November 3, 2008

Lots of Drama at Swiss Cup

There have been times when the Swiss Cup was a staid and uneventful coda to the year, an event with an interesting format but little real drama. However, judging from the report on the official competition website, this year's Swiss Cup was anything but uneventful. It had plenty of drama. In fact, some might say it had a little too much of it.

The Swiss Cup is a pair event. Featuring many of the same gymnasts who earlier competed at the Arthur Gander Memorial, this year's competition saw mixed couples from twelve countries battle it out on three events of their choice. The four highest-scoring couples over three events then made it to a one-event final which started from scratch again, meaning that whoever posted the highest score in the final rotation would walk away with the gold. In the end, victory somewhat surprisingly went to China's He Ning and Lu Bo, who were lucky to make it into the final at all, as He had fallen from beam twice in an earlier rotation.

Weltklasse, indeed.

Photo: Jasmin Schneebeli-Wochner

Second place went to the Romanian pair of Sandra Izbasa and Flavius Koczi, who got off to a disastrous start (Izbasa showed the same vault twice and was penalized for it, resulting in an abysmal 12.200 average) but really got their act together in the second and third rotations. They qualified to the final in second place and stayed there, just holding off Russia's Ksenia Afanasyeva and Maksim Devyatovsky, who had led the pack after three rotations.

The most dramatic routine of the competition was undoubtedly Oksana Chusovitina's floor exercise. The 33-year-old Uzbek/German veteran, partnered with Fabian Hambuchen and seemingly on her way to the gold despite a botched beam dismount, crashed on her second tumbling pass in the third rotation and tore her Achilles tendon. According to the DTB site, she is slated to undergo surgery on Tuesday. Chuso's Achilles tendon injury is Team Germany's second one of the week, following hot on the heels of Marie-Sophie Hindermann's. We hope both gymnasts will make a speedy recovery.


Swiss Cup results:
1. China 31.200
2. Romania 30.775
3. Russia 30.750
4. Switzerland 30.025

As far as we know, no Swiss Cup videos have been posted on YouTube yet, but you can check out out He Ning's excellent floor exercise at the 2008 Chinese Nationals (which she's still using) here.

Some of us here at the Triple Full headquarters are developing a crush on He's arms. Don't you think she has gorgeously expressive arms? She does nice work on beam too.

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