The best way to introduce “The Discussion” series is to ask viewers to take two minutes to view the video linked on the left.
This is an excerpt from a TV show called “The McLaughlin Group,” where Washington D.C. pundits argue loudly about politics.
Well, that looked like fun. Why not, I thought, do the same thing for gymnastics?
The result is below. Gymnastics bloggers from around the world have contributed their thoughts and insights to a series of questions about the sport and its personalities that will be posted during the upcoming days.
Here’s what they had to say on what is likely to be one of the most hotly debated topics of the year…
Viktoria Komova vs. Aliya Mustafina — who’s the better all-around gymnast?
Rick McCharles (Gymnastics Coaching): Mustafina. Mustafina is battle tested. She’s the queen until some rival proves otherwise in senior competition. My prediction is that Mustafina will be the dominant gymnast again in 2011. But that by 2012 it will be difficult for her to win the Olympics. Psychologically it was easy for Komova to win the Youth Olympics because there wasn’t much depth of competition.
Beatrice Gheorghisor (Gymnastics No Ceiling): They are quite similar: Amanar, great bars, strong floor and a bit of a weakness on beam. But I think Komova will win: she has prettier lines and better vaulting technique, also the upgrades she has been working on are impressive.
Elizabeth Long (The All Around Gymnastics News): On paper, Komova. She has the difficulty, matches Mustafina in performance quality, and has better form. She’s been a cool competitor as a junior, what remains to be seen is if she’ll continue to keep her head in pressure situations — as Mustafina has shown she can — as she moves into the seniors where the prizes on the line really count.
Bronwyn Sanders (STOI!): I’m going to break this down by event.
VT – They both have the big bad Amanars. Komova has the better form, but Mustafina’s is more powerful. But Komova’s incredibly slight frame deceives my eyes in believing that she’s just as powerful. But there’s just no ignoring Mustafina’s legs on the preflight. The judges seem to like Mustafina’s vault regardless.
I’ll go with Komova. By a tenth.
UB – I think this is both of their best events. They both have original skills named after them in the code. Komova sometimes misses a handstand, while Mustafina’s are right on top. Mustafina sacrifices some leg form (and her fugly Tkatchev) to Komova, but makes it up with her superior difficulty (and we hear she’s upgrading that second transition), and that snazzy dismount.
D score = Mustafina E score = Komova = tie.
BB – Prior to Worlds, I would have said Komova by a landslide, but Mustafina has improved steadily on this event, and has actually learned to connect tricks. Komova has the tendency to be a wobble-machine, but she’s aesthetically more pleasing here to me (Aliya’s “triple twist” dismount, EW).
Komova by a couple of tenths, especially with her purported upgrades.
FX – Again, Aliya’s twisting form (and the girl loves to twist) leaves something to be desired. Komova has the best Memmel turn I’ve ever seen, but could afford to upgrade that second pass (and I suspect she will).
Komova by a tenth.
Bronwyn’s final verdict: Komova by .4
Clara (STOI!): Bronwyn has pretty much nailed this one with her in depth and thorough analysis. So I’m going to go for a third option — Grishina. Put a cheeky fiver on her now to beat them both in London.
Martina Eggeling (Gymnastics United): I have not seen that much of Komova yet, but what I have seen of her makes me feel that she may be the better all-arounder. I think she is kind of more complete as a gymnast though younger. She looks to have better for throughout and some more natural elegance with her which to me are two things that really make a gymnast complete besides the difficulty they throw.
Romila Storjohann (GymNiceTic): If you watch Mustafina’s AA at the Worlds and Komova’s AA at the YOG, the answer is clear: There’s no answer. They both have a 2.5 Yurchenko, super difficult routines on the other three apparatus — and they will both reach every event final if they do not surprisingly make a mistake.
Brigid McCarthy (The Couch Gymnast): I honestly cannot decide. They are both brilliant and exciting gymnasts. Perhaps Mustafina has the edge in terms of performance quality and execution and Komova has the edge on beam and difficulty, if I am correct. But I am splitting hairs. I will leave it to the better analysts than I to decide this one.
Vanessa Steck (Wild/Precious): Komova. Mustafina is amazing — she is — but Komova has slightly harder skills and she hasn’t hit the world stage in a big way yet. She also seems quite steady — as is Mustafina, but Komova will come out of the gate relatively untested which could be an advantage.
Jen (Full In Full Out): I absolutely give this one to Komova. Not only does she have the difficulty, but she’s far cleaner than Mustafina. I think there’s a good possibility that we’ve seen Musty at her best and that we’re unlikely to see much in the way of improvement. Komova has so many tricks up her sparkly, mesh sleeves — and she can do them with decent form. Personally, I look forward to seeing her hand Musty an ass-kicking.
Dave (Aunt Joyce’s Ice Cream Stand): Aliya Mustafina has an ideal body in that she possesses a combination of power and finesse. While both Aliya and Viktoria had stellar years in 2010, one has to give the nod to Aliya at this point. She has handled the pressure of competition as a senior at Europeans and Worlds and was the star of each. Unlike many top all-arounders of the past (i.e. Khorkina, Patterson), she is able to handle the stress of both team and individual competition. Aliya has also performed an innovative second vault.
Katie (Full Twist): Both are such strong and beautiful gymnasts but Mustafina is the better all-arounder in my mind. I think Komova will follow in her footsteps and dominate at some stage, I’m just not sure if it will happen this year when she will compete as a senior, then again as we saw from the 2010 Worlds, the Chinese really messed up on bars – anything can happen in gymnastics when you’re not expecting it!
Anne Phillips (Gymnastike): Mustafina. She’s already proven herself on the highly competitive senior world stage and was a total rock for the Russian team in Rotterdam. If the two competed head to head tomorrow, I’d take Mustafina.
Blythe Lawrence (Gymnastics Examiner): Mustafina. What impresses me most about our current World champion is the killer instinct she displayed in Rotterdam, where many of her skills looked too easy for her. There are a couple obvious things Mustafina needs to do to stay ahead of Komova: she must either fix her legs on her twists or change her beam dismount and a couple tumbling passes on floor. Komova poses a formidable challenge. But I think Mustafina has the capability to be even better than she is now.
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