So, how did Euros go?

Well, Euros are finished! Time to go home now!

… Obviously not. Euros are a practice worlds for European countries. Though they’ll save their best for real worlds in October, every country wants to have a good showing here to prove that they matter at worlds! Who had successful showing? Who had a terrible showing? Stay with me, I’ll let you know!

Russia: Due to whatever witchcraft that led to 12/12 hit routines, the Russians achieved their primary goal of team gold. The Russians showed a shocking level of solidity and consistency that allowed them to overtake the favored French.
In addition to team gold, Melnikova picked up vault silver and bars gold, in addition to placing fourth on floor. They were certainly hoping for more on floor and vault, as their team was chosen with the hopes of maximizing their potential on the power events. Either one of Akhaimova or Simakova could have easily medaled on both, but neither made the floor final, and while Akhaimova made the vault final and hit both of her vaults, she gave away too much on her execution and placed fifth. Russia also wanted another bars medal from Alexeeva/Perebisnova. Perebisnova managed to make the final, but she had a wonky beginning of her routine and placed fifth. I personally had no expectation for beam medals for any Russian. They saved their beam magic for when it counted, team finals. Though they fell short individually, they banded together for team finals and had their best showing in quite some time.

France: Coming in, the French were definitely the favorites for the team gold. With their consistency, their big scores across the events, and several injuries to the Russian team, it seemed that the stars were aligned for the French team. Sadly, they were forced to count three falls from Lorette Charpy, which simply killed them when combined with the Russians having a fantastic day. They still grabbed the silver medal, a historic finish for the French, but they were surely disappointed, as they had the capability to reach the gold medal. On the individual side, Coline Devillard had some serious competition for he vault title after Boglarka Devai unveiled a Cheng. She hit her Rudi, but with the added pressure from Devai, she upgraded to a rather uncomfortable DTY that she fell on, bumping her out of the medals. On bars, both Juliette Bossu and Lorette Charpy made the final. Bossu had a few small execution deductions that bumped her to seventh, and though Charpy hit a great routine, she didn’t have the difficulty to challenge the top bars workers. On beam, both Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos and Marine Boyer made the final and placed third and fourth, respectively. Melanie had the cleaner routine overall, but Marine beat her out with difficulty, despite having a very wobbly routine. Luckily for Melanie, she managed to win the floor final after a clean routine with good difficulty. She started with a great full twisting double layout and followed it up with clean landings on the rest of her passes, along with beautiful dance elements. France would have loved to have won the team gold, as well as a vault medal from Devillard and a bars medal from someone, but by winning the historic silver, they showed that they’re on the right path, and that they’ll be a force to be reckoned with when they hit.

The Netherlands: The Dutch women should be THRILLED with their performance here. After losing their star, Eythora Thorsdottir, I had written them out of the team medals. Luckily, they proved me wrong, and used their absolutely stunning execution to outpace the British team and win the team bronze medal. In addition to their team medal, Tisha Volleman made the vault final, Celine Van Gerner placed fourth in the floor final (after performing a fabulous cat inspired routine), and Sanne Wevers pulled out a win in the beam final! She had a great side aerial to back handspring combo, in addition to her lovely triple turn, double L turn, and leap combos. Wevers was easily the cleanest in the final, but she also had a large amount of difficulty due to her great combinations. Without Eythora, I tampered expectations for the Dutch women’s medal count, as she likely would have contended for medals in the all around, as well as on the balance beam and the floor exercise. While losing their best gymnast was certainly a bummer, the Dutch showed that they aren’t overly reliant on Eythora, and that they’re a talented, capable bunch. Considering the circumstances, Euros went phenomenally for The Netherlands, and if they can get Eythora back by worlds, they’ll be in an even better spot to challenge for the team final, and individual medals.

Great Britain: After being cursed with a billion injuries to their top gymnasts, the clouds parted slightly for Great Britain when Becky Downie returned to competition. Frustratingly, whatever evil spirit had cursed Great Britain decided that it wasn’t done with them, and it then proceeded to re-injure Becky, devastating both the team’s chances for a medal, and my heart. They placed a respectable fourth, but they had several falls on the balance beam that killed their score. Without Downie, their best chance for an individual medal was probably Georgia Mae Fenton on bars. Sadly, she fell in qualifications and missed the final. Even without Downie, the British saw success in the form of event finals. Kelly Simm managed to make the bars final, and Georgia Mae Fenton made the floor final. Euros were never going to be a smashing success for the British ladies, but nonetheless, they’re undoubtedly disappointed. Their goal will be to regroup for worlds, and to have a better showing there.

Belgium: Belgium started Euros on a grim note by losing Rune Hermans, cutting their team to four members. Despite starting out rough, Euros actually went exceptionally well for Belgium. After qualification, they were ranked third as a team, a great result, especially considering their missing member. Though they pulled out of the final to prevent more injuries, placing in the top three was certainly promising to the young gymnastics program. Belgium’s primary goal was to have Nina Derwael defend her uneven bars title from last year, a goal which they accomplished. Derwael has a massive start value of 6.4, some huge skills such as a Nabieva and an eponymous stalder tkatchev 1/2, and to top it off, her routine is performed with beautiful form and lines. Nina had a huge score of 14.733 in the final and she won by nearly half a point. In addition to bars gold, Nina unexpectedly won beam silver, while Maellyse Brassart accompanied her in the final and placed seventh. Axelle Klinckaert, the team’s resident floor worker, hit in the floor final and placed third. Klinckaert has great tumbling such as a double layout and a full in, and along with that, she performs SUPER well, enchanting and charming the crowd. While many of their successes came with disappointments, the Belgians should be absolutely thrilled with their showing at Euros. Winning three medals and showing that they can score with the top teams was completely unexpected, but a very happy surprise for Belgium, and they must be very relieved.

