The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

BBS Global: Europe Edition

Injuries

We’ll start with the bad news. The bad news is named Switzerland.

SWITZERLAND: Giulia Steingruber tore her ACL at a competition in France and will be out for the remainder of 2018 because gymnastics is stupid and the worst. Switzerland is trying to defend a 4th-place finish from the previous team Euros but seemed a long shot to reach the team final this year anyway, even with Steingruber on the squad.

Without her, that shot is thrown into a volcano immediately and focus turns to ensuring that Switzerland places in the top 24 at worlds this year to advance as a team to 2019. Switzerland should still be able to do that without trouble, but you start to wonder if Steingruber’s scores are missing. She delivers a real 5-6 points over what a replacement would be able to contribute, and her absence would allow many more countries in that up-and-coming Argentina, Egypt group to think about beating Switzerland if they have a good day.

GERMANY: The German team for the European Championship seemed so simple. Sophie Scheder had returned to save the day with her amazing bars…so obviously after exactly one competition, she has injured her finger and is out of Euros.

Finding a way to replace Scheder will be challenging because she was on the inevitable-seeming team almost exclusively for bars, but now with Seitz injured and Alt injured and Scheder injured, there aren’t obvious bars routines for Germany besides Kim Bui. Who would have thought we’d be worried about what Germany was going to do on bars? Bars is Germany’s thing. We’re supposed to be worried about floor. Oh, also, we’re worried about floor.

Most likely, Germany will just fill in on bars at Euros with those already in the group (Sarah Voss is like, “Um, no thank you please…”), and try to squeeze something else out of a fifth gymnast on any event. The only remaining option who really adds anything to the Schäfer, Bui, Grießer, Voss group is Emma Höfele, who can pull out an extra tenth or so on vault compared to those four. Germany seems to agree as Höfele was selected to participate in France along with the rest of the group.

The next-best healthy bars routine in Germany right now probably belongs to Janine Berger, who was a 2012 Olympian and vault finalist but who has endured mighty knee struggles and is only appearing on bars in the Bundesliga this year. Yet, she was not among the worlds training group and doesn’t appear to be in the selection pool. So that’s where we are with Germany right now.

Competitions

We’ll move onto the better news.

FRANCE: The French invited Germany and Switzerland to town last weekend to be like, “HA-HA look how injured you are” and put a curse on Steingruber’s ACL so that they could defeat both countries by a bajillion points despite a couple critical misses of their own. De Jesus Dos Santos dominated the all-around with a 54.950, and France continues to look like a team medal favorite heading into the European Championship, especially with so many other nations being so hospitaly. I mean, Germany has passed Russia as the team with the most injured gymnasts in the nation of Germany right now, so you know the situation is dire.

NETHERLANDS: The Netherlands invited all the cool kids over (and by cool kids I mean Great Britain, Japan, and Belgium) for a pre-Euros warmup competition, at which Eythora Thorsdottir competed the all-around for the first time in months and months. Don’t worry, it went OK. She hit a clean bars routine for a solid 13.45, and on beam, she looked a little tighter than we’re used to but also so Eythora and glorious, with her patting woodland animals on the head and sewing a quilt made of dreams choreography. On vault she showed a full, which may actually be important for the Netherlands in putting together a Euros team since vault is not a strength for this group. Floor is clearly still a work in progress, where she just went, “I’m going to turn a bunch of times and that’s my D score,” showing pretty bare-bones tumbling with a fall on a front full.

Sanne Wevers is also back to fully Sanne-ing on beam. L turn to full turn to double turn to split leap to straight jump full. Stab me with roses. I cannot. With these lovelies and Celine van Gerner, there seems little reason to worry about Netherlands on bars and beam, where it should be one of the strongest teams at Euros. The concern is whether Yurchenko fulls and lower 12s on floor will be too much of a burden to overcome. This Netherlands side lost to a half-strength Japanese team of only four gymnasts, not including Mai Murakami, which tells us a lot about Japan’s potential this year.

BELGIUM: Belgium didn’t show enough routines to get a competitive team total in the Netherlands, but this competition was all about Derwael adding a casual Nabieva to her bars routine. Right now it’s replacing her stalder piked Tkatchev and therefore adds just one tenth to her D score (bringing her up to 6.5), but there’s no one else competing right now who can match a 6.5. Fan Yilin won worlds with a 6.5 last year, but we haven’t seen her in 2018.

GREAT BRITAIN: The Brits have made it official, announcing that the nominative Euros team of Kinsella, Fenton, B Downie, Simm, and Stanhope is, in fact, the final team. We have some questions. Taeja James competed with that group in the Netherlands, so the assumption is she’ll be acting as the alternate. This means that any screw-ups for Great Britain on floor will be because they didn’t select Taeja James and any screw-ups on beam will be because they didn’t select Maisie Methuen. But I actually am gravely concerned about the British prospects on both events at Euros.

In the Netherlands, the highest beam score for GB on the first day was 12.500, for Becky Downie with a fall, and the highest floor score was a 12.900 for Kinsella. No one got into the 13s. James posted a 12.65 on floor, which was among the best three numbers for GB but still wasn’tt ideal and wasn’t really the kind of score that would make her case for the team.

The plus for GB was Becky Downie’s bars, because of course it was. She went 14.500 on the first day with a 6.2 D that included the Stalder Tkatchev piked and the toe-on Tkatchev 1/2. Fenton also went for big difficulty but struggled with two falls for an 11.7 in the all-around competition.

Great Britain finishing behind both Japan and the Netherlands (exclusively because of beam) in Heerenveen is not an auspicious result heading into Euros. Still, the possibility for success remains. Fenton is absolutely critical. If she has a good day on bars and beam, those scores will not look as meager as they have and can make up for some inevitable floor 12s.

ITALY: The Italian Championships told a very familiar story. Once upon a time, why isn’t it 2019, the end. The top two all-around scores belonged to gymnasts who will not turn senior until next year, Giorgia Villa and Elisa Iorio, and the remaining performances cast buckets and buckets of doubt upon the nominative roster Italy submitted for the European Championship. Giada Grisetti finished just 8th AA and Elisa Meneghini was 15th after scoring 11s on beam and floor. Instead, Sara Ricciardi was the highest scoring senior with a 53.100 AA (and she doesn’t even have an FIG license), Sofia Busato went 14.550 for a DTY, the only one with a vault score even remotely that high, and the highest senior bars score went to Clara Colombo with 13.150, none of whom were on the nominative roster.

At this point, just use a dartboard and that’s the team. Or just throw up your hands and decide to hibernate until 2019.

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