16 November, 2009

He and Dong take the lead in the preliminaries of the 2009 World Championships

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He Wenna (CHN) November 11, 2009: The Chinese dominated the individual trampoline qualification round of the 26th World Championships in trampoline, tumbling, and double mini-trampoline held today at the Sports-Concert Complex in St Petersburg, Russia. He Wenna (CHN) and Dong Dong (CHN) took the lead respectively in the women’s and men’s. The two world records of the highest scoring first routines were beaten.
The competition of the 26th World Championships in trampoline, tumbling, and double mini-trampoline kicked off today at the Sports-Concert Complex arena in St Petersburg, Russia.  These World Championships are the first in history to be organized on Russian soil.  Today’s schedule featured the preliminaries in women’s and men’s individual trampoline.  The scores from the individual preliminaries were used to determine the eight trampolinists qualified for the individual finals, as well as the five teams qualified for the team finals that will take place tomorrow’s evening.
The preliminaries were dominated by the Chinese, who took the top three spots in the women’s, and four of the top five spots in the men’s.  In the women’s, Olympic Champion He Wenna (CHN) took a convincing lead, edging Huang Shanshan (CHN), Zhong Xingping (CHN), Karen Cockburn (CAN), and Rosannagh MacLennan (CAN).  The trampolinists qualified for the women’s individual final that will take place on Saturday evening were He, Huang, Cockburn, MacLenna, Irina Karavaeva (RUS), Marina Ducroux (FRA), Ekaterina Khilko (UZB), and Viktoria Voronina (RUS).  In the men’s, Dong Dong (CHN) took the lead over Dimitri Ushakov (RUS), Lu Chunlong (CHN), Tu Xiao (CHN), and Ye Shuai (CHN).  The eight trampolinists who qualified for the men’s final that will take place on Friday evening were Dong, Ushakov, Lu, Yasuhiro Ueyama (JPN), Masaki Ito (JPN), Nikolai Kazak (BLR), Diogo Ganchinho (POR), and James Higgins (GBR).
The top five teams qualified for the women’s team finals were China, Canada, Russia, Belarus, and the United States.  In the men’s, the team finalists were China, Japan, Russia, Belarus, and the United States.   
Two new world records were beaten in these preliminaries with He Wenna beating the women’s world record of the highest scoring first routine with 31.40 pts, and Tu Xiao beating the men’s world record of the highest scoring first routine with 31.90 pts.  The records remain unofficial since the FIG has decided not to keep track of world records any longer.   
The overall level of these preliminaries was very high.  The competition proved to be suspenseful with places qualifiying for the final being captured at the last routine, and finalist places to be determined under the tie-breaking rules. 
Despite competing in the first group of the preliminaries, the Chinese trampolinists dominated the women’s individual preliminaries as they secured the top three spots.  Olympic Champion He Wenna (CHN), who did not compete to the most recent World Cups due to illness, came to St Petersburg in top shape.  She first delivered an amazing first routine that landed every single skill on the cross.  She scored 31.40 pts, which is a new world record.  The previous world record was held by herself, when she scored 30.80 pts at the 2007 Sofia World Cup.  He Wenna built on her lead by delivering a top notch optional with nice difficulty (14.20 pts) thanks to a kick off in half out triffis pike, brilliant body positions, impressive amplitude, and very limited traveling.  She scored 38.90 pts for her second routine, and took the lead with an overall score of 70.20 pts.  In the final on Saturday, He Wenna will try to win her first World Champion title, two years after taking the 4th place of the last edition of the World Championships after having qualified to the final in 2nd place.  
Her teammate Huang Shanshan (CHN), who was the silver medalist at the 2007 World Championships and the bronze medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games, also had outstanding preliminaries.  She took the 2nd place of these preliminaries with a total score of 69.60 pts.  She first beat the world record of the highest scoring first routine, earning a score of 31.20 pts, which held only a few minutes before He Wenna set a new world record at 31.40 pts.  Huang Shanshan delivered an optional of high quality starting with half out triffis tuck.  She struggled slightly with a little lack of height in the middle of the routine, but recovered with brio.  She scored 38.40 pts for her optional which featured a 14.30 pt tariff.  In Saturday’s final, Huang Shanshan, who has won the last two World Cups, will try to do better than her silver medal at the last edition of the World Championships and become the first World Champion from China in the women’s individual trampoline event.