Romania: Romania came into this meet with the potential to make the team final, as they had veteran Anamaria Ocolisan along with talented new senior, Denisa Golgota on their team.  Ridiculously, Anamaria got injured in podium training, just as she did three years ago in the exact same arena. Losing Ocolisan was a huge blow to the team, but with hit routines, they could still manage to make the team final. They started on vault, and everything went perfectly fine. They then went to uneven bars and proceeded to jump into a volcano, having a fall from every athlete in their lineup, Denisa Golgota, Carmen Ghiciuc, and Laura Iacob. They had one fall on both beam and floor, and at the end of the day, they were nowhere close to the final. Though the team had a dismal performance, Denisa Golgota made the vault and the floor final, and managed to medal on both. She had a clean DTY and Tsuk full to take the bronze on vault, and she had clean landings on her tumbling and nice execution on her dance elements to take the silver on floor. While the team still has a long way to go, Denisa Golgota showed a ton of potential and gave the Romanians hope for the future.

Hungary: Before the meet, the Hungarians lost their star, Zsofia Kovacs, sapping their chances for several individual medals. Despite the disappointing loss of their best gymnast, the Hungarians battled back and managed to make the team final, a huge win, considering they did so without Kovacs. In addition to the team final, they also came away with the vault gold medal from Boglarka Devai! Devai had a difficult, if a bit untidy, Cheng vault that helped her seal the gold. She also had a decent DTY that she paired with her Cheng. Devai wasn’t the cleanest vaulter in the final, but she had a massive difficulty advantage that allowed her to win her first European gold medal. Considering their Euros were without Zsofia Kovacs, the Hungarians should be very pleased with themselves and their showing.

Ukraine: Euros were both good and bad for the Ukranian team. Euros were good in the sense that they made the team final for quite some time, and that they managed to place fifth in said final, showing that after years of falling off the map as a team, they’re finally on the right track and have some strong talent among the ranks. While Euros were good for the team, they weren’t so good as individuals. Ukraine’s strongest gymnast at the moment is undoubtedly Diana Varinska, who made the uneven bars final at worlds last year, and who also has fabulous skills and potential on both beam and floor. Sadly, Varinska had a mediocre bars routine in qualification and ended up being the reserve for the final. Though they may have fallen short in terms of medal count, Euros provided the Ukrainian team with a tremendous amount of encouragement and hope, and if they keep improving themselves, who knows, maybe they can get back to their old glory days and be a world power once again.

Germany: After getting Sophie Scheder back and shortly thereafter, losing her to a hand injury, the Germans had tampered expectations for Euros. They had a lousy performance in qualifications and did not make the team final. They have some success as individuals and had three event finalists, Sarah Voss on vault, Kim Bui on bars, and Pauline Schafer on beam. Voss performed well with her DTY and Lopez vaults and managed to place fourth. For the second year in a row, Kim Bui had a beautiful routine, but was simply overpowered by the top bars workers and placed fourth. Pauline Schafer, the reigning world champion on beam, came in as a favorite and a contender for the title, but she fell on her eponymous side somi 1/2. Euros were a huge disappointment for the Germans and they’ll hope to do much better come worlds.

Italy: Italy does not have the best senior squad at the moment, and Euros was an accurate representation of that. They were capable of the team final, even though they lost Sofia Busato last minute, but they panicked in qualification and ended up reserves for the final. Without Sofia Busato and her vaults, Italy’s only real medal hope was Giada Grisetti on bars and beam, and she crushingly failed to make either final. Italy’s Euros couldn’t have been worse. Thankfully, Italy’s junior team had a FABULOUS showing, winning the team gold medal over Russia, along with picking up five individual medals on top of that. I haven’t ever really gone in depth about this, but next year, Italy will rise like a phoenix due to the strength of their juniors. Giorgia Villa is a fabulous bars worker with great connections, a good vaulter with a nice DTY, and she proved here how good she is on her weak(er) events, beam and floor. In addition to winning the silver medal on vault, Villa won the balance beam title as well as picking up silver on floor. Her evenness across the four events will make her a serious all around threat when she turns senior. In addition to Giorgia Villa, Italy also has Asia D’Amato, a phenomenal vaulter with a powerful DTY and Lopez combo (she’s also been shown training an Amanar), Elisa Iorio, Italy’s best bars and beam worker who also has a DTY sometimes, and Alice D’Amato, who has the potential to be an amazing bars and beam gymnast as well. Asia won the vault, and Elisa Iorio picked up the bronze on beam. If these gymnasts transition from junior to senior successfully, Italy’s program will experience a much-needed rejuvenation.

That should do it for the major teams, but…

Also: Jonna Adlerteg of Sweden won silver on bars with a FAB routine. She has such great combinations, such as a Hindorff to Pak and a Maloney to Bhardwaj, and she capped her routine off with a clean double layout dismount, she absolutely deserved her medal and I couldn’t be happier for her.

Just For Fun: I’ll list my favorite routine on each event!

Vault: Umm, I generally think vault is boring, so nothing stands out to me. I guess I’ll choose Boglarka Devai’s Cheng, simply because she worked so hard for that vault, and subsequently, her European vault title.

Bars: DUH, Nina Derwael. I wasn’t even a fan of hers last year, but her routine is just too fabulous to not root for. UGH, too much to rave over, you get it, watch her routine! http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ipNina+derwael+bars+2018+european+championships&&view=detail&mid=77D24E85EC500F10F60377D24E85EC500F10F603&&FORM=VRDGAR

Beam: Sanne.Wevers.All.The.Way. Her routine is just tooooo unique and perfect, she slays my life.

Floor: I’d have to choose Denisa Golgota! I love the way she sells her routine, she has great tumbling, and she exemplifies the Romanian fighting spirit. I also happen to be a huge fan of hers, so there’s also that.

Ok! Please enjoy this article that took me three days to write! Next I’ll preview US championships, which start on the 16th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Sense of the Russian Team

Before I begin, I’d like to apologize for my extended absence from this blog. I have missed several important meets and I will attempt to write short recaps of them in the coming weeks. Now, let’s begin recapping the Russian Cup and piecing the Russian Worlds/Euros team.

