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Written by Amanda Turner    Saturday, 29 November 2014 17:43    PDF Print
Iordache Wins Stuttgart World Cup
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

Romania star Larisa Iordache won the women's all-around title at the DTB World Cup, held Saturday in Stuttgart. Pictured: All-around medalists Jessica Lopez (Venezuela), Iordache and Kim Bui (Germany)

Romania star Larisa Iordache won the women's all-around title at the DTB World Cup, held Saturday in Stuttgart.

Iordache, the all-around silver medalist from October's world championships, hit four strong events to take the title with 59.766. Two-time Venezuelan Olympian Jessica Lopez (57.799) was second over Stuttgart's own Kim Bui (56.665).

Iordache had her highest score, 15.533) on balance beam with a clean routine (ff tucked full; two-foot layout; RO ff triple twist). She clinched the title with 14.600 on floor exercise (tucked and piked full-ins; triple twist; double pike).

Lopez vaulted a double-twisting Yurchenko for 14.600, then earned the best score of the day on uneven bars, 14.833, for a pack routine (piked Tkatchev to Pak; Maloney uprise free hip pirouette; elgrip Jaeger; giant-full to Tkatchev to Gienger; elgrip to double front). After a few wobbles and checks on balance beam, she performed beautifully on floor exercise (whip; triple twist; 2 1/2 to front layout; double pike) to clinch second ahead of Bui.

Bui had her highest score of the day on uneven bars, showing tremendous amplitude (Maloney-half; toe-on full to Gienger; Jaeger; Pak salto; Maloney to bail; high full-twisting double). The 2012 Olympian ended strongly on floor exercise with a double layout; whip immediate double tuck; 2 1/2 to pike front and double pike.

Two-time Olympian Vanessa Ferrari (Italy) finished fourth, less than three tenths behind Bui. Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina (Russia) had an off day to place fifth. After a strong start on vault (15.000), Mustafina fell off uneven bars (cast handstand gone wrong) and balance beam (standing Arabian).

Another Russian gymnast, Alla Sosnitskaya, finished sixth ahead of Canadian Olympian Ellie Black and Germany's Lisa-Katharina Hill.

Following the World Cup event, the Japanese men claimed victory at the DTB Team Challenge.

Only third in qualification, Japan defeated the United States, Germany and Brazil to win the team final. The top four teams from Friday's qualification advanced to the final.

Competition continues Sunday with the men's World Cup event and the women's team final. The lineup for the men's World Cup features Sergio Sasaki (Brazil), Fabian Hambüchen (Germany), Yusuke Saito and Yusuke Tanaka (Japan), Nikolai Kuksenkov (Russia), Oleg Vernyayev (Ukraine) and Donnell Whittenburg (USA).

External Link: Official Website

2014 DTB World Cup
Nov. 29, Stuttgart

Women's All-AroundVTUBBBFXTotal
1.Larisa Iordache15.13314.70015.33314.60059.766
2.Jessica Lopez14.60014.83314.20014.16657.799
3.Kim Bui14.13314.60013.66614.26656.665
4.Vanessa Ferrari13.80013.93314.33314.36656.432
5.Aliya Mustafina15.00013.83313.60013.96656.399
6.Alla Sosnitskaya14.33314.00012.93314.10055.366
7.Ellie Black13.93313.73313.70013.83355.199
8.Lisa-Katharina Hill13.93314.96612.70013.26654.865

1. Japan44.15043.70044.05043.40043.60043.400177.100
Daisuke Suzuki14.55014.00014.10014.00014.600
Shohei Fujiwara14.25014.75014.80014.50014.350
Rikii Hoshino15.35014.50014.80014.800
Yoshiaki Furutani14.95014.75014.80014.450
2. United States43.80042.90030.15029.15043.20042.400176.550
Marvin Kimble14.10014.10014.75015.10014.500
Akash Modi14.45014.45014.75015.00014.150
C.J. Maestas15.25014.35015.40013.750
Robert Baker14.40013.100
3. Germany44.30042.50041.30043.50042.75044.250175.950
Philipp Herder14.80014.10012.35014.750
Helge Liebrich14.60014.05014.90014.300
Andreas Bretschneider14.90014.40014.25014.90015.150
Andreas Toba14.35014.55014.35013.10014.800
4. Brazil43.10042.05043.30044.00041.05041.900175.250
Lucas Bitencourt14.60013.80014.10014.45012.40014.250
Francisco Barretto14.20013.35014.70014.850
Arthur Mariano15.15014.05014.65013.95012.800
Arthur Zanetti13.35015.85014.900

