every fan, particularly in even years when the team competition takes place and you get to see GB, RUS and ROU send their best. My decision to go was made at the last minute, but I’m so happy I did, and won’t even think about missing the next one. See you in France!


Thank you, @creatureitis for all the insight into European Championships!

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Memorable Moments: A Fan Perspective of the 2014 European Championships Part 1

7:52 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments




The following article was written by @Creatureitis and reflect his personal opinions, not those of Arabian Punch Front. All photos below belong to him unless otherwise stated.

What’s this post about?
I’ll try to convey some of my impressions and experiences from my visit to Sofia, for the 30th European Women’s artistic gymnastics championships. I want to try and give the reader a feel of what it was like to travel abroad for the sole purpose of attending a gymnastics competition.  

Things you won't read here:
You won't find detailed technical breakdowns\analysis of routines. The gymternet is full of ex-gymnasts/certified judges/CoP enthusiasts who can do that, better than yours truly. I'll also try to avoid very obvious things, and only mention what I felt strongly about at the time.    

I don't elaborate (only mention) on my encounters with the wonderful members of the gymternet for the sake of their privacy, but rest assured meeting them has definitely made this trip a truly unforgettable experience. Besides, most of them have already posted about their own experience, or will do so in the future.

Arrival, hotel and transportation
I hadn't planned on going to Euros originally. I thought to myself that I should, because Sofia is just a 3 hour flight from where I live. However, the Capital of Bulgaria was not on my list of places to visit, and I wasn't 100% sure on what’s it like to travel to a country where you can't even guess what people are saying, and what signs mean (Bulgarian is written in the Cyrillic Alphabet).

Eventually, I had what I call a “life is short” moment - I worked out my shifts at work somehow, and booked my flight less than a week before the meet. I decided to buy tickets at the gate, which turned out well for me, but also made me wonder about the future of gymnastics as a spectator sport. Why? You'll find out later on.

I arrived in Sofia at mid day of May 16th. I opted for a hotel that was 10 minutes walking distance from Arena Armeec, mainly because I heard scary stories about taxies ripping-off tourists and threatening to call the cops on them. Turns out there really is only one “safe” Taxi company, and even then there are knock-offs (fake taxies) so you have to match the logo, phone number and check that the driver ID is displayed, to make sure you go on the right one. I got on the wrong taxi once, and was charged 200% more. About the hotel room, it was clean and spacious, just in case you're wondering what 25 Euro ($35) a night will get you in Sofia. 

   


I had to rush to change currency and purchase tickets for the three remaining days of the women’s competition. At the Ticket booth I was surprised to find the price for all three days was 8 Euro ($11), 32 less than the online purchase price. I hoped that meant a huge crowd inside and many local fans of the sport cheering to the sight of world class gymnastics.

At the gate I met AmitFinkel, MoominWhisky, chiaragymfan, wackieandweird, and, of course, the one and only teampandoro. He is actually very small (baby size) but appears much larger because he takes pictures with gymnasts all the time. Later I got to say hello to whiptotriple and montage maker Supergymmie who uploaded videos of the competitions to her channel (Euros video account here). The Arena was impressive and looked nicely maintained, but it was so empty, it looked enormous.


The first competition I attended was the Junior All-Around. There were no reserved seats and there was plenty of room to sit where you’d like, so almost everyone watched from the section that had the best view of Floor, Bars and beam. Coincidentally, it was also where families of the Great Britain team and even the gymnasts themselves sat. There was also a (relatively) strong presence of Romanian fans there with flags, signs and everything.

Highlights from the Junior C-II


Thanks to Carolien and Lisa from Sports2Visuals


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Canadian Nationals 2014: A Recap

10:37 PM Arabian Punch Front 2 Comments

Kirsten Peterman
Photo Credit: Grace Chiu

The following article was written by Jared Goad and reflect his personal opinions, not those of Arabian Punch Front.


Oh Canada!

The 2014 Canadian National Gymnastics Championships ran from May 26th – 31st in the nation's capital of Ottawa. Canada hosts their nationals similar to Australia with all disciplines competing at one event: women and men’s artistic, trampoline and tumbling and rhythmic gymnastics all competing in the same venue.  Hundreds of young gymnasts from around the country are given the opportunity to compete in the same competition as their favorite Olympians!

Senior women’s was the highlight event of the week with Olympians Ellie Black and Victoria Moors dueling it out for top spot and newcomers Aleeza Yu and Isabela Onysko chasing them not far behind making it a great battle for the top. The seniors had three long days of competition in a format similar to World Championships with qualification, AA finals, and event finals.

Qualification
Black lead the day with a strong performance on all four events and a 56.575 AA. She only did a double twist first line on floor instead of her double layout to rest her foot but added a 2.5 twist through to a double pike. Beam was a little shaky but no falls. Vault and bars were on point with her new piked Hindorff (Shang).  Aleeza Yu was not far behind in second with a 56.35. This girl has great execution everywhere and a solid DTY on vault, and a 5.9 SV on beam. She comes from the same gym as Kristina Vaculik so you would not expect anything less. In third was Isabela Onyshko from Manitoba with a 55.75. A lot of progress from her in the last few years, she is still working out the kinks in her routines. Most importantly, she has a big 6.1 SV on bars with a unique double front half dismount.



