Valentina: “Hold My Furs”

Not one to be outdone by a dramatic team announcement, Valentina Rodionenko immediately followed the US women’s worlds team announcement by emerging from a cloud of smoke going, “AND ALSO I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY,” revealing that Angelina Simakova has been removed from the Russian worlds team in favor of…dun dun dun…Maria Paseka.

So now the Russian squad is composed of Angelina Melnikova, Lilia Akhaimova, Aleksandra Schekoldina, Daria Spiridonova, Anastasia Agafonova, and Maria Paseka. We still don’t know what this means in terms of alternates, but we can hazard a guess.

Now only three of these six gymnasts…even…do floor?…so I’m thinking those three absolutely have to be on the team—Melnikova, Akhaimova, and Schekoldina. I’m already super excited at the idea of unearthing one of the others to do floor in qualification, but Russia could also just go 3-up, 3-count there. This was formerly a super strong Russian floor team, and it can still be strong, but only if those exact three are good to go. Otherwise disaster, with no alternate providing a safety net.

As for the other three, I don’t know why you would add Paseka to the team if she were just to be the alternate, so I’m thinking that either Spiridonova and Agafonova must be intended as the alternate, especially because they have the exact same strengths. Presumably the method for determining which one is the alternate will be as follows: Valentina throws a baby in between both of them, and whoever catches the baby is off the team because she doesn’t have the proper priorities.

Agafonova’s scores from the Paris World Cup were stronger than Spiridonova’s scores from Russian Cup, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Agafonova is NEW FAVORITE and gets named to the team.

Overall, this team just got a little more terrifying. If possible. There’s potential for a scoring upgrade if Paseka’s vaults are on track more than they were at Russian Cup, but no margin for error or injury on floor now. I also would have used Simakova on bars and…probably/maybe beam ish…and now you’re short an option and some potential tenths on both pieces.

France and Italy just got more excited about their chances, is what I’m saying.

Other team news

Australia named its WAG six as Georgia Godwin, Georgia-Rose Brown, Emma Nedov, Talia Folino, Kate McDonald, and Breanna Scott, but then Scott immediately had to withdraw due to injury and was replaced by Kate Sayer. Presumably Sayer is your alternate.

Belgium has named its WAG team as Nina Derwael, Maellyse Brassart, Jade Vansteenkiste, Margaux Daveloose, Senna Deriks, and Julie Vandamme, once again with the alternate to be decided later. Based on the meet in Germany, I’d say the alternate should be Vandamme (she didn’t rotate with the main team there and had some lower scores).

On the latest nominative roster update, Maria Pana has been slipped into Romania’s team in place of Iulia Berar. Pana’s scores at Romanian nationals were rather low, so I’d expect the team of five will now be Golgota, Crisan, Puiu, Holbura, and Ghiciuc, with Pana as the alternate, but we shall see. Romania things. Who knows. There will obviously be 7 hospitalizations before podium training.

Epke lives! Epke Zonderland, who was not originally on the nominative roster, has been added to the Dutch team of six.

Giulianna Pino—who competed at worlds in 2015 and then was on the UCLA roster for a couple years after that—has been added as Ecuador’s representative, replacing Genesis Gibson.

The nominative roster has also switched up the team for Mexico, putting Frida Esparza into the first five names and switching her with Jimena Gutierrez, who is now listed 6th. Based on Esparza’s bars routine from Guimaraes…yeah, she needs to be on that team.

Rounding up some other previous developments: Brazil confirmed that Carolyne Pedro is on the team of five while Leticia Costa is the traveling alternate, and Kelly Simm is the alternate for GB in place of the injured Amelie Morgan.

30 thoughts on “Valentina: “Hold My Furs””

  1. RU just want to say: “We got a Cheng on our team also” ;)….lol… well maybe even two if melnikova somehow pull out one?

    they also want to say: “we will raise the US on their slightly less than ideal 3rd and 4th routine in ub with 3up 3 count even in qualification”

    1. The thing is… the Paseka vault medal looks so not likely. Biles is 100% gold she has been consistently outscored by Carey all year, and even if she gets to her Euros level she could lose to a bunch of people – Yeo Seojeong has a 6.2 D vault now. Agafonova actually has a better shot at a bars medal than Paseka does at a vault medal, so unless Spiridonova is the alternate (or Shchekoldina but god forbid the thought), I don’t see how Paseka on the team is smart. Not that Valentina is smart.

