European Games and Junior Worlds – Day 4

We’ve got 15 event finals to go through from today (and I even watched like…13 of them?), so let’s get moving.

European Games

Men’s floor

You know that thing where you overcook a triple back? Where a triple back is just such an easy boring baby skill that you accidentally go too far around and end up stumbling backward OOB and into Russian airspace? Yahor Sharamkou and Dmitrii Lankin do. Both had oopsies of varying degrees on their triple back landings to take themselves out of medal contention and clear the way for top qualifier Emil Soravuo to win the gold with his lovely, superior landing control. Soravuo becomes the first x-ray to win a gold medal in gymnastics at a European Games .

What? Really? Just Finnish? Cool.

Giarnni Regini-Moran recovered from his AA performance, where a no-no on pommel horse took him way down the standings, to win the silver medal here (also downgrading his difficulty 3 tenths from qualification which seemed to work out), and Petro Pakhniuk also avoided any kind of massive landing disasters to win bronze.

Women’s vault

Fun coincidence that June 30th is actually International Angelina Melnikova Day because she had herself quite a performance in the event finals today, raking in three more medals to bring her meet total to 2 golds and 2 silvers across 5 events. If she had made the floor final, a Simone-ish 3 golds and 2 silvers would have been quite realistic.

Props to #2 qualifier Marina Nekrasova for trying to bring it in the final by upgrading to a handspring rudi, but also…maybe not that? She landed sideways and very much on her hands and hips to fall out of medal contention and clear the path for the other three qualifiers who have top difficulty, Teja Belak, Angelina Melnikova, and Sara Peter. In a bit of a surprise, however, it was Belak winning gold with some of the best landings we’ve ever seen from her on both her handspring front full and her Y1.5. No “it’s the final so I fell” problems this time. Melnikova had some lunges on her landings but mostly did her normal, and Peter vaulted cleanly enough but had to deal with a 0.2 disadvantage in D score compared to Melnikova, which put her in 3rd.

Pommel horse

Hit for a medal! Hit for a medal! Step right up and hit for a medal! The thing about these six-person finals at European Games is that a lot of people fall on pommel horse. So here, we had three falls, which meant that everyone who stayed on got a medal. Sadly, likely medalist Cyril Tommasone was one of the fall casualties, as was Marios Georgiou, who nonetheless successfully managed to return from his into-the-volcano high bar adventure yesterday to compete in multiple finals here.

Their misses opened the door for Belarus’s own salt-and-pepper fox Andrey Likhovitskiy to take a bronze medal. His difficulty is a little lower, his rhythm a little slower than the top workers in this final, but he stayed on the thing. The fight for gold, meanwhile, came down to Belyavskiy and Verniaiev, as you might have expected, with the decisive factor being that top-qualifier Verniaiev was given a D score three tenths lower than he received in qualification—putting him .133 behind Belyavskiy in the final standings.

Verniaiev filed an inquiry about his score, leading to this glorious moment when the final was over and the two were waiting to see who had won.

Can this be one of those memes where the people put the words over the people? That the kids do? With their skateboards? Continue reading European Games and Junior Worlds – Day 4

European Games and Junior Worlds – Day 3

European Games

The all-around finals at the European Games delivered a day of…not surprises? At least not at the very top, where #1 qualifiers Angelina Melnikova and David Belyavskiy both snatched the all-around gold medals that were rightfully theirs.

Melnikova’s victory was, of course, not without the requisite Russian WAG amount of drama. Some hesitations on bars and grabbing the beam on her layout (which counts as enough of a miss that you are freed from having to run naked through the streets) meant that Melnikova did not develop the edge on the rest of the field that she might have otherwise. Why they’ve brought that layout back into her routine, I…sigh. It may be the first ever routine composition decision based purely on spite.

P.S. Vanessa Atler’s Comaneci called and said no it’s not.

Those errors meant that Lorette Charpy ended up leading the competition much of the way as she put together a remarkably solid and unterrifying performance amidst this house of horrors of an all-around final (more on that later). Charpy enjoyed an advantage of about 4 tenths on Melnikova heading to vault, which was the final piece for the leaders (also more on that later). But, since Melnikova has a DTY and Charpy an FTY, that scenario was always going to favor Melnikova, and she came through with a strong enough vault to move ahead of Charpy and win the title by a little over 3 tenths. That Melnikova had a difficulty advantage of 1.3 over Charpy yet gave a point back on execution illuminates what a smoothly executed day it was for Charpy, with her composed beam routine standing out in particular because…she didn’t just plummet to the ground at every moment. Truly remarkable.

Few others had such a strong performance—although one who did was Charpy’s teammate Aline Friess, who took an unexpected 4th place with 52.699, though we didn’t get to see her routines, so I don’t have a lot to say about that. Huge result for her, and a 6-tenth improvement on her 4th-place performance at French nationals.

It looked to all the world like Diana Varinska had taken herself out of medal contention in the first rotation with a fall on her between-the-bars Jaeger, but she…hit her other three events? And on a day like this, that was enough for 52.699 and a comeback bronze medal.

