Thoughts about Youna Dufournet

Amy asked me about my opinion on Youna Dufournet and the problem with her dangerous and disastrous routines from the Europeans and the American Cup this year.

I just thought a little bit about the whole situation and did a little research. As you surely have already read the posts on Gymblog and Gymnastics Coaching, you can see there´s a lot of feedback on Youna´s performances. Some people worry about her physical health and complain about the choice of her coach Marc Chirilcenco to let her do these tumbling passes, though she is obviously not able to perform them well and safely.

For me – as a viewer – Youna´s floor exercise at the Europeans was really hard to watch. I hoped she will be able to finish this routine without getting injured. Someone, who watches artistic gymnastics shouldn´t feel this way; crossing his fingers & praying, the gymnast will land the last tumbling pass on his feets – and not on the head. So I think it´s totally correct to question Chirilcenco´s decisions. And if Youna continues this way, she needs a good guardian angel…

Youna just had a phenomenal start of her international career with the bronze medal in the all-around, two gold medals (vault, uneven bars) and a silver medal on floor at the Junior European Championships in 2008. Since then, it seems as if  she has a big pressure to carry on her shoulders. Many people expect her to repeat this success – as it happend to Vanessa Ferrari after her World Champion title. Vanessa Ferrari showed a nice and solid program at the Europeans, nevertheless you could feel a bit of disappointment in the media about her “lower” level. It´s never easy to do fantastic skills and then to step back from this high level of competition. I have the impression, that Youna is just in a phase, in which she develops physically as well as mentally. She´s the new superstar of the French womens artistic gymnastics, but needs time to grow in this position. Isabelle Severino, Cassy Vericel and Emilie Le Pennec left a lot of free space to fill.

Maybe, Youna just shows us the “worst case scenario” of the Code of Points and the terrible footrace for the highest scores of difficulty. I´m just wondering why all the coaches and gymnasts forget the execution score (1.0 deduction for a fall!)? There´s a reason why I barely find artistic gymnastics videos for the section “A clip for now and then” – too many wobbles and falls destroy the performances in womens artistic gymnastics. (But anyway, I can´t really believe her coach allowed her to show the double layout for example without being sure, Youna is able to do it. And a newspaper article mentions her weakness on floor and vault: Her coach says, that it wasn´t even sure, she will compete on all four apparatus. The medical staff of the French team had to make the decision and he (the coach) knows they will not take any risk. – What do we think about this statement?)

I´m still not sure what to think about the whole story… well, I just found a French report about Youna after her 4th place success in the uneven bars final at the European Championships this year (the report doesn´t mention her floor exercises). Her coach underlines her qualities on the uneven bars. She talks a little bit about her problems of growth – she says, it´s more difficult for her on floor, but on vault it´s easier.

Click play or watch it on YouTube.

I´m doing a sort of gymnastic (a group of 8 gymnasts does a floor routine with acrobatic and artistic elements), where the judges are allowed to take deductions, if the gymnasts are showing elements, which are over their level. The judges take a deduction for a fall & for showing skills on a too high level (for example, if there are a lot of falls in one routine). In addition, a judge can interrupt the performance, if it´s getting too dangerous (this nearly never happends). In my opinion, these rules aren´t that bad…

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