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Written by Amanda Turner    Sunday, 26 November 2017 13:07    PDF Print
Chinese Takes Two Titles as Cottbus World Cup Concludes
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

China won two more titles Sunday as the 42nd Turnier Der Meister tournament concluded in Cottbus, Germany. Russia, Germany and Japan each took one event title as the 2017 FIG World Cup season concluded. Pictured: China's Wang Cenyu won balance beam over Germany's Pauline Schäfer and Russia's Maria Kharenkova.

China won two more titles Sunday as the 42nd Turnier Der Meister tournament concluded in Cottbus, Germany. Russia, Germany and Japan each took one event title as the 2017 FIG World Cup season concluded.

One of the longest-running tournaments in gymnastics, the 2017 Turnier Der Meister was the 12th and final FIG World Cup/Challenge Cup event of the year. This year's edition attracted 140 gymnasts from 28 nations to Cottbus, where a junior men's tournament was also held with teams from Germany, France, Great Britain and Switzerland.

Wang Cenyu (China) won her first World Cup title Sunday on balance beam

China, which sent five men and two women to Cottbus, dominated this weekend's finals with eight medals, including three gold medals. The host German team won five medals, including two golds. Russia also won five medals, while Ukraine won three, and Japan and Slovenia won two each. Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, the United States and Uzbekistan each won one medal.

First-year senior Wang Cenyu, the bronze medalist on uneven bars, took the gold medal in a beam final that included the reigning world and Olympic champions. Wang showed a relatively simple routine (RO, pencil-straight two-foot layout; side somi; double twist dismount; 5.4D) but edged Germany's own world champion Pauline Schäfer (5.2D), 14.166-14.000. Schäfer showed off a very polished and elegant performance that earned the highest Execution score of the final with 8.800. Top qualifier Maria Kharenkova of Russia, the 2014 European champion on balance beam, won the bronze with the highest D-Score (6.2) of the final, where a few wobbles cost her the title (punch front; ff ff two-foot layout; switch ring; ff ff double pike).

Olympic champion Sanne Wevers (Netherlands) had a fairly solid routine going with just one major wobble, but crashed her layout gainer full dismount to finish fifth.

Russia's Lilia Akhaimova, the silver medalist on vault, won gold on floor exercise, her first World Cup title and first big international success. The Saint Petersburg powerhouse was an alternate to Russia's Olympic team last summer thanks to her tumbling, but she's improved her consistency this year as well. She tumbled an Arabian double front, punch front; double layout (out); piked Arabian double front; and the rare full-in dismount (6.0D). Akhaimova, who turned 20 in March, adds much-needed depth to Russian team on floor exercise, their weakest event during the past quad, and appears capable of upgrading both her vaults.

Kharenkova, who was first in qualification on floor as well, took silver behind her teammate. Kharenkova missed a year of competition owing to an ankle injury and growth spurt, but appears to be a much stronger and more confident gymnast. She tumbled a new double layout, and though her choreography needs improvement, her turns and leaps were very impressive. Schäfer, who was Germany's Athlete of the Month for October, picked up another medal with the bronze.

Japan's Keisuke Asato won a close contest on men's vault thanks to his well-landed Ri Se Gwang (full-twisting Tsukahara double back) and just a large step on his layout Randi. Still rings champion Igor Radivilov of Ukraine, second on vault at the world championships, took another silver Sunday with his Dragulescu and Tsukahara double pike.

Australia's Christopher Remkes won the bronze using the same vaults as Radivilov, with Remkes' remarkable power standing out even in a strong vault final. It was the third World Cup medal this year on vault for Remkes, who took gold in Melbourne and silver in Baku.

Tan Di, competing in his first World Cup event, won parallel bars with the highest score of the competition, 15.566 (6.4D). He also won the bronze medal on pommel horse on Saturday.

Olympic champion Oleg Vernyayev (Ukraine) won the silver (15.166/6.7), overarching a handstand and making a few tiny errors in his lengthy routine. Vernyayev competed only pommel horse and parallel bars in Cottbus, where his exhaustion is apparent after more than five years of heavy competition without a lengthy break. In addition to the European championships in the spring and world championships in the fall, Vernyayev competed in six World Cup events (including all three all-around competitions), the University Games in July, the Arthur Gander Memorial and Swiss Cup two weeks ago, in addition to national competitions and frequent competitions for TG Saar in the German Bundesliga. Following next weekend's Bundesliga final, Vernyayev is expected to take significant time off and undergo surgery to repair torn ligaments in his shoulder and leg that have plagued him since before the Olympic Games.

