Some Thoughts on Day 1 of the Russian Championships
I watched the (somewhat sketchy) livestream of the Russian Championships last night, and I thought I’d share a few thoughts about what I saw from the top finishers.
Aliya Mustafina- 1st AA 59.85, 1st VT 15.3, 1st UB 15.5, 1st BB 15.45, 3rd FX 13.6
Aliya’s scores pretty much show how her first all around competition since the Olympics went. Her vault was clean, as were her bars. There were some compositional changes on that event, moving certain stalder elements around because of the changes in the code. She also left out the second shaposhnikova half variation, but I expect to see that back for bigger competitions. I love the Onodi to double turn, but would not credit the switch half combo before it. Her confidence competing beam seems to be back to some extent. Aliya’s floor was not great last night. Her new routine will probably grow on me, especially when she performs it at a bigger competition, but the tumbling was a bit off yesterday. She downgraded her 2nd pass and landed it in a deep squat, and her triple full was uglier than usual. I’m not too worried, though. Mustafina always shows up looking prepared when she needs to.
Anastasia Grishina- 2nd AA 57.4, 4th VT 14.9, 2nd UB 15.0, 4th BB 14.9, 14th FX 12.6
I make it no secret that I love Grishina but am constantly frustrated by her. Yesterday was no exception, although I do think she looked a bit more confident with her new coaches. It’s hard to say from one competition. Her bars were pretty good, but I don’t like the Van Leeuwen. I get that 9/10 of the Russian team does them and it’s an E, but she doesn’t seem confident with it and doesn’t perform it well. I thought that although she missed some connections, her beam looked pretty good. Floor, however, was a bit of a mess. The double double was landed low (I wonder if they will end up keeping this), she competed a double full instead of her triple and she fell on her double pike dismount. Now that she’s doing a 2 1/2, I wonder if her coaches would consider making her final pass a double tuck. Her double tuck looked pretty good last year. The Memmel to illusion turn is a bit questionable because her Memmel rarely gets around, but it could be pretty.
Evgenia Shelgunova- 3rd AA 57.25, 6th VT 14.75, 7th UB 13.95, 2nd BB 14.95, 3rd FX 13.6
I am pretty sure that whenever I talk about Shelgunova, I sound like a terrible person. I have not been a fan ever since I first saw her vault in 2010. Having said that, I see the appeal. She’s a Russian who can hit beam, and really all events, under pressure. The idea that she would be taken to Europeans as an all arounder instead of Grishina, however, is crazy to me. Grishina didn’t have a good competition yesterday and beat her all around. She is better on every event when they both hit.
Now that my Grishina vs. Shelgunova rant is over, I pretty much saw what I expected from her. Shelgunova needs to clean up bars. Her routine has difficulty, but she is just not capable of executing it decently. The leg separations alone should get her .3 deductions on every skill that is rated D or above in the routine. This is not a routine that should go up in a major international competition. The other routine of hers shown was floor, which looked good. Her tumbing was clean and well landed. No complaints there. I want to like her, but I’m having a tough time actually doing it.
Ksenia Afanasyeva- 4th AA 56.85, 3rd VT 15.2, 11th UB 13.45, 8th BB 13.85, 1st FX 14.35
I’m so happy to see Afanasyeva continue to compete, and she did a pretty good job yesterday. Her floor was gorgeous. I think she may have gone out of bounds on her double layout, but it was a great routine overall. She’s another one who has added a beautiful turn combo. Her vault, from the scores, seems to have been great for her, but beam may have been rough. Neither was shown.
I only saw her floor, where she missed her triple full, but Dementyeva did not have a great meet. She seems to have hit bars, but that’s not going to be enough to take her to euros, and I don’t think any of her other scores were good enough to get her another chance in event finals here. Pavlova seems to have hit (she definitely hit bars and floor, which were shown), but she was never going to make another major team. Kristina Goryunova actually had a pretty good meet, but she isn’t scoring well enough on her best event, beam, to be considered as a specialist. Paseka and Nabieva both competed only on vault and floor. Paseka outscored Nabieva on both events, so if one of them is going to go to Euros, it should be Paskea, even without the Amanar. Actually, hopefully without the Amanar.
Right now, I’d say that the European team should be Mustafina, Grishina, Afanasyeva and Shelgunova OR Paseka. Mustafina and Grishina have chances at all around medals, along with a few possible event finals. Afanasyeva could medal on floor and make beam finals. Shelgunova could make the all around if Grishina bombs prelims, and possibly beam finals if selected. Paseka might be able to medal on vault.