So I was taking all these notes on the competition as I watched because I wanted to give a play-by-play blog entry on the competition. From what I could find, there weren’t any other websites offering such coverage of the competition. However I soon discovered that International Gymnast was offering routine-by-routine coverage for it’s subscribers through their Ziert Alert section. I tried to get access to the Alerts which was available to all subscribers (which I am) but I couldn’t remember my login information and therefore could not get access. They have now released the Alerts for all non-subscribers to enjoy as well. So since he actually gets paid (lucky guy!) for writing about it, I thought I would leave the extensive coverage aspect to Paul Ziert and focus on blogging my thoughts and opinions instead. Looking forward to hearing yours as well…

Ferrari with her country's first-ever World Championships Gold Medal in Women's Gymnastics
  • Vanessa Ferrari: This gal is amazing! She is a true “all-around” athlete (great on all 4 events) and a real firecracker to boot. Just what you would expect from an Italian named Ferrari. It seems like the sport has been needing someone like this for years now. She has charisma and audience appeal, with the skills to back it up. We have oft seen a gymnast with skills but the public persona of plywood. Not so with Vanessa Ferrari. She truly seems to have it all. Yes, her form and height on Vault could use some work but she’s still pulling off her double-twisting yurchenko pretty well. I wouldn’t say she has an incredible swing on Bars but she has nice clean lines, good releases (including a Comaneci – tough stuff) and a spectacular double layout dismount. She really flies on the dismount and maintains the laid-out position throughout both flips. And boy, does she know how to rock a landing! She makes gymnastics exciting to watch. I think Beam and Floor are her real strengths. She did fall on her backhandspring, full-twisting back combo in the All Around (more on winning with a fall later) but the rest of her set was right on. She has a good variety of skills in her routine and really recovered well. And finally… Floor. WOW! Did she ever nail that routine!? She was so exciting to watch. Every landing was stuck cold (her triple twist notwithstanding – there was a miniscule hop forward) and I mean ‘stuck cold.’ She didn’t even do the typical female lunge backward. It was remarkable. And she was throwing hard stuff! Double-twisting double back, full in, triple twist, double pike. And, this is the best part, the kid can dance too! I mean, she’s no Lilia Popkopayeva, but she knows how to sell a routine. She sold me, that’s for sure. Well done and congratulations to Italy for it’s first-ever World Championships gold medal.
  • Jana Bieger: What an excellent World Championships for Bieger. She really had a fantastic outing in the All Around. The main areas of improvement that remain for Bieger as she moves steadily toward 2008 would be her form and presentation. For the most part all of the skills are there, with the exception of Vault, where she could use more difficulty. She certainly has the height and distance for a yurchenko double so it just seems to be a matter of time there. She swings well on Bars and has nice high releases but her knees don’t seem locked out straight. I think part of it is just genetics. Her legs don’t naturally have that crisp, straight look (think Jenny Thompson, USA – she also had this problem but made great strides in her form throughout her career) but I still think there is room for her to tighten up a bit. I would actually say the same for Beam. She has all the difficulty and some cool originality but she needs to focus on her form and presentation. The same really goes for Floor. She has definitely improved since last year. You could see that she was enjoying herself and was selling the routine much more than in the past. I think that her choreography is holding her back. With improved choreography and more attention to the little details of her form and overall presence on the apparatus, she could give Ferrari a run for her money. My favorite skills of hers include her stalder reverse hecht on Bars, back tuck to her knee on Beam and her front full through to triple twist on Floor.
  • Ashley Priess: I was so impressed with this athlete. It was fantastic to finally get to see her perform on all 4 events. I think they aired just two of her (eight) routines from Nationals last Summer so that’s really all I’ve seen of her. What pressure to compete last minute in the All Around Finals at the World Championships! She had a fantastic competition going until her last event. I was incredibly disappointed when she fell on her 2.5 twist to layout front. She was really having a great day up until that point and might have even snagged the bronze medal. What a feat that would have been! Ashley’s gymnastics is crisp and sharp, with excellent presentation and presence on the floor. She can sell a routine. She just needs to increase her difficulty level and she should be able to challenge for an All Around medal in any competition, even gold. I can’t wait to see how she progresses in the years to come. I’m also a huge fan of her coach, Mary Lee Tracy, and her style of coaching.

Ashley Priess on Beam during the All Around Finals in Denmark
    • Sandra Izbasa: I’m not typically a huge fan of the Romanians in the All Around. They can rock a Beam set like it’s nobody’s business and they sure can tumble but they usually lack the complete-ness on all 4 events to make for a good All Arounder. So Sandra Izbasa was a bit of a surprise. In general I like her overall look. She’s taller than most Romanian gymnasts, which makes her lines more long and lean and graceful. She can actually swing a decent set of Bars, she has a great yurchenko double on Vault, and her triple full off Beam is something to see. She completes the twist easily and lands it with such control. The only one I’ve seen better than hers was Ji Liya’s (CHN) in the late 90s. Izbasa might not be the most spectacular gymnast on the competition floor but she was consistent and clean in the All Around finals in Aarhus and quietly grabbed the bronze medal. Well done.
    • Winning with a Fall: I’ve written about this before. I don’t mind this happening on occasion. I think that Paul Hamm’s win in Athens despite a fall was fine. He was so much more dominant on the other events that he still ended up in first place. His other five events, particularly Parallel Bars and High Bar were fantastic. It was somewhat unheard of at the time (only other one in recent memory was Ivan Ivankov at Worlds in 1994) but Paul really pulled off the comeback of a lifetime. It was tremendous. But it just seems to be happening too often now with the new code of points. I know, I know. We’ve got to stop complaining about the new code. It’s getting old. But it’s happened so many times now that it just makes me wonder… how are people falling and still winning the All Around gold?
    • Other noteworthy athletes & skills from the All Around Competition:
    1. Dasha Joura (AUS) – clean and beautiful gymnastics. I especially like her backhandspring back tuck combo on Beam and her salute.
    2. Hollie Dykes (AUS) – there aren’t enough adjectives to describe the beauty of her gymnastics. She is definitely one to watch
    3. Pang Panpan (CHN) – Classical Chinese Bars and Beam work. Great floor routine. Unfortunate fall off Beam and hands down on yurchenko double.
    4. Isabelle Severino (FRA) – Great presentation and tumbling on Floor. Quite an impressive comeback to elite competition.
          My thoughts on the Event Finals coming soon. Until then, what did you think of the Women’s All Around?

          Be Sociable, Share!