International Gymnast magazine's coverage of DTB Cup competitors includes:
"Canadian Promise" - Ellie Black chat (July/August 2014)
"Canadian Diversity" - Black profile (July/August 2013)
"Black to Business" - Black interview (November 2012)
Kim Bui interview (April 2013)
"Vintage Ferrari" - Vanessa Ferrari interview (December 2013)
"Refueling Ferrari" – Ferrari interview (January/February 2009)
"Renaissance Man" - Fabian Hambüchen cover story
"New Vie from the Top" - Lisa Katharina Hill profile (July/August 2013)
"Growing Pains" - Larisa Iordache cover story (March 2013)
Iordache two-page center poster (June 2013)
Iordache on cover photo collage (July/August 2012)
"Serious Contender" - Nikolai Kuksenkov profile (March 2011)
"Viva Venezuela" - Jessica Lopez profile (March 2008)
Aliya Mustafina interview (May 2014)
Mustafina center poster (January/February 2013)
Mustafina on cover photo collage (July/August 2012)
Mustafina cover photo collage (May 2011)
"The Mustafina Mystique" – profile (January/February 2011)
Mustafina cover photo (December 2010)
"Front and Centered' - Oleg Vernyayev interview (January/February 2014)

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

Written by John Crumlish    Saturday, 22 November 2014 19:03    PDF Print
Interview: Kristina Pravdina (Azerbaijan)
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

A world championships and World Cup medalist for Russia earlier in her career, Kristina Pravdina is preparing for her debut performance for Azerbaijan later this month. Pictured: Marina Nekrasova, Anzhela Abdullayeva, Pravdina and Maria Smirnova

A world championships and World Cup medalist for Russia earlier in her career, Kristina Pravdina is preparing for her debut performance for Azerbaijan later this month.

Pravdina (left) in Baku with teammates Marina Nekrasova and Maria Smirnova

Pravdina, a native of Voronezh, was a mainstay on last decade's Russian team. Among her biggest accomplishments, she won a team silver medal and finished 24th all-around at the 2006 world championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

In qualifications at the 2007 worlds in Stuttgart, Pravdina placed 16th all-around, but was unable to advance to the all-around final. She was third among Russia's all-arounders, and therefore could not advance because of the two-gymnasts-per-country maximum. In the team final, Russia dropped from a probable medal to eighth place when a teammate balked on her vault in the last rotation and scored zero.

Pravdina's other best international results included the bronze medal on uneven bars at the 2006 World Cup of Shanghai; fifth place on balance beam and seventh place on uneven bars at the 2006 World Cup of Lyon; seventh place (tie) all-around and sixth place on balance beam at the 2007 European championships in Amsterdam.

In Russian domestic competitions, Pravdina was third all-around at the 2007 Russian championships; second on floor exercise at the 2007 Russian Cup; seventh all-around, second (tie) on floor exercise and third on uneven bars at the 2008 Russian Cup; and eighth all-around at the 2009 Russian Cup.

Pravdina, who will turn 24 on Dec. 28, shared details of the new phase of her career in this IG Online interview.

IG: When and why did you decide to return to competition, and for Azerbaijan?

KP: As you know, the first European Games will take place in Baku (in June 2015). Among the 20 sports will be gymnastics. At the end of 2013 the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation coordinated a women's gymnastics team. My parents received the invitation to work in Baku, and I, based on family circumstances, moved with them. Then they offered for me to join the team of this country. I felt I could help and consequently agreed.

Pravdina at the 2006 World Championships

IG: When did you return to training, and who is coaching you?

KP: I got back into training in September. My father, Alexander Pravdin, and my mother, Nina Pravdina, who previously was my coach-choreographer, are coaching me.

