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Written by John Crumlish    Tuesday, 09 December 2014 13:38    PDF Print
IG Online Interview: Elsa Garcia (Mexico)
(5 votes, average 4.80 out of 5)

Mexican Olympian Elsa Garcia refers to her 21st-place all-around finish at the world championships in Nanning in October as "an actual comeback," and she is eager to continue her rejuvenation in the coming year.

Mexican Olympian Elsa Garcia refers to her 21st-place all-around finish at the world championships in Nanning in October as "an actual comeback," and she is eager to continue her rejuvenation in the coming next year.

Despite refraining from major competitions after she competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Garcia performed credibly in Nanning, where she also helped Mexico to place 14th in team standings and thereby qualify for the 2015 worlds in Glasgow. The top eight teams in Glasgow will qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro; an additional four teams will qualify for Rio at an Olympic test event to be held in early 2016.

The 24-year-old Garcia competed even more assertively at last month’s Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, where she placed second all-around, sixth on vault, fourth (tie) on uneven bars, seventh on balance beam and fifth on floor exercise. Garcia also led Mexico to the team title in Veracruz.

In this IG Online interview, Garcia evaluates her performances in Nanning and outlines her plans for the year ahead.

IG: Your all-around finish was a surprise for many people, because we have not seen you much in competition recently. How much of a surprise was it to you to make the all-around final?

EG: I went to Nanning with two goals in mind: qualifying the team to next year’s worlds and the all-around final. I refused to not be in that final. Of course it was kind of nerve-racking because I competed on the first day and there were many countries with excellent gymnasts left to compete the next day, and I wanted to know if I had made the final.

Elsa Garcia (Mexico) at the 2011 Worlds

IG: You had an excellent competition except for some problems on the bars in the all-around final. What do you think caused the mistakes on the bars?

EG: My mistakes on bars were part of me trying to be perfect-thinking about the whole routine instead of element by element. I wanted to do so perfectly the 1-1/2 pirouette-Jaeger that I didn't do it well at all. Then I was so concerned of losing points by the requirements that I got into an even bigger mess. I actually forgot to do a toe on-Tkatchev, and the deductions go on and on. At the end of the competition I was not particularly happy with my competition but reminded myself that these year's worlds have been my first international competition in a long time. I had been away from international competitions because, after London 2012, I started going to college and had to find time to do gymnastics at an elite level and go to school, and that kept me really busy in my hometown. So I take Nanning as an actual comeback, and it motivated me a lot for next year.

IG: Overall how close to totally healthy were you in Nanning?

EG: Actually I was pretty healthy at Nanning - only the normal training pain, but not injury pain.

IG: The Mexican team did very well, with you in the all-around final, Alexa Moreno in the vault final, and the team advancing to Glasgow. Now you will have an important year ahead, for yourself and your team. What will your strategy be for 2015, so you can be at your personal best and help your team even more?

EG: I think we reassured that Mexican gymnastics is still growing and that we want more, with those two finals and the team result. So for next year the first thing is that I will take a break from school, so that I can concentrate just on gymnastics and work on many upgrades in all the events. I want to give myself time to be ready and compete new skills totally ready. As a team we have to have more training camps because this team is a relatively new team, and if we want to be in the top 16 at worlds and fight for our team's place at the (2016 Olympic) test event we have to train as a team. We all have to be stronger physically and mentally and we have to make every training count, believe that we can, not leave it to fate and work, work, work.

International Gymnast Magazine features on Mexican gymnasts and coaches include:

Elsa García 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    Sunday, 30 November 2014 12:43    PDF Print
Vernyayev Victorious At Stuttgart World Cup
(5 votes, average 4.20 out of 5)

Ukrainian star Oleg Vernyayev won the men's all-around title at the 2014 DTB World Cup, held Sunday in Stuttgart. Pictured: All-around medalists Sergio Sasaki (Brazil), Vernyayev and Donnell Whittenburg (USA)

Ukrainian star Oleg Vernyayev won the men's all-around title at the 2014 DTB World Cup, held Sunday in Stuttgart.

Vernyayev scored a convincing victory, winning the title with 91.731 over Brazil's Sergio Sasaki (90.565) and American Donnell Whittenburg (90.398).

Vernyayev took his low score (14.366) on floor exercise after bouncing out of a few passes (layout Thomas; double double step back; front double full, barani; Randi; 2 1/2, Rudi; triple twist). He had the top score on pommel horse (15.566) and earned 15.366 on still rings.

After taking one step on his excellent Dragulescu vault, he nailed a precise parallel bars routine with a stuck double front-half dismount for the highest score of the day, 16.233. He clinched the title with 15.000 on high bar.

Sasaki had the high score of the day on vault, 15.500, for his Dragulescu vault. Whittenburg was the top scorer on floor exercise (15.466) and still rings (15.366).

German star Fabian Hambüchen finished fourth all-around, with the best score on high bar (16.133).

World all-around bronze medalist Yusuke Tanaka finished fifth ahead of Russians Nikolai Kuksenkov and David Belyavsky. Another Japanese gymnast, Yusuke Saito, finished eighth.

In the women's DTB Team Challenge final, host Germany won the title over Russia and Switzerland. A club team from Stuttgart finished fourth.

World Cup competition continues Dec. 6 in Glasgow.

External Link: Official Website

2014 DTB World Cup
Nov. 30, Stuttgart

Men's All-AroundFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
1.Oleg Vernyayev14.36615.56615.20015.36616.23315.00091.731
2.Sergio Sasaki15.30015.16614.80015.50014.96614.83390.565
3.Donnell Whittenburg15.46614.43315.36615.00015.53314.60090.398
4.Fabian Hambüchen15.23313.03314.63315.03314.96616.13389.031
5.Yusuke Tanaka15.16614.46614.83314.40015.63314.13388.631
6.Nikolai Kuksenkov15.10013.86614.83314.46615.03315.06688.364
7.David Belyavsky14.10014.93314.20014.86614.76614.43387.298
8.Yusuke Saito12.40013.60014.30014.56612.46614.03381.365

Women's Team FinalVTUBBBFXTotal
1. Germany28.96628.46628.56626.700112.698
Nadja Schulze13.33311.200
Michelle Timm14.2339.90012.00012.700
Pauline Schäfer14.73313.33314.60014.000
Sophie Scheder15.13313.966
2. Russia29.16628.13325.96627.566110.831
Polina Fyodorova13.60013.53313.13313.533
Yekaterina Kramarenko14.16614.60012.83313.433
Ksenia Afanasyeva15.00014.033
3. witzerland29.16628.13325.96627.566105.097
Jessica Diacci13.13312.10012.60012.833
Ilaria Käslin14.16612.00013.76613.600
Nicole Hitz13.266
Stefanie Siegenthaler12.56612.80012.533
4. Stuttgart26.56620.63221.40024.80093.398
Nicole Fritz10.366
Dorothee Henzler13.33310.06610.60012.600
Sarina Maier13.23310.26610.80012.200
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.


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