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Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 23 December 2014 15:20    PDF Print
Worlds Debut Helped Make 2014 Memorable For Norway's Braaten
(8 votes, average 4.88 out of 5)

IG Online's annual holiday series continues with an update on Norway's Sophie Braaten, who was the sole Norwegian female to compete at this year's world championships.

Norwegian gymnast Sofie Braaten told IG that winning Norway's national all-around title and competing at this fall's world championships in Nanning made for a memorable 2014.

Sophie Braaten (Norway)

"These are the two biggest goals I set myself for the year," Braaten said. "I am proud of myself for making these goals even though I had an arm injury, where I tore a ligament in my arm, in the beginning of the year."

Braaten started her career at age 5 at Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy while her father, who works for the Norwegian military, was stationed in the United States. She now trains at Oslo Gymnastics Club in Hasle, where her coaches are Antonio Egri (vault, uneven bars and floor exercise) and Agneta Ergle (balance beam and floor choreography).

Despite a mistake on uneven bars, Braaten said she was pleased with her results in Nanning, where she was Norway's only female competitor.

"I am very happy with my performance in Nanning," she said. "My only big miss was a fall in my dismount on bars. I learned a lot from my experience in Nanning. It was my first time competing on a podium, which was very different but also very exciting. I gained a lot of experience from competing, and also I learned a lot by watching and getting inspired by all of the incredible gymnasts who were competing."

Braaten said her "ultimate" goal for 2015 is to again win the Norwegian all-around title. Doing so would help her pursue other goals for the year, such as representing Norway at the Nordic championships, the Northern European championships, the Europeans in Montpellier, the European Games in Baku and worlds in Glasgow.

"To achieve these goals I am trying to add some new elements in my routines, which will increase my difficulty," Braaten said. "Also I will focus on execution and try to get the cleanest gymnastics that I can."

Braaten said she plans to enjoy Christmas in an unusual setting.

"This Christmas is going to be quite different from my normal traditions," she said. "Since my dad is deployed abroad and cannot make it home for Christmas, I am going to travel to Thailand with my mom and brother to relax and enjoy the heat and beach."

Braaten is also looking forward to the end of 2014 and the start of the new year.

"I will be back from Thailand just in time to celebrate New Year's Eve with all of my friends," she told IG. "My New Year's resolution is to try to eat as healthy as possible."

Written by John Crumlish    Friday, 19 December 2014 20:52    PDF Print
Schäfer Proud of 2014 Success, Signature Skill
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

International Gymnast Online continues its annual series of holiday-themed features with this profile on rising German talent Pauline Schäfer.

German gymnast Pauline Schäfer told IG she is pleased and inspired by her 2014 achievements, including success at the European and world championships, as well as the verification of a new skill that bears her name.

Pauline Schäfer (Germany)

"I'm very happy with how this year went," said Schäfer, whose side salto from one leg with half turn on balance beam bears her name and an 'E' difficulty rating in the Code of Points. "It was an amazing time with lots of beautiful impressions, especially at the world championships in China and European championships in Bulgaria. We have a great team and it was so much fun to be part of this group. I had an amazing experience and I'm looking forward to the next year."

Schäfer said her team has potential for better results in 2015, despite problems in qualifications at this fall's worlds in Nanning. Germany finished ninth in Nanning, missing the cut for the team final by one place.

"I think there are multiple reasons, and we could discuss at length why our performances were not good enough for the team final," said Schäfer, who finished 41st all-around in qualifications in Nanning. "Overall we had a good preparation camp in Japan. I don't know exactly why it is that we made so many mistakes during the qualifications. Everybody has a bad day sometimes and unfortunately this was definitely far from perfect for us. But I'm sure that we learned from this situation and we will do better next year!"

Coached by Gabriele Frehse, Schäfer also helped Germany place fourth in team standings at Europeans in Sofia in May; and placed second all-around, first on vault and balance beam, and second on floor exercise at the German championships in August.

Schäfer and her German teammates defeated Russia and Switzerland to win the DTB Team Challenge on Nov. 30 in Stuttgart. She placed eighth all-around at the Glasgow World Cup on Dec. 6.

After a busy competition year, Schäfer is eager to enjoy the holidays with her family, including her parents, grandmother, three brothers and one sister. She will turn 18 on Jan. 4.

"I will be at home for Christmas and I'm looking forward to this time because I'm there so seldom," Schäfer told IG. "My family is the most important thing in my life besides gymnastics. I will have a great time at home. We have a Christmas tree, and on the 24th the whole family will be together and have a merry Christmas!"