The third place of these preliminaries went to Zhong Xingping (CHN), who was the recent winner of the Chinese National Games.  Unfortunately, as only two trampolinists per country can qualify for the final, she will be limited to simply cheering for He and Huang in Saturday’s final.  Zhong actually missed the qualification for the final for only 0.10 pts as she scored 69.50 pts to Huang Shanshan’s 69.60 pts.  Zhong Xingping had a first routine of great quality, scoring 30.50 pts.  However, she lost a few precious tenths when compared to the masterful displays of her teammates.  She delivered the best optional of these preliminaries thanks to a routine with two triffises (14.60 pt tariff) and skills that all landed within the rectangle in the middle of the bed.  Zhong Xingping scored 39.00 pts for her optional.
The 4th place of these preliminaries was taken by 3-time Olympic medalist Karen Cockburn (CAN) with 68.90 pts.  The 2003 World Champion was coming back after a post-Olympic break and competing in her first major international event of the year.  She kicked off with a brilliant first routine (30.70 pts) with very limited traveling.  She went on with a great optional kicking off with a half out triffis pike (14.00 pt tariff).  Cockburn maintained neat body positions throughout the routine and scored 38.20 pts.  She was followed by 2007 World silver medalist and Pan American Champion Rosannagh MacLennan (CAN).  MacLennan also had a sterling first routine, scoring 30.70 pts.  She had a great optional despite a little scare of the eighth skill.  She scored 37.40 pts thanks to a nice mix of execution and high difficulty (14.60 pt tariff).  Overall, MacLennan obtained a score of 68.10 pts, good for the 5th place of these preliminaries.
Former Olympic Champion and 5-time reigning World Champion Irina Karavaeva (RUS), who seemed pretty exhausted yesterday in training, digged into her her reserves and displayed the will power that made her so successful over the past fifteen years.  Karavaeva, who was competing last in the individual competition, performed a quality routine despite a little traveling (30.00 pts).  In her optional, she survived a traveling on her 3rd skill, the second triffis of her routine, modified her routine, and went on to complete her routine with class.  She concluded her routine (37.80 pts) with a miller straight, for a total difficulty of 14.00 pts.  Overall, she scored 67.80 pts, and qualified for the final in 6th place.  Saturday’s final will be 15 years after she won her first World Champion title.  It will be her first opportunity to be crowned in front of her home crowd.  The 7th place of these preliminaries went to Li Dan (CHN).  Li Dan had a strong first routine (30.40 pts) with limited traveling.  She competed a nice optional, but suffered from some traveling.  She scored 67.60 pts.  Unfortunately, Li Dan did not qualify for the final as only two Chinese per country could qualify.
Marina Ducroux (FRA) (nee Murinova), who is originally from St Petersburg, had a unique opportunity to shine in the country in which she grew.  She represented Russia for a long time, winning the silver medal at the 2004 European Championships and winning the gold medal in DMT at the 2001 World Championships, before switching to represent France.  At these World Championships where her mother is part of the Organizing Committee, Ducroux delivered a very convincing performance and qualified for the final by taking the 8th place of these preliminaries with a scored of 67.20 pts.  Ducroux had a solid first routine with good height (30.30 pts).  In her optional, she performed well despite a very relative loss of height in the second half of her routine.  She scored 36.90 pts (13.40 pt tariff).  Olympic bronze medalist Ekaterina Khilko (UZB) also qualified for the final.  She had a pretty good first routine (30.30 pts).  In her optional, she suffered from some traveling, but relied on great difficulty (14.60 pt tariff) and solid body positions.  Khilko earned 36.50 pts for her optional, and claimed the 9th place with a score of 66.80 pts.  The last spot for the final was captured by Viktoria Voronina (RUS).  Voronina had a pretty good first routine (29.00 pts), but made the difference over her rivals for the last qualifying place by competing an optional that impressed many.  Her routine featured good height and neat execution.  Her optional yielded 37.40 pts, for a grand total of 66.40 pts.  Her 10th place qualified her for the final due to the limitation to two Chinese in the final.