Three-time Olympian Marcel Nguyen brought Germany another medal with the bronze, throwing his full-twisting double dismount (15.133/6.5). Teammate Andreas Bretschneider ended the competition on a golden note for the home team on high bar. Bretschneider, who also won in 2013, 2015 and 2016, left out his eponymous skill (double-twisting Kovacs) but still won his fourth title comfortably, scoring 14.566 (5.9D). American Marvin Kimble picked up the silver (14.033/6.2) over Norway's Pietro Giachino (14.000/5.5), who bumped Tan Di for the bronze in a tie-break. It was the first World Cup medal for Giachino, born in Oslo to an Italian father and Norwegian mother.

In a repeat of his performance of the world championships finals, Japan's Hidetaka Miyachi caught the layout Bretschneider (now the Miyachi), then fell on the original tucked version before successfully attempting it again. He ended up sixth, under .3 from the bronze.

The 2018 World Cup season has 13 events on the calendar, including four all-around events. The first event is an apparatus World Cup scheduled for February 22-25 in Melbourne.

External Link: Official Website

42nd Turnier Der Meister/FIG World Cup
November 26, 2017, Cottbus, Germany

Balance Beam FinalDENDScore
1.Wang Cenyu5.48.76614.166
2.Pauline Schäfer5.28.80014.000
3.Maria Kharenkova6.27.56613.766
4.Katarzyna Jurkowska-Kowalska4.88.63313.433
5.Sanne Wevers5.97.3330.113.133
6.Lilia Akhaimova5.57.30012.800
7.Diana Varinska5.47.30012.700
8.Rose-Kaying Woo5.67.03312.633

Women's Floor Exercise FinalDENDScore
1.Lilia Akhaimova6.08.1000.114.000
2.Maria Kharenkova5.58.10013.600
3.Pauline Schäfer4.98.60013.500
4.Rose-Kaying Woo4.98.26613.166
5.Maisie Methuen4.98.16613.066
6.Elisabeth Seitz4.48.60013.000
7.Laura Bechdeju4.87.70012.500
8.Diana Varinska5.08.0000.612.400

Men's Vault FinalDENDScoreAverage
1.Keisuke Asato6.09.16615.16614.966
2.Igor Radivilov5.69.20014.80014.883
3.Christopher Remkes5.69.30014.90014.816
4.Andrei Makolov5.29.43314.63314.549
5.Felix Remuta5.29.1330.114.23314.316
6.Qu Ruiyang5.68.2000.113.70014.100
7.Tseng Wei-Sheng5.68.26613.86613.666
8.Mizuki Hasegawa5.68.2002.013.70012.050

Parallel Bars FinalDENDScore
1.Tan Di6.49.16615.566
2.Oleg Vernyayev6.78.46615.166
3.Marcel Nguyen6.58.63315.133
4.Vladislav Polyashov6.08.66614.666
5.Ivan Rittschik5.77.63313.333
6.Rubén López5.67.40013.000
7.Petro Pakhnyuk5.87.16612.966
8.Hidetaka Miyachi5.17.26612.366

High Bar FinalDENDScore
1.Andreas Bretschneider5.98.66614.566
2.Marvin Kimble6.27.83314.033
3.Pietro Giachino5.58.50014.000
4.Tan Di5.98.10014.000
5.Mitchell Morgans6.17.80013.900
6.Hidetaka Miyachi6.47.33313.733
7.Sascha Coradi5.77.63313.333
8.Anton Kovačević6.06.96612.966
Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 01 November 2017 08:46    PDF Print
Kocian: 'I Stay Positive And Trust The Process'
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

In this IG Online update, 2016 Olympic gold and silver medalist Madison Kocian of UCLA comments on staying motivated after shoulder surgery, and more. Pictured: Kocian with coach Laurent Landi at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio

In this IG Online update, 2016 Olympic gold and silver medalist Madison Kocian of UCLA comments on staying motivated after shoulder surgery, the prospect of returning to competition and the new training partnership between her former WOGA coach Laurent Landi and her 2016 Olympic teammate Simone Biles.

Prior to enrolling at UCLA last year, Kocian trained under Landi and his wife, 1996 French Olympian Cécile Canqueteau-Landi, at WOGA in Plano, Texas. This month Landi begins coaching Biles, a quadruple Olympic gold medalist at World Champions Centre, in Spring, Texas. The gym was built by Biles' parents.

The 20-year-old-Kocian, who enjoyed a successful freshman season at UCLA in 2016-17, underwent surgery in August to repair a torn labrum. She is in the process of rehabilitation ahead of the NCAA competition season that begins in January. In this IG Online update, Kocian shares her thoughts on her surgery, recovery and the fresh Landi-Biles partnership.