At the beginning of this year, I concluded that the Russians were the clear front runners for the European team gold and the Worlds team silver medal. While I still feel that they should easily win the European team gold, it’s mainly due to the relative weakness of the European field (when the French team is the second best team, you know the field will be weak). As for worlds, the Russians are likely the second best team, but the usual consistency issues combined with injuries taking out top contenders, Aliya Mustafina and Irina Alexeeva, the Russian team is susceptible to being passed by the Chinese and the Japanese.

With Mustafina and Alexeeva both out, Russia is going to have to rely on some inexperienced and/or inconsistent gymnasts. The one lock for this team is Olympic Silver Medalist, Angelina Melnikova. Melnikova won the All Around competition despite downgrading her floor tumbling and struggling on her DTY. Melnikova was the clear standout on both bars and beam, the latter due to her improved routine composition, where she removed the layout that has plagued her consistency. Melnikova ties the Russian team together due to her ability to contribute all four events at a high level, and should something happen to her, the Russians will tumble down the rankings, as they have nobody close to Melnikova’s level.

Despite placing fourth in the All Around, Angelina Simakova is also nearly a lock for the team due to her prowess on both vault and floor. She has been inconsistent with her Rudi vault, but when she hits it, she has an undeniable Paseka-esque score that the Russians will lean on. Her floor is adorable and useful, with a cute doll-themed routine paired with powerful tumbling, she’s the clear second best to Melnikova on this event. She has been incredibly inconsistent on beam, but she’s not much more fallsie than the other Russians, and she could very possibly be tapped to compete the event in the team final. Viktoria Komova has also made an impressive comeback, placing third in the All Around at both the Russian Nationals and the Russian Cup. She has a good, usable DTY that will likely be the leadoff vault in the team final, and a  FABULOUS bar routine, with a toe 1/1 to Maloney to Pak to Van Leeuwen combo. She fell on beam in the all around, but she still has the beautiful execution and a big skill in her standing Arabian. She also fell on floor, but she has retained her DLO and her DBA, along with some beautiful dance elements. Komova could potentially contribute four events in the team final and is an asset to the team.

Despite being known as a bars specialist, Anastasia Ilyankova placed second in the All Around at the Russian Cup, solidifying her spot on the team. Though she struggled with her Ezhova transition, she has a top three bars score as well as usable beam and floor sets.

With Melnikova, Simakova, Komova, and Ilyankova on the team, the lineups would look something like this….

VT: Komova, Melnikova, Simakova (Ilyankova)
UB: Komova, Melnikova, Ilyankova (Simakova)
BB: Ilyankova, ?, Melnikova (Simakova)
FX: Komova, Simakova, Melnikova (Ilyankova)

With this set of gymnasts, the only glaring hole is one spot on beam. The beam champion was Daria Elizarova, but she could only contribute one event, and is susceptible to being passed by the likes of Komova and Simakova, both of whom should definitely make the team. One name who could potentially pop up is Maria Kharenkova. Kharenkova did compete here, but she fell on both of her events, beam and floor. She popped off of the beam on her layout, crashed her DLO, and sat the punch front on her 2 1/2 to punch front on floor. If she could get her life together on these events, she would be a lock for the team. Unfortunately, she has proven time and time again that she is unreliable. That said, if she can pull it together by the time worlds roll around, I wouldn’t count her out.

Another option would be Tatiana Nabieva. Nabieva’s peak in the sport was in 2011, when she medaled on bars at worlds and possessed an Amanar. Tatiana has been hanging around the Russian gymnastics program since then, and managed to make the worlds team in 2014, winning a bronze medal with the Russian team. Nabieva placed FIFTH in the all around, with a good DTY (she received the highest vault score in the competition after Simakova fell) and a usable bars set, Nabs impressed me to no end. Sadly, her strengths happen to be where Russia is strongest, so a team spot is unlikely. That said, Nabieva should definitely receive an alternate spot, and if an injury occurs, she could definitely make the team.

Wrapping up, Angelina Melnikova, Angelina Simakova, Viktoria Komova, and Anastasia Ilyankova should definitely make the team, and the last spot could be snatched by any of Maria Kharenkova, Daria Elizarova, or Tatiana Nabieva. If healthy, either of Aliya Mustafina or Irina Alexeeva could grab it as well. Russia misses Elena Eremina and will hope for a strong return from her next year. If they stay consistent, they should be on the fast track to a team medal at Euros, and later, worlds.

 

Canadian Team Permutations

After winning the CWG team title, Canada is in striking position for a team medal this year at worlds. The team will be led by their first world medalist, Ellie Black, who won a silver medal in the AA at worlds in Montreal. Black had a great showing at these championships, despite some troubles with her vaulting. Her floor routine and her bars routine both look very good, along with her usual lovely beam routine. She did take out her punch fronts on beam, but her D score remains competitive nonetheless at a 5.8.

VT: Black, ?, ?

UB: Black, ?, ?

BB: Black, ?, ?

FX: Black, ?, ?

The other gymnast who nearly solidified her status here is Shallon Olsen. Olsen showed a gorgeous DTY along with a Cheng on vault, a combo difficult enough to guarantee her an event final at worlds, and to challenge for a medal. She also showed some great tumbling on floor, with a double double, piked full in, triple full, and double tuck. With Black and Olsen on the team, the lineups would look like,

VT: Black, ?, Olsen,

UB: Black, ?, ?

BB: Black, ?, ?

FX: Olsen, ?, Black

With these two, there are some glaring holes on bars and beam. After this meet, a person who seems suited to fill these holes is Isabela Onyshko. Onyshko had some troubles on both bars and beam at this meet, but she showed great scoring potential, as well as placing third in the AA.

VT: Black, ?, Olsen

UB: Onyshko, Black, ?

