Euros 2016: Aliya Hits When Aliya Wants

European Championships – Senior women’s qualification

-In qualification, Great Britain edged Russia by a mere tenth to advance to the team final in 1st place. I have to say I’m a bit surprised it ended up being as close as it was given the various exhumed corpses Russia was forced to prop up with broomsticks, put some lipstick and eyelashes on, and throw onto the apparatuses.At the same time, GB did not have Queen of Varna Ellie Downie competing bars or beam, didn’t get the necessary bars score from Ruby Harrold, and had to count a beam fall from Fragapane on her exact-sphere with a full twist. Is “frightened armadillo ball” one of the acro shapes?

-Team GB will expect to do a bit better on bars and beam in the team final but did dominate floor, outscoring all the other teams by several billion points and not looking like they were about to die with every turn. Fragapane and Harrold showed quite impressive control in tumbling, and Downie scored well enough to get into the floor final in spite of a couple minorly iffy landings and going OOB on her Flying Dos Santos. On floor, pretty much every other team was going, “1 1/3 Y spin, stumble, CREDIT PLEASE????” and the judges were going, “No…”

-Russia also suffered a fall on beam when Tutkhalyan came off on her full, causing Valentina to pull out her wand and blast Seda’s name off the Black family tapestry once and for all. Russia did come back with some untouchable bars routines to close the gap with Great Britain, and in a bit of a surprise there, Mustafina and Melnikova beat Spiridonova, two-perring her out of her bars final and not helping Spiridonova’s Olympic team chances even a little bit.

-Now, let’s talk about Mustafina. In typical Aliya fashion, she appeared at podium training earlier in the week looking like she has been Anastasia Romanov this whole time and just emerged from 100 years spent living in a series of underground tunnels. She definitely had all the plagues and might have been a baby opossum in a leotard.

-But then, of course, when the competition began, she transformed back into her true self, almost entirely. She still had to drag herself through a Nabieva-Russian-Cup of a floor routine with one double tuck so that no one had to deal with Spiridonova doing it, but bars looked strong and beam was the best of the group. Yes, she still just sort of throws a bunch of adjacent skills together and hopes that through sheer persistence, the judges will view at least one of them as a viable acro series, but it works. (Even though……) She’s like a magician.

-Romania made the team final! It’s a miracle! And qualified in fourth! The clouds have parted and the sun is visible once more! No extreme magic tricks have taken place, however, as this is pretty much the score the test event group would have put up had that competition been 3-up, 3-count (a better format for Romania), but the team hit all three beam routines and hit two of three bars routines (!), which in Romania Bars Land is basically like hitting four of  three bars routines. A triumph.

-In less triumphant news, Italy (the team that should have been the bronze medal favorite here) went full Romania in qualification and BARELY made the team final. Seriously. The Italians were only two tenths away from falling down to ninth. In Europe. They clattered to the floor like a ill-balanced plate of spaghetti on every single routine. In fact, outside of vault, the team’s HIGHEST D score was 8.166. Everything else was a 7 or a 6. I mean, I know all the good Italians like Ferrari and Fasana and Ferlito aren’t here, but still…YIKES.

-Still Italy scraped through, leaving Belgium to languish in the unfortunate 9th spot. Belgium did mostly phoned this competition in by sending a four-person B team that did not include Klinckaert, Waem, Hermans, or Deriks, but this group still should have expected to make the team final. Instead, they allowed HUNGARY to make it. A new one! A new one! Hooray! While competing just three gymnasts! The little team that could.

-Hungary’s performance was led by Zsofia Kovacs, who burst into our lives like a ball of DTYs earlier this year at the test event and continued her mission here, particularly standing out in this field as a person who could hit her routines. Like, all four of them. That was enough for a third-place finish. Onward and upward for Hungary. Hungary is totally going to reverse-Karolyi and become the new Romania.

-The all-around competition here was a bit of a letdown as mega-favorite and home-nation star Giulia Steingruber had a severe case of earthquake-beam, fell on her every move, then three more times after that, and scored a Too Depressing To Compute. It’s a sign of the weakness of the AA field that she still almost won, with multiple beam falls and a 12, because very very few of the top Europeans AAers actually competed all four events here. Only Melnikova was able to outpace Steingruber, on the strength of not falling anywhere. It wasn’t a great meet for Melnikova,suffering her own wobble-thon and near fall on her layout on beam, and going OOB on floor, but she stayed on her feet. Aka victory.

-In much more positive news for Switzerland, the descent of Italy meant that the third-place team qualification position was up for grabs and open to be one, really by anyone. I basically won it. Switzerland was able to overcome three total beam falls and still finish third by a clear margin, meaning the Swiss have to look like bronze medal favorites right now if Steingruber gets through the team final with four hits. Or even not.

-The Best Fall of the Day Award goes to Lina Phillips of Germany, who fell on a stalder, looking like she hit an imaginary brick wall butt-first and then plummeted directly to the ground. Well played, Lina.

-For bringing a B team, Germany should be pleased with 5th place out of qualification with a solid showing in which Kim Bui continued making her argument for a spot on the Olympic team. The problem for Bui is that Germany already has bars workers and may want to fill out the final spots on the team with people who can help on the other events. But, I see Seitz, Scheder, Schaefer, Alt, and Bui as a very viable team, unless they feel like they need another better floor routine (or Voss’s DTY, if she keeps working it) more than they need Bui as a third bars score.

-Netherlands cared about this competition exactly zero percent and sent one gymnast and a box of old newspapers to the meet, but Mara Titarsolej did continue making a good Olympic team argument for herself by qualifying to the floor final and scoring over 14. She could be a useful third floor worker with Thorsdottir and L Wevers.

Tomorrow, we have junior AA, and then after that is the senior team final. On the same day as Secret Classic. EEEEEEEEE.

3 thoughts on “Euros 2016: Aliya Hits When Aliya Wants”

  1. There was also the Best Beam Save in the History of the World by Ireland’s Casey Bell if you missed it…

  2. “causing Valentina to pull out her wand and blast Seda’s name off the Black family tapestry once and for all”


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