Madison Kocian (UCLA)

IG: How successful do you feel your shoulder surgery was, in terms of completely fixing the problem and fortifying you for the upcoming seasons?

MK: My surgery went very well. My surgeon was pleased with the outcome of the surgery, and so far I'm feeling great. It was the right decision for me since my pain was continuously increasing after pushing through the injury for so long.

IG: With the 2018 season starting in a couple of months, when do you think you'll ready to compete, and on which events?

MK: Right now, I'm taking it day-by-day but my timetable for a comeback can't be determined. I'm working hard on my rehab plan with my therapists and surgeon, but we also have to be patient with the healing process so that I don't risk damaging the repairs.

IG: How are you staying motivated, knowing you need to take the necessary steps and time to heal, while your teammates are busy honing their routines for the new season?

MK: I keep the motivation by reminding myself of my goals every morning. Some days are definitely harder than others, but I stay positive and trust the process. I'm doing everything in my control to help my shoulder heal, and in the meantime, I'm finding new ways I can help my teammates work towards our goal. I'm super excited to be back on the competition floor with my Bruins soon!

IG: You have a unique perspective on Laurent's coaching attributes since he was your personal coach at WOGA. What do you feel were his greatest strengths and skills in helping you reach your potential?

MK: I'm very excited for Laurent, Cécile and Simone. Laurent and Cécile changed my life, and I couldn't have achieved my dreams without them. Laurent knew when to push harder on the tough days, but also when to back off so that I wouldn't break. He was very smart in devising training plans in order for me to peak at the right time, and I believe that is what allowed me to reach my potential.

IG: Having trained under Laurent, and knowing Simone well, what do you believe he can do to improve Simone's gymnastics at this point in her career?

MK: I know it will be an adjustment and learning experience for all of them at the beginning, but I'm confident he can help Simone achieve the goals she puts forward.

Read "New Life," a cover story/interview with Madison Kocian, in the March 2017 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To subscribe to the print and/or digital editions, or order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Wednesday, 25 October 2017 20:22    PDF Print
Norway's Skregelid: 'For Me This Is Just The Beginning'
(4 votes, average 3.75 out of 5)

Recently crowned Northern European all-around champion Martine Skregelid of Norway tells IG about the dramatic improvements she made since the world championships earlier this month, and the even higher hopes she now has for herself and her country.

In this IG Online interview, recently crowned Northern European all-around champion Martine Skregelid of Norway details the dramatic improvements she made since the world championships earlier this month, and the even higher hopes she now has for herself and her country.

The 19-year-old Skregelid was the most successful female gymnast at the Northern European Championships in Torshavn, the Faroe Islands, held October 21-22. She won the all-around gold medal with 50.450 points, ahead of silver medalist Irina Sazonova of Iceland (49.666) and her bronze medal-winning Norwegian teammate Thea Mille Nygård (49.250). In the apparatus finals, Skregelid won gold on balance beam and bronze on vault. She also led Norway to gold in the team competition.

Skregelid's performance at Northern Europeans was noticeably more consistent and confident than at the 2017 World Championships in Montreal that took place October 2-8. In the Faroe Islands, she bettered her all-around total of Montreal by nearly five points and bettered her balance beam score alone by approximately three points.

Born July 6, 1999, Skregelid is a veteran of two world championships and two European senior championships. She placed 20th all-around at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, and competed at the 2015 European Games in Baku. Skregelid trains 25 hours per week at Asker Turnforening in Asker. Her coaches are 1988 Romanian Olympian Valentin Pintea on vault, uneven bars and floor exercise; and Polish-born Joanna Uracz on balance beam and floor exercise.

Skregelid shares her thoughts on the advancements she made from Montreal to the Faroe Islands, her new title as Northern European all-around champion and the promise she sees in the future of Norwegian gymnastics.

Skregelid with her all-around trophy at the 2017 Northern European Championships

IG: You had a very steady set of routines in the Faroe Islands, and a much better overall performance than earlier this month in Montreal. To what do you attribute your consistency at Northern Europeans, compared to Montreal?

MS: I am much more satisfied with my performance in the Faroe Islands than in Montreal. I think that what I did in Montreal had a big impact on my performances at Northern Europeans. Because worlds went that bad, I was inspired to work harder before Northern Europeans, which also was my last competition this season. After worlds, I had two weeks to work on my routines and improve my execution a little bit. I learned from my mistakes in Montreal, and worked on them in the training in between the two competitions. That included many repetitions of my routines and some adjustments.