BB: ?, Onyshko, Black

FX: Olsen, ?, Black

Now, with this team, there seems to be one spot left on each event. The most potent duo for these roles would be Brooklyn Moors and Brittany Rogers. Moors placed fourth in the AA here, and struggled on bars, vault, and floor, but aggressively hit her beam routine, which includes a front aerial to front tuck series. She also hit her floor routine in qualifications, and it was a beautiful routine. She has difficult tumbling, such as a front layout to double front combo, a Podkopayeva ( double front ½ out), and a 2 ½ to a front full. She also has beautiful dance and expression, which makes for a great routine. She has a handspring 1/1 vault, but it has been incredibly inconsistent, and she downgraded it to a layout ½ in finals. Brittany Rogers didn’t compete here (reportedly to save herself for team selection time), but she has the best Canadian bars routine, along with a DTY vault that she pairs with a Mustafina (RO ½ on 1/1 off). With Moors and Rogers on the team, it would look something like,

VT: Black, Rogers, Olsen (Moors)

UB: Onyshko, Black, Rogers (Moors)

BB: Onyshko, Moors, Black (Rogers)

FX: Olsen, Black, Moors (Onyshko)

This is a very balanced team that doesn’t have any true weak event. The one wrench that will be thrown into the team selection will be Ana Padurariu. Padurariu, a new senior this year, injured her foot at Elite Canada earlier this year. She did compete here, but she was limited to bars only, and while her routine was fabulous, with an inbar piked tkatchev, one event specialists will have a hard time making teams. When at full strength, she also has a gorgeous beam routine, with a side aerial loso loso combo, and a pretty floor routine. If she were competing the AA, she would likely have placed second to Black. If Padurariu can get her beam routine back by worlds, she’ll likely go to worlds in place of Isabela Onyshko.

VT: Black, Rogers, Olsen (Moors)

UB: Black, Padurariu, Rogers (Moors)

BB: Padurariu, Moors, Black (Rogers)

FX: Olsen, Black, Moors (Rogers?)

Though the ideal team for Canada includes Ana Padurariu, they’re still very capable without her. They can contend for a number of individual medals as well as a team medal, should the top teams falter.

Hope you enjoyed!

The Way Things are for China

Hey! I actually wrote this a few days ago, but then I forgot to post it. Haha, sorry guys. ANywho, enjoy!

China recently held their national championships, providing us with a pretty good look at where they stand compared to other medal contending teams. Notable absences included Fan Yilin due to injury and Wang Yan due to possible retirement.

It would be a stretch to say that China is in a bad spot. They’re certainly in the hunt for team medals this season. That said, this time last year, China had established itself as the clear #2 to the US. Today, that’s not the case. Due to a strengthened Russia and the emergence of Japan as a factor, China is going to have to fight to retain its top three status in the word.

The problem for China is that they’re very specialist heavy. They have lovely bars/beam specialists, a handful of VT/FX specialists, and a few three eventers masquerading as all arounders (reminiscent of Wang Yan and Shang Chunsong controlling the all around). Luckily, they do have one REAL all arounder in new senior, Chen Yili. Chen is a reasonable TF option on every event, but her most critical traits are her ability to score 15 on beam and her DTY, though she only showed a Yfull here.

The other gymnast who is nearly a lock is Zhang Jin. Jin showed a Tsuk 2/1 (a necessary vault for China), a beam routine that scored 15, and a floor with a whip to 3/1. Jin is in the top three on all of these events, which makes her a lock for the team, even without the ability to contribute bars. With Chen and Zhang, the lineup would look something like…

VT: Chen, Zhang, ?

UB: Chen, ?, ?

BB: Chen, Zhang, ?

FX: Chen, Zhang, ?

China is left with some glaring holes, most notably on bars. Luckily, they have just the gymnasts to fill them. Luo Huan won the AA after Chen withdrew, and she also medaled on both bars and beam. The perfect balance to the UB/BB specialist Luo is VT/FX specialist Liu Jinru. Jinru has always been in the conversation for Chinese teams due to her Tsuk 2/1 and Rudi vaults, but due to a newfound floor prowess, she’s a lock for the team. I just want her to be safe on that DLO to punch front combo, it’s scary. 

VT: Chen, Zhang, Liu J

UB: Chen, Luo, ?

BB: Luo, Chen, Zhang

FX: Chen, Zhang, Liu J 

Now, the only hole that China really NEEDS to fill is the last spot on bars. However, it may be within their best interest to invest in some worthwhile backups on the team. If they simply want the highest amount of bars points, they could take top bars scorer, Lyu Jiaqi. That said, if they want backups, they could take Liu Tingting, who can score just as well as the three listed for beam, and could slide right into the last bars spot. Though she only did bars/beam and a Yfull here, getting her DTY back would make her an absolute lock for the team. A team with Liu TT as the last spot would look like,

VT: Chen, Zhang, Liu J

UB: Chen, Liu TT, Luo

BB: Liu TT, Zhang, Chen

FX: Chen, Zhang, Liu J

Sadly, this team exposes Luo Huan, and her weakness of not screaming her necessity on any event. Lyu scores higher than her on bars, and Liu can beat her on beam, in addition to possibly adding vault and floor if healthy. A team with Lyu instead of Luo would look like…

VT: Chen, Zhang, Liu J

UB: Liu TT, Chen, Lyu

BB: Chen, Liu TT, Zhang

FX: Chen, Zhang, Liu J

There’s essentially a free for all for that last UB/BB spot. Any one of Liu TT, Luo Huan, or Lyu Jiaqi could get the spot and contribute. I’d definitely pick Liu TT, and then probably Lyu. Luo is a great 6th member/alternate (Note that the Asian Games are 6 person teams, so she’ll likely make that one), but she simply doesn’t stand out enough. Du Siyu, Li Qi, and Shang Chunsong are all pecking around the edges, but they all only have 1-2 usable events, and they all happen to be events that are full. They can battle it out for an alternate position. So, my team would be:

Chen Yili

Liu Jinru

Lyu Jiaqi

Liu TT

Zhang Jin

Alt/6th: Luo Huan

VT: Chen, Zhang, Liu J

UB: Chen, Liu TT, Lyu

BB: Chen, Liu TT, Zhang

FX: Chen, Zhang, Liu J

There’s too many Lius on this team, but besides that, it’s a super talented one! Their vault should keep them more or less on pace with Russia and Japan, their bars will challenge for the highest score in the world, and their beam is unquestionably world class, with all three gymnasts capable of scoring 15. Their biggest obstacle is floor. They’re likely to give up a point and a half to Russia (Not to mention Japan) on floor, even with hits. Their plan will be to make it all up with fabulous bars and beam rotations.

