European Championship – Women’s Qualification

Today brought the women’s first opportunity to jump up onto the competition podium and compete to see who could be the most European. (That’s what we’re doing here, right?) There were a lot of compelling nominees. Much Europe. Many techno remixes of R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Enough to make you want to grab some acid-wash jeans, an Oksana Baiul, and a glow stick and head to Germany.

Anyway, once we sift through all the front layout beam dismounts that scored “abandoned shoelace on floor of public bathroom,” some significant developments actually rise to the top. So, let’s emotionally work through what you missed. Or what you saw and just can’t.

We’ll start with the big fat controversy because clearly.

-Here’s how it went down. In the final floor routine of the day, home-nation hero, legend, and part-time aspiring dominatrix Catalina Ponor got up and said, “I’m going to belch the alphabet, leave, and you’re still going to put me through to event finals,” and the judges said, “With this ring, I thee wed…”

So, normal. Nothing to report there. Ponor goes up, hikes her leo up into the center of the earth, and performs her usual floor. Fine. She did have one “the doctors say there’s nothing they can do” double pike landing and the twisting form, but whatever. Nothing too major. She’s into 4th place.

BUT WAIT. It then slowly begins to dawn on everyone (and by everyone, I mean three twitters) that Ponor never performed a forward tumbling element in that routine, a necessity to receive 0.5 in CR. She performed her 2.5 as usual, but it was too beautiful to connect out of—or something—so she didn’t have a forward element. And apparently, in the new code, a doctor’s note that says, “CATA SLAY BEYOTCH” no longer exempts you from composition requirements. (Legal?)

At first, the judges said, “No matter, you glorious hypnotic seahorse,” and awarded her the full 5.4 D score anyway, but then the committee apparently decided to care about the rules (starting now) and gathered together to channel their inner Ellen Berger upon glimpsing the ghoulish visage of Bela Karolyi and knock that down to size.

Noting that Ponor didn’t have a forward element and should score 0.500 lower than she did should have taken…oh…34 seconds. But then, because of no ulterior motives whatsoever, the judges decided to wait for the mountains to melt, the winds to wither, the sky to bleed, and the earth to pass into darkness as the Age of Demons begins before announcing the change in score. They definitely weren’t waiting for the crowd to fully disperse so that they wouldn’t be driven out of town amidst a barrage of tar and onions and old velvet leos.

So, after all, Ponor’s score gets (correctly) bumped down five tenths, meaning she will not advance to the floor final. Ponor will, however, advance to the beam final. On beam, she had one issue on her bhs 3/4 + Ovary-Dislocate, where she had to improvise and instead did a bhs 3/8 + planche + Slide Along the Side of the Beam Like a Squid, but it was still good enough to place her 4th. For realsies this time.

-Ponor’s BEST FRIEND IN ALL OF SOCIAL MEDIA, Larisa Iordache, entered the arena on a cloud of dreams, supported by a thousand children’s letters to Santa Claus, to make her triumphant and desperately needed return to save Romania. She got up on the beam, made a little heart sign to the crowd, promptly turned into a Hello Kitty Easter egg full of jelly beans, then hopped off. FIRST QUALIFIER. YOU GET YOUR PICK OF THE MEN OF THE VILLAGE. Iordache also hit a pretty typical bars set, but Romania, so she didn’t make the final.

With double representation in the beam final, Iordache and Ponor will be counted on to cobble together the necessary…winning at least one medal. Romania just can’t leave its own European Championship without a medal. Immediate slaughterhouse. Do not pass go, do not continue having a gymnastics program.

-There were far fewer dream clouds for the two new Romanians (I want to say…Debbie and Slappy?) in their opportunities to establish themselves as the next generation. They just went, “Actually, no thanks. I ate already.”They’ll both be gifted spots in the AA final anyway because of two-per-country, but they’ll have to improve on beam. Weirdly, that was the problem more than bars, on which neither is hopeless. Cimpian has elements like a Shap 1/2, but she also paused on the high bar Alyssa Beckerman-style and will inevitably be a total heartbreaker. We know that story too well. Crisan has a little routine with some leg breaks and handstand issues but could be another acceptable choice in the Laura Jurca vein. Cimpian also competed a DTY, which will be critical since having a lineup of DTYs has kept Romania afloat more than once in recent years.

-Moving on, none of the Russians hit beam. Obviously. That said, not all the falls were created equal. I feel like the CSI writers must be writing for Melnikova’s career now because it’s the same episode every time. She fell on the layout again. In better falls, Kapitonova’s miss was perfectly and hilariously timed with “Big Spender” on floor so that we got, “hey BIG spend[FALL].” The only thing Kapitonova will be spending now is time in Valentina’s murder crypt. It was almost as good as that time Adeline Kenlin crashed on her head and “Because I’m happy…” immediately started playing.

Also, there was that moment Elena Eremina landed a layout stepout inside her own face.


