All the countries of the world (all of them) have suddenly decided to start national championshiping like it’s going out of style, so here’s a quick rundown of what happened this weekend, what we learned, and what this tells us about possible teams for world championships.
It may seem like worlds are still a long way off, but…well, yes, that’s kind of true. And yet, four months isn’t that long, and most countries won’t get the whole gang together again until then. This is already our last, best chance to prognosticate wildly, and if you think I’m not going to take that chance…
Lauren has compiled all the results for the meets I’m about to talk about so that no one else has to do it.
Unsurprisingly, the big winner at the Canadian champs was Ellie Black. She dominated the qualification day, placing first by multiple points, though things got much more real for her in the all-around final after a fall on bars nearly saw her drop behind Rose Woo. That would have been a serious upset. Black’s ultimate margin of victory was just three tenths, but with full difficulty and a hit meet, it would have been a lot, lot more.
Isabela Onyshko did not have an ideal championship, one that will probably be remembered for that E-score in the 2s on bars in qualification more than anything else (because if you think I’m going to stop talking about that…). Onyshko did “recover” on bars in the AA final for a one-fall 12.734, which was enough to get her a 4th-place finish, but she would have been expected to run second to Black here, all things being normal. Still, Onyshko did perform well enough on beam to take that title and hasn’t given away her status as Canada’s #2 senior AAer just because of this meet.
Shallon Olsen won the vault title because of course she did. She finished only 6th in the AA since…she’s an event specialist and isn’t here to make friends. And by make friends, I mean do bars or beam.
Olsen did not bring back the Amanar at this meet (going DTY along with the 1/2 on tucked 1.5), but if she does get the 2.5 back during the summer, she’ll be a favorite for worlds selection because, well, anyone with a vaulting program more difficult than DTY/Lopez will have at least a vague look at a medal this year. Even though her form can get funky, she’d be among Canada’s most likely finals contenders.
The bars title went to Brittany Rogers, who continued to show far and away the most difficulty of the gang. Rogers wasn’t at full strength in terms of execution at this meet on any of her events (and had a very weird moment in the finals where she just vaulted a Yurchenko layout, which we’ll pretend never happened), but she was tellingly able to win bars despite mistakes. That’s how far ahead of the rest of the group her D is.
That’s also why, based on what we saw here, I’m not ready to declare any changes to the January assumption that Canada will send Black and Onyshko for the AA, Olsen to do VT (and FX), and Rogers to do UB (and BB) at worlds. That group comprises every event winner from this championship and pretty much all of Canada’s likely finals qualifiers.
Rose Woo had a strong championship marked by a laudable level of consistency, though her selection downfall would be that she doesn’t have any event-final routines. Her path to worlds would have to be through hanging onto the #2 AA spot she won here.
Jade Chrobok also hit well in the final to win bronze over Onyshko’s inconsistent showing by a couple tenths, while Brooklyn Moors—a talented prospect from the province of Flashes of Heartbreaking Potential—fell on floor in the final to drop herself all the way down to 7th. Of the outsiders, Moors has among the better arguments for the worlds team because of her floor, which won the qualification day by four tenths over anyone else. Still, since Moors isn’t yet one of Canada’s top AA scorers, it’s quite difficult to shoehorn her into a potential team. She’d have to prove more likely to make the floor final than Olsen is to make the vault final—or more likely to make the floor final than Rogers is to make the bars final—but her D just isn’t there yet.
And then there’s Ana Padurariu, who destroyed the junior field (and the senior field) but won’t turn senior until next year. Patience, Iago, patience.
Unfortunately, the story of the Australian champs ended up being the injuries more than anything else as Georgia Godwin led after qualification but pulled out with a hamstring strain, then Emily Little injured herself in the floor final and had to stop after her first pass. Phew alert: Little has assured us that everything is fine. She gets gym fans.
The floor final was Little’s last routine of the competition, so she had already won most of what she was supposed to win before that debacle, taking the vault title the previous day in addition to the AA championship earlier in the week, squeezing past Georgia-Rose Brown by just a couple tenths. A fall-pocked AA final from Rianna Mizzen, the other realistic contender, pushed her down to third by several points, but those three were the class of the field.
Mizzen did reemerge into the land of the living in the bars final by hitting her big-difficulty set—after missing it in both qualification and the AA final—to run away with the trophy. Mizzen ended up winning bars by almost two points because the only other potential contender, GRB, missed in the final.
GRB herself recovered on the last day of finals, winning the fall-fest that was beam as one of only two gymnasts with E scores above the 6s. Brown followed that up by winning what became a wide-open floor final (after Little’s injury) with her “I was doing Dutch floor composition before it was cool” set.
Those four do look like the class of the group right now, especially with Nedov sidelined with her Achilles tear. There are some other routines floating around this squad (Talia Folino in particular has some sets we’d be entertaining as possibilities if this were a team worlds), but right now Little, Brown, Mizzen, and Godwin look like the frontrunners in the race for the team.
Of course, anything will beat 2013’s team of NO PEOPLE, but presuming that tragedy won’t be repeated at this individual worlds, the big question among this group of four would be the distribution of routines, who gets to do the AA, and who is a specialist on which events. In qualification, the top AAers were Godwin and Little, but that doesn’t make for clean team distribution because it would leave Mizzen and Brown as the eventers, and only one of them would be able to do bars. Why even take GRB to worlds then?
Depending on the day, any of those four could end up being among the top-2 AAers for Australia, so it will be up to Mihai to put on his “MARTHA KNOWS” glasses to x-ray everyone’s consistency levels. Based on potential and D score, I’d want Mizzen in the AA, but she’ll have to show the consistency to earn it. Mihai is very much from the Martha school. If you don’t show consistency over a series of competitions and camps, you don’t get the spot at the big meet.
How would you distribute those four?
In other expected developments, it was Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos who took the French AA title with a 55.450, nearly a point and a half ahead of Marine Boyer, the next-closest competitor. Dos Santos even outscored Boyer on Boyer’s event, beam. Alison Lepin took third in the all-around but comfortably recorded the highest score on her best event, bars, with 14.550.
It was just a 13.700 in the bars final for Lepin, however, as she finished second to Lorette Charpy. Boyer managed the ship on beam in the event final by winning very comfortably and followed that title up with a co-victory on floor with Juliette Bossu.
Coline Devillard, the new European vault champion, did not participate, while Olympians Louise Vanhille and Oreane Lechenault finished further down the standings (6th and 10th) and Loan His did not compete.
Speculating about a French worlds team is even more difficult than the others at this point because France typically cares 0.1% about the individual worlds and sent only two competitors instead of the normal four in both 2013 and 2009.
Surely you’d want to send De Jesus Dos Santos to do the AA, Devillard to vault, Boyer for beam (and AA?) and Lepin for bars (or Vanhille?) and utilize all four spots this time around. It would be a real shame not to. France is not struggling to come up with four worlds-level gymnasts right now, but we’ll see if they actually get sent this year.
Because we’ve become accustomed to Belgium being a legitimate player on the world stage lately, it’s easy to forget that Belgium does not have the depth of elite-level gymnasts that many of the other countries contending at the same level do. In the absence of Nina Derwael and Senna Deriks (knee injury), just four senior elites participated in the Belgian championships, with Rune Hermans taking the AA title with 52.400.
The championship also saw Axelle Klinckaert return to competition on bars to win that event with 13.650. I’m eager to see Klinckaert back in AA action since she and Derwael should be quite a competitive duo for Belgium come worlds.