Voronina qualified for the final only thanks to the tie-breaking rules as Marina Kyiko (UKR) finished with the same total (66.40 pts) as Voronina’s.  In a day where almost nothing worked for the Ukraine with the withdrawal from Yulia Domchevska and the struggles of Elena Movchan and Natalia Moskvina, Kyiko’s performance was a rare ray of light for the team.  Kyiko had a good first routine (29.90 pts) and performed a quality optional with a stepped up tariff (14.10 pts).  She scored 36.50 pts for her optional, and was ranked 11th behind Voronina as the score of her optional was lower than Voronina’s.  Kyiko was closely followed by Ekaterina Mironova (BLR) and Haruka Hirota (JPN), who both scored 66.30 pts, just 0.10 pts behind Voronina and Kyiko.  Mironova had a nice first routine (29.90 pts) and a solid optional (36.40 pts with a 13.30 pt tariff).  She was ranked 12th ahead of Haruka Hirota (13th) under the tie breaking rules.  Hirota relied on great body positions to score 30.00 pts in her first routine.  She scored 36.30 pts for her optional.  Her relative lack of difficulty may have been what cost her a place in the final.
Galina Goncharenko (RUS) fought off a traveling on the 7th skill of her optional and avoided landing on the mat at the end of the routine to capture the 14th place of these preliminaries taking place in her hometown.  Goncharenko had a nice first routine (29.90 pts) and solid optional despite the traveling (35.90 pts with a 13.10 pt tariff).  Overall, she scored 65.80 pts.  Goncharenko was followed by the Hayley Butcher (USA), who pleasantly surprised many by the quality of her performance.  Butcher delivered two strong routines to claim the 15th place with 65.70 pts.  She was ranked right ahead of her teammate Nani Vercruyssen (USA – 16th with 65.20 pts), one of the youngest competitors in these World Championships.  Vercruyssen signed a neat first routine (29.70 pts), before competing a solid optional (35.50 pts with a 12.50 pt tariff).  The Hawaiian was closely followed by 2-time European bronze medalist Tatiana Petrenia (BLR), who placed 17th with 65.10 pts.  Petrenia suffered from traveling in her optional and competed a routine with less difficutly than usual (13.40 pt tariff).  Ostend World Cup winner Katherine Driscoll (GBR), who lost precious tenths in a first routine that traveled.  Her solid optional (36.30 pts with a 13.50 pts) was not sufficient to fully make up the deficit created by her first routine.  Overall, she came in 18th with 64.80 pts, just 0.10 pts ahead of 2006 European Youth Champion Ana Rente (POR).  Rente had good routines but lacked a little height to better display neat body positions.  She scored 64.70 pts thanks to a 35.80 pt optional (13.70 pt tariff).  Anna Gorchenok (BLR) had a pretty good showing, coming in 20th place with 64.60 pts, lacking a little difficulty to hope for a better placing. 
