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.
But yes, Becky Downie hit in qualification and advanced to the bars final so it’s all going to be OK. She actually advanced in an unexpected first place because Nina Derwael had an issue in her routine (which sounds like it was a pause or extra swing toward the end, but I haven’t seen the routine), to take her all the way down to…….second. Actually a tie for first. Derwael will remain the favorite in the event final, but that final should deliver the goods. Iliankova, Alistratava, Visser, and Charpy round out the field there, with Varinska missing the final again as first alternate (though she did make it on beam).
In addition to bars, Charpy also qualified in second place on beam and third place in the all-around, so it proved to be a very successful day for her. She really couldn’t have asked for more. Charpy led beam qualification after the first subdivision, but she was out-touched by Nina’s performance in the second group.
Joining Derwael, Charpy, Melnikova, Varinska, and Fenton in the beam final will be Denisa Golgota, who will also put…mostly a check mark next to qualification because she reached the beam final and qualified in first place into the floor final. Done and done. Vault was actually the event that proved to be a problem for Golgota (Romania what) and she missed that final as a result even though I would have picked that as her most likely final to make, but she still managed to place 6th in the AA.
The rhyming Ukrainians Bachynska and Varinska placed 4th and 5th in the all-around, and in addition to Varinska’s venture into the beam final, Bachynska advanced to the floor final (just one-per-ing her teammate Radivilova out of the final by a tenth like a vicious monster).
With some of the favorites struggling on floor—along with the generally sad state of floor difficulty internationally right now (I said it)—we have a surprising and delightfully upside down slate of floor finalists with Jessica Castles, Adela Sajn, Aneta Holasova, and Anastasia Alistratava joining Golgota and Bachynska. There’s at least one total-upset medal to be won there, if not a couple.
Sara Peter leads the way among the vault finalists, just ahead of Marina Nekrasova, followed by Melnikova and Teja Belak. Gabriela Janik, and Ofir Netzer round out the field, though the first four are the ones boasting 5.4 Ds for their opening vaults, so three of three of that group should medal depending on who hits. Melnikova and Nekrasova have the total difficulty edge by a little pinch.
On the not-so-successful side of the day, Aleksandra Schekoldina had misses on beam and floor to take her all-around total well down, but she still qualified in 9th place for the final. Meanwhile, Naomi Visser missed on beam and scored multiple points lower than the totals she had been recording the last couple weeks. Ireland’s Emma Slevin just missed the all-around final as first alternate (both Irish gymnasts are first alternates to the AA finals—it’s the blight all over again), and Cintia Rodriguez didn’t make the AA either in a bit of a surprise.
The men! David Belyavskiy qualified in first into the AA final by about a billion points. He went at least 8.5 in E score on every event, so it was a successful day. He’ll also appear in the PH, PB, and HB finals and only misses the floor final because of one-per.
Belyavskiy was followed in qualification by Artur Davtyan (who had E scores over 9 on events that weren’t even vault), then Robert Tvorogal, Nestor Abad, and Vladislav Poliashov. behind Belyavskiy, however, this thing is very much open for the medals with more than a handful of realistic contenders.
Poliashov had rough ones on horse and vault that sent him down to fifth (and also has the disappointment of placing 2nd on PB but getting one-per-ed out of the final because he’s behind Belyavskiy), but he has the difficulty to medal in the final. Marious Georgiou had a couple struggle events as well, but we know he can medal with a clean day. Also keep Ferhat Arican and Giarnni Regini-Moran in mind, both of whom had horse disasters and still didn’t score that much lower than the 2-3 finishers even so.
And then there’s Oleg. Yes, Oleg tried to do the all-around, and it went OK in a couple places and not so much in some others. Dear heart, we’re still worried about you. The good ones are still good—he’s into the PH final in first place and advanced to the PB final—but some of the other ones still need 50 witch doctors.
Event qualification surprise: A miss from Artem Dolgopyat took him out of the floor final and meant that the Israeli men will have exactly the same number of gymnasts in finals as the Israeli women, one on vault. Would not have picked that coming in. Instead, Finland’s Emil Soravuo qualified in first place with this life-changing double double.
Dmitri Lankin and Giarnni Regini-Moran have the far superior difficulty and both advanced to the final as likely favorites…but Finland. Finland placed two people in the top four on floor. Finland.
On horse, Cyril Tommasone qualified just behind Verniaiev and will look to make a push for the gold there, and the rings field is as tightly packed as you would expect with Ait Said just in front of Radivilov and Colak. As long as Radivilov doesn’t have one of his “me tried, dismount clump clump” moments, he should medal there, but really his best hope is vault, where he qualified in first ahead of Lankin and Medvedev.
With Tin Srbic and the Dutch men not competing here, the HB final was always going to be anyone’s game because no one has truly gigantic D. Macchini qualified in first, just ahead of Belyavskiy, but everyone is packed within a couple tenths of difficulty. Ahmet Onder did manage to reach this HB final after getting one-per-ed out of PB by finishing behind Arican and just missing the PH qualifying cutoff, so that’s at least something.
European Games takes a break on Friday and resumes on Saturday with the all-around finals
Junior World Championship
Junior worlds opened with men’s qualification-that’s-also-the-all-around-and-team-final day. To make sure you’re not worried about them even though Kohei and Kenzo, Japan dominated the competition, winning the team gold by nearly three points and sweeping the top three spots in the all-around, with Oka Shinnosuke placing first, Doi Ryosuke placing second, and YOG champion Takeru Kitazono placing third (though because of two-per, the bronze medal went to Ilia Kovtun of Ukraine).
Ukraine will also be pleased with its result. Kovtun scored over 80 in the AA despite missing on his huge PH routine (and still making the final because D). That’s certainly the kind of AA score that would have put him on Ukraine’s worlds team last year, and this performance led the team to a 2nd-place finish behind Japan. Italy took the team bronze medal and, like Ukraine and Japan, also placed all three of its gymnasts in the top 12 all-around. Canada’s Felix Dolci, whom we’ve seen excel in some continental junior events recently finished 5th, also leading Canada to a very respectable 5th-place finish in the team competition as well. That’s a big result.
Meanwhile, the US team placed 7th, putting together some competitive numbers here and there on rings and vault but really struggling on pommel horse. The US did place Matt Cormier into the floor final and Garrent Braunton and Isaiah Drake into the rings final, so everyone still has something to do. The highest D score in that rings final will be 4.9 because babies. Russia took 9th place as a team, interestingly lacking the difficulty on floor and vault to make a major mark.
We continue tomorrow with women’s qualification/team/AA, and the US has confirmed its competitors will be the team as originally named—Blakely, Di Cello, and Barros.