Even with that, Eremina had the best day of the Russians (Russia…), hitting bars and floor to qualify to finals in the top three on both events and fourth in the AA. Kapitonova will be Russia’s other representative in the AA final because Melnikova also went full Melnikova on her piked jaeger on bars. On a scale of Russian Cup to Good, today was a decomposed pumpkin filled with week-old broccoli.

Even so, Melnikova did manage to advance to the vault final and, somehow, mostly because of witches, make the floor final. The cutoff for the floor final ended up being a low 13. In the vault final, Melnikova will be joined by the reanimated exoskeleton of Maria Paseka. Paseka did not compete the Amanar in qualification because she didn’t need to, qualifying second with just her DTY and Lopez. The DTY was excellent, and the Lopez fine, just some leg form and looseness in the thorax.

-The biggest individual winner was this graphic.

Kyla Roos is going to be a STAR for Turkey. She’s amazing on boors. I’m just still sad that things have deteriorated so much between the Iordache twins that they feel they have to represent different countries now. You two can work it out!

-The other big individual winner was this weird little orphaned rabbit girl that kept appearing on the screen to dance and beg for money.


-The third big individual winner was Ellie Downie, who hit all of her apparatuses in the same meet (it won’t pass this close to the earth again until 2074) to qualify into the AA in first place, while also qualifying to all four event finals. Her performance was aggressively un-British, especially on beam, to the point where it felt kind of creepy. Did the orphan rabbit girl put a curse on you? And can she do that to more people?

Becky and Frags also hit beam, which would have made everything even more distorted and confusing (because THREE OUT OF FOUR beam hits), but they both hit in a much more British way. They were sort of wobbling all over the place and looked like they were about to turn to liquid like Amelie at every moment, so I felt much more comfortable. It was close between the two, but Becky’s form and lack of downgrade risk took her to the event final over Frags.

Becky and Ellie will also be DOUBLE DOWNIE AHAHAHA IT’S LIKE DOUBLE DOWN in the bars final because they both hit, and duh. I did think their scores were weirdly close together, though, since Becky’s form and handstands were so much stronger than Ellie’s. Becky only qualified in 4th on bars, which is obviously some sort of heinous clerical error (someone’s losing a hand), but she’s still a major threat for gold.

-The major event triumph, celebrated by peasants near and far, was Nina Derwael hitting her Nina Mae Fentwel + Yezhova combination and qualifying first on bars. We can all rest easier now. Unfortunately for Georgia Mae Fenton, she did not have an opportunity to match Derwael skill-for-skill because she apparently does this thing now where she’s named to meets and then gets injured the second before the competition. Is that going to be her eponymous skill? “I’m kind of worried she’s going to perform the Fenton before the meet even starts.”

-I did also want to mention that this weird thing happened on beam where, right in the middle of Eythora’s routine, her bun unfolded and a Golden Snitch flew out. I don’t think it’s a deduction—and it shouldn’t be—but it was certainly not part of her planned routine. Teammate Sanne Wevers did not do her full complement of combos, and I still struggle with that dismount, but she Sanne-ed almost completely to qualify to the final in second nonetheless.

Eythora’s beam E score was the highest of the day by several tenths, and rightfully so. We petitioned to see a judge’s score sheet for the routine, but it was just this.

-Sadly, Hanna Traukova of Belarus recorded a final total of NOPE.UHUH025, which is cause for concern that Artur and Galina might get another call.

-Also, this.

I don’t care. Your name is Maria Buttkick and always will be.

-In training, Evangelina Plyta of Greece was showing some difficulty on bars that might have contended for the event final in a perfect world, but she compulsively crossed herself 764 times before her routine, so it was over before it started. When you’re resorting to entreating the goddesses of the hearth, you’re not going to hit.

Also, Millousi competed beam. Yeah. Within 11 nanoseconds, she said NOPE FOREVER because what else would possibly have happened? Millousi fulfilling her potential and making a beam final? AH HA HA HA HA HA. She does, however, win the award for Longest Furious Circumambulation of the Beam Post-Fall.

-Other significant AA qualifiers are Zsofia Kovacs, who used this meet to decide that she’s good again and qualify in second, and Tabea Alt, who did her now-customary “everything was great except the beam dismount” to qualify in third.

-Coline Devillard of France is another watch after qualifying to the vault final with the highest difficulty of the bunch, a rudi and a DTY. Granted, the rudi was a little, “I don’t think that howler monkey would make a very good pilot,” but she got it fully around, which is an accomplishment in itself.


25 thoughts on “European Championship – Women’s Qualification”

  1. Fun fact! There were more World and Olympic gold medals in NCAA Super Six than there are at Europeans (9-5)

    1. Maggie Nichols 2015 team
      My Kayla Skinner 2014 team
      Brenna Dowell 2015 team
      Kyla Ross 2012 Olympic and 2014 world team
      Madison Kocian 2016 Olympic, 2015 and 2014 world team, and 2015 world bars.

