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Kurbatova Leads After First Women's Session
(3 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

IG Editor Dwight Normile is blogging from the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships at the O2 Arena in London, where the women's competition began Wednesday.

The overall level of this first session was considerably lower than I expected. The majority of the gymnasts would not have been competitive in the 1980s. There were numerous falls, despite the new, less stringent women's Code of Points that requires eight skills instead of 10. Could the raise in age limit to 16 in 1997 have slowly diluted the talent pool at the senior level? Did the absence of compulsories, also in 1997, lead to the general low level of execution on display here? Didn't we say both of those factors might have an adverse effect on the sport? I'd be interested to hear your opinions on the subject.

Yekaterina Kurbatova (RUS): Cool bars, with a Shaposhnikova immediate back uprise free hip-full, Tkatchev, and later a Shaposhnikova-half. At beam she did not connect her front aerial to flip-flop layout, but did a nice full turn in a needle position and a strong roundoff double tuck. She mounted floor with only a double tuck and dismounted with a double pike (three tumbling passes). She finished on vault, where she did a relatively solid Yurchenko-double twist and a roundoff, half-on, piked barani. She finished the session as the top all-arounder with 55.95, followed by Yang at 55.50.

Yang Yilin (CHN) Dramatic floor music (lots of violins) seemed to overpower the performance level of her routine, which opened with a clean triple twist and ended with an awkward 2.5 twist. She stepped out of bounds on her second pass of double pike (13.025). Hard to believe this is the same gymnast who won the AA bronze in Beijing. Also hard to believe she could earn an E-score of 7.825 without falling. In her defense, perhaps the judges were being overly critical in the first session. On vault, she pulled around a fairly clean Yurchenko-double twist, with two tiny hops. Things got worse at bars, however, when her Higgins turn was performed so early she never made it over the bar (she jumped off). She finished reasonably well on beam, but it was not an aggressive routine by any means (Onodi; flip-flop, back tuck; front aerial-side aerial, not connected; swing ring, balance check; roundoff, 2.5 twist).

Daria Zgoba (UKR): Tentative beam routine with various wobbles and a crashed double pike dismount.

Gabriela Dragoi (ROM): Strong sole circle skills on bars (toe-on to 1.5 pirouette, Jaeger) but weak Gienger (coach spotting very closely). She began well on beam but nearly fell after a full turn with leg raised. Various other balance checks and a big step sideways after her flip-flop, flip-flop, 2.5 twist might make it difficult to make the final.

Georgia Bonora (AUS): Made it through bars but nearly fell on a double front from elgrip giant. She hit beam well (Kochetkova). She went O.B. on her full-in mount and third pass, and barely pulled around a double pike at the end.

Ivana Kovacova (SVK): Even with two falls from bars, Kovacova showed amazing technique and form. She stood out for that alone in a session filled with a wide range of talent level.

Charlotte Mackie (CAN): Interesting choreography on floor and a clean Yurchenko-1.5 twist, Mackie fell on her double front off bars. Wobbly beam in places but a very nice one-arm Onodi and flip-flop, flip-flop, double pike. Great potential.

Diana Chelaru (ROM): Energetic floor routine got the crowd clapping rhythmically. Mounted with a tucked full-in and followed with a whip-triple twist. Went O.B. on her third pass and ended with a double pike. She received one of the loudest crowd responses of the morning. She hit her double-twisting Yurchenko, but initiated the twist with straddled legs, as often seen from Romanian women on this skill. It's an effective method to make the twist, even though it's a huge deduction. She did a handspring-tucked front for a second vault.

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