Russian Cup and Batumi are happening soon, in some days, so I just wanted to let you know how I was looking at the current situation before everybody gets injured and I have a mental breakdown. Just for “what could have been” purposes.
In general they look much better than last year (and not even talking about 2013 because that was a joke). They could even have some injured people and still muddle through.
Basically the seven that will travel to Glasgow, if everything goes, miraculously and for the first time, well, are the girls that went to Montpellier and Baku (Kharenkova, Spiridonova, Paseka, Afanasyeva, Komova, Mustafina and Tutkhalyan), unless someone had vastly improved in recent months (maybe Dmitrieva?).
- Aliya. I have to explain even why? The only thing I’m curious about is how her routines will look, because seems she could have different BB and FX routines. The rumor has it she is training a RO+Layout on BB, but I don’t know for how long, so maybe she will not compete it if she just started doing it like… one month ago, but if she started the training right when started working with Starkin (which I suspect), she could be showing it in Penza just for testing purposes. About her tumbling passes, I don’t have a freaking idea. There was a video of her training the triple, which looked nice (for her), but in general her twisting elements look worse at the actual competition than in training, so, please, don’t do it (oh my god). She seems to be upgrading for a double L turn also. Long live the Queen.
- Afan. She has had some health issues with her teeth lately, but it shouldn’t affect her performance. If she doesn’t get injured, she is, OBVIOUSLY, in. I’m more curious about if she is finally doing BB again or if she is waiting until next year, because that could change the situation of who gets named or not for the team (if she does, bye bye Seda for sure). She will not train UB anymore. About VT, thanks God she is coached by Nazarova and not Ulyankina, because that means we will not see a dreadful Cheng. I’m sure we will see her turns combinations again, and also the full front after the 2.5, even if just for test it at RC for next year. If I’m not wrong, they will wait until 2016 Nats or later for finally trying the Chusovitina. Prepare your rosaries, guys, Mama Afan’s ankles will need them.
- Vika. She looked surprisingly way better than what I was expecting from her at Baku, and that was 2 months ago. Back then she had some small issues adapting herself to competition again now that she is two thousand metres tall, but I bet her routines must look more “controlled” now. And even with those issues, she was way better than almost 80% of the NT. I’m happy she didn’t leave Yelfimov. In general, I’m not expecting to see her best this year, she should just be a team player in Glasgow, and concentrate her individual goals for Rio (this basically means NO AMANAR PLS). I would be happy if she brings back the BHS+arabian. At least in Batumi or Russian Cup EF. I want to see it one more time before I die.
- Spiridoz. I’m kind of angry that she’s a lock, but what can I do. She can do bars, and nobody else can. Honestly, I won’t give a f*** about her other events because she always showes promise domestically and then in the actual intl competition messes up completely. If she only could live up for her beam potential… (she actually has an interesting set). If Paseka goes to WC, her BB QF routine could be the end of her career or just another confidence pass for next year. Because with just bars she’s not going anywhere. Especially with Melka and Skrypnik waiting for the 1st January to eat her alive for that UB spot.
The hopeful ones
- Kharenkova. Her possible upgrades for this competition are basically the reason why I’m mostly interested in RC this year, although seems that she has had some back problems recently. How will she respond Seda’s Baku performance? She beat her for that spot back in May. Both will be fighting for that 3rd AA spot, and, to be honest, Masha is in a better position than Seda. She loses to her on VT, but wins on UB and BB. Bars are unconsistent for her, but shows more promise than Seda, who is basically not useful at all on them. Both are excellent on beam (I would say Seda could be better than her), but Masha’s general consistency is what set her apart from Tutk. On FX, it will depends in Masha’s upgrade (seems that she will be adding herself to the new Russian DLO trend, the whip whip triple is so 2013 lol), and how she adapts to it. If she were just more expressive… Her music is already amazing. I think she will make it.
- Paseka. I’m sorry, guys, but I think I’m starting to like her D: No, really, let’s be serious, Maria has gotten better with time. Her amanar doesn’t look like an uncontrolled, not chargedbeater anymore (although her entry is still the best tribute to V for Vendetta that I have seen in my life), even if her Cheng is not just horrible, it’s hilarious. Thanks God the judges are on the sidelines lol. Her bars are nice but very basic, although attending how overscored she was during Nationals, V-Rod likes them (just an excuse for putting her on teams? mostly). She could be useful on FX for that 3rd TF spot, just if she regains her last summer form. That routine was beautiful. Because her floor from Universiade has to be a hidden camera, not even Anna Li. To be honest, even if it sucks, she doesn’t need UB or FX. If she made the Olympic team with just an horrible Amanar and a mediocre Lopez, she will make a pre-Olympic year team with a much improved Amanar and a way more difficult second vault, even if it is just an ode to puking.
