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.
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.