Qualifying has concluded at Baku, the 3rd event on our 8-event Olympic apparatus qualification world tour. This event proved a much deeper competition than Melbourne a few weeks ago in that we saw enough gymnasts compete on every event to actually earn all the ranking points on offer. Cool.
I’m going to talk a lot about standings and ranking points, so check out the current qualification standings heading into Baku, with an explanation of the rules and the various places where the FIG seems to be ignoring the rules. I’ll update the standings at the conclusion of finals.
On the women’s side, Jade Carey introduced her Cheng to the world and qualified in first place on vault.
Carey has 2nd-place points from Cottbus already on her ranking, so victories at Baku and Doha would put her in very good stead—especially because Andrade, who finished ahead of Carey in Cottbus, is likely to qualify to the Olympics as a member of a team anyway and therefore would not pursue this spot.
The two currently leading the qualification standings on vault are Oksana Chusovitina and Alexa Moreno, who qualified in 4th place and 2nd place respectively and are likely to remain ahead of Carey following Baku because they have competed in all three meets so far. Dipa Karmakar qualified in 3rd and already has third-place points from Cottbus, so she should stay close to the leaders after this event as well if she can mimic that result in the final.
The wildcards are Maria Paseka and Coline Devillard, who qualified in the next two positions in their first competitions of the series. They won’t be up toward the top of the rankings after Baku because they don’t have enough points from other events, but with Paseka’s Amanar and Devillard’s rudi, they should both be significant contenders for the big-money points as we go. Vault gettin’ good.
Bars had been the Team China Show up until this point with Lyu Jiaqi and Fan Yilin (not competing in Baku) dominating the standings, but here we have Anastasia Iliankova leading after qualification, followed by Jonna Adlerteg and then Lyu Jiaqi. On the strength of her previous performances, expect Lyu to continue leading bars after Baku, but Iliankova absolutely has the ability to win the series if she continues attending these events. Because Adlerteg and Diana Varinska (qualified in 4th) also have points from previous events, expect those two to rank quite well as long as they hit in the final.
On beam, it’s still very much a free-for-all because there has been little consistency in terms of the competitors from event to event so far, but Emma Nedov is looking good following her 2nd-place performance in Melbourne. She managed to qualify in 1st place here, outpacing the favorites Marine Boyer and Li Qi, who qualified in 2nd and 3rd. Boyer has some points from Cottbus to boost her potential total after Baku, while Li Qi is looking for her first points of the series (and it should be a lot of points if she hits in the final). Mana Oguchi also qualified for the final here after placing 3rd in Melbourne, so she’s making a sleeper case for herself.
But overall, the beam Olympic spot still looks open to be won by about 5500 different people.
Following qualification on floor, we have Jade Carey sandwiched by two Italians, with Lara Mori taking the first spot, Carey in second, and Vanessa Ferrari in third. Ferrari won the title in Melbourne, so if she finishes anywhere near the top here, she should retain the Olympic lead over the other challengers. Mori and Nedov have 4th-place points from previous events, and Carey has 5th-place points from Cottbus, so they should move up the standings here but still have some work to do to make up ground on Ferrari.
On the men’s events, let’s start with something crazy. At Baku, for unexplained reasons, they switch PBars and pommel horse in the event order and compete PBars on the first day and horse on the second day. It makes me feel physically ill. Anyway, floor.
Current ranking leader Carlos Yulo is not competing here and current 2nd-place Casimir Schmidt pulled out of qualification, seemingly clearing the way for Cottbus winner Artem Dolgopyat to regain his lead in the standings. Dolgopyat did, however, did finish 2nd to Milad Karimi in qualification. In a surprise, Dom Cunningham of Great Britain missed out on the final and will be stuck with just 6 ranking points from this event.
On PBars, Poliashov of Russia and Hegi of Switzerland are out to get their first ranking points, qualifying in 1st and 2nd position. Qualifying in 3rd was Ferhat Arican, the current leader of the qualification race, but don’t count out the Melbourne champion You Hao, who qualified in 6th but has an “if he hits, he wins” level routine.
On rings, current rankings leader Liu Yang is not competing in Baku, opening the door for You Hao to make a move for the top spot on this event as well (I WANT ALL THE PLACES). He will have to fight off Courtney Tulloch and Igor Radivilov, who qualified on either side of him in 1st and 3rd and will both keep things close in the final. Ibrahim Colak and Samir Ait Said also qualified well and have recorded points at previous events, so they should see themselves rise in the standings after Baku.