IG: How much support are you getting from your former Voronezh teammates, Yulia Inshina and Marina Nekrasova, who are also competing for Azerbaijan?

KP: Seeing how we previously performed in the same team for the Voronezh gymnastics school named for Yuri Eduardovich Shtukman, we have developed very friendly relationships. We support each other and get along well, both in sports and in life.

IG: What's on your agenda, competition-wise?

KP: My next start will be Nov. 28 to 30 in Stuttgart, Germany (DTB Cup – Team Challenge). We plan to compete on two apparatuses - uneven bars and beam - with the kind of program that I will have time to restore.

IG: What is the most difficult aspect of your return? Is it something physical, or a combination of things?

KP: The most difficult thing was the first week of training, to force myself to continue when all of my muscles hurt. And at the moment it is a combination of intellectual and physical workloads after a long break.

IG: What do you wish to prove in this new phase of your career?

KP: I would like to put together competitively capable routines, with which it will be possible to compete for medals.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 18 November 2014 11:24    PDF Print
IG Online Interview: Yelena Grosheva and Steve Barakatt
(10 votes, average 4.60 out of 5)

1996 Olympic silver medalist Yelena Grosheva of Russia and her husband, Canadian composer Steve Barakatt, are the first couple to be appointed Canadian Ambassadors to UNICEF.

1996 Olympic silver medalist Yelena Grosheva of Russia and her husband, Canadian composer Steve Barakatt, are the first couple to be appointed Canadian Ambassadors to UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund). They are in Russia this month on their latest humanitarian mission, which includes the Moscow debut of Barakatt’s symphonic work "Ad Vitam Aeternam" on November 19.

Preparing for the performance of "Ad Vitam Aeternam" in the Great Hall of the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory, Grosheva and Barakatt have also enjoyed a visit to Grosheva’s hometown of Yaroslavl, where in 2010 Barakatt debuted the work as part of the city’s 1,000-year anniversary. Grosheva has also been able to connect with her gymnastics friends during their Russian trip.

Known for her elegance and precision, Grosheva was a mainstay for the Russian team during the mid-1990s. She competed at four world championships from 1994-1997, and helped Russia win the team silver at the 1996 Olympic Games. Following her competitive career, she was a performer with Cirque du Soleil. She and Barakatt now live in Quebec City with their daughter, Victoria.

Grosheva and Barakatt shared aspects of their mission, and Grosheva’s nostalgic visit to her homeland, in this IG Online interview.

IG: Steve, having performed your work in Yaroslavl in 2010, what motivated you to present it this year in Moscow?

SB: This Moscow premiere of "Ad Vitam Aeternam" is a combination of several desires. First, we wanted to do something special to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the fifth anniversary of "Lullaby, the UNICEF Anthem" I had the honor to compose in 2009. In the meantime, it was a dream to perform the symphony "Ad Vitam Aeternam" in one of the most prestigious concert halls in the world. So we simply decided to do it.

Grosheva at the 1996 Olympic Games

IG: What do you hope the performance on Nov. 19 will do to inspire not only the audience members, but worldwide listeners?

SB: "Ad Vitam Aeternam" is a musical experience inviting the audience to look at Life Experience with a new perspective - a time of introspection. We hope it can inspire more and more people. We will actually release a live recording and videos of this historic event. So yes, we hope to send a positive message to all citizens of the world!

IG: Yelena, how does this performance factor in terms of your and Steve's roles as Canadian Ambassadors for UNICEF?

YG: As UNICEF Ambassadors, we wanted to make sure that the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights for the Child would be celebrated, and we thought that a musical event is a good platform to pay tribute to the world's children.

IG: Which of your gymnastics friends have you been able to visit?

YG: For sure I contacted and hopefully will contact more with some of my friends from the gymnastics world. I would love to see all of them, but Russia is a big country, and for sure I will not have chance to see all my friends! Through the years we kept a great friendship with Sveta Khorkina, and every time I visit Russia we do our maximum and always find a way to see each other. In Yaroslavl I also have one of my best friends from the gymnastics world. For sure I will go to visit Aleksandr Timonkin, my coach. Unfortunately he is not with us in this world anymore, but I always visit him in his new home, the cemetery. And I know that a few of my friends and coaches will come to see the concert on November 19 in Moscow.