Veteran Katarina Prokesova (SVK), who was competing first in these World Championships, followed in 21st place (64.40 pts with a 13.30 pt tariff), ahead of Tatiana Leoniuk (BLR – 22nd with 64.30 pts), Ayano Kishi (JPN – 23rd with 64.20 pts), Andrea Lenders (NED – 24th with 64.10 pts), Marine Jurbert (FRA – 25th with 63.20 pts), and Anastasia Velichko (RUS – 26th with 63.10 pts).  Velichko was followed by Carina Baumgaertner (GER), Sarah Syed (GER), Claudia Prat (ESP), who interrupted her routine, Anna Savkina (UZB), who had to modify her routine, Alaina Williams (USA), Kylie Walker (NZL), and Kailey McLeod (CAN).  Quite a few trampolinists struggled in these preliminaries, including 2009 World Cup Series winner Elena Movchan (UKR – 40th), who could not complete her optional), Natalia Moskvina (UKR – 35th), Samantha Sendel (CAN – 37th), Laura Gallagher (GBR – 41st), Nicole Pacheco (POR – 42nd), Tara Fokke (NED – 44th), Luba Golovina (GEO – 47th), Jaime Moore (GBR – 48th), Zita Frydrychova (CZE – 51st), and Jessica Simon (GER – 56th). 
In the team event, China obviously dominated these preliminaries, scoring 209.30 pts thanks to He, Huang, and Zhong.  The Chinese took the 1st place of these preliminaries with a more than 10.00 pt margin over the other teams.  Team Canada came in 2nd place with 200.20 pts, led by Cockburn, MacLennan.  McLeod made up for some of the struggles of Sendel in the second routine.  Russia was a close 3rd with 200.00 pts thanks to Karavaeva, Voronina, and Goncharenko.  The Belarus team followed in 4th place with 196.70 pts with consistent contributions from its four members.  The United States qualified for the final with 193.10 pts, placing 5th despite featuring only three team members.  Japan (6th with 191.30 pts), the Ukraine (7th with 187.90 pts), the Netherlands (8th with 185.10 pts), Portugal (9th with 184.80 pts), France (10th with 176.50 pts), Great Britain (11th with 172.60 pts), and Germany (12th with 158.90 pts).
These men’s individual trampoline preliminaries reached a top notch level, and were dominated by the Chinese trampolinists, who to a large extent were battling against each other to determine which two of them would qualify for the final.  Olympic bronze medalist and 2007 World silver medalist Dong Dong (CHN) dominated these preliminaries beating his rivals by 1.00 pt.  Dong Dong scored 74.30 pts thanks to an amazing first routine that scored 31.80 pts after each skill landed on the cross.  In his optional, Dong Dong relied once again on sterling body positions and very limited traveling to score 42.50 pts (16.60 pt tariff), which was ruled the best optional of these preliminaries.  In Friday’s final, Dong Dong will try to do better than two years ago where he took the silver medal. 
Dimitri Ushakov (RUS) proved to be in great shape, displaying confidence while jumping.  He was rewarded with a 2nd place in these preliminaries with 73.30 pts.  Ushakov’s first routine (31.80 pts) was also unbelievably high, clean, and well-mastered, despite a conclusion in double full in double full out straight.  Ushakov also delivered a very strong second routine, scoring 41.50 pts thanks to great height and brilliant body positions (16.00 pt tariff).  He traveled here and there, but his performance was really top notch.  Ushakov will try Friday to become the latest World Champion from Russia, following a rich history that features the names of Evgeni Janes (1976-1978 World Champion), Alexander Moskalenko (1990-1992-1994-1999-2001 World Champion), German Khnychev (1998 World Champion), and Alexander Rusakov (2005 World Champion).  The names of Vadim Krasnochapka (1988 World Champion) and Dimitri Poliarush (1996 World Champion) could also be mentioned as they originally came from Russian cities, respectively Togliatti and Berezniki, before they moved to cities outside Russia.
