Lu Shanzhen Didn’t Expect Russians to Score So Well
In a recent interview with International Gymnast Magazine, Lu Shanzhen, the coach of the Chinese Women’s Team, stated that he did not believe that the Russians would be credited with their Amanar vaults in Rotterdam. Obviously he was wrong; the only time they were devalued was Nabieva in event finals.
He said “[Prior to Rotterdam], I saw the videos of two of the Russian gymnasts doing Amanars, but I thought they were sloppy and would definitely be devalued. The same thing happened on their triple-full dismounts from beam.”
I agree that Nabieva’s could have certainly been devalued, but Mustafina’s? Unless he had the mysterious videos from the Russian Cup or thought that the vault would be credited as tucked, I don’t know why he thought it would be devalued. There is a picture of the landing on the side, and her feet are facing perfectly forwards. It was sloppy, yes, but it was rotated. Nabieva’s is much worse. Her feet are clearly facing the side. I can see why Lu would assume that it would be devalued. However, this is her worst Amanar ever- she fell and was only credited with a double twist. At worlds, it was better. Certainly not all the way around, but her feet were pretty much facing forwards. It does appear that her body was farther around than her feet. In all honesty, I don’t think that the issue was the vault getting credited; the issue was the vault getting a 8.9 execution score with her form. When it comes to their beam dismounts, I would devalue Mustafina’s and maybe Dementyeva’s. I don’t think it’s fair to say Dementyeva’s definitely should have been devalued, since no videos have emerged of her beam. In fact, there is a good chance that it was devalued, since her difficulty was at one point recorded at 5.9 according to the all around. That’s a missed connection on her sheep jump, missed connection on her triple twist and a D skill instead of an F skill.
I do think that it wasn’t smart of Lu to simply expect that certain elements would be devalued prior to the competition, especially Mustafina’s vault. He continued to state “The Chinese were forced to throw full difficulty on bars because of their relative lack of difficulty on vault, because of their failed estimation before the competition.” I respect him as a coach, but I really don’t think that they made mistakes that they wouldn’t have with simpler routines. Huang screwed up a kip after a pak salto, one of her simpler and required elements. Jiang also screwed up her ricna + pak salto combination, missing the bar. But unlike what Lu said, she actually downgraded her routine. Prior to worlds, she was doing a stalder full pirouette prior to the ricna. I don’t think it is fair of him to blame these mistakes on the Russians getting credit for their vaults. Perhaps it put more pressure on them, but pressure is an issue that gymnasts at this level should be able to deal with. China would have won the team title if they had one less fall. Those are not Russia’s fault- and the judging is not their fault either.
Looking into the future, Lu said that there will be Amanar(s) from the Chinese in 2011 or at the very least, 2012. He hinted that they would come from Huang Qiushuang and Jiang Yuyuan. However, he also pretty much said that Huang could have had hers ready this year, but she didn’t work on it because of her leg separation in pre-flight and her inconsistency. I get the feeling that China (and also the USA) is wary of using an inconsistent Amanar in team competition, while Russia is not, which is the big difference between the two teams. The Chinese chose not to use Jiang’s Amanar at the olympics because she fell on it in prelims. Although Raisman had supposedly done great Amanars at camp, she hasn’t done it again since she crashed it at classics. But Russia used Nabieva’s despite her falling on it at the Russian Cup and at a dual meet before worlds. Probably a large reason for this is that Russia had nothing to lose in 2010, but USA and China were defending world and Olympic Champions. One has to wonder what Russia will chose to do now that they are back on top.