Hope you enjoyed, guys!

What’d I Miss?

Hey guys! Sorry for being absent for a little while, school has me tied down … I’ve missed a couple competitions and I don’t have time for a recap of all of them, so I figured I’d smash them into one convenient article for you guys. Enjoy!

  • Pacific Rim Championships

As usual, the US dominated this competition. While the field was notoriously weak, the US managed to have a mostly strong showing here. Morgan Hurd faltered on beam, falling on her punch front and landing her piked full in dismount in the shape of a triangle (Incorrect…). She did have a very strong day on her other events, which allowed her to place second to teammate Grace Mccallum with a respectable all around score of 53.300. Not too bad for two falls. She pulled out of event finals which opened the door for Jordan Chiles and Mccallum to go 1-2 on floor. The US faltered on bars and beam, with Chiles receiving the bronze on beam and Mccallum placing seventh on bars. Chiles showed a good DTY and a new Tsuk full vault to win the gold in that event final. On the junior side, Jordan Bowers and Kayla Dicello went 1-2 in the all around. Sunisa Lee placed fourth after imploding on bars and having a wobbler on beam. In event finals, Dicello and and Lee went 1-2. On bars, Kayla Dicello won, which I’m SO happy about. I legitimately think that she could win a world/Olympic medal on bars in the coming years. She has great lines and a huge toe full Maloney pak Van Leeuwen combo. She reminds me of a young Madison Kocian. If she can add inbar skills, she will be unstoppable! The majority of the US bars depth lies in the junior pool, with Dicello, Lee, and Perea all expected to save this event as they turn senior. On beam, top Canadian junior, Zoe Allaire Bourgie won gold over Sunisa Lee. Lee had a fall, so that speaks to her difficulty on beam. Jordan Bowers and Sunisa Lee went 1-2 on floor, with Allaire Bourgie taking the bronze medal. Allaire Bourgie is just one example of Canada’s strength. With a senior team that’s top 5 in the world, along with a junior team that can hold its own against the US, they’ll absolutely be a factor in the coming years. This competition had a weak field overall, but I was very impressed with our juniors (minus Sunisa Lee, who needs to hit her routines). So much potential.

 

  • All Japan Championships

 

At the All Japan Championships held in Tokyo, Mai Murakami won by two points over Asuka Teramoto. Murakami hit her floor routine beautifully, earning a huge 14.5. She also had a good DTY and balance beam routine earning her the silver and gold medals there, respectively. She also was a tenth shy of taking the bronze on bars. Good showing from her. Teramoto, Hitomi Hatakeda, and Aiko Sugihara filled the spots 2-4. They all managed to win at least one event medal too. Sae Miyakawa managed to place fifth in the all around (a good placement for her, since bars and beam are her nemeses), take the gold on vault (with a Rudi and a DTY) and place second on floor to Murakami. 2016 team member, Yuki Uchiyama won bars with a 14. Japan is a notoriously weak bars team, with Sugihara, Teramoto, Uchiyama, Hatakeda and Murakami the only semi-viable options for that lineup. Japan’s team is looking something like Murakami, Miyakawa, Hatakeda, Sugihara, and Teramoto. Uchiyama could also scootch on in if she proves undeniable on bars (which may be the case…).

 

  • Tokyo World Cup

 

At the final world cup event of the season, hometown favorite, Mai Murakami, won the event by a whopping two points over silver medalist Trinity Thomas. Murakami had a fantastic showing here and won every event but bars. Trinity Thomas also was phenomenal, and placed in the top three on every event. France’s Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos (one of my current favorites) placed third in the all around after downgrading her vault to a Yfull and stumbling on her FTDL on floor. She hit bars and beam very nicely, though. Seeing how the top three competitors all did relatively well, the rest of the field looked around and collectively uttered, “none for us, thanks!”. Angelina Simakova fell on her Rudi vault, Elisabeth Seitz had a beam-tastrophe (though she hit bars well for a 14.566), Aiko Sugihara followed suit, and Victoria-Kayen Woo imploded on bars and beam. This competition solidified how much of a player Mai Murakami will be in the AA if she’s healthy and hitting. It also gave Florida hope, as Thomas is set to attend. I’m sad to see her leave elite, but she probably would have forever been a perfect alternate type gymnast. I need her to compete the Nabieva that she trained before she leaves though.

 

  • Deva Friendly

As usual, Romania’s gymnastics program was a trash heap who will never make a TF ever again. PSYCH. Things are looking a little brighter for the Romanians nowadays, with the introduction of Denisa Golgota (Top scorer on vault, floor, and the AA) and the return of Ioana Crisan (Bronze on bars and huge potential on beam). Add those to the lovely Nica Ivanus, who was second on floor and shows great potential on beam, and Carmen Ghuihuic, Romania’s top bars score and beam silver medalist. Ana Maria Ocolisan placed third on vault and looks to be a suitable backup for any event. I’m not gonna lie, it’s an uphill battle for this group of Romanians to make the TF, but with dedication and team camaraderie, they can pull it off. Plus, if Larisa Iordache returns, she’ll considerably boost any event that she’s competing. Personally, I need her to stick to bars and beam. Bars is simply an IV for the Romanian bars score, and beam is her sole chance at an individual medal. Yes, she’s messy and loose, but she has many big skills and great expression. If the Romanian team retreats back into it’s cave and doesn’t have a chance at qualifying, she can drop bars, as she has little chance at making finals. She could qualify at 2019 worlds, or at the 2020 Euros. I just really want her to win a World/Olympic gold before she retires.

