The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Live From Worlds – Podium Training Day 1

It’s happening. I’ll be here in the arena in Stuttgart for the entirety of today’s women’s podium training, featuring the first 6 subdivisions—the teams from Australia, Ukraine, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Egypt, South Korea, North Korea, France, Romania, China, and Canada.

I’m not going to follow routines skill-by-skill like in a competition live blog because…it’s podium training. You hop off and do parts and go three or four times. But I’ll let you know what I’m seeing rotation by rotation, and of course if anything interesting happens.

Subdivision 1

Teams: Australia, Ukraine
Key individuals: Ting Hua Tien (TPE), Yamilet Peña (DOM), Rifda Irfanaluthfi (INA), Marina Nekrasova (AZE)

OK we’re seeing Yamilet Peña attempt the double front again so far. It did not go great. Sat right down.

Bachynska put up a good routine on the bars but couldn’t get her double arabian dismount.

Varinska hit a comfortable, complete set in her first go on bars.

My brain: “Whoever is on beam for Australia right now has such a pretty beam routine.” My other brain: “Emma Nedov, dumbass.”

Marina Nekrasova has been struggling on a handspring front layout full on vault. Sat it down a couple times.

Impressed by how solid Australia looked on beam in that first rotation. I didn’t see any falls, and that’s a huge win for an Australia beam podium training.

Saw two double front attempts from Peña overall, neither close to landed.

In rotation two, Diana Varinska went up to do a beam routine, did a back handspring to NOPPPPEEEE and hopped right off with a tuck back because Ukraine beam podium training. Bachynska looked really nice in her first full set though.

Very secure tumbling from Folino on floor, including a stuck double pike to finish as her floor music kind of has a built-in round of applause and same.

Godwin had a couple iffy landings on her double front and DLO in her run through, but nothing major on either. Significantly, both her wolf triple and Y double would get credit if she does them like that in competition, which is super important for her D.

Georgia-Rose Brown being all lovely with her Memmel turn as always.

Bachynska and Varinska exchanged roles in their second times through beam, Bachysnka looking more unsure and Varinska more solid.

In rotation 3, we have Australia’s fulls on vault, which may end up being the weakness for this team. Godwin’s Tsuk full the most under control for them.

Some landing struggles for Ukraine on floor in their run throughs – Varinska all OOB though it wasn’t really like she was trying not to be – you know the story. Bachynska short on some passes, not super comfortable with those landings – and then a really rough double back.

It has been a fall fest for TPE on bars in this rotation.

Some hopping off bars for Australia in this rotation – Folino and Nedov, and Nedov needed a major spot on her double front dismount and is now having a chat with Mihai about it. Lots of trying to be really precise on cast handstands and going over or back the other way.

Nice Tkatchev from Kate McDonald.

Ting Hua Tien just did a fab beam rotuine.

Varinska really struggling with her Y1.5 on vault, has sat it down twice. On third vault fall, she just walks off the mat on her knees because of I CANNOT.

Subdivision 2

Subdivision 2 started 8 minutes early, and I have some choice feelings about that. So apologies for missing the beginning. Jessica was trying to get me to talk to athletes, and obviously that wasn’t going to happen, I mean come on.

Belgium is charming the crap out of everyone on floor, same old, same old. The level of chin-up, performing directly as the judges is so much higher than anyone we saw in the first subdivision.

Toni-Ann Williams performing strong Yfulls just 7 months post-surgery.

Jade Vansteenkiste is a lion that eats a fly at the beginning of her routine, as we’ve seen. Little difficulty in the tumbling but performed solidly. She does the two-handed version of Eythora’s one-armed rip my own face off from her 2015 routine.

Senna Deriks went last in the order, after Vansteenkiste, so perhaps we’re reading into that that she is indeed the alternate?

As if there was any doubt, the Jamaica/Sweden mixed group is officially the cool kids table.

Also, there’s a robot camera with a mind of its own rolling around the arena.

Killer DLO from Aneta Holasova on floor, and the full parade from Belgium on vault.

Danusia is working Jam to piked Jaeger, and it was excellent!

Adlerteg got through her full routine, nearly got wonky on her Bhardwaj but got it – lovely stuck DLO.

Nina has been working FTYs that are…fine. No major issue but knees and landing deductions.

Strong Hindorff from Toni-Ann Williams, short DLO with a lunge.

A dismount issue or two from the early Belgians on bars. Once again impressed by Toni-Ann Williams and her current level.

Nina time on bars – nabieva – Derwael-Fenton to yezhova to stalder shap to pak to van leeuwen – toe full to FTDT, nailed it. Awesome.