Moors finished in fourth (54.85) after three falls, two on beam and one on bars on her new double front dismount. Not sure why she is changing it, maybe because her own teammate (Black) does her own dismount better then her? Stefanie Merkle came finished in fifth (54.725) with very nice floor and beam routines. Surprise of qualifying was Kirsten Peterman (non-national team member) finishing sixth! Jordyn Pedersen and Victoria Kayen-Woo finished seventh and eighth.  Disappointment for qualifying were N. Vaculik, Chant and Tsang each counting at least two falls.

The return of Ella Douglas on vault, beam and floor was nice as well as Heaven Latimer on uneven bars even though her performance was sub-par.

AA Finals
Basically this was the Ellie Black show. She dominated the field scoring a huge 58.025 AA and a 15.0 on beam! She brought back the double layout on floor with the 2.5 to double pike and flew out of bound on that pass. She had a huge 6.5 SV on beam and near perfect handspring front layout half on vault (5.4 SV, 15.05 score) and I saw it with my own eyes, it was that good. She is basically a lock for all teams she wants to be on this year as long as she is healthy. In second place was Isabela Onyshko with a 56.1, another big AA score for Canada. Her top two events were bars and floor scoring 14.35 and 13.975. Seeing her eyes light up with the excitement of her performance tells that she really enjoys this sport. Third was Moors with a 54.975. She still had a fall on her bars dismount and only did double tuck off beam compared to full in as in day one. However, her Moors on floor is looking better and better with time.

Fourth again in the AA was Merkle with a 54.6, fifth was V.Woo 54.2, sixth N. Vaculik with 53.45, finally seventh was Peterman with a 53.3. Chant had a better day as did Tsang. Pedersen had a rough day with a few falls. Aleeza Yu landed very short on vault, falling and immediately grabbing her ankle. Rumor has it she already was dealing with some Achilles issues, but good news is it was not a complete tear.

Event finals
With some of the major players having mistake in day one or deciding to rest injuries, event finals didn’t have very many surprises. Briannah Tsang won vault over Maegan Chant with a DTY and a roundoff-half on layout half. Black won bars, the only event she competed in EF, with a 14.075. Onyshko was second with a mediocre routine for her. Onyshko won beam with a decent 14.35 for her, which was almost a point ahead of second. Moors won floor with a 14.025. Chant and Merkle were very close behind with 14.0.




Looking ahead to Commonwealth, Pan Ams and Worlds there is a solid group of four who will be key players at these meets. From what I’ve heard, they are focusing on having a strong Commonwealth team over Pan Ams.

Commonwealth – Black, Onyskho and Moors are most likely headed here. Yu will be too if her injury isn’t too bad. If Yu is out, Merkle will probably take her spot. With the team very strong on vault, beam and floor, they will need someone who can put up a good bar score. Vaculik or Woo could fill this spot.

Pan Ams – If they are sending a “B-team” here it won't be very hard to fill the spots. Depending on who makes the CWG team, the remaining gymnasts will go here. Chant, Pedersen, Tsang, Douglas and Peterman (if put on national team) all have good chances of making this team. Most of these girls are heading to college in the fall, so I’m not quite sure what move National Team Director Dave Brubaker will make.

Worlds – Black, Moors, Onyshko, Yu and Vaculik (bars score) all have great chances for this.  Chant, Merkle, Tsang, Douglas and others are starting college in the fall so it will be interesting who they use for the sixth member. October is a long ways away with a lot of chances for girls to prove themselves. Canada will have to hit routines to finish where they did in the Olympics. Team finals should be an easy accomplishment but top five will be tough.

NCAA Commitments
Merkle, Woo, Hofland and Casey Carvahlo are all headed to Ohio State, Tsang to Penn State, Douglas to MSU, Chant to Florida, Vaculik and Pedersen to Georgia, and Peterman to Maryland. Not completely sure when everyone starts but that’s where they are headed.


Article by Jared Goad. Follow him on twitter @jaredvgoad.

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June Montage: What About Angels?

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I'm bummed because I'm 90% sure the other video I wanted to share is now private. Sad times. Either way, here's this beautiful montage showcasing The Emotional Part of gymnastics. For every winner, there is someone who falls short of first place. I thought the part with McKayla Maroney was particularly memorable because almost as quickly as you can think of her falling on VT in event finals, you think of her stuck vault in team finals. As heart breaking as Maroney's fall was, Sandra Izbasa was ecstatic to win gold. But, then Janine Berger walks by, tears in her eyes after just missing out on a medal. It's a crazy, emotional, but wonderful sport we love.



Or watch here with link to playlist. There's also a montage of Russian Men at European Championships and a Vanessa Ferrari montage!

