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Stuttgart WAG Podium Training - 10 Observations
(6 votes, average 4.00 out of 5)

Observations from the Women's Podium training!

1. The USA is untouchable. On floor, Kara Eaker is the only team member who didn't do at least one double double, but she can produce a 6.8 D-score on Beam. In fact, there are more double doubles on the US Team than we'll see in the sum total of all the other final Tokyo team qualifiers. This team went virtually major-deduction-free until their final event, Beam. Plus, Simone Biles is off the charts here. She is as fit as we have ever seen her, looks happy and handles her new difficulties so easily that we start to think of when we'll see another half or full twist on her named or soon-to-be-named skills.

2. Brazil looks better and fitter, but misses Rebeca Andrade. The effects of the brilliant Valeri Liukin are starting to sink in; the team seems to believe in themselves more, and they have apparently trained much harder. We understand that he spends 10 days a month in Rio with the team at least until the end of this year. That is just a note to other federations that are looking to move up into the Elite 8.

3. The Chinese Team is a young team that seems to have accepted Liang Chow's training ideas as far as working hard on the important areas. On vault they did more vaults in their 27 minutes of podium training than the rest of the teams in that subdivision. Bars is great for them, but not quite the level that we have grown to expect--ie bent arms on the last half of moves like stalders and free hips, and other small details. Beam is still outrageous, but most are dismounting with double twists only. Floor tumbling and vaulting are better, and the gymnasts seem tougher!

4. Russia looked much better than we expected! In Doha we were just praying that they would survive the podium training especially on Vault. They had very few crashes here and their beam routines look like they are hit-able for them with connections that they can break, and not huge single difficult skills. But they have rather weak routines at the start of their line up.

5. Giulia Steingruber from Switzerland who had a horrible knee injury last year has made it back in great form, and, with consistent performance from her teammates, they should make it to Tokyo. Without her it would have been impossible.

6. The French Team looks very good! Led by Melanie de Jesus dos Santos, they produced a very encouraging podium training. They still show amazingly interesting choreography in their floor routines, and the other events look solid too.

7. The Dutch team has a treasure in their choreographer and the staff that has faced their inability to compete the massive tumbling of the US team, and solved the perceived problem with brilliant dance elements and creative and bizarre choreography. The music choices and the dramatic presentation by the gymnasts has not gone unnoticed. The response from the crowd truly tells this success story. Now if only the judges will do their jobs correctly, we should have some of the artistry back on center stage.

8. Danusia Francis from Jamaica and a graduate of UCLA and Miss Val driven women's gymnastics team looked incredible here. A well seasoned competitor, she still reaches deep to create and perform new and interesting gymnastics and always with a smile.

9. The German Team looks very well prepared to compete in front of their home country crowd, and the competition is completely sold out so it will be really loud in the Hanns Martin Schleyer Halle.

10. Mexico has to be one of the most improved teams here. With good difficulty that they can handle and the return of 29-year-old Elsa Garcia, they will be able to surprise a lot of people here if they can "Just calm down."

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