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European Championships Beam- Preview

April 5, 2011

Here is my preview for beam, which is probably one of the less exciting events in Europe at the moment. It is not particularly deep because there seems to be a drop off in difficulty from the top three girls to the rest of the field, but the apparatus is so unpredictable that it may not matter all that much in the final ranking. I don’t have time to write a full floor preview before prelims, but I will definitely write one after the results are out, and it will probably be more accurate than anything I can write now. To start, here are some recent results.

2010 Europeans
1. Amelia Racea- 14.4
2. Aliya Mustafina- 14.375
3. Raluca Haidu (did not make team)
4. Celine Van Gerner- 13.85

2010 Worlds (European Athletes)
1. Ana Porgras- 15.366
2. Anna Dementyeva- 13.966
3. Aliya Mustafina- 13.766

2011 Scores (compiled by the all around)
1. Anna Dementyeva- 15.55
2. Aliya Mustafina- 15.333
3. Elisabetta Preziosa- 15.25

The Favorites

Despite some recent trouble on beam, the overwhelming favorite has to be the 2010 world champion, Ana Porgras. She’s elegant, consistent, and has more difficulty than almost everybody else in the field. Her confidence has grown in the past year, and she has become increasingly consistent. I think a lot of people would like to see her win this year, as she was the favorite last year after receiving the highest score in prelims and team finals, where she fractured her ankle.

Amelia Racea is the reigning beam champion, but we haven’t seen her in a while. She may not be the absolute cleanest gymnast (although routine changes may fix that) or have the most exciting elements, but her composition last year was cleaver. She minimized the amount of skills that were open to deductions by connecting a turn to a jump and a switch leap to a side somi. Unfortunately, the side aerial+back tuck combination, which was one of my favorite parts of her routine, seems to have been replaced. Still, she knows how to hit, and I would not be surprised to see her on the podium.

Aliya Mustafina has the highest potential difficulty out of anybody in the field on beam (and maybe on every apparatus). The question is if she will perform everything she is capable of and if she will perform it well enough to win. She always has problems with connections, and to be honest, I am not a fan of the mindset routine represents. I don’t really think anybody expects her to ever be credited with 7.1. She has tons of combinations to attempt, and the goal seems to be to get credit for as many as she can to get mid-6 difficulty instead of perfecting one routine to do every single time. I can’t remember the last time the same exact routine from her twice in a row. If she puts it together here, she’s almost guaranteed a medal, but I’m not sure what to expect.

Anna Dementyeva has a pretty beam set, and if she hits I would like to see her medal. At worlds, it seemed like her lack in confidence hurt her a bit, but hopefully her confidence has been boosted by winning the Russian Championships. If can do two solid routines in prelims and finals, she can pick up a medal on her best event. Her dismount, often under-rotated and followed by a large hop, may prevent that medal from being gold.

The Challengers

I expect a Ukrainian (or two!) to make the final. I’m thinking of Maria Livchikova and Yana Demyanchuk. Livchikova, according to the Gymnastics Examiner, was performing an arabian and a side aerial+layout stepout combination. I thought her beam was beautiful when I first saw her last year, and would absolutely love it if she made finals. Demyanchuk, a former european champion, has a set packed with difficulty, and could challenge for a medal here. It would be a miracle if both of them made finals due to the inconsistency that plagues Ukrainian gymnastics, but two Ukrainians did make finals last year… only to both fall and finish 7th and 8th.

Elisabetta Preziosa would be a wonderful addition to the final. What I really love are her gorgeous dance elements, but the rest of her routine is solid as well. While her routine is not the most difficult, it is certainly one of the prettiest to watch. Her teammate, Carlotta Ferlito, also has a chance at finals.

Celine Van Gerner has upgraded her beam since last year, when she finished fourth in beam finals at Europeans. She is very clean, and with the added difficulty could easily make finals.

A few British gymnasts also have an outside chance at making finals, which is surprising because as a team, beam is known as their weakest event. Pinches, Whelan and Francis, however, are all pretty strong on beam. If they have steady routines in prelims, it is certainly possible that one or even two of them will end up in finals.

Official Prediction:
1. Ana Porgras
2. Anna Dementyeva
3. Aliya Mustafina/Amelia Racea (I can’t decide, it’s been too long since I saw Racea)

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