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Former Gymnast Kacy Catanzaro Makes History on American Ninja Warrior

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American Ninja Warrior Twitter

Kacy Catanzaro is a former Towson University gymnast that became the first female to complete an American Ninja Warrior qualifying course. Watching the video, it's clear that her gymnastics background helped her with amazing abdominal strength, agility, and air awareness. Multiple Olympians and professional athletes have attempted the ANW course and few complete it. Catanzaro has competed at other ANW courses but this is the one that will go down in history.




Below is her submission video with clips of her gymnastics career along with what other activities she does to stay fit and prepared for whatever is thrown at her.



Congratulations, Kacy, and good luck with whatever comes at you next!


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USA National Team Training Camp Videos

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Rachel Gowey
Photo Credit: The Register

USA Gymnastics released training videos for a few of the athletes from May's camp. Here are the most interesting.

The Game Changers
Since the abrupt retirement of Elizabeth Price from elite gymnastics, there seems to be a huge gap (in my head anyway) on which athletes need to be on the world team. Ebee's a solid all arounder who could have been used anywhere. Will we need separate VT/FX and UB/BB girls, for example? Is there another strong AAer coming up? Things are still fuzzy and Worlds is months away and US Nationals in August will be most telling. These are the girls that might have the chance to break into a specialist spot and challenge the top AAers.

Rachel Gowey
Rachel is showing upgrades on all events in this video. The most exciting are her Amanar on vault, triple twist dismount off beam, and 3.5 twist on floor. She would be most needed on UB/BB and having a solid VT just helps with her AA potential. It's hard to determine where she falls on FX without seeing an entire routine and knowing the health of the top girls (Biles, Ross specifically). She definitely is going to make Nationals very interesting.



Aly Baumann
Aly is a WOGA gymnast and after Ebee left, it almost seemed inevitable that we'd need a WOGA athlete for their UB/BB work. Baumann has been on the radar since earlier camp videos were released and continues to show promise. Like Gowey, she will need to show consistency to stand a chance at making the Worlds team. She's not as strong on vault and floor exercise and could lose out to someone like Gowey who can be used as back up on other events. On the other hand, we don't know the full composition of her sets and an excellent start value could make her someone that's hard to leave at home.


The Comeback Kids
These 3 comebacks are from injury not from retirement. Amelia Hundley, Lexie Priessman, and Laurie Hernandez all returned for this camp. Not much has changed for Hundley or Priessman but it was nice to see their general fitness level and what events they could be most valuable on. Rumor has it that Lexie has her Amanar back but she showed a DTY in the video here (Hundley here). Laurie Hernandez was the only junior somewhat close to challenging Bailie Key but has been out due to wrist injury. She continues to show promise although execution seems to be a huge issue based on what is seen in the videos. The errors noted in the video aren't typical for her so time will tell if this is most likely due to not enough time to train after returning to practice - watch here.

Camp starts again today. There's a very extensive list and you may need to look at it multiple times to realize who will be there. Gabby Douglas will return to her first camp since 2012. It will be exciting to see what comes out of these camps. Simone Biles will also return to camp and we'll have a better understanding of her shoulder injury status. Erin Macadaeg and Melissa Reinstadtler were both beautiful gymnasts that grabbed my attention at 2013 Nationals with their beautiful presentation. They both did Level 10 for the year and this is their first time returning to camp as elites for this season. Felicia Hano has moved to Gym-Max and this may be her first National Team camp since the gym switch.

For a complete list, check usagym.org. Good luck to all the athletes participating!
May 2014 Women's National Team Camp Playlist

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June Montage: This Is Your Heart

11:25 PM Arabian Punch Front 0 Comments

Becky Downie
Thank you @gwen_sullivan for the edit! Go follow her!

2014 European Gymnastics Championships
This is your heart. It's alive. It's pumping blood.
Great recap of the senior competition. My favorite part is the ending for two reasons. First off, there are comparison parts of different release moves and dismounts on even bars, and different passes on floor exercise. Secondly, the reactions at the end like Becky Downie finding out she won and the Russian federation congratulating their medalists. I also love when there choreography matches the music which is also a part of this montage.
Watch here or below:





Team Great Britain || Divenire
The music used is the one from the Thank You Mom P&G commercial during the Olympics. This montage features both the British juniors and seniors and highlights their success at the recent European Championships. It's nice to see both the improvements in difficulty score and the attention to execution and detail. The future is looking bright for Team GB.
Watch here or below:



The third video is Anna Pavlova. There's a lot of editing in this one, some I like, some I don't but it's a great recap of Pavlova's career since changing nationalities to Azerbijan. Watch here.

Artistic Gymnastics European Championships 2014. A fourth video was just added to the playlist made by professionals for the UEG, the organizing body of European gymnastics. I'm not one for montages with photos but this one has cool perspective photos and attaches the shots together to look like stop motion gymnastics. It features WAG and MAG, including some epic tattoo shots.Watch here.

Which montage was your favorite?

If you would like to share your montages or any you've viewed on youtube, vimeo, etc., feel free to reach me via twitter @arabianpf_blog or by commenting below. I'll be more than happy to watch.

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