The big surprise in vault qualification was Igor Radivilov bareeely making the final after missing his second vault. Radivilov won both of the previous two competitions and was seemingly running away with vault until now. But, he did make the top 8 in the end and will have a chance to right things in the final, trying to fend off the resurrected corpses of Yang Hakseon and Denis Abliazin, who will get their first ranking points here and are threats to win any of these events if healthy and hitting. Chris Remkes has qualified in first place, followed by Dom Cunningham, both of whom could establish solid positions for themselves since they also have points from Melbourne, and Colin Van Wicklen qualified to the final in 4th place, the only final for the American men here.
Pommel horse brought a major surprise of its own, with Olympic qualification favorite Lee Chih Kai—who won both of the previous events—missing and finishing 30th. That opens the door for Weng Hao, who finished 2nd at both of the previous competitions, to move into first place after Baku, but he only bareeely qualified himself in 8th place. The old standbys, Ude and Tommasone, have advanced to the final and should continue getting enough 4th-place-ish points at all these events to remain threats, but watch out for Saeedreza Keikha of Iran, who finished 3rd in Cottbus and qualified in 3rd again here.
High bar! This one has been getting real in the battle between Miyachi, Zonderland, and Srbic, and this meet should continue the trend with Miyachi qualifying in 1st, Srbic in 2nd, and Zonderland in 4th (with his “easy” routine at a casual 6.2 D). Srbic fell in the final at Melbourne, so he’s currently trailing behind the others in the standings, but that won’t matter in the end since only three scores count and we expect him to attend plenty more. The race for the Olympic spot could go to any one of them—and don’t forget about Zhang Chenglong, currently 4th in the overall standings and in the final here after qualifying in 6th.
Finals to come!
We also have a big weekend ahead in Stuttgart, with the all-around world cup events for men and women running alongside the team challenge.
First, the all-around world cups. Simone Biles and Aliya Mustafina are headlining the women’s field. End of advertisement. No one can wait for this. On the men’s side, Artur Dalaloyan leads the group, which will be fascinating to follow after his disastrous showing at Russian Championships where he finished 17th in qualification and withdrew from the AA final. With Sun Wei and Petro Pakhniuk capable of getting competitive scores if they hit, and Marcel and Bart and Akash Modi thrown in for fun, this competition should be…well it should be something.
The team challenge must not be overlooked because the squads are LEGIT. Advancing to the women’s team final in first place was Brazil—competing its big four of Andrade, Saraiva, Barbosa, and Fidelis, along with Carolyne Pedro. Brazil outscored what should be a very competitive Russian team led by Melnikova and Simakova, but Russia did Russia things on beam qualified in second. Simakova also fell on vault again, which is troubling. Aliya’s like, “It’s not that troubling. When do I need to be in Poland by?” Also into the team final are France (with De Jesus Dos Santos leading a team of babies like a mother goose), and Netherlands with Eythora doing Eythora things.
Here’s your full deal for Saturday and Sunday. In addition to NCAA.
Saturday, March 16
4am ET/1am PT – Baku Apparatus World Cup Finals Day 1
6am ET/3am PT – British Championships – Women Sub 1
7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Stuttgart All-Around World Cup – Men
10:30am ET/7:30am PT – British Championships – Men & Women
12pm ET/9am PT – Stuttgart Team Challenge Final – Women
Sunday, March 17
4am ET/1am PT – Baku Apparatus World Cup Finals Day 2
5am ET/2am PT – British Championships – Junior women – Events
7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Stuttgart All-Around World Cup – Women
10am ET/7am PT – British Championships – Senior women – Events
11am ET/8am PT – Stuttgart Team Challenge Final – Men
You can follow the British using our beloved BG Score app, which has the scores and the judges cams for every event.
C. Europeans nominative rosters
The European Championships (individual—an odd-numbered year) will be upon us in just a few weeks, so it’s time for the annual tradition of breaking down the nominative rosters and going, “Buh-huhhhhh?”
Actually, they’re not too crazy this year with the exception of the German women’s squad, with beam queen Pauline Schäfer joined by Leah Grießer, Emilie Petz, and Isabelle Stingl. Notably absent there are both Elisabeth Seitz and Kim Bui, who are competing AA at Stuttgart this weekend and would have been major contenders for bars medals. Seitz had in the past mentioned something about the schedule and her studies and whatever, and she has pulled out of the nearly simultaneous Tokyo world cup as well.
