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Cottbus Cup Competitors

February 22, 2011

Full Twist posted the link to the participant list for the Cottbus Cup, which takes place from March 11th to March 13th. It is a “Challenger Cup,” which means that gymnasts are not required to have made event finals at the world championships or have a certain ranking from the prior year in the World Cup circuit to compete. What I find important about this distinction is that first year seniors can compete.

Two gymnasts per country may compete on each apparatus in prelims, and the top four from prelims qualify to finals. The host country is also guaranteed a “wild card” spot in finals.

Tan Sixin, the Chinese star from the Youth Olympic Games will be making her senior debut here on every apparatus. I was surprised to see that vault icon next to her name, since her first vault isn’t particularly strong and I’ve never seen a second from her, but on every other apparatus she should challenge for medals.

World bars finalist Elisabeth Seitz will compete along with her German teammate Oksana Chusovitina. Both of them will be challenging for medals on their specialties after a somewhat disappointing World Championships.

Koko Tsurumi was also disappointed at the World Championships after an incredibly sucessful 2009, and was not able to put it behind her at the Asian Games. She will compete along with her young “trickster” teammate, Natsumi Sasada.

The top gymnast from the Netherlands, Celine Van Gerner, will compete bars, beam and floor. Celine and the Dutch team had a bit of a “Dream World Championships.” The team finished 9th and Celine made the all around and was first reserve for floor finals. Hopefully that success will carry through to 2011 for her, because she is capable of taking home a couple of medals here and making the all around and a couple of event finals at the European Championships.

Romania is sending the team that I expect to see (with one possible change) at the European Championships in April: Ana Porgras, Amelia Racea, Diana Chelaru and Sandra Izbasa. All of their gymnasts can challenge for medals here on their specialties. It will be particularly interesting to see what Racea looks like since she missed the World Championships due to injury.

Russia is sending four “B Team” gymnasts, and the ones I find most interesting are Yulia Belokobilskaya and Irina Sazonova. Belokobilskaya is a new senior who doesn’t have an stand out apparatus, but is solid on bars, beam and floor and has some room for upgrades. Irina Sazonova could be the new Russian floor specialist- according to the Rusisan Forum, she has competed a 3 1/2 twist, whip+triple twist combination and a 2 1/2+rudi combination! I would like to see how much truth there is to that.

Ukraine is sending the girl who is in my opinion their best hope for London, Maria Livchikova. She hasn’t competed since this time last year, so it’s nice to see her on the roster for vault, beam and floor. She has a decent double twisting yurchenko, a gorgeous beam set and a good floor routine that could use some upgrades. Hopefully she will hit her routines here and make the European team, because she can contend for a top 10 finish in the all around and a few event finals there.

You can see the full participant list here.

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