IG: How is your daughter, Victoria, enjoying the trip?

YG: She loves to come here and spend some time with grandmama and all her friends! She is going at the moment to a Russian preschool to improve her Russian, and she just loves it! I think this experience for her will be memorable as it will be for us!

IG: We have read some of Steve's interviews in Russian press. If you are serving as his interpreter, how are you enjoying this "job"?

YG: Yes I did, I do and will do this "job" of interpreter. I cannot say that it is easy for me, especially the radio interviews in Russian and English, but I kind of enjoy doing the newspaper interviews, especially if I have time and I do not have to rush. I think it’s very good exercise to improve my English also!

Read "Catching up with Yelena Grosheva," a profile in the June 2009 issue of International Gymnast magazine, and "Boldly Beautiful," an interview with Grosheva, in the March 1997 issue. To order back issues, or subscribe to the print and/or digital edition of International Gymnast magazine, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Monday, 20 October 2014 19:22    PDF Print
IG Online Interview: Alexa Moreno (Mexico)
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Seventh on vault at the world championships in Nanning earlier this month, veteran Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno has a medal on her mind as she begins to prepare for the 2015 Worlds and Pan American Games. Pictured: Moreno, third from left, with her teammates in Nanning.

Seventh on vault at the world championships in Nanning earlier this month, veteran Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno has a medal on her mind as she begins to prepare for the 2015 Worlds and Pan American Games.

Moreno, who turned 20 on Aug. 8, has been challenging for and winning medals on her best apparatus for the past few years. She placed seventh on vault at the 2011 worlds in Tokyo; second on vault first on vault at the 2012 Challenger Cup of Ghent; second on vault at the 2012 World Cup of Zibo, China; and fifth on vault at the 2013 University Games in Kazan.

In Nanning, Moreno also contributed significantly to Mexico quest to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. She was 39th all-around in qualifications, where she helped Mexico place 14th in team standings. The top 24 teams in Nanning advanced to the 2015 worlds in Glasgow, from which the top eight teams will qualify for the Rio Games. Four additional teams will earn Olympic berths at an event in Rio in early 2016.

IG caught up with Moreno about her performance in Nanning, as well as her goals for herself and her team next year.

IG: What aspect of your performance in Nanning gave you the most satisfaction, and why? Was it making the vault final again, your all-around finish, your team finish or something else?

AM: There were various things that make me feel satisfied with my work. Our team participation was a lot better than we were expecting. We did not have big failures, we showed constancy and I think we looked kind of like a strong team.

IG: How would you compare your all-around result to your vault result?

AM: I was able to compete all-around and I was so happy because, in my previous world championship participations, I was not able to compete in everything. I was especially glad when I competed on beam and did my routine with just little errors. Lately I was having trouble with that, and doing it right makes me feel very good. And of course, achieving my goal of being in the first eight on vault let me realize that I am on the correct path, and if I keep training hard I can go further.

Moreno on vault in Nanning

IG: What caused the problem you had on your second vault in the final, and what do you think you need to work on to avoid it in the future?

AM: For that I was pretty upset at first. Why? Maybe the nerves or maybe I wasn't thinking very clearly. I really don't know. But what I have to do is go out and compete more. That is what, I believe, I need to do. Competing is a way to train mentality.

IG: Since the Tokyo worlds you added an extra full twist to your second vault. What improvements or upgrades do you plan so you can keep making vault finals?

AM: What is most important is gaining height. After accomplishing this I can do whatever change I need. I have to improve my execution, too. And if I can do this, then I can start thinking about upgrading my vaults.

IG: What are your plans for upgrades on the other events?

AM: I will work to be in the top 24 in the all-around next year. I have to get better E notes in everything, so I have lot of work to do. And I will try to improve my D notes, too, just a little more. I believe I have good abilities for tumbling.

IG: 2015 will be an important year for you individually, as well as for the Mexican team. What are your personal goals for next year?

AM: Indeed it will be an important year. We are looking to be in the top 16 teams next year, but if we work hard we can think in being in the top 12. I will be training to be stable in my all-around, maybe increasing to 55 or 56 points, and next year I will be looking for the top three on vault. Those are the goals I have in mind.

