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The Anastasias- Olympic Locks or One Event Specialists?

December 8, 2011
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The Anastasias*

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been imagining Anastasia Grishina and Anastasia Sidorova as large contributers on the Russian olympic team for awhile. Their recent results, however, show that they are not improving in the lead-up to the olympics. In fact, their recent scores are very, very low for them.

They are both coming back from injuries which kept them out of the European Youth Olympic Festival this summer. EYOF is typically one of the competitions where European stars are born. Viktoria Komova won in 2009, prior to her Junior European and Youth Olympic Games success, and Larisa Iordache, who is an irreplaceable member of the Romanian team (that isn’t just hype), dominated in 2011.

The first routine of Grishina’s that I saw was her spectacular beam routine at the 2009 Junior Russian Championships. It really was nearly perfect, and I still believe that if she had performed that routine in beam finals at worlds, she would have won. Prior to the Junior European Championships, Grishina competed at the Jesolo Grand Prix, where she showed upgraded routines and won by nearly three points. She received the top score on 3 out of the 4 events, and as an added bonus, got the highest non-He Kexin international score on bars of the quadrennium, 15.9.

This set the stage for the Junior European showdown. Komova vs. Grishina. Grishina was the underdog, but managed to beat a shaky Komova in prelims. In the all around final, both of them had somewhat rough competitions. Grishina’s fall off of beam, however, cost her over 1.6 points and the title. She went on to win two golds in event finals, one on bars and one on floor.

If you asked me if a star emerged at the competition, however, I would point to Sidorova. We knew that Komova and Grishina were going to dominate, but we did expect to see Sidorova right up there with them on three events. She had shown her vault prowess at Jesolo, where she scored 14.9 on a double twisting yurchenko, but her other events were down in the 13s. She failed to make vault finals at Junior Europeans, finishing third in prelims behind Komova and Paseka, and just barely made floor finals in third place ahead of Paseka and Komova, who stepped out of bounds with both feet during her routine. She won the bronze medal in finals, behind the duo of Grishina and Iordache. On beam, where we expected to see Komova, Grishina and Iordache on the podium (yes, we expected that on almost every event), Sidorova stepped up. She qualified first with the routine of her life. In finals, she fell, but still, her prelims performance was a highlight of the championships.

Sidorova also would have earned my title for most improved from January to December of 2010. She learned how to hit beam, worked on her flexibility, improved her difficulty, and became a more mature performer. She even competed an Amanar that nobody has seen. She won all around title after all around title, beating athletes from around the world, even with her weak bars.

Grishina sat at home with a back injury.

They both competed in Jesolo in 2011, and had slightly disappointing meets. Grishina showed many upgrades, but lost her perfect form and fell twice. Sidorova had a better competition, but her vault was not what it was in 2010 and her bars kept her behind Grishina. This was also the case at the Russian nationals in April; Sidorova won three event finals and Grishina won the all around and bars. Grishina competed once more, and then both of them disappeared for months with injuries. Note to coaches: do not let your athletes ride bikes until the olympics are over.

Grishina competed at the Massilia Cup, and Nabieva beat her in the all around. Nabieva has not competed beam and floor all year, so that sentence means something. She really did not fall that much, she was just underwhelming everywhere. Watered down routines and uncharacteristic mistakes left her with a 54.0 all around.Let’s have a look at where Grishina stands right now, in terms of 2012 team finals:

  • Vault was never going to happen
  • She is a headcase on beam, and finished behind Komova even though she technically stayed on
  • Her floor needs to be redesigned

That makes her a bars specialist, which means that she needs to beat Nabieva on bars. She did not do that here. Score (haters vs. Grishina): 0-4.

