The Chinese are always my favorite to watch in training at world championships if only because we don’t get to see them compete much throughout the year.
Yes, the same can be said about most of the bigger nations and their gymnasts, but we generally get widely-disseminated information from camps, training in the gym, Instagram, and the like. With China, the information is much more hidden and harder to find, and they tend to under-score their gymnasts at their national competitions. It’s always a puzzle trying to figure out how they will look, and quite often we don’t get our first real scoring impressions until they hit the stage in qualifications, but podium training can at least quench our thirst until then.
I am so into Wang Yan this year. The 15-year-old has major potential to kill it on pretty much all of her events. Looking first at vault, where she has big finals potential, she performs a big tsuk double followed by an equally solid layout Rudi. So much power packed into her little body, I just love watching her kill it here time and again.
Bars isn’t a strong point for her, and she doesn’t have a traditional Chinese routine with a million pirouettes, but she does do some solid front giant work, including a front giant to Weiler to front giant to Weiler half to giant half to front giant full to Jaeger. Phew! So there are no Onos or Healys or Endos thrown in, but for someone who’s not a bar worker, it’s still an impressive grouping. In training, she did catch her pak a little close which threw her off and caused her to fall, but she hit a big double layout so as long as that small bit gets fixed, she should be totally fine here and has big potential for all-around finals.
Her beam showed some slight mistakes, like a wobble on her switch ring that didn’t allow her to connect it to her sheep jump. She then fell on her first attempt at her roundoff layout…a super straight layout, but just not quite centered enough. The second attempt saw a wobble but a hit, and then she went on to hit a punch front, front aerial with a stumble before trying again and connecting it to a split jump, a switch to wolf jump, and then just a double full dismount. When she went again, she hit a great barani, again struggled with the switch ring to sheep and front aerial to split jump, but then NAILED the roundoff layout. So good. Nothing else really had issues, and she went for the triple full this time but it was pretty short, and she landed poorly. This is definitely a hit or miss routine, but it’s one of those where if it’s hit, it’s REALLY hit. Like, event finals hit.
Finally, her floor, which should be in finals without mistakes in qualifications. Her double double to open was a little low but hit with a step, she KILLED the 1.5 to triple to punch front tuck (the rebound on the latter was awesome), and she had a nice beginning to her triple spin but fell out of the final rotation. I loved the 2.5 to punch layout half, and her double pike to finish was very strong.
The other big all-around threat is Shang Chunsong. She’s only going for FTYs on vault, which takes her down quite a bit, but she’s looking very tidy on bars, holding her first handstand like magic before throwing her eponymous skill – a clear hip piked Tkatchev – straight into a pak with no issues. She also does a shaposh to Gienger, two one-armed front giant fulls into a Jaeger, and finishes with a full-in. It’s great, making her one of three on the team with big finals potential there.
On beam, Shang showed beautiful work on her bhs bhs layout, which she’s hoping to connect into her jump series. Just lovely. She got tremendous amplitude on her switch half, nailed a bhs loso loso, had a slight wobble on a punch front tuck, fell on her front aerial to sheep jump but hit it well the second time around, and had a lovely side aerial to beautiful sissone before hitting a very nice triple full. Such an incredible routine if she can stay on.
Her floor routine includes a casual 3.5 to punch front, on which she came up much too short and then sat. Next up was a 1.5 through to triple full to punch front tuck, not as good as Wang’s, but still incredible to watch, and then her quad spin is controlled almost perfectly, with just a slight loss at the end. Her 2.5 to front layout half is a little short, and she crashed her double pike to finish…so it has the makings of excellence but she’s just not quite there in terms of hitting it consistently yet.
The new senior Fan Yilin is doing everything but vault. Her standout is bars, where she has more of a Russian routine than a Chinese one, opening with an inbar full to Komova II to pak to Chow to Gienger. Then she gets a little more traditional with an inbar half to two one-armed front giant fulls before her huge floaty double layout, which she stuck in training. Just absolutely gorgeous, and she could very well find herself on top of the podium in an incredibly deep field.
On beam, Fan performed a roundoff layout (a bit piked and shaky but not bad), a switch ring, front aerial to sheep jump, side somi, switch to side aerial (she botched it on one attempt but it was excellent when hit), and a 2.5 dismount. It’s not as impressive as bars, but still a great set for the team.
Mao Yi, a big tumbler like Wang, has a DTY on vault, which is nice when hit but isn’t super consistent. She’s not known for her bars, but still has a decent set with great basics, and includes a Maloney to pak, toe shoot, Tkachev, an awesome front giant full to Jaeger, and a solid double layout.
Her beam is a bit weak with problems on her landings and connections, and she seems a bit tentative there in general…whereas her teammates recognize their mistakes and know to redo elements, she just seemed a bit unsure with what she was doing, though she’s still young and new to this level. She had a fall on her double turn on one attempt, and came up way too short on her triple full, but I doubt they’d use her in a team final here so no biggie.
Floor is what she’s known for, and that’s mainly because of her awesome 3.5 to punch front, which she nailed. Like everyone else in China now, she also does a 2.5 to layout half, her triple full is actually excellent (though you’d expect that considering she can bust out a 3.5 equally well), she attempts a quad spin, and she put her hands down on her double tuck, but overall it looks like China could have multiple floor finalists if she can hit this.
Chen Siyi went back and forth between being alternate and on the team, and it showed a little in her training. She crashed a DTY and also fell apart a bit on bars. She got off to an okay start on her front giant 1.5 to big Tkachev and then her two front giant fulls to Jaeger, though she definitely had some minor form issues there, including bent knees going into her Tkachev. She caught the pak but then lost form on a handstand and had to take extra swings before continuing with her stalder to Ray before dismounting with a double layout stumbled back.
Beam is definitely her strongest suit, and there, she showed great work on her roundoff layout, punch front tuck, switch ring, side aerial, front aerial to sheep, wolf jump to split jump to Korbut, switch leap, and double tuck, her only issue in this set a slight wobble on a full turn. In an earlier routine, she was equally strong with just a few tiny errors, so I’d love to see her prove herself on this event in competition.
Like the rest of her teammates, her floor has improved immensely, even if it’s not perfect. She has a triple full to start, which only looked a tiny bit off, and then she hit her tucked full-in a little low. The 2.5 to punch front was great, her triple spin was lovely, she actually smiled and showed great expression during her middle bit of choreo, and she hit her double pike to finish.
Tan Jiaxin, who was disappointed last year for being known as “the vaulter” when she considered bars her best event, is up on everything but beam this year it seems. Her DTY still looks fine, but she’s done a ton of work on bars, and I believe can get her routine up to a 6.9 start value. She does a Hindorff to pak straight off the bat followed by a Maloney to Gienger, very smooth front giant pirouettes (including a full and a 1.5, the latter going into a Tkachev), and a double-twisting double layout. Her handstands looked a bit labored, so that could be a big execution hit, and the dismount was a mess, but if she’s clean she’ll be a big threat.
Her floor…well, her music is…special. But her tumbling has also improved, and she opens with a decent 1.5 to triple before a 2.5 to punch front. The twisting elements are both landed well, though her form in the air is a bit wonky. She stumbled her double pike a bit in training, and finished with a double pike a bit low in the knees.
I think if the team hits, they are absolutely the clearest choice for silver at the moment, but the key is actually hitting. They have the edge over teams like Russia and Romania, but they lose it straight away if they have as many falls in qualifications as they did in training.
Article by Lauren Hopkins