      Also, @ anon up there: are you such a pressed little snowflake that you are coming at me even outside USA matters now? Poor baby. You really won’t survive the winter.

      1. (*anon down there, I sent this in the wrong box. Oops. I am sute the same anon will have something to say about it.)

      2. I just don’t quite get the paseka vt peak and trough. Has she had some injury recently? why can’t she maintain her vt form?

      3. I like Paseka in the vault field. She wasn’t on the 2018 team, so she can get a nominative spot here right? She just has to be the third eligible person in the final.

        Yeo, Giulia Steingruber, Chusovitina might qualify in the AA and not be eligible. Thus Jade or Mykayla and Paseka can get the nominative spot here right?

      4. Same anon I guess full team NOC are can’t qualify athletes via finals even if they were not part of the qualifying team. So Paseka needs the challenge cups or an earned NOC spot via euros or the AA world cup

  2. well, now maybe paseka has enough of vt left in her to finally give carey and skinner a real competition?

    1. No..Jade beat her with her DTY Cheng combo. Now that Jade’ Amanar is back. Maria is very unlikely to challenge Jade.

  3. Apparently Simakova got injured at the training camp, that’s why she was removed from the squad.

    1. if that’s the case, you really have to wonder what Paseka’s VT form is right now. That said, she always does seem to pull it out at Worlds….

  4. What if Rodionenko just accepted that Russia probably won’t get a team medal anyway? They are already qualified to the Olympics so it’s not that big of a deal.

    In this case she can bet on Melnikova for the AA, Paseka on vault, Spirodonova and/or Agafonova on bars, and Melnikova/Akhaimova on floor. If they hit, they MIGHT compete for individual medals. If they don’t, a disaster is a disaster and at least they would have tried.

    A reliable all-arounder maybe would have brought some tenths to the team, but none of the Russian all-arounders that didn’t make the team has the slightest chance for a medal, is what I am saying.

    Last year Russia got a team silver and no individual medal, maybe Rodionenko is trying the opposite strategy this year because there’s nothing to lose

    1. Given no Mai, Melnikova could definitely sneak on the podium if she hits, although not a guarantee. Paseka will hopefully be good for at least a bronze (anything less than a bronze would be a disaster for her.)

      Again, no Mai, so the that last spot for fx podium is wide open

      bars will be very interesting and close.

      i don;t imagine they are hoping for anything in beam final.

    2. It worked in 2015 (although I feel they DID expect a team medal and couldn’t fathom being beaten by GB in the last rotation).

      1. Probably because Russia never thinks about depth – I am pretty sure Nabs is resting mild injuries now and isn’t even close to worlds shape. But it’s possible she could’ve stayed on standby if Russia ever gave any encouragement or support to their B and C team gymnasts.

  5. I read Angelina Melnikova in the beginning and I was about to say… has she lost her actual mind?

  6. I actually think Paseka should be the alternate, and removing Simakova only to make Paseka the alternate would be standard Valentina fare anyway. Having both Spiridonova and Agafonova on the team adds more tenths than Paseka’s vault, specially if she is still looking like she did in Russian Cup. What the hell happened to Simakova, though?

    1. (Why does WordPress keep sending my comments as anon despite saying I am logged in? LET ME SPEAK)

    2. RU probably care less about the team medal right now anyway and is trying to maximize individual medals.

    1. I was hoping for a Sophie Marois late addition when I saw she was competing in Portugal last weekend but alas, she doesn’t seem to have her DTY back.

      1. Do yourself a favour and learn how Canadians actually use the term “eh” – the example above is not it. It’s not randomly used everywhere, it’s used to confirm agreement.

        From a Canadian who does even use the term but wishes Americans could at least get their Canadian stereotypes correct

  7. I don’t think there is a Russian contending for the podium in AA … I guess it’s Simone, Sunisa, MDJDS, Ellie Black, Georgia Villa?

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