Olympic Champion Lu Chunlong (CHN) came in 3rd place with 73.20 pts, just 0.10 pts behind Ushakov.  Lu Chunlong benefited from the tie-breaking rules to edge his teammate Tu Xiao (CHN), who also scored 73.20 pts.  Lu Chunlong had an outstanding first routine (31.60 pts) before competing a sterling optional (41.60 pts with a 16.60 pt tariff).  Lu Chunlong’s routine featured great height and neat execution, despite a little struggle on the 7th skill.  Tu Xiao had an impressive display, but missed on the task of eliminating his teammates Olympic Champion Lu Chunlong and World Champion Ye Shuai by almost nothing.  Tu Xiao set a new world record for the highest scoring first routine (31.90 pts).  The previous record was held by Jason Burnett (CAN), who had scored 31.60 pts at the 2009 Sofia World Cup.  Tu Xiao’s routine stayed within the rectangle and featured an impressive combination of full in randy out straight into half in ady out pike.  In his optional, Tu Xiao delivered high difficulty (17.00 pt tariff) witha routine kicking off with three triffises followed by half in randy out pike – randy out pike.  A little traveling after this combination cost him precious tenths that made all the difference in the end.  He scored 41.30 pts, and was ranked 4th behind Lu Chunlong under the tie-breaking rules as his second routine scored less than his teammate’s.
World Champion Ye Shuai (CHN) was another victim of the rule limiting the number of trampolinists per country to two in the final.  Ye Shuai had a strong first routine (31.20 pts), but in the end it is where he lost precious tenths in comparison to his teammates, and missed the final.  Ye Shuai performed an impressive optional featuring five triffises for a degree of difficulty of 17.40 pts.  Ye Shuai performed his routine with great height, beautiful positions, and very limited traveling.  He earned a score of 41.90 pts for that routine, the second highest scoring optional of the competition.  Overall, he obtained 73.10 pts, just 0.10 pts behind Lu and Tu, and missed the final despite his 5th place.  With 0.10 pts more, he would have edged Lu and Tu. 
2-time World medalist Yasuhiro Ueyama (JPN) qualified for the final by taking the 6th place of these preliminaries thanks to two strong routines (30.90 pts and 41.40 pts with a 16.20 pt tariff).  Ueyama relied on his sharp technique and limited traveling.  He scored a total of 72.30 pts.  Ueyama was closely followed by Masaki Ito (JPN), who won the 2009 World Cup Series.  Ito came in 7th place with 72.20 pts thanks to routines with sterling execution (30.80 pts and 41.40 pts with a 16.20 pt tariff).  The Japanese team delivered a pretty consistent performance as 2005 World bronze medalist Tetsuya Sotomura (JPN) took the 9th place with 71.10 pts thanks to a neat first routine (31.30 pts) and a solid optional (39.80 pts iwth a 16.00 pt tariff).  As only two trampolinists per country can qualify for the final, Sotomura will watch the final and cheer for his teammates.
1997 World Games Champion and 2-time World silver medalist Nikolai Kazak (BLR) qualified for a new final of a World Championship.  Kazak, who was competing last in these preliminaries, delivered a strong first routine (30.70 pts) and a brilliant optional (40.40 pts)where he did not land outside the rectangle in the middle of the bed, thus compensating for relative lack of difficulty (15.80 pts).  Overall, Kazak came in  place with 71.10 pts, edging Sotomura under the tie-breking rules.  Diogo Ganchinho (POR) qualified for the first final of a World Championship in his career with a strong performance with two quality routines.  Ganchinho placed 10th with 70.10 pts, relying on strong execution rather than high difficulty (15.60 pts).  James Higgins (GBR) also qualified for the first final of a World Championship in his career thanks to a pretty good first routine and a brilliant optional where he relied on height and superb body positions in the air.  Overall, Higgins scored 70.00 pts, clinching the 11th place, the last place qualifying for the final.