Mustafina Exceeds Expectations at Russian Championships

Despite coming into this meet after a two year break, and giving birth to a baby, Aliya Mustafina triumphed my expectations yet again. Interestingly, Aliya actually looked similar to the level that we saw at Rio games. On vault, she had a DTY that wasn’t quite there yet. She underotated it in qualifications, and didn’t get a good block in AA finals, causing her to change to a Y1.5, which she sat. On bars, she actually looked good. She showed her usual lovely lines, along with her toe full, Maloney, pak, Van Leeuwen combo (this combo gets her 0.4 tenths in CV). According to Gymnovisti, she also reportedly has her inbars back, but as individual skills, not as a full routine. On beam, she wobbled on basically every skill, and didn’t include a flight series (surprisingly, I know), but it looks as if she has all of her skills back, she just needs to develop confidence here. On floor, she added her double arabian back in, which I loved seeing, as her arabian is my favorite one ever competed. Her music was the piece she used in 2014, and I loved that song, so… Yay! She also has all of her other tumbling passes that she competed in Rio. Though in event finals, she was like “Mama needs a nap.” Anywho, Mustafina looks great and impressed me endlessly.

Also impressive was Angelina Melnikova, who won gold on everything but vault. She had a good DTY, and GREAT bars set, with an inbar full+Komova+pak+Van Leeuwen combo. On beam, it’s Russia, so everyone else fell, but she stayed on the beam, and hit her layout (it must be magic…). Floor looked fabulous, with a DLO 1/1, DLO, front tuck to double tuck, and double pike, Melka seems to have taken out her problematic passes (Double arabian, piked full in), which is showing in her consistency. She hasn’t fallen on floor in quite some time.

Viktoria Komova showed some good progress here as well. She showed a DTY on vault, her standing arabian on beam, and some impressive tumbling on floor such as a DLO and a double arabian. Her bars were also lovely, but she doesn’t have her difficulty up to a usable level yet. New senior Angelina Simakova also impressed, placing third in the AA. She showed her Rudi on vault, a critical development in her case to be the new Maria Paseka. She also showed a good floor routine which won her the silver medal in event finals. Maria Kharenkova had a rough competition, receiving a 13.3 on beam and a 12.1 on floor. Anastasia Ilyankova took a step back after placing third at Jesolo. She only received a 13.433 on her specialty, bars. Hopefully she can hit like she did at Jesolo when it really matters. WOGA trained Irina Alexeeva placed seventh in the AA final, and also managed to snag the silver medal on bars in the event final. She said that she would accept a place at Round Lake, should she be offered one. Alexeeva plans to attend Stanford starting in the 2020-2021, so we’ll see how her Russian dreams affect her collegiate career.  

The Russians are really showing up with a tremendous amount of depth this year. They have talented stars, in addition to a solid B-team of gymnasts who could step in should the top girls be injured. As long as they avoid a beam-tastrophe at worlds this year, they should be on the fasttrack to a team medal.

 

Commonwealth Games Recap

Despite coming into this meet with high expectations, and a twenty eight year losing streak, the Canadian team managed to fend off the English team that consisted mostly of B-team members.  While they did manage to defeat the young English gymnasts, they did it by a half of a point margin, speaking to the strength of England’s team, even without their veterans on hand.

The Canadians started on bars, led off by Jade Chrobok. Chrobok hit her routine with no major errors. Isabela Onyshko followed, delivering a solid routine with some handstand issues. Veteran Ellie Black performed third, and she had a nice routine despite falling on her Maloney to Hindorff (clear hip to tkatchev) combo. The team was anchored by Brittany Rogers, and she received the second highest bars score of the day. She hit her piked Jaeger, toe full to Tkatchev, Shang to Pak, and double layout dismount, earning a 14.2.

On beam, the team suffered a fall from Chrobok on her acro series, but they had great routines from Onyshko, Rogers, and Black. Onyshko hit her tuck full series, Black hit her layout series, and Rogers hit her Kochetkova.

On floor, Ellie Black hit her routine, including a front double full to front tuck scoring a respectable 13.450. Onyshko had a solid routine, Chrobok also hit floor, and the team was capped off by Shallon Olsen, who anchored the Canadians with her difficult tumbling. She hit her double double, piked full in, triple full, and front tuck to double tuck, all with some form errors.

Their final event, vault, was arguably their best showing of the day. Isabela Onyshko led off with a solid Yfull, scoring a 13.450. Ellie Black scored a 14.3 for her handspring full vault, Brittany Rogers nailed her DTY and scored a 14.550, and the team was anchored again by Shallon Olsen. Olsen landed her new Cheng vault with some form errors, scoring the highest vault score of the day with a 14.8. She also hit her DTY to qualify first into the vault final.

While this wasn’t a perfect day for the Canadian team, they showed great mental toughness, rebounding from falls and going on to hit great routines later in the day. In addition to the talented team that performed here, come worlds, they should also have Brooklyn Moors and Ana Padurariu at their disposal, making this team a definite podium threat.

Although their team was composed mainly of backup/alternate gymnasts, the team from England proved how good they can be when things come together. That said, this was far from a perfect day for the English team, as they suffered falls from Taeja James on vault, Georgia Mae Fenton on beam, and Lucy Stanhope on beam and floor. Thankfully, they only ended up counting one of their four falls, which kept their score within a half point of Canada.

On vault, Lucy Stanhope hit her DTY with good form but a wild landing, earning their top score on vault of a 14.3. Kinsella also performed a DTY, but her landing was short, and she scored a slightly low 13.9. Kelly Simm hit her Lopez vault with a good landing, but Taeja James sat her Y1.5, having her score dropped.