International Gymnast magazine's recent features on German gymnast include:
"Tough Lesson" - Janine Berger interview (October 2012)
Philipp Boy interview and two-page center poster (May 2011)
Kim Bui interview (April 2013)
Maike Enderle profile (September 2014)
"Renaissance Man" – Fabian Hambüchen cover story (December 2013)
"Just the Beginning" – Hambüchen photo review (June 2013)
"New View from the Top" - Lisa Katharina Hill profile (July/August 2013)
"Leaps and Bounds for Germany" - Nadine Jarosch profile (January/February 2012)
Steffi Kräker interview/Hall of Fame induction feature (June 2011)
"Clutch Horse Rider" - Sebastian Krimmer profile (January 2011)
"Silver Streak" – Marcel Nguyen interview (November 2012)
"Fast Mender" – Nguyen profile (June 2011)
"Calm, Clean Style" - Sophie Scheder profile (December 2013)
"Seizing the Moment" - Elisabeth Seitz interview (July/August 2011)

To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 16 December 2014 14:45    PDF Print
2015 Should Be 'Springboard' to Success for Glazer
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

IG kicks off its annual holiday series with Israel's Eyal Glazer, who saw success in 2014 as a bronze medalist at the Junior European championships in Sofia. Pictured: Eyal (right) with still rings medalists Brinn Bevan (Great Britain) and Vinzenz Höck (Austria) at the 201 Junior European championships.

IG kicks off its annual holiday series with Israel's Eyal Glazer, who saw success in 2014 as a bronze medalist at the Junior European championships in Sofia.

Israeli gymnast Eyal Glazer told IG that his bronze medal-winning rings performance at this spring's Junior European championships is among three highlights of his successful competition year.

"2014 was a very successful year for me and I can think of three meaningful moments," he said. "The first two were in Sofia, Bulgaria, during the junior European championships. First was our team's achievement. We won sixth place in the team competition. Two years ago we were 21st and in Sofia we were hoping to get into the first 10 teams, so this really exceeded our expectations. It is the highest place a team from Israel ever got in gymnastics. Second is my personal achievement. I got into three finals: all-around, pommel horse and rings. In rings I won the bronze medal, also the first time for an Israeli junior (male) gymnast. It was very exciting to stand on the podium and get the medal."

Glazer said competing at this fall's world championships was his third most meaningful experience of 2014.

"I had a good competition in Nanning," he said. "I managed to perform all my routines without big mistakes, I was satisfied with the scores I got and also set a personal all-around record. I had only a short period to prepare my routines for the senior level after Bulgaria, and I was pleased with the results."

Glazer said Israel's potential for future team success is strong, despite its limited success in Nanning.

"The Israeli federation built a new senior team for Nanning, mostly based on young gymnasts who had just moved into senior level, like me," he said. "Michael Sorokin, Yair Shechter, Moran Yanuka and I joined Israel's top gymnast Alexander Shatilov and European vault finalist Andrey Medvedev. We were hoping to make it to the top 24 teams, in order to get the criteria for Glasgow (worlds) next year. Unfortunately we did not succeed and got 30th place."

Glazer said that, although only three Israeli gymnasts will therefore be able to compete at next fall's worlds in Glasgow, the team is optimistic.

"We still have a lot of progress to make, but it is only the beginning for us and I am convinced that we will succeed the future," he said.

Glazer said the international experience he acquired in 2014 will benefit him in competitions ahead.

"It was my first time to compete in European finals and also the first time I participated in senior competitions," he said. "I feel that now I know better how to prepare myself for a competition and how to function in real time."

For 2015, Glazer has three main goals: raise his difficulty level on all events, especially on vault; make the all-around final at Europeans in Montpellier, France; and be among the three Israelis to compete at worlds in Glasgow.

Glazer's coming year will also include service in the military, which he joined two weeks ago.

"It is obligatory in Israel to serve in the army for three years," he said. "I was acknowledged as an excellent sportsman, which means I'll be able to continue my training. I hope everything will work out and I'll be able to combine my military service and my progress as a gymnast."

Glazer said he looks forward to Hanukkah, the eight-day festival that began Tuesday, although he will be away from home.

"Usually Hanukkah is a very family-like holiday," he said. "We light candles, eat traditional food and sing many songs. This year, unfortunately I will not be with my family because it is my turn to stay in my military base for the weekend. It will certainly be a different experience and I hope it will be nice."