      Catalina Ponor 2004 Olympic team 2004 Olympic beam, 2004 Olympic floor,
      Wevers 2016 Olympic beam,
      Paseka 2015 vault worlds right?

  2. I noticed that Iordache’s bars routine includes a Van Leeuwen that she casts to a handstand out of. I thought the 2017-2020 CoP said that you have to connect out of a Shaposh-style release otherwise you incur a 0.5 deduction for extra swing. So does her routine have a built-in deduction, or does this deduction not apply here for some reason? If it does apply, it seems kind of ridiculous to even put that Van Leeuwen in the routine considering that the entire value of the skill is offset by an automatic deduction of equal magnitude.

    1. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe this new rule only applies to Shaposh elements without a full turn (Komova II, Maloney) or a full turn (Seitz). The Van Leeuwen has a half turn so there should be no empty swing deduction

      1. Oh, I must have misread the rule. I understood it as applying to all Shaps because a Van Leeuwen (and other similar Shaps) has a 1/2 turn, so it’s a Shap without a full turn, and thus the rule applies. I didn’t realize it meant it only applies to Shaps that either have a full turn or have no turn at all.

      2. Yeah, it’s weird. It’s only if they grab the bar facing the low bar. Which is so weird. Maybe they hate fulls and don’t want them or it was a weird oversight. But halfs don’t have to connect.

  3. Ponor would have made floor finals if she replaced that 5/2 twist with a front tuck. Yes, a front tuck. While she would lose three tenths of element difficulty, she would gain back five tenths in composition requirements, enough to make the final. Then she could have gone all out and attempted the 5/2 twist+ punch layout in the final.

    1. I would think going into the 5/2, she intended to do the punch front out of it, but landed weird and opted out. What I don’t understand, is why she didn’t alter her last pass to a double full punch front or something. It’s strange to see a gymnast miss a requirement and not attempt to improvise somewhere else to get it in.

      I recall a recent beam routine (nationals prelims?) where Maddy Stover (Utah) attempted an acro series three times at different points in her exercise before giving up. That’s a lot of extra skills to fit into one routine, and though she didn’t end up getting credited, I admire her commitment to trying.

      1. It’s kind of silly how so many gymnasts appear to not know the code at all. Mattie Larson lost the USA a team gold medal in 2010 after not doing a punch front after her two and a half and not doing a random aerial in her routine to get the 0.5 front tumbling requirement, the difference from russia was 0.3 I think. She also could have done a punch front tuck to double twist as her last pass which would have missed her 0.2 for the D dismount a 0.1 from replacing the double pike but getting 0.5 for the combination pass. If I were a coach I would make my gymnasts pass a written exam on the CoP.

      2. I was going to say the same thing, anon. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a gymnast, either in elite or in NCAA, miss something in their routine that satisfies a composition requirement and either make no attempt to improvise something to satisfy the requirement or improvise something that doesn’t actually meet the requirement. I’m guessing it won’t be too long before we see a gymnast miss a punch front on a pass and try to make it up with an aerial.

      3. She actually said that she hurt her foot on Beam and therefore decided to take out the front layout. She must have known she might not make the finals, y’all.

      4. I think Maddy Stover’s attempts at an acro series may have been at PAC-12s, and either I don’t understand NCAA scoring or she got credit anyway.

  4. Holy crap, I died laughing to at least 75% of this post, & now my bf thinks I’m even more crazy than normal, bahahahahaha 🤗🤸‍♀️😜🎉😂! You are truly amazing Spencer, thank you for enriching my gymnerd life!❤️👌🤸‍♀️❤️

  5. Huh, I never thought of it being like ‘double down’ before … I thought they just said it because of the alliteration. ‘Double down’ isn’t really a phrase in the U.K. Except at like .. KFC? Is that right?

    1. “Double down” is a gambling term, I think involving Blackjack. It means to “go all in” on a bet. I’m not sure what it means to KFC…

  6. “Iordache also hit a pretty typical bars set, but Romania, so she didn’t make the final”.

    Dead lol

  7. I blame the coaches. Gymnast should know the requirements. Some are smarter than others and can think on their feet – others not so much. You know this misses also happen in practice. The coach needs to say – so what would you do if that happens in competition? and have them practice it. If they haven’t practiced making a change in a routine to fix a COP requirement, I don’t expect most of them would be able to come up with something on the fly.

  8. I was howling with laughter!!!! My husband found out I was even more unhinged than he the Harry Potter references ! The decompossd pumkin with week old broccoli almost finished me off. That orphaned thingy on the screen! My stomach.hurt from laughter!!!!

  9. That graphic thing is real? How does that even happen? Gymnasts who don’t even compete for European countries, who are retired and their names aren’t even spelled correctly(Kyla Ross)? That’s hilarious.

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