Higgins barely made to the final as he edged former European champion and World Cup Final winner David Martin (FRA) under the tie-breaking rules.  Martin definitely stepped up his game in this major event like he often does.  He competed a first routine with clean body positions (30.20 pts) before performing a storng optional (39.80 pts).  He placed 12th, just ahead of Steven Gluckstein (USA), who had a strong display thanks to high quality routines.  Gluckstein scored 69.80 pts thanks to an optional that scored 39.40 pts.  Gluckstein barely edged four men who tied with 69.70 pts and had to be ranked under the tie-breaking rules.  Martin Gromowski (GER) had a very good showing with two great routines.  He came in 14th place, right ahead of Peter Jensen (DEN), who had the disadvantage of competing in the first group.  Jensen palce 15th.  The 16th place went to European silver medalist Gregoire Pennes (FRA), who had a very good first routine (30.70 pts), but battled a little traveling in the optional.  Olympic silver medalist Jason Burnett (CAN), who was expected to battle the Chinese for the gold medal, had a brilliant first routine.  His optional was also outstanding, almost landing all skills on or near the cross despite some solid difficulty (16.40 pt tariff).  Unfortunately, Burnett seemed to lose focus after the end of his routine, which caused his final vertical jump to land on the mat with an automatic penalty of 1.00 pt per judge.  Without this mistake, he would have placed 6th and would have reached the final.  Instead, he had to settle for the 17th place with 69.70 pts. 
Sergei Chumak (RUS) followed in 18th place with 69.60 pts.  Chumak delivered a delightful optional (41.30 pts with a 16.40 pt tariff).  Unfortunately his first routine was sub-par due to some struggle.  As a result, he missed the final.  Chumak was followed by other trampolinists who had nice displays but lost a few tenths here and there due to traveling, including former European Youth Champion Karsten Kuritz (GER – 19th with 69.40 pts), Michael Devine (USA – 20th with 69.30 pts), Ostend World Cup winner Logan Dooley (USA – 21st with 69.10 pts), Evgeni Zhukovsky (BLR – 22nd with 68.80 pts), Viacheslav Model (BLR – 23rd with 68.60 pts), Asian Games medalist Shunsuke Nagasaki (JPN – 24th 68.40 pts), Tomasz Adamczyk (POL – 25th with 68.20 pts despite a lack of difficulty), Flavio Cannone (ITA – 26th with 68.10 pts), who had to modify his routine), and Ty Swadling (AUS – 27th with 68.00 pts).
They were followed by Dimitri Fedorovsky (RUS), 2004 Olympic Champion Yuri Nikitin (UKR), who unfortunately struggled near the end of his routine, which forced him to touch the mat with his hands at the end, Steven Walsh (GBR), Steven Williams (GBR), Dennis Luxon (GER), Neil Gulati (USA), Charles Thibault (CAN), Evgeni Doka (UKR), Daniel Praest (DEN), and Alexander Chernonos (UKR).  The list of victims of these preliminaries included the names of high profile champions who failed to complete their routines such as Sebastien Martiny (FRA – 46th), Amadeu Neves (POR – 47th), Markus Kubicka (GER – 54th), Tengiz Koshkadze (GEO – 61st),  Carlos Pala (BRA – 62nd), Mickael Jala (FRA – 67th), Yakov Rakitsky (BLR – 75th), Ben Wilden (AUS – 78th), and Jeroen Kaslander (NED – 80th).
In the team event, China easily dominated its rivals, taking the first place of these preliminaries with 221.30 pts thanks to contributions from all four team members, namely Dong, Lu, Tu, and Ye.  Japan followed in 2nd place with 215.60 pts thanks to Ueyama, Ito, and Sotomura.  Russia placed 3rd with 211.50 pts, led by Ushakov and Chumak, who were seconded by Alexander Leven in the first routine and Fedorovsky in the second routine.  The last two qualifying places were taken by Belarus (208.50 pts), led by Kazak, and the United States (208.20 pts) with consistent contributions from Gluckstein, Devine, and Dooley.  It is the first time in trampoline history that the men’s U.S. team qualifies for a team final or enters the top 5 of a team competition.  For note, team competitions were created at the 1982 World Championships, and the first top 5 team finals date back to the 1996 World Championships. 
Germany (6th with 206.70 pts), Great Britain (7th with 204.70 pts), France (8th with 203.60 pts), Canada (9th with 200.40 pts), the Ukraine (10th with 200.20 pts), Denmark (11th with 199.60 pts), Portugal (12th with 199.10 pts), Poland (13th with 198.60 pts), Italy (14th), Australia (15th), Brazil (16th), Bulgaria (17th), and Switzerland (18th) followed.