Glazer said 2015 should launch him closer to the ultimate objective.

"In general I plan to continue in the same direction, but hope to improve and to establish my position as a leading senior gymnast in Israel," he told IG. "I aspire to take this year as a 'springboard' and as another step in my journey towards my final goal, to participate in the Olympic Games."

Written by Travis Seefried    Thursday, 11 December 2014 01:00    PDF Print
Mustafina On The Road To Recovery from Back Injury
(15 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

Russian star Aliya Mustafina is taking a break from competition to rest and heal from a nagging back injury.

Russian star Aliya Mustafina is taking a break from competition to rest and heal from a nagging back injury, Russian team coach Valentina Rodionenko told the Russian media.

Originally scheduled to compete at last weekend's Glasgow World Cup competition, Mustafina withdrew because of a long-term back injury that was aggravated at last month's World Cup competition in Stuttgart. In Stuttgart, Mustafina finished fifth with uncharacteristic falls off balance beam and uneven bars.

In early December, Mustafina travelled to Munich to seek answers from medical experts concerning her lingering back injury. The diagnosis was positive in the fact that no surgery would be needed at this time. It was determined that she has an inflammation of the lumbar spine. It is expected that two weeks of treatments and additional rehab will be all that is needed for Mustafina to return to full training by early 2015.

Rodionenko is optimistic that the 11-time world medalist will be ready for next year's individual European championships to be held in Montpellier, France.

"Aliya is being treated conservatively," Rodionenko said. "I think everything will be fine. I have no doubt she will recover in time for the next European championships."

This year's international season draws to a close with several annual competitions including the Mikhail Voronin Cup in Moscow. Russian Olympians Ksenia Afanasyeva and Anastasia Grishina, who missed the world championships, are scheduled to compete in their own bids to successful comebacks. Viktoria Komova had been planning to complete but withdrew with a sore ankle.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 02 December 2014 18:04    PDF Print
Palesova 'Ready To Enjoy Challenge' After Injury
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Recovering from knee surgery, two-time Czech Olympian Kristyna Palesova told IG she plans to stay patient but optimistic as she aims for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Kristyna Palesova (Czech Republic)

"For now I only know that I don't want to rush anything about it, and I will take a lot of time to strengthen my knee until I'll get back fully," she said.

Palesova injured her right knee three weeks ago after landing a full-twisting Yurchenko vault.

"It was little bit strange, because my landing was just normal," said the 23-year-old Palesova, who trains in Brno. "There was nothing really wrong in that vault. I just landed with my right knee more inside than usual, and so I sprained it and heard a crack afterwards."

Palesova said the results of an MRI showed a ruptured meniscus and damaged ACL, which were repaired in surgery.

"If the ACL would have been torn completely I would had to have one more surgery in December," she said. "But luckily the surgery showed only a partial tear. Then they found a stretched internal lateral ligament and they repaired the meniscus. The main injury was a rupture of cartilage, which they repaired, too, thankfully all in one surgery."

Palesova said her doctor has advised her that she should be able to resume training in approximately five weeks.

"At this time I am only home having a 'relaxing' rehabilitation time," Palesova said. "I cannot walk at all on my leg until the doctor control. They will take the stitches out and after that we can plan more about my rehabilitation."

Palesova suffered a similar injury in podium training at the 2009 World Championships in London, recovered and competed at the 2012 London Games.

Despite the setback, Palesova still has her third Olympic Games in sight.

"Like I said many times I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I think this time for me the reason really was that my body needed to rest little bit," Palesova told IG. "And like always, if you are able to overcome any of your injuries, you come back especially mentally stronger than before. The reason is the same for me now, I guess. I am going to rest my body, I am going to heal my knee, I will find a new motivation to come back and then I will come back stronger than ever. And this time I am even ready to enjoy this challenge."

International Gymnast magazine's features on Czech gymnasts include:
Vera Caslavska/Hall of Fame induction feature (June 2012)
"Rebuilding Phase" - Kristyna Palesova profile (June 2011)
"Shooting Star" - Petra Fialova profile (January/February 2010)
"Central European Sojourn" – includes IG's visit to Sokol Brno club (January/February 2010)
"On the Upswing" - Jana Sikulova profile (July/August 2006)
"Reality Czech" – Jana Komrskova feature (November 2003)
"Catching up with Hana Ricna Jessen" – profile (May 2001)
Jana Komrskova profile (August/September 2000)

To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.


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