Danusia going on beam at the same time, looking very confident and pristine. Saves a Y turn with a little characteristic styling it out – successfully completes her dismount onto the little mat with an intentional hop back.

Other than an iffy double front or two on bars, Belgium loooking strong. Nice height on these piked jaegers and precise-looking handstands, even though I’m at a bad angle for bars handstands.

Francis does stick her dismount combination on her second routine.

Toni-Ann Williams is working her DLO on floor again here starting the 4th rotation warmup.

Lovely Memmel turn from Jessica Castles in her turn.

Four hit routines in PT from Danusia, had a very strong day. She looks really in form.

Oof. Toni-Ann Williams took a front tuck through to full in right to her hands and knees. Muscle massage for her after some of those landings. Oh also she did the most hilarious thing when trying that full in combo again where she was off out of the front tuck so she turned it into a cartwheel starfish beauty pose.

Interesting that on the first beam runthrough, when everyone else for Belgium was doing full routines, Nina just got up and did like two skills. Full routines are for peasants.

Subdivision 3

Chuso is starting us off with a dance through on floor. Meaning, she’s just running from corner to corner and spotting where her leaps would be and doing the robot for a second. Oh Chuso. I wonder if she gets an “Oh Chuso” pass on artistry deductions.

Seitz nailing a bars routine is the first “round of applause from the crowd” moment we’ve had in podium training. And by crowd, I mean the volunteers and media because of professionalism.

Scheder had a couple more breaks in her routine than we were accustomed to in her best routines when she had all the training time in the world, but she works through a couple leg breaks and an arched handstand to hit a routine. Should be big D score.

Bogi is here on the floor with Chuso because I know the things you’re truly interested in.

Kim Bui just hit a much stronger routine on the bars than when we saw her at the meet in Worms—I was kind of worried about that one—though her dismount is just a double pike.

Kharenkova on beam is deep on a punch front – bhs bhs layout and pops off because Komova feelings – some beautiful mixed series work –

All the Germans as going through and doing their most difficult releases, we’re seeing a couple misses there.

Chuso doing handpsring timers and various variations on vault because homegirl doesn’t need to train you guys.

Petz keeping it going from this summer/fall with a super solid beam routine, but she needs a spot on her double tuck dismount.

Chuso does a rudi with a spot! Lands it on her back but also wasn’t trying to land it on her feet really. You know that. She does another one with a really good landing. Getting some coach help off the table though.

Pauline Schaefer is here and I saw her warming up the Schaefer on floor before this rotation started, but she hasn’t gone in the actual rotation for Germany on beam.

Kharenkova did a dance through on floor –

Chuso working Tsuk doubles now after the rudis. Not sure about the landing.

Now Schaefer is getting a shot to go on beam at the end of warmup – a little bit of walking through her routine, but doing the big name skills – looked good. Germany definitely working through all the allotted time to hone bits and pieces on beam.

Schaefer got to do beam a couple times at the end of the rotation, and it looked good. Just to prepare you with your talking points if Germany effs up beam in qualification.

Hearing from FIG that Emelie Petz has the only newly submitted skill in today’s podium training.

I don’t like the look of Chuso wearing these warmup pants as they rotate to bars. GIRL WE NEED YOU TO DO AA.

OK Voss just did the most hilarious fake wolf turn triple on floor.

Phew, looks like Chuso is going to step up on bars.

Seitz landed a bit short on a double pike in her floor set, but otherwise she has looked ready.

Bui looked good on floor – got a spot on her DLO but solid landings.

Chuso has been compulsively removing all the chalk from the bars for the last 45 minute so that she can go.

Scheder’s leaps on floor truly are glorious. Schaefer also gets a shot to go 6th on floor. She looks like she’s hurting, but her passes were not bad.

Chuso’s bars dismount looked good – otherwise she’s just popping in with bits and pieces here and there. A clear hip, a giant. You know, Chuso bars.

Let’s see – rotation 4 – we’ve got Chuso punch fronting to her heart’s content on beam.

Seitz jusssssst pulled around a DTY with a lunge back. Her second attempt was stronger.

Overall, I thought Germany looked strong. Not the cleanest day through, but definitely the content to get through to the Olympics and challenge for a place in TF if another power ends up looking blech.

Subdivision 4

So, the big routine to watch out for in this subdivision is Yeo Seojeong’s vault in the second rotation of course, although I’m just fascinated to see the North Koreans do anything always because I’m not sure who about 3.5 of them are.

No secret bhs lay fulls in this North Korean beam rotation, but I am seeing some lovely ring elements, nearly a 1/3 of them even kept on the beam.

South Korea is winning the NCAA award for loudest teammates during floor routines. I’m very worried about the credit for these turns in this rotation, because I see a lot of D attempts that I’m bumping down to Bs.