Instead, the Germans are listed as bringing Stingl and Petz into the fold. Stingl has been on the periphery of the German team for a couple years now and can snatch a solid floor score on her day (as she did in the Stuttgart team event for 13.050), and Emilie Petz is the current junior national champion that Germany has been excited about ever since she recorded some really strong AA performances in early 2017. This group got its first test in that Stuttgart team event and finished 5th (with the addition of Lisa Zimmerman, whose score ended up counting on every event).
There’s also the requisite Romanian drama. Romania is slated to send just three people—Denisa Golgota, Carmen Ghiciuc, and Nica Ivanus—because the entirety of the national team is either injured or sick or dead, though depending on who you ask Nica Ivanus has either disappeared into a black hole never to do gymnastics again, or is fully on track and upgrading to a Yurchenko quintuple as we speak. So the usual.
Several major gymnasts in the MAG competition are not listed to compete at Euros—including Bart Deurloo, Nestor Abad, and Nikita Ignatyev—because they are slated to do the all-around world cup at Tokyo, which nearly runs right into podium training at Euros and is on the other side of the world and whatnot.
Let’s see, what else:
-Russia is sending the announced group of Melnikova, Simakova, Iliankova, and Paseka—the top 2 AA from Russian Championships, plus Iliankova for bars and Paseka for vault. No Mustafina. As yet.
-Italy is taking a NO OLDS PLEASE approach and sending its full complement of big-potential 2003s—Villa, Iorio, and the D’Amatos.
-No Steingruber for Switzerland. No Petrounias for Greece. Cancel the meet.
-New senior Fien Enghels has one of the four spots on the Belgian team, joining Derwael, Klinckaert, and Brassart.
-Belarus is sending a full team of women!
-Laney Madsen is attending for Bulgaria.
-No Ana Perez for Spain. New senior Alba Petisco is getting a shot.
-France is sticking with its core team – MDJDS, Charpy, Boyer, and Devillard. The one missing out right now is Bossu.
-Great Britain is sending Ellie Downie, Amelie Morgan, Alice Kinsella, and Kelly Simm—so the top 3 AA from English and also Ellie Downie because duh. With the big-name stars still injured/coming back, this is pretty much your group with the notable omission of Georgia Mae Fenton. We’ll see if this is confirmed as the best 4 by British Championships this weekend. We have a pretty similar situation with the men’s team—with Nile Wilson injured, the sextet of Cunningham, Fraser, Hall, Bevan, Whitlock, and Tulloch seemed the inevitable six.
-Hungary has listed a young team, with new seniors Bacskay and Szekely to join Kovacs and Peter. Note the absence of the veterans Böczögo, Feher, and Makra, who competed in the team event at Stuttgart this weekend.
-Sweden is sending a full four with Castles and Adlerteg joined by new seniors Paulsson and Trejo. Of course Sweden finally bothers to send a full team when it’s not a team competition.
D. Last weekend
Rounding up the events from last weekend, the big news from Gymnix was of course the floor breaking again because Montreal cannot get itself together apparently. Though it did provide us with this delight.
Listen to this week’s GymCastic for a full breakdown of Floorgate 2.0, but in the actual results department, Kara Eaker won the AA title, largely on the strength of her beam score (duh), which put her ahead of Alyona Shchennikova. Sloane Blakely recorded some solid numbers for the third-best AA score, though her own amazing amplitude got the better of her on beam.
Ana Padurariu had a beam disaster in the senior Team/AA competition, which took her off the podium, but she recovered in event finals to win bars. Kara Eaker won the beam title, Aleah Finnegan took vault, and Japan’s Azuki “You don’t know me, but you will” Kokufugata won floor.
In the juniors, exceptional queen and literal crack for NCAA coaches Zoe Allaire-Bourgie won the all-around title, followed by the Americans Olivia Greaves and Skye Blakely, though the show was sort of stolen by Lilly Lippeatt’s combo.
In the challenge division (not competing with a national team), Emily Lee won the title with a 51.350. And yes, she already has her elite qualifying score for US Classic this year.
Speaking of which, the fourth US elite qualifier also took place last weekend at KPAC. No seniors got their qualifying scores, though Kristal Bodenschatz did compete again, showing only beam and scoring 11.800. In the junior division, Addison Fatta, Love Birt, Eva Volpe, Amber Lowe, Nola Matthews, and Ava Siegfeldt got their qualifying scores for Classic. Lauren Little competed just three events, but had the high score on bars and beam.