International Gymnast Magazine features on Mexican gymnasts and coaches include:
Elsa Garcia update (December 2013)
"On the Mend" – injury updates including Elsa García (April 2008)
Elsa García cover photo and interview (May 2007)
Elsa García profile (May 2006)
"A Life that Makes Sense to Me" – Daniel Corral profile (December 2013)
"Mexican Maestro" - Daniel Corral profile (November 2010)
Karla Salazar on cover photo collage (July/August 2010)
"10 Questions with Coach Antonio Barraza" – interview (April 2010)
"10 Questions with FIG Technical Committee Member Naomi Valenzo" – interview (September 2009)
"Catching up with... Tony Piñeda" (May 2009)
"Catching up with... Denisse Lopez" (April 2007)
"Mexican Revolution" – Denisse Lopez profile (February 2000)
"Mexican Evolution" - Brenda Magaña profile (November 2002)

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

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 14 October 2014 13:41    PDF Print
FIG President Wants Scoring Overhaul
(7 votes, average 2.71 out of 5)

International Gymnastics Federation President Bruno Grandi is calling for an overhaul of the sport's scoring system – again.

International Gymnastics Federation President Bruno Grandi is calling for an overhaul of the sport's scoring system – again.

Grandi, who famously lobbied for the current open-ended system to reward more difficulty, now says difficulty needs to take a backseat to artistry. Grandi made the comments Sunday following the conclusion of the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, China.

The gymnastics he saw in Nanning was "too much of its acrobatic part and not too much artistry," he said. "Gymnastics is artistic gymnastics, the definition I don't want to lose."

The sport lost its iconic "Perfect 10" with the introduction of the current scoring system in 2006. Each mark consists of the sum of the Difficulty (D) score (including required components) and the Execution (E) score (out of 10.00). In FIG competition, separate judging panels evaluate Difficulty and Execution. The highest score in Nanning was Dutch gymnast Epke Zonderland's winning 16.225 (7.7 D/8.525 E) for his high bar routine in apparatus finals.

Grandi championed the new scoring system following the judging scandal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. In the men's all-around final in Athens, U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm won the all-around title over Korean gymnast Yang Tae-Young after Yang's parallel bars routine was evaluated out of a maximum 9.9 instead of the correct 10.0. However, the incident stemmed not from the judging system in place, but from the judges failing to correctly calculate Yang's start score.

The new scoring system was put into place despite significant criticism and backlash from members of the gymnastics community and the sport's fans. The FIG countered that the "Perfect 10.0" could still be achieved through the Execution mark — although few gymnasts have scored anywhere close to 10 in Execution since 2006 — and that fans would find new excitement as gymnasts achieved "world records" in Difficulty.

The latter concept was quickly dropped, and the Code of Points and routine requirements have been tweaked and evaluated several times.

Eight years after it was introduced, the open-ended scoring system has produced less-pleasing gymnastics, Grandi said.

"At this moment, we have noted that the difficulty increased too much," said Grandi, who was elected in 1996. "Very, very much. And the execution of the athlete doesn't follow the same criteria. We need to change the mentality."

Grandi, who suggested that the Difficulty points be cut in half, was backed up by FIG Secretary-General André Gueisbuhler. Gueisbuhler said gymnasts "do difficult exercises in order to win" under the current system.

"The weight should be, as the president said, on artistry and beauty and perfect execution as you have in diving," he said.

In Nanning, the Chinese men won a controversial gold medal over Japan in the team final, coming from behind to take the title by .1 after a jam-packed routine on high bar from Zhang Chenglong. Chinese coach Wang Hongwei acknowledged that his gymnasts were not as polished as their Japanese rivals.

"When it comes to the Execution score, we are not as good as the Japanese gymnasts," he said.

In the women's competition, the U.S. team and top gymnast Simone Biles defended their titles. Biles, who racks up points for her difficulty, added titles on balance beam and floor exercise.

Said Marta Karolyi, the U.S. women's team coordinator, "Artistry is nice. We always like artistry."

Should the scoring system be overhauled to reward artistry and execution over difficulty? Leave a comment below!


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