IG: How much of a surprise was winning the all-around title at Northern Europeans, and how has it boosted your confidence even further?

MS: The all-around win came to me as a big surprise and it makes me very inspired and motivated. I had never imagined that a Norwegian girl would win the all-around at the Northern Europeans, but this proves that Norway is improving as a gymnastics nation. Of course, it is still a big gap between us and the better teams in Europe and the rest of the world, but for me, this is a beginning.

IG: You have been a mainstay for Norway at the big senior competitions of 2015, 2016 and 2017. With your new title as Northern European all-around champion, what improvements do you hope to make in 2018 so you can challenge all of Europe and the rest of the world?

MS: I am very lucky to have been able to represent Norway in many international competitions in the last few years, and it has been really fun and motivating. With this new title, I am inspired to continue my gymnastics career. I wish to continue representing my country, and hopefully compete at the big competitions next year, such as the European Championships in Glasgow or the World Championships in Doha. I have a wish to participate in one of these big competitions and really be able to show what I can do, by performing a set of steady routines, and then see if I have what it takes. As improvements for the next year, I hope to have stable and clean routines, and I want to improve both my Execution and Difficulty scores.

Skregelid at the 2015 Northern European Championships

IG: For a lot of the up-and-coming countries, the new rules make to difficult to create routines that have enough difficulty to compete against the best gymnasts in the world. What is your opinion of these rules? And what suggestions would you make to make the rules not only challenging to everyone, but encouraging to the lesser countries?

MS: I agree that the rules can make it difficult to compete against the best gymnasts in the world. Anyway, I like that the rules changes, because it creates variation in the sport. Sometimes the rules can give you advantages, and sometimes they make it more difficult. I don't think I have any suggestions that I would make about the new rules.


IG: After leading Norway to the team title at Northern Europeans, what do you think Norway can and should do, to not only stay on top not only in Northern Europe, but challenge the rest of Europe, too?


MS: I am so proud of the team for taking the gold in the team competition. I hope that Norway will continue to stay on the top in Northern Europe, and maybe even in Europe one day. If we are going to able to do that, I think it is important to work together as a country and collaborate even more — for example, by having national training camps. There are a lot of gymnasts in Norway, on many different levels, and I think that the country has a lot of potential. I personally do not see any reasons why we can't be as good as other countries. We will just have to work harder and smarter.

Written by dwight normile    Thursday, 25 May 2017 11:54    PDF Print
Jacki Exclusive in June Issue of International Gymnast
(3 votes, average 3.67 out of 5)

The June issue of International Gymnast includes a fascinating interview with Mike Jacki, who was President of USA Gymnastics from 1983-94. IG recently caught up with Jacki in Oklahoma City, where received the Frank Bare Award at the 21st annual induction dinner for the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Following are excerpts from that interview.

On the root problem with USA Gymnastics right now…

There is currently a lack of leadership, vision and strategy. Where many Olympic sports have made great strides in growth, development and visibility in the last twenty years, gymnastics has gone backwards, both domestically and internationally. You cannot rely on an Olympic Games every four years as your marketing platform. Gymnastics has become stagnant, and the reduction of artistic gymnastics team size and television has damaged the sport and will continue to do so.

On the challenges he faced when he became Executive Director of the U.S. Gymnastics Federation in 1983…

We had not had an Olympics in seven years, and in our last Olympics (1976) we won one medal, Peter Kormann's bronze on floor. We were in significant debt and our membership had little confidence in our ability to provide the necessary services for them. …

And while few people knew this, we could not get insurance. … We had a staff of three people when we moved to Indianapolis and had no money as we were almost $800,000 in debt. The hiring and restructuring the office and staff began almost immediately, but with the financial limitations we had, this was complicated. I hired a CPA to begin trying to unscramble our financial dilemma. She quit after one week because she said we would be facing bankruptcy and there was no way I would be able to pay her! (Jacki eventually got the federation in the black.)

On the FIG abolishing the 10.0 scoring system…

Terrible mistake. Bruno Grandi again, telling everyone the new system would create world records. No one would ever remember the balance beam record, but they would remember a perfect score on the balance beam. I argued against him through my 12 years on the FIG. The open system has done irreparable damage. We went from a deductive system, based on artistry and elegance, to an additive system, based on difficulty.

Read the full interview with Mike Jacki in the June 2017 issue of International Gymnast. To subscribe or to order back issues, click here.

Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 28 March 2017 07:10    PDF Print
'It Will Get Better From Here,' Says Jamaican Olympian Williams
(5 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Although a recent injury has sidelined 2016 Jamaican Olympian Toni-Ann Williams from competing for the University of California-Berkeley this season, she is determined to remain an icon for her country's national program and a valuable member of her collegiate team.

Williams, who was born in Maryland to Jamaican parents, became Jamaica's first gymnastics Olympian when she competed last summer in Rio following a long and successful season for Cal. A veteran of the 2011, 2013 and 2015 World Championships, Williams suffered a season-ending Achilles' tendon injury in early February. She is in the process of recovery and looks forward to future international and collegiate competitions.

In this IG Online interview, Williams discusses the impact that her recent injury, Rio and her role-model status have had on her ever-evolving gymnastics career.

Williams with track star Usain Bolt in Rio

IG: How and when did you injure yourself?

TAW: It was a couple of days before we left for the (Feb. 4) Utah meet, in workout. I had been feeling kind of tight in my (left) Achilles and calf that day. My trainer said, "Just roll it out and make sure it's super loose." Right before a tumbling pass, I thought, "OK, this is going to be my last tumbling pass, and then I'm going to be done for the day." Then, on the takeoff for my double pike, I felt it snap. In my mind I was like, "How am I going to land this without hurting myself any further?" So I kind of landed on all fours. I cried for about five minutes and then the pain went away, because that's what happens when you snap an Achilles. It's not really painful. I knew exactly what happened as soon as I did it.

IG: How are you doing in terms of recovery at this point?

TAW: I got my stitches out a few weeks ago and I'm allowed to walk without crutches, so it's been good. It's a slow recovery but it's definitely different for me to be in this position — not competing — but I definitely enjoy being in the cheerleader role for the team, and bring the spirit and attitude. It's going to be a long recovery but I'm excited to get back in there.

IG: Being used to competing week in and week out, not to mention for Jamaica, how are you psychologically coping with being sidelined?

TAW: It was definitely hard for me. A few weeks ago I had a breakdown. I just cried. I don't know if it was mourning or grieving over something you have taken away from you, but once I went through that, I realized that it will get better from here. I started walking, and I know my recovery is going to go in great places and I'm going to come back stronger than I was before. It's been challenging to be in that mental space, but having the team behind me and helping me has helped me get through it.

IG: When do you think you'll be back doing actual gymnastics?

TAW: By mid- to end of summer, I can hopefully start to do everything again and be my normal self, but I will definitely, definitely be back for next season.

IG: What was your main take-away, or revelation, from competing at the Rio Olympics?

TAW: During Rio I actually had a knee injury that resulted in knee surgery a couple of weeks later when I got back. But going through that and dealing with my knee and competing for Jamaica after competing for Cal made me realize how strong I am and that I can get through things like my Achilles injury. I can take that experience and bring it to this (Cal) team. It's a team that's growing and going in great places. I can use my experience and grit, going through all of that, to bring it to the team.

Williams on vault for Cal

IG: What was your personal experience in Rio like?

TAW: It was so much fun. I was starstruck the entire time. Usain Bolt was in the room below me. Every little girl dreams of going to the Olympics, and for me to reach that goal — there are no words I can use to describe it. I even got a Rio tattoo, on my left biceps — nowhere scandalous! But having these rings reminds me of where I've been and where I want to go. Continuing to compete for Jamaica and Cal keeps me focused and staying on the right path.

IG: What plans do you have in terms of resuming your international career?

TAW: Coming back from my injury is what I'm focused on right now, and finishing out my last season at Cal. I plan on training internationally once I graduate, continuing to compete for Jamaica. There's still a lot I have to do for the program in Jamaica. Kids need role models and gyms need to be built, and my competing helps that progress. I have more to do and I'm not going to stop after I graduate.

IG: How do you manage the extra responsibility you carry as the "face" of Jamaican gymnastics?

TAW: Making that milestone for Jamaica is something I had been preparing myself for. Being the only gymnast to compete for Jamaica since I was 15 has been a lot on me, and I've been able to handle the pressure. Coming to Cal and being part of this team has also helped me become a leader in my own sense of the word. It was a lot of fun and pressure in Rio, and no matter how I performed, I knew Jamaica was proud and a lot of people saw gymnastics as a sport that can now be in Jamaica, which was the goal the entire time.

IG: What's been happening with the team since Rio?

TAW: My sister, Maya Williams, is also on the national team. She competed at the (2015) World Championships in Glasgow. They've been having training camps in my home gym while I've been out here competing. It's still going. My sister is holding it down for me till I'm back!

To subscribe or to purchase back issues to International Gymnast magazine, click here.


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