On bars, the standout here was Georgia Mae Fenton. She had an amazing routine including her signature stalder Tkatchev half to Ezhova. While some of her handstands were visibly off, she had great lines and her difficulty was unmatched. She scored a 14.6 for her great routine, the highest score of the day. Kelly Simm also delivered a nice routine, which included a Ricna and a stuck double layout dismount. Alice Kinsella continued to be a rock, and hit her routine here with no major errors.

The British did have a rough go on their weakest event, beam. Though both Kinsella and Simm had good routines which earned them spots in event finals, Fenton and Stanhope both suffered a fall from this apparatus, which lowered the English team total. Simm was a star here, with no wobbles or adjustments, and a nearly stuck dismount. Unfortunately, the routines that followed both had falls, from Stanhope on two of her elements and Fenton on her risky Sugihara (double Y) turn. Thankfully, Alice Kinsella anchored the team with a hit routine, showing us the mental toughness that we’ve come to expect from her.

The English finished strong on their last event, floor. Though Lucy Stanhope did fall on her 2 ½ to front tuck, the routines that followed were all solid enough. Kelly Simm had some landing issues, going out of bounds on her double layout and her full in, but she managed to complete her set without a fall, rebounding the team from Stanhope’s routine. Alice Kinsella had a lovely routine including her triple full to punch front, which earned her a spot in event finals. The real MVP on this event was Taeja James. She had good landings on all of her passes, including her beautiful triple full and her 1 ½ to double tuck. She scored a 14.1 for her stellar routine, the highest score going into event finals.

Going into CWG, I was pessimistic about GB’s chances at staying relevant in the gymnastics world. However, after TF’s, I’m filled with hope for their program. While the young gymnasts who competed here aren’t at the level of their veterans, they certainly showed how much promise and potential they have when they hit. If they can gain experience and consistency, we’re absolutely looking at a great B team for GB, despite what I said in earlier posts. With both of Simm and Kinsella becoming leaders for this young team, they’ll continue to develop as competitors and gain skills. And once GB gets some of their veterans back (Ellie Downie, Becky Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Amy Tinkler), they’ll be unstoppable!

Just as I predicted, the bronze medal went to the Australian team. However, it was closer than I expected between them and the Welsh team. It was a legitimately close fight until bars, which is Australia’s best event and Wales’s weakest event. At the end of the day, Wales finished a point and a half away from Australia, a good finish for the little program.

In the all around final, Ellie Black triumphed once again, besting Georgia Godwin by almost half a point. Black hit her handspring full vault with a solid landing, and stayed on bars, hitting her Maloney to Hindorff combo this time. Though she did fall on her punch front on beam, she hit floor beautifully, including her front double full to front tuck, completing her lower difficulty set with no issues.

Australia’s Georgia Godwin didn’t make it easy for Black, though. She hit her Tsuk full on vault, and performed beautifully on bars, with her Weiler half to Maloney to pak to toe on to Van Leeuwen always impressive. Her beam was also solid, having no fall compared to Black’s routine. Her floor started out well, with her double layout landing smoothly. She had a rough landing on her double tuck, which ultimately cost her the title to Black. While her day had less major errors compared to Black, she had more small errors, which added up and cost her the title on that given day.

Alice Kinsella continued to hit her routines to win the bronze. Kinsella edged out Aussie Georgia Rose Brown, who simply didn’t have the difficulty to challenge Kinsella unless she made mistakes. She had a better landing on her DTY, although the vault still needs some work. Her bars routine continued to be reliable, and she hit her pretty double arabian dismount. On beam, she was mostly clean, and capped off her routine with a 2 ½ dismount. She reportedly tweaked her ankle in floor warmups, and it showed in her landings, but she did manage to stay on her feet, and she received a well deserved bronze medal, good for the little English woman.

Kelly Simm placed fifth after a fall on beam, and while that’s incredibly disappointing for her, she’s been a rock this year, hitting all of her routines, minus this one beam set. Hey, it’s just one competition, and though it’s a bummer that she fell with a medal on the line, she came back and was a force in event finals. Isabela Onyshko fell on beam and showed form errors nearly everywhere to finish eighth. While that sounds low for Isabela, her messy execution combined with her low difficulty vault and a fall on beam culminated to bring her to her placement, which was well deserved.

In the vault event final, Shallon Olsen hit her Cheng and her DTY and won the gold. Ellie Black hit her handspring full and her tsuk 1.5 and earned a well-deserved silver medal. Hometown favorite, Emily Whitehead of Australia, rounded out the podium with the bronze medal.

On bars, Georgia Mae Fenton delivered another beautiful routine to take the gold. Brittany Rogers hit her routine with some form errors and earned the silver medal. Georgia Godwin of Australia was the bronze medalist here.

On beam, Alice Kinsella hit a nice set including her double turn, side aerial to loso, and 2 ½ dismount to take England’s first ever CWG beam gold medal. The silver medal went to Georgia Rose Brown, who had a remarkably solid showing here. Kelly Simm had a wobbly routine, but she hung on and received the bronze medal.

On floor, Alexandra Eade of Australia delivered a beautiful routine and won Australia’s only gold medal at these games. The silver medal went to Latalia Bevan of Wales, who had a very clean routine. On the other side, Shallon Olsen hit her difficult routine with many execution errors and won the bronze medal.

Birmingham World Cup Recap

Ok, brace yourselves. Angelina Melnikova hit four routines out of four. Yup. After a shoddy performance at Stuttgart last week, she finally showed what she’s capable of. She had a solid DTY on vault, her inbar full was much better on bars (though many of her handstands were muscled), she stayed on the beam (though she wobbled like mad on her devil of a layout), and she finally got rid of the piked full in that has given her so much trouble, replacing it with her double layout. Obviously she needs to clean up her execution in several places, but her difficulty is unmatched, and Russia needs her at worlds/euros this year. With Eremina out, many of Russia’s gymnasts are specialists (Akhaimova, Ilyankova, Komova), but Melnikova is an actual all arounder, and Russia needs that in their life. Actually, thinking twice, the new seniors, such as Klimenko and Simakova, are solid all arounders, but it looks like Melnikova will have to lead the team. Melnikova has AMAZING potential, but she seems incredibly tired, as Russia basically sends her to every single competition. Hopefully Mustafina can put together a decent bars/beam routine and make the team for her leadership. Anyways, enough Russia ranting.