Some of the other potential medalists were not so lucky with their mistakes. Varinska’s teammate Bachynska fell on every possible skill—and then again just sneezing at the hotel—to finish 14th out of 18 gymnasts with a sub-50 total, while Denisa Golgota fulfilled the prophecy on bars in the first rotation and there was no coming back from that. Georgia-Mae Fenton had qualified in 2nd place, but she struggled to get her DTY around today and looks to have had a problem on beam to finish 8th overall.

Another gymnast who withstood being semi-disastrous to claw back to a respectable all-around finish was Aleksandra Schekoldina. She fell on her acro series on beam in the first rotation and it looked like it would be another one of those days, but she hit the remaining pieces, which meant she finished 5th. Have I mentioned that this meet wasn’t cute? But definitely fun.

Except for the psychotic breakdown that is the European Games format. Building on having 18 people in the AA finals, and 6 people in event finals, and a one-per country rule for event finals, the European Games also decided that the lead group in the women’s AA would start on bars instead of vault, and that apparently the new four-event order for the women goes high bar, floor, uneven bars, vault. At least, that’s how I read this graphic.

WHAT IS THIS IMAGERY? Lorette’s score of 13.500 on Sad Mustache just wasn’t quite enough for gold.

European Games did have to run the men’s and women’s all-arounds simultaneously, which is why this weird rotation order happened—otherwise there would have been floor exercise conflicts since they both have to use it. But of course the women were the ones who had to change their procedure, and the women’s competition ended a rotation before the men’s so that the culmination of the meet just had the men on the floor and the women standing around. Organizers of multi-sport events forget that we don’t tolerate your “women are the side show” nonsense in this sport. Continue reading European Games and Junior Worlds – Day 3

Junior Worlds – Day 2

European Games has the day off today, so I’m just coming in with a quick recap of the women’s team/AA competition at juniors worlds—there’s not a lot to say since WE COULDN’T SEE IT. Originating and organizing this big event and then making sure it’s pointless and impossible to care about…the gymnastics way. Girl, what are we even doing here? Live stream or it didn’t happen.

Especially because this one looked really exciting. Cool, fun mystery.

In the women’s team competition (and all-around), it was a glorious coronation for this generation of Russian juniors that—between Jesolo and junior worlds—has now racked up two victories over the US juniors in 2019 with its trio of future obsession-worthy stars Vladislava Urazova, Elena Gerasimova, and Viktoria Listunova. Valentina, don’t screw this up for us.

Whenever the US women lose a competition, it’s a headline (especially finishing 3rd as they did here), but finishing behind Russia did not come as much of a surprise since the Russian team started with a clear difficulty edge on the US and China and therefore held its fate in its own hands. Among the counting scores here (3-3-2 team format), Russia had a D-score advantage of 1.4 over both the US and China, meaning that Russia was always going to have to make errors to become vulnerable to anyone else. What’s truly newsworthy about this Russian team is that…they didn’t. Despite being all Russian and whatnot.

I had definitely tempered expectations with “OK, but when Russia falls three times on beam…” thoughts, but they didn’t have three falls on beam. They had maybe one we think? And were able to drop it. Russia also recorded the top 3 scores on bars and 3 of the top 4 scores on floor. It was a pretty dominant performance. Continue reading Junior Worlds – Day 2

European Games and Junior Worlds – Day 1

European Games

A whirlwind day at the European Games saw……well, like a lot of cycling, really……but apparently there was also some gymnastics in there somewhere.

Qualification is complete on both the women’s and men’s sides, with Angelina Melnikova taking the top spot in the women’s all-around. Not much of a surprise, especially because Nina Derwael elected to compete only bars and beam here, eliminating what was probably her biggest competition.

It wasn’t an ideal day for Melnikova—all of her limbs went different directions on her front tuck through to double back on floor, taking her out of the event final there (sweetums…)—but she did enough on the other pieces to place first, advancing to the vault and beam finals as well. She’ll be the favorite in the AA final.

So, yeah, Melnikova brought back the two-foot layout because she hates me and you and arteries, but she also hit it this time. Ring some bells or whatever. If she hits that layout in the all-around final and the event final, you have to run naked through the streets.

Melnikova would have advanced to the bars final in addition to beam and vault, but she got one-per-country-ed out of the final because that’s a thing we have to deal with. One-per-country for event finals. Also only 6 people in each event final. And 18 people in the all-around final. NONE OF THESE ARE THE RULES.

Second position in all-around qualification went to Georgia-Mae Fenton, coming up only about a half point short of Melnikova. So I think that qualifies as the complete all-around performance we needed to see from her here. Despite getting one-per-ed out of the bars final by Becky Downie (grumble grumble), Fenton did manage to sneak into the beam final in a bit of a surprise and will be looking to have her Kinsella moment there, I suppose.

Continue reading European Games and Junior Worlds – Day 1