We’re back for another installment of our world championships training coverage, and this time we’re here to talk about Romania.
Of course, the Romanian on everyone’s mind is superstar Larisa Iordache, who has been eating gold medals for breakfast ever since her comeback from injury just a little over a month ago. Obviously the competition in Glasgow is a little steeper than it is at domestic meets and the Novara Cup, but she’s picked up gold for every single event and all-around she’s done except for one, which does great things for your mindset going into worlds.
In training so far, she’s showed a great DTY, and I think she looks better with each bar routine we see from her. Her stalder full to Maloney to clear hip half to giant half to Jaeger is so excellent, minor form issues aside, and her Church to pak looks great, as does the form on her van Leeuwen…and she nearly stuck her toe full to full-in. She is basically a hero for this team on bars.
She has a medal-worthy beam routine, showing a great bhs tuck full and roundoff layout back to back in training. She lost a bit of control on her double pirouette while working through her full routine, though her fight to stay on was good. Her leaps are strong, and everything else looked great, aside from a wobble on her side somi. Finishing with a triple full, it’s a dream routine and I can’t wait to see it in competition.
On floor, she has the potential to be right behind Simone Biles and Aly Raisman if she hits. She crashed her double double in podium training, but stuck her tucked full-in (with her chest down), went through her insane triple pirouette to double pirouette series with ease, cheated a leap at one point, had a nicely rotated triple even if she tends to lose form a bit at the end, lost herself a bit on her Memmel turn, and nailed her double pike to finish.
Also big on our radar is Diana Bulimar, who missed the last two worlds due to knee injuries…which almost happened again this year, but thankfully the surgery she had in June seems to have sustained her thus far. The Olympian has downgraded on vault, opting for an FTY instead of something more challenging, but she brings a consistent bars set, including a shaposh, Hindorff, clear hip full to Tkachev, bail to Ray, and a full-in dismount.
Her standout events are beam and floor, and though she’s a little limited on both, she still has impressive sets. Her bhs layout on beam is looking solid, though she did have a wobble on her front aerial in podium training, and she missed the connection between her switch leap and switch half by quite a lot…though both looked fantastic in terms of amplitude, as did her jumps and switch side; she also stuck her double pike dismount in training, which was awesome.
Bulimar’s floor routine is a very strong piece, opening with a double layout followed by a piked full-in, both of which were a teeny bit short in training, though she did hit. She also landed a double pike and a double tuck fairly well. As with on beam, she is lovely to watch in her leaps and jumps, and she also had a great big smile on her face as she finished, showing good expression in what should be a crowd-pleaser of a routine.
Ana Maria Ocolisan injured her knee on bars at Novara, but she showed no sign of that letting her down in training. She’s sticking with her DTY on vault, which is a little spotty but should bring in a solid score for the Romanians. She should also be a great earner on bars, where she has a van Leeuwen, Jaeger, pak, Maloney, bail to Ray, and full-in dismount. There’s not a lot connected there, but it’s a clean and dependable enough routine to make it well worth the effort.
Moving to beam, she showed a piked bhs layout with a leg up on the landing, a front aerial, a full Y turn that took a bit of preparation, a side somi done with fully extended legs, a side aerial, nice work on her leaps, and a double pike dismount. On floor, Ocolisan is doing an under-rotated triple, a 2.5 to front tuck, a double pike, and a double tuck. With Iordache taking the first all-around spot, I think Ocolisan will be a big challenge to Bulimar, who wants the second spot. That fight in qualifications should definitely spice up what should already be an exciting competition for the Romanians.
The fourth all-arounder is Laura Jurca, the new senior on the team. She has under-performed a bit this year given her expectations as a junior, and her difficulty is slightly lower than they’d probably like, but she’s going to be doing all four events in Glasgow. She is vaulting one of the team’s strongest DTYs, making her incredibly useful there, and then on bars she’s had consistency issues this year but looked good in training, showing a Hindorff (with bent knees), hop to front giant half, clear hip full to Gienger, pak (caught a bit close), what should be a clear hip half to clear hip to toe on to toe shoot, though she got a little lost there in training and took a couple of little recovery swings, and a nice full-in dismount.
On beam, Jurca started out with a little leg up on her flight series, and her leaps were a little short, but she hit her front aerial and side aerial with no problems before continuing to a switch side with a wobble and hitting her double tuck with a step. She opened with a big tucked full-in on floor, and came in a bit low on her 2.5 to punch front tuck but stood it up well. Jurca also has a slightly under-rotated triple full and finishes with a solid double tuck. Overall, she looks about as good as she can, and hopefully will have everything come together for her this weekend.
Silvia Zarzu, who competed at worlds last year and has grown leaps and bounds since, showed a good DTY – she was slightly loose in her knees, but it’s definitely a team finals vault. She’s known for a somewhat sketchy bars routine, though in training showed she at least has some element of consistency, with a clear hip to toe on to Ray, messy Gienger, bail to toe shoot, and stuck tucked full-in dismount. It’s not bad, really…there are form issues and her swing is bizarre…but they could certainly throw it in as a leadoff routine and not have to really worry.
Floor is where Zarzu really stands out, with an excellent 1.5 to triple full to open before going into her big 2.5 to punch front, which she actually brought out of bounds in training. Zarzu also competes a double pike and double tuck, and the routine itself is high-energy with lots of great moments in her performance.
We got a glimpse of fellow new senior Andreea Iridon on beam, which is I assume her only event at this competition…unless we just didn’t get to see her bars. It would make sense, I suppose, to have Zarzu on all but beam and then Iridon fill in on the remaining apparatus? Iridon is known for her bars work, but this year has fallen on five of her eight routines…so I’m assuming they’re going with Zarzu’s consistency over Iridon’s ability and potential.
Anyway, on beam, Iridon got off to a rough start with a big wobble on her 1.5 Y turn. Her switch half was slightly under 180, but she hit her side somi, side aerial to jump series, and bhs back pike (which I’d imagine is a legit back pike and not meant to be a layout, unless she just dropped the ball completely there). I love her switch to full Y turn, though she did have a slight check at the end, and she had lovely work on her front aerial, which she takes down into a gorgeous scale. She warmed up just a layout timer on beam, so I wonder if there’s still a decision to be made between Iridon and Andreea Munteanu?
Munteanu apparently has been a bit lazy in the latter half of this season. She hasn’t competed since winning beam gold at European Championships, and originally wasn’t part of the worlds decision at all, until Catalina Ponor dropped out. She was then named alternate, and we didn’t see any of her training in Glasgow, so she may just be on the list for show…though I can imagine them putting her in if Iridon proves to be risky.
Overall I’d say this team is much better than last year’s, even without Ponor. Not having Ponor is obviously a huge blow on beam especially, but these young ones can make it through. They still have the experience of two Olympians while all of the younger ones are incredibly seasoned, having competed at the Youth Olympic Games, European Championships, world cup events, and both Zarzu and Ocolisan at last year’s worlds. Bulimar finally back in fighting form adds huge momentum, and under Iordache’s guidance, they could definitely be a podium threat. It would be great to see the team redeem themselves after narrowly missing out on bronze last year, and I think they could totally bring in that extra oomph to fight for that glory in team finals.
Article by Lauren Hopkins