Before I start tearing my favorite sport limb from limb, I would like to congratulate all of the qualifiers to the Men’s and Women’s All-Around and Event Finals competitions. Making it to the World Championships is no small feat no matter who you are, and to make an All-Around or Event Final (or both) is a magnificent accomplishment. Congratulations and Good Luck to all of you.

My thoughts on the qualification rounds will focus on the Women’s competition.

The All-Around.

This portion of the World Championships is supposed to showcase the BEST All-Around gymnasts in the world. The gymnasts who can go four-for-four cleanly with reasonable difficulty, artistry and presentation. As the years progress, I feel as though we are missing this. We are no longer seeing the gymnasts who can put together four difficult, yet still clean routines, but the gymnasts who can put together the four most difficult routines with enough of a difficulty value that they can absorb a large error and still come out near the top (yes, Vanessa Ferrari and Rebecca Bross, I am talking to you).

Of the Top 10 All-Around qualifiers, only seven, in my opinion, deserve to be in the Top 10. Top qualifier Rebecca Bross (USA), had a huge error on her dismount from the Balance Beam. She landed low, stumbled, and put her hand down. Her dismount was made famous and was named for the 2004 Olympic All-Around Champion and Balance Beam silver medallist Carly Patterson, who happens to have trained at the same North Texas gym, WOGA. Bross has attempted this dismount three times now in recent competition. Each of the three times she missed the skill, counting a fall. It would be in her best interest to alter her dismount for the All-Around Final.

Bridget Sloan fell from the Balance Beam (is this a trend?) and is still ranked fifth going into the All-Around Final. Her punch Front Tuck on the Beam is not a skill she usually has trouble with, so I do not foresee an issue with the skill in the Final, but I do not believe that she should be in the Top 10 with a fall.

Ksenia Semenova is ranked 10th going into the Final. She is probably the only gymnast in the Top 10 with a fall that deserves her position. She incurred the fall on the Floor Exercise after coming up short on her Layout 1.5 + Front Layout 1/1 and landing on her back. Her 10th place position accurately reflects her mistake.

I am not trying to take away from the accomplishments of these incredible athletes by any means. I am simply… disappointed in the direction our sport is moving.

Lauren Mitchell (Australia)

Lauren Mitchell (Australia)

On a more positive note, Lauren Mitchell of Australia put together one heck of a performance to launch herself into the 3rd place position going into the All-Around Final. This is a HUGE opportunity for Mitchell to shine and make an even bigger name for herself. She helped herself out immensely this past November by winning the World Cup Final on the Balance Beam, and she will make a shot at winning a World Championship medal on the same apparatus after qualifying tied for 4th place with Ivana Hong (USA) on the Balance Beam. Ariella Kaeslin of Switzerland made a strong bid for herself as well, coming in 9th in the All-Around and qualifying to the Vault Event Final.

Vault.

The big surprise here? Kayla Williams (USA). She is a first-year elite. This is her first international competition. She leads the Vault going into the Event Final. Why is this significant? She outscored the 2008 Olympic Vault Champion, Hong Un Jong of DPR Korea. Her margin of victory: 0.025. Williams, even if she crashes and burns in the Final, should be VERY proud of herself for accomplishing a result of this magnitude.

Hong Un Jong… its no surprise that she is in the Final. She has an Amanar and a Cheng (which she did not compete in qualifications), and she could very realistically win the gold medal when the Final is contested on Friday.

Ariella Kaeslin (Switzerland)

Ariella Kaeslin (Switzerland)

Ariella Kaeslin is no surprise, either. The European Vault Champion qualified in 4th position with her Handspring Laid-out Rudi and a Yurchenko 1.5. A more difficult second vault would better help her cause, but she still has a chance to medal.

Surprise qualifiers: newcomer Anna Myzdrikova of Russia and her compatriot Ekatarina Kurbatova, Youna Dufournet of France, Brittany Rogers of Canada, and Mexico’s Elsa Garcia.

Uneven Bars.

The big stories: Beth Tweddle, 2008 Olympic Finalist, 2006 World Champion and 2003/2005 World Bronze medallist on the Uneven Bars will not be in the final. Nor will 2007 World Champion and 2008 World Finalist Ksenia Semenova of Russia. Both had issues in qualifications and were not able to advance.

Koko Tsurumi (Japan)

Koko Tsurumi (Japan)

Leading the pack into the final is China’s Olympic Uneven Bars Champion He Kexin (surprise, surprise) who scored a massive 15.975 to second place qualifier Rebecca Bross’ (USA) 15.050. Bross’ teammate, Bridget Sloan is the US National Champion on the Uneven Bars and qualified in sixth place for the Uneven Bars Event Final. Cha Yong Hwa of DPR Korea qualified in third place, followed by Koko Tsurumi of Japan and Australia’s Larissa Miller.

Surprise qualifiers not previously named are Ana Porgras of Romania, a country not known for their Uneven Bars prowess, and Serena Licchetta of Italy.

Balance Beam.

A big *high five* goes out to Ivana Hong of the United States. She has overcome her consistency and self-confidence issues from the past couple of years and has put together a routine quite worthy of the Balance Beam Event Final, qualifying in 4th place.

Romania’s Ana Porgras qualified in the top spot, which isn’t surprising considering the Romanian knack for being incredible on the apparatus. Olympic Finalist Koko Tsurumi (Japan) made it into the Final in 6th place, as did World Cup Finals Champion Lauren Mitchell in 5th place.

China is represented twice in the Balance Beam Final. Deng Linlin and Yang Yilin are both into the final, qualifying in 3rd and 7th place, respectively. Kim Un Hyang of DPR Korea qualified in 2nd place, and Italy’s Elisabetta Preziosa nabbed the 8th spot for the final.

Floor Exercise.

Anna Myzdrikova (Russia)

Anna Myzdrikova (Russia)

Russia nabbed the top spot here. Anna Myzdrikova leads the charge into the Floor Exercise final with a very unique Triple Twist + Back Tuck combination. Her 14.500 was the high score on the apparatus, thanks in large part to that ridiculous landing deduction rule. European Floor Exercise Champion from Great Britain, Beth Tweddle, is in the final, qualifying in 4th place with a 14.075.

Newcomer Jessica Gil Ortiz of Colombia qualified in 6th place with a 14.050. In 2nd place is China’s Sui Lu, with Ana Porgras in 3rd, Lauren Mitchell in 5th, Deng Linlin in 7th, and Rebecca Bross grabbing the 8th spot in the final.

American Kayla Williams is the first reserve on the Floor Exercise in the event that one of the qualifiers cannot compete.

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