Saturday, July 25, 2009

Here Come.....


So, while everyone Stateside is probably eyeing off the Covergirls at the Classic this weekend, I am gonna devote a little time to the EYOF competitors (how was that for a word play huh?  Eye off- EYOF?  Geez I am HIL-arious!

While this little old Australian, who can't access the live streaming provided by USAG, awaits news and vids of the U.S Classic, I thought I would take a little time to study the up and coming European youngsters who competed this week at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Tampere.  

The line-up was littered with some very familiar young gymnastics upstarts as well as some new blood who will surely be gracing us with their gymnastics presences over the next few years.

Here is a little bit about each of the top 10 place-getters in the all-around competition, which was held last wednesday (I think!)

1. Viktoria Komova (Russia)

Young Miss Komova has been seen around the youth gymnastics traps a fair bit of late. In Tampere Komova took the AA with a p 1.5 margin over her nearest competitor,  Racea. Komova is coming off a series of successful competitions last year. She competed at the WOGA classic where she came third, outscored senior Goryanova to take the junior AA trophy at the Mikhail Voronin Cup and placed third at the Pacific Rim Championships.  It seems this year she is not letting up either.  She is the daughter of well-loved and well-talented Soviet gymnast Vera Kolesnikova. Viktoria is outrageously talented and capable of BIG tricks. Her floor mount is a one-and-a-half-twist to a double Arabian!!!  Watch this vid to see it in action of EYOF.  Love her leg up turn too.  I always appreciate it when a gymnast has enough left in her to lift the leg slightly at the end as a sort of flourish to the end of it.

2. Amelia Racea (Romania)

Racea is another junior we are already very come to know, and in my case love for her competitive spirit.  Among the new batch of Romanian youngster who were moved to Deva to train with the seniors this year, Amelia is considered to have great potential by Forminte.  Amelia might be somewhat disappointed with her second place as this little tiger told Prosport that she planned on taking out first place in Tampere, but she still scored reasonably well and, in true Romanian form, had the highest balance beam score by far. Like Komova, she has had a very successful junior career thus far.  She replaced Ana-marie Tamirjan to compete at the American Cup this year where she placed fifth.  She took first place at the Romanian International this year and came second on vault and floor. She won first place at the Trofeo Lugano this year too.  She plans on upgrades on vault and bars this year. Below is her performing on floor in Tampere.  She is definitely stronger on beam (no vid that I could find) but she still shows off the potential of her massive talent.

3. Celine van Gerner (Netherlands)

The Dutch youngster claimed third place, only .600 points behind Racea.  Her highest scoring event was vault with a 14.200 in AA, and she placed third on beam in EF.  Celine palced fourth in Lugano this year and was Dutch Champion on bars and floor and placed second on vault.  Celine started gymnastics when she was seven and her favorite apparatus is floor. She is not a terribly charismatic floor worker, but has lovely high tumbling and dynamics leaps and a nice finish to the routine.  Her favorite gymnast is Nastia Liukin. Watch the video here to see her perform a fairly clean vault with plenty of height and distance.  She is deceptively tough.

4. Violetta Malikova (Russia)

The very lithe and graceful Violetta had a rough beam set which dropped her into fourth place at the EYOF.  Her highest score was on vault where she received a 14.400. She won the floor in the EF.  Violetta is part of a large batch of upcoming Russian gymnasts.  I imagine competition between the young Ruskies will be fierce over the next few years!  I first saw Violetta perform in a Youtube video that captured her performing her floor routine in Moscow last year.  While the tumbling was not terribly difficult, she is a truly lovely dancer and has some rather wonderful extension moves throughout the exercise to some rather grandiose string music!  A few people had commented that she reminded them of a young Lysenko.  Maybe it is just the curly ponytail, but she also has an air of Lysenko's lovely composure to her performances.