Margzetta Frazier had a mostly solid day of competition. She had a short landing on her DTY, hit a decent bars routine with some leg breaks (especially on her shaps), had a mostly solid beam routine with a few wobbles, and on floor, unveiled her DLO next to her DBA, full in, and double tuck. Her solidity and power allowed her to take second.

Alice Kinsella came in third after hitting a solid DTY and staying on all of the other apparatuses. The rest of the field was a little blah, where Vera Van Pol, Jade Chrobok, Hitomi Hatakeda, Liu Jieyu, and Sarah Voss all had falls/mistakes. However, Hitomi Hatakeda of Japan showed a lovely bars and floor routine, taking second and third there, respectively. She also has an excellent beam routine, though she fell here. If she can stay consistent, she can absolutely be the fifth Japanese team member behind Murakami, Miyakawa, Sugihara, and Teramoto. Japan is gonna be a thing, you guys. Also of note, Sarah Voss hit her DTY. She moves closer and closer to the German team every time she hits that vault, though she would also benefit from hitting beam and floor, where Germany could also use her help.

Sadly, this meet was missing British superstar and Olympic bronze medalist, Amy Tinkler, who injured her ankle ligaments in warm-ups. I’m starting to wonder if a pharaoh cursed team GB or something, because they’ve lost all of their veterans in a matter of months. Losing both Downies, Amy Tinkler and Claudia Fragapane are a huge hit to the program. Their CWG team now looks like Fenton, Kinsella, Stanhope, Simm, and…Charlie Fellows? Hopefully team GB will focus on having a deep roster.

While Melnikova did manage to hit, this competition was no less splatty than Stuttgart was. However, I enjoyed watching Melnikova reinstill confidence that she has more to offer to the Russian team. I also enjoyed watching Marz Frazier hit 4/4 here. While she has a LOT of passing to do if she wants to make the worlds team, she can absolutely be a great “put me wherever you need me” alternate.

Doha World Cup Recap + NCAA Notes

On March 22nd- 25th, the Doha world cup took place.

In the vault final, Chuso showed us just how much of a badass she is by bringing back her Rudi (which garnered a solid 8.733 E score) . She also had a nice Tsuk 1.5 to take the title. This woman is 42, HOW does she do this? Second place went to Pyeon Rye Yong of North Korea, who showed a sloppy DTY and a Rudi in her quest to become the next Hong Un Jong. She was followed by European champion, Coline Devillard of France, who had a DTY and a front handspring half to take the bronze.

On bars, Iron Man, I mean, Nina Derwael, showed a PHENOMENAL routine. She started with a nice Downie, which she followed up with her insane stalder tkatchev half to Ezhova to Chow to Bhardwaj combo. She also had a clean Van Leeuwen, and a stalder full connected to her STUCK full in dismount. Not only did this routine have massive difficulty (6.4), but she also had the highest execution in the field with a 8.9. After winning bronze at worlds last year, it’s clear that Nina has put in the work towards her goal of becoming the world champion on this event. While her foot form continues to be less than perfect, it gets better every time we see her, and just about everything else about her bars work is flawless. If she hits like this around worlds, I’d say the gold medal is hers to lose. Uliana Perebinsova of Russia followed Nina on the podium with a great routine including a Tweddle to Ezhova, and Maloney to stalder full to tkatchev to pak. She didn’t have the D or the E to challenge Nina, but she certainly showed up and did her job. With Eremina out, she has certainly made a great argument for the bars specialist role on the Russian team. The bronze medal went to my favorite non-big four gymnast, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos of France. She had a clean routine including her Komova to clear hip to Galante (Inbar Tkatchev) to Pak. She also had a flawless Van Leeuwen and a full in dismount. Melanie is such a balanced gymnast, with no event a weakness for her. However, having balanced events means that she has no standout event, making event finals difficult for her. However, I love Melanie’s robotically perfect execution and beautiful lines, along with her big skills, such as her Galante. I also think that she could easily sneak into the bars final with her lower difficulty routine, should others make mistakes.

On beam, Melanie continued to slay, taking the gold with her routine including a front pike mount, bhs to layout, and switch to switch half. While her 5.5 difficulty is slightly lower than some, she is rock solid on this event and has some lovely skills, making the beam final an absolute possibility. Silver went to her teammate, Marine Boyer. She had a difficult routine, with a 6.0 D score, but she made several mistakes, dropping her E score to a 7.466. Rounding out the podium was the powerhouse that is Nina Derwael. Nina hit her lower difficulty set cleanly, earning an 8.3 E score to take the bronze. 

The floor podium included three gold medalists, with Axelle Klinckaert of Belgium, Elisa Meneghini of Italy, and Kim Su Jong taking the win, tying at a score of 13.333. Weirdly, they had the same D and E scores at 5.3 and 8.033, so they would have tied regardless. This is Glasgow all over again!

Also noteworthy, Ana Maria Ocolisan and Maria Holbura both competed for Romania here. The only one who came close to any final was Ana Maria, who placed 11th in quals on floor with a 12.866. After reading about their impending comebacks here, I got all optimistic about Romania’s future, but after seeing the results, I feel deflated. Oh well. Anywho, this was an amazing competition, with killer routines, and this has made me optimistic about the future of elite gymnastics. 

Complete side note, Alyssa Baumann is SEC beam champion! YAY! Go Alyssa!

Also, Katelyn Ohashi was voted Pac-12 specialist of the year. Umm, ok? I mean, yes, she stands out on beam and floor, but she competed the all around in pretty much every meet? I’m pretty sure that Peng Peng Lee, who got multiple tens on bars and beam this year, would be a better “specialist” award, as this is her last year. Elizabeth Price also won Pac 12 gymnast of the year. Good for Ebee!