No, I have not given up on her. Here is my wishlist for 2012 Grishina:

  • Get consistent on bars. And everywhere else.
  • Move the toe-on full to the beginning of the routine. Use it before a Shaposhnikova 1/2 variation. This should have happened a long time ago.
  • Work on that pak salto
  • Try a fabrichnova dismount
  • Work on a triple full beam dismount
  • Ditch the Memmel on floor and add in a triple turn. Think about upgrading that to a Gomez.
  • Work on tumbling double arabian+jump, whip+triple or whip+whip+BHS+triple, and 1 1/2 through to 2 1/2+stag. Do a leap pass as the last pass. Unless you are Jordyn Wieber, a double pike is rarely worth it when you are already doing an extra C dance element.
  • Do something about that double L turn. Preferably, it would include a double stag jump.
  • Also, do something about that vault.

I have some comic relief to end this list. Grishina was my favorite gymnast in early 2011, and I was sitting in a car doing nothing a for a lot of January. Of course, that lead to me make up routines in my head. I am pretty sure that my made up routines got her to a 26.5+ all around difficulty total. One of them was an Amanar. I hope that what I wrote above is more realistic.

Now for Sidorova. I have less complaints, probably partially because I have not seen videos and partially because Sidorova’s emerging specialty is not something that can be replaced. She competed a full twisting yurchenko this weekend, and Russia needs her to be competing an Amanar this summer. Her bars were her bars. Her floor was okay (14.066), but not worthy of team finals. Even Komova’s all around floor that people like to pick apart got a higher score than that. It was only on beam that Sidorova stood out, with a 15.166. Sidorova, at least, gets a score of 1-3.

Nobody can replace that beam score, though, at least not consistently. That is why Sidorova still looks strong to me. I have a wishlist for her as well, but it is much shorter, and it is less about her making the team than it is about her being super valuable.

  • AMANAR AMANAR AMANAR AMANAR
  • Jump out of tumbles. This is coming from the judges, not me.
  • Make sure that you aren’t using the same floor music as Izbasa
  • Is a double layout possible?
  • Think about possibilities to get rid of the awkward aerial
  • Keep doing what you are doing on beam

I do not think that the Anastasia’s olympic dreams are over. I just think that they have a tough half of a year ahead of them. Afanasyeva and Nabieva both showed at worlds that we should not be counting them out. These girls need to respond.

*I could not find information on who took this photograph, but I could not resist using it. The website that popped up was “123 People.” If you took this photo or know who took it, please contact me, and I will give you credit or remove it if you want me to.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. anonymous permalink
    December 10, 2011 2:25 PM

    Sidorova has, according to posters in one of the Russian forums, got her DTY well back but they decided to play it safe at Eva Kanyo Tournament as well as watering down her floor. I think but am not sure they downgraded her opening pass of 1.5 through to triple to just a triple. Anyway she only competed a 5.6 instead of her usual 5.8 and as she counts only a B turn, double turn, upgrading that to a triple or even a double turn in attitude (she does a single turn on attitude) would give her a few more tenths as well as adding a few leaps out of tumbles. I like her floor and wouldn’t like to see it changed though, unless it got much better. She did have that music long before Izbasa started using it.

    I think Grishina will get it together in time for London though, she seems to be a gymnast who needs a few meets to shake off the cobwebbs before she really gets going. Hopefully we’ll see much better things from the two at Voronin.

  2. December 10, 2011 5:25 PM

    I don’t want to think of Grishina’s performance at Massilia as her current state. I want to believe she was just bouncing back from injury. I agree with taking out the Memmel turn on floor. She never gets it around, and her triple turn was lovely.

    As for her beam, I’m glad she added back the double turn. I don’t like the front aerial, bhs, loso combo – her back knee is bent, and it just looks so un-Grishina like.

    Still, I’m banking on both the Anastasia’s as locks along with a healthy Mustafina & Komova. I don’t really see any place for Nabieva. They wouldn’t even use her bars in TF’s if Mustafina/Komova/Grishina are all on the team. I’m pulling for Afan to snatch the last spot, even if they only use her on floor in TF’s.

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