5.  Naoual Ouazzani Chahdi (Netherlands)

This other young talented gymnast, with a mouthful of a name, claimed fifth place.  Her highest score was on vault where she received a 14.200.  She also placed third on vault in EFs. Chahdi was a 2006 and 2007 junior Dutch Champion. She placed 7th on bars at the junior Euros last year.  At the Pre-Olympic youth Cup, she scored a 14.700 for her Yurchenko 1 and 1/2. She likes floor and vault best and her hero is Verona Van De Leur.  She also loves to swim and read. Her favorite subjects at school are math and french. Here is a video of her performing two vaults at the 2009 FinGym event.  The first vault isn'tgreat-not much distance from the horse.  Her second was much cleaner but she still lacked distance.

6. Raluca Haidu (Romania)

The diminutive Raluca Haidu has been coming on strong in the Romanian gymnastics scene recently.  She won floor at the Romanian Internationals with a score of 14.800.  Not surprising considering she is a lovely little dancer and tumbler.  She also came third all-around at the Spain versus Romania meet and scored well on floor and vault. Her floor routine (see below) is almost unbearably cutesy, but she can pull it off because she is so tiny and cute.  Her first split leap was UNBELIEVABLE- unfortunately followed by not such a great one! I popped her beam routine in after it just because I seriously loving the lovely shape variations being made on an old school mount.  Gorgeous leaps.  Lovin' her switch side a whole lot.

7. Andrea Foti (Italy)

Italian gymnast Andrea Foti received her highest AA score on beam, where she got a 13.950. Last year at the Lervercusen Cup, Italy was beaten by the Germans, apparently after a particularly disastrous bars set, and Foti was their highest placed gymnast in the AA with fourth place.  She performed a pretty cool little floor routine to some old school big band music that had a hint of Tasha Schwikert's elite period sauce!  At EYOF, she competes less interesting choreography, and is still stumbling out of her double pikes. 
Andrea also placed second in vault, and third in floor at the Italian Nationals this year.  There did, however, seem to only be two vault competitors! Andrea was born in 1995.

8. Laura Svilpaite (Lithuania)

You have to admit, its pretty exciting to see a young Lithuanian gymnast doing so well in international competition.  She had a great bars score in the EYOF field, getting a 14.300 in the AA, but had a low execution score in EF bringing her down to fifth place.  Laura first caught a bit of attention when she won the junior division at the WoGA Classic and showed off wonderful form and lovely grace and execution and equalled senior division winner, Christy Tanella's AA score.  She also outscored everyone on bars at WOGA, showing off skills such as a Stalder-full to Tkatchev, pak salto and a double layout dismount.  She is considered to be something of a sensation among the juniors.

9. Julie Croket (Belgium)

Julie and her sister, Stephanie have both been training in Belgian gymnastics since they were little girls and both have experienced much success.  Julie's highest score at the EYOF was a 14.100 on vault.  As an elite junior for Belgium, Julie had garnered great scores on vault and floor, particularly in one meet in 2007 where she received a 14.800 for her vaulting and a 14.830 on floor at the Flemish Championship.  Gifted with a small, powerful physique and a cheeky smile, Julie performed a very engaging and mischievous floor routine with an impressively high double pike dismount in 2007.  She came in third of the junior elites at the Championships. At the junior Euros last year she came eighth on vault. I don't know if she used the same routine at EYOF.  She trains 33 hours a week.

10. Jennifer Pinches (Great Britain)

Jennifer Pinches highest AA score was a 13.850 on vault. Young Jennifer is a training partner is none other than Beth Tweddle, has been rising steadily up the ranks in British Gymnastics.  She was a British junior champion in 2004, meaning she got to go to a training camp at Cetate Deva. She also, last year, got to go to Beijing as a member of the  2012 Ambition delegation. After a 2005-6 year plagued by injuries, Jennifer and her family relocated for her father's job and she began training at the famous Liverpool club where she has begun to improve again. 
Jennifer is known as Jem for the first letters of each of her given names, Jennifer, Elizabeth Mary.  This year, among her repertoire of skills, Jennifer has been learning a full-twisting tuck from standing on beam. She is also a rather lithe and elegant floor work with a pretty mean Arabian on her!  Check out the vid below.  She did her best to reign in the landing on that first pass too! She was fourth at the 2008 British Championships and nabbed a medal in every single event.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few good vaulters in this batch. Thank heavens! Vault has been a little bleak of late.

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