North Korea is the only team I’ve seen so far wearing their numbers in podium training, which is optional. Every once in a while, oppressive regimes really get things right, is what I’m saying.

Seriously, North Korea has some GLORIOUS dance elements on beam, there’s just a 0% chance they’re going to hit them.

First vault we saw from Yeo Seojeong was a rudi. Will keep watching to see if we’re treated to the Yeo. The rudi looked strong, one of the better rudis, which you would expect because of 2/1.

Yeo vaulted the rudi on her second go as well.

North Korea is on floor. I wouldn’t say anyone is reaching Hong Un Jong levels of background music, but most of this team is definitely not going to be bothered to have a facial expression with you.

Yeo has moved onto DTYs now.

Most of North Korea is opening floor with full ins, we’ve seen a couple with hands down.

#694 for North Korea literally just chilled in the corner for 13 seconds before her final pass.

Marcia Vidiaux is working her side jumps on beam. It’s beautiful, when she keeps it on the beam.

OOOOH! Yeo did a handspring 2/1 at the end of the rotation! She got it around with some very attentive coaches. It doesn’t look like it feels great. But she did land it.

One more try, and she landed it again! That one was a bit better too. Let’s hope we see it, but I could definitely see going for the rudi in qualification and saving the Yeo for finals.

Lee Yun Seo needed a spot on a Shap 1/2 with destroyed her momentum and she had to readjust, but the rest was glorious. We’ve had some, uh, falls from the rest of the group.

So. Went on break for the final rotation of this subdivision because it happens. Meet back here for Subdivision 5, deal? Deal.

Subdivision 5

Dinner break complete in the nick of time! I am fully chesseburgered up and realy for subdivision 5! France and Romania! Romania is on bars……

France has Boyer starting on bars, successfully completed routine, followed by Charpy who was stellar on a double front, a little short on a couple other passes. Friess opens with a double arabian,

Romania on bars. It was Romania on bars fro sure, but we’ve definitely seen worse. They stayed on for the most part. Puiu went over on a handstand and Crisan took a pak too close to the bar and had to improvise a hip circle, but it wasn’t a trainwreck. Golgota looked solid.

Melanie opens with a FTDLO, spooted but landed – full in, chest down – front layout stepout to double tuck – double pike, deep with a stumble back. So not her best landings, but it’s PT. And the world of the arena is living for this highenergy routine.

Pontlevoy up 5th in the order for France. Her choreography has a lot of potential, just needs a little more time in developing her facial presentation. Serber going up 6th for France, hands down on a full in.

Maria Pana is on the floor with Romania but in warmups and not working bars with the rest of the group.

Slovenia is very neon today. That is what I have to say. It’s a little “a wetsuit that Zack Morris would wear.” Meanwhile Venezuela is just draped in the national flag USA-96 style.

Onto rotation 2, Puiu with some pretty leaps on beam. Stays on. Cool gainer 2/1 dismount.

Golgota hits her beam set. Sticks a double tuck dismount. A good one for her.

Aline Friess hits a rudi on vault, a pace back and some legs but a very useful vault overall.

Melanie sits down her first DTY attempt of the rotation.

Pretty solid beam rotation from Romania. I believe Crisan fell (I looked back and saw her getting back up on the beam mid routine), but that would be the only miss.

I believe it is Pontlevoy we see vaulting doubles, but they’ve been a struggle. Will be interesting to see whether they go for that in TF versus a full.

Melanie hit her second attempt at a DTY, still a bit of an issue with a bounce back.

So Romania all did one routine with their teammates on the podium, and now they’re going through the rotation with everyone off the podium like it will be in competition. Puiu hit again. Golgota came off on her wolf turn this time. Crisan stayed on in her second beam, just a large break on her side somi.

Melanie’s third DTY was her best, step back, chest down.

Oh Denisa. This wolf turn. We’re going to need to talk.

Ghiciuc hands down on a double tuck on floor.

A good hit on bars for Friess to lead off France’s rotation. Charpy fell on a Ricna on her subsequent set, which was a bit unexpected from her.

Melanie’s bars set – Galante to Pak – Maloney to Bhardwaj, lovely – Van Leeuwen – front giant full – fall on DLO 1/1 dismount, sat it down. It’s just PT, but she won’t be happy with some of these routines today.

They played the wrong music for Golgota at first and the music they played sounded like a hideous swarm of bees. Her look toward the music people was priceless. Fully straddled DLO.

Pontlevoy up for France – inbar full to Komova to Ricna, good – Pak to Stalder Shap 1/2 – piked jaeger, a little close – double front, nice tight tuck and stuck. Strong overall, and she showed her difficulty.