- Tutkhalyan. In my opinion Seda will be fighting both Paseka and Kharenkova for their spots. She could work as a 3rd AAer, as she did during Baku, but also as a VT/FX specialist, that also could help on BB. In general, she could be more useful that either Paseka or Kharenkova. Potentially, she could be used in any event during TF, except bars ofc, and not score worse than any of her teammates. Her problem is her inconsistency, especially on BB, her main event, her lack of experience, but also the fact that the judges don’t seem to like her. Going for Kharenkova’s place would mean that she will have to compete BB and FX. Tbh, I would prefer to watch Seda compete on FX over Masha, who seems very weak and unstable in this event. But the same doesn’t happen on BB. Seda either has the routine of her life or messes up, no middle point. And normally she messes up. Sadly. That’s why I don’t think she will take Kharenkova’ spot unless Masha gets injured or starts having consistency issues on BB and Seda hitting time after time. Taking Paseka’ spot seems easier, in some measure. She just needs a vault as difficult as Paseka’s ones. Yes, be afraid. She’s coached by Ulyankina (Sosnitskaya, Paseka herself), so it’s not insane to consider that she will attempt the Amanar anytime soon. Last summer she told in a interview she had done it in training, and during Baku’s PT seems that she attempted a couple. And they were not very successful. Maybe she surprises everyone and has a decent and safe Amanar, she actually has a kind of nice DTY (if we forget her entry, and the fact her knees are a little bit bent), but I wouldn’t put a lot of hope on it. It is not her time yet.
So, my Team Prediction by the 16th August (just one month before RC):
Aliya Mustafina VT UB BB FX
Viktoria Komova UB BB
Ksenia Afanasyeva VT FX
Daria Spiridonova UB
Maria Paseka VT
Maria Kharenkova BB FX
Seda Tutkhalyan (Alt.)
The ones in the sidelines
These are the ones I don’t particulary think could make the team “by themselves”, or really factor in the mix, unless improving incredibly, or, what seems more probable, if someone between the top 7 gets seriously injured.
Dmitrieva. She has surprised me so many times this year. She was the rookie of Nationals for me. Attempting a DTY, and revealing later a much better Lopez, scoring as high as 14.7 on BB, and showing, probably, one of the best FX the Russians have this year (watch it on YT, it’s great). She is getting more consistent each time she competes, and, if she had a much better UB set, she would be just right there with the top ones. But sadly she’s not. Although I think that she has a lot of potential, and, if well paced and coached, could be a dark horse, maybe not for Rio, but yes for 2017 and the next quad. She reminds me a lot of a young Afan, and also has in herself all the style and spirit of the Russian school. Damn it, I REALLY WANT HER TO MAKE IT BIG. I just hope she kicks ass in Batumi at least. (If a gymnast like Afan, Paseka or Tutkhalyan gets injured, she could take her spot. Maybe she doesn’t have the same level of difficulty, but we would gain in quality for sure.)
Shelgunova. Oh, my Zhenya, you could have been so great. If you just weren’t that injury prone and had that form of absolute shit. What can I say, except on VT, where she just has a FTY (although she has competed a DTY in the past), she has tons of difficulty, nothing less of 6.0 in any event, but a form that could kill Elena Grudneva just with looking. She seems a nice girl, but you don’t make teams for being nice, and I just wish she never makes one. Unless she doesn’t work on her form (what is a little bit too late), she will not pass from the 8,3 E score (as if lol) in her life. She is a favourite of V-Rod (another proof that this woman is crazy), but Andrei doesn’t seem to like her. In something he had to be right, finally. (She would take the same spots as Dmitrieva, but I would take Nastya first.)
Kramarenko. Old but good. Very g00.000d tbh. Lol, sorry. Love you Kramo, but I had to do it. Getting serious, she was the one that left Komova out of Worlds last year (actually was Vika herself, but technically Kramo took her spot, although she ended up competing AA), and did very nice actually (for being a Russian. On a beam): She has done very well at Nationals, Universiade and at those Bundesliga meets lately, but sadly I can’t see her factoring that much anymore. She’s basically a refill if either Komova or Spiridonova gets injured, as she can easily get an UB score in the high 14′s, even over 15. Everybody knows that she has nice form, style and a interesting routine’s composition, so I don’t think It’s needed to say that she can be trusted. Unless we are talking about VT. Then, just call the firefighters.
Sosnitskaya. I don’t even think she will be back this soon, and even if she does, I don’t think she will be fully recovered. And even if she is fully recovered, I don’t think she will get further than Tutkhalyan. She could just factor in VT, and this year Paseka is better than her. Maybe FX, but I never saw the hype about her. Yes, big tumbling passes, but bad executed and with horrible basics. An to top, she has changed her Pretty Woman music, gaudy but at least entertaining. If by a miracle she is back by next month (which I doubt because she is not settled to compete in Batumi), she could replace Paseka, and if so, Afanasyeva.
I refuse to even discuss about Nabieva. For God’ sake, let’s have some dignity, Russian stans.