Charpy does a second bars routine and hits her Ricna, close this time, safe, correcting the other direction.

They’ve scheduled a special Simone press conference tomorrow for the same time as Netherlands podium training. Sorry Simone, we love you, but we don’t love you “missing Eythora’s floor” much.

France moves to beam in the final rotation – Charpy did well enough, though a little more tentative in her leaps than usual and short on her double pike.

Melanie just nailed an exceptionally solid beam routine. Nice way to finish a day she won’t be extremely pleased with overall. If she repeats this beam in competition, she would be over the moon.

Some really straddled fulls on vault from Romnia, but Golgota is hitting her DTY well.

Boyer a littel wobbly here and there on her beam but nothing individually major. She did amazingly well to hit her layout with only a small check because she was really off. Great presence.

Friess good height on her layout on beam, just does keep it on the beam. Pontlevoy follows Friess, and hits another strong set, some form things, but pretty confident. I’ve been impressed by her today.

Oh hey there Adela Sajn doing bars.

OK so. France had some iffy moments here and there, though nothing I would be worried about. Normal podium training stuff. Romania had a pretty nice time on beam all things considered, and with not toooo many issues on bars, I think they’ll be sold on today. There are still too many low scores and straddled Yfulls to hold out much hope for Olympic qualification, but in terms of meeting their potential as a team, I mean.

Subdivision 6

Very interested to see China’s DTYs in this session.

Yile stuck FTY, but pretty piked. Zhang going in the alternate position with a good DTT, pace back.

OK, saw a hit DTY from TXJ, some chest down. LSJ hit, a bit better chest position than Tang I’d say. Tingting struggled more on hers, a deep landing and a lunge back, but it was a hit DTY.

Qi Qi throws out a rudi after her handspring timers, and it’s pretty nice with a bit of a spot. Pace backward.

Not worried about China’s vaulting based on this. I see three very TF-able vaulters here.

Canada on bars – nice work in the first run-throughs – I did see Woo miss a had on a Pak at one point. Ellie did Ellie and was Ellie.

Tingting crashes her third attempt at a DTY after hitting the first two. Will be interesting to see if they have her go for it even if they don’t intend it to be a counting score for the team.

Li Shijia and Tang Xijing keep alternating quality with each round of DTYs, but both are looking consistent for E scores over 9.

I love how Chen did one Yfull and they were like, “And you’re done” while everyone else is vaulting a ton.

Oof. Qi Qi’s second rudi was not successful, did not get enough block and landed it to her elbows. Qi Qi’s rudi may be like the Jiang Yuyuan’s Amanar of this generation, isn’t it?

Ana Padurariu is going to finish out this rotation for Canada by going up and doing some bits and pieces again – with inbar 1/2 to piked jaeger with a pause – then worked some inbars, lots of elbows. She’s not looking quite 100% there.

Qi Qi did a third rudi that was solid, chest down, little hop.

Padurariu just catches an inbar piked tkatchev in going up again.

In rotation 2, Rose Woo hit her routine with one large break. Brooklyn was being all lovely and then fell on choreography because such is life. And then another fall on a die somi.

Chen Yile hit her bars set with a bit of an adventure on her FTDT dismount. Tang Xijing was quite nice, lunge forward on DLO.

Ellie black had a few medium-major checks in her beam routine but stayed on.

Padurariu’s side aerial to loso loso series was its own adventure, but she stayed on –

Tingting went over on a handstand on bars, but then also stopped her routine right after that, so it may have been an “i’m just done at this point” kind of thing. Small hesitation for LSJ on the low bar in her set, but she got through it.

Shallon going 5th for Canada on beam, won’t go in qualification but just to get a routine in. Her Onodi is nice, you guys.

Qi Qi goes up 5th on bars, and they won’t compete her here because she doesn’t have the D, but she hit her set. Zhang up in the 6th spot as alternate fell on a Gienger.

China doing second runthroughs on bars – Chen gets stuck on a Ling attempt (?) and stops mid-pirouette and hops off.

Qi Qi is the designated bars prepper and has to be lifted up to the high bar to get it ready for her teammates, and it’s brilliant.

Tang Xijing very comfortable second routine.

Tingting up 3rd for China – better than her previous routine – though she was going to have an issue on one pirouette but pulled it back.

Li Shijia 4th for China on bars – she can’t get up to handstand on her opening E pirouette and pops off the bar. We’ve had some issues for China in this rotation, but also some great moments. It’s TXJ who has been the rock so far. Li tried again and fell on a Gienger.

This is the first rotation of the whole day where we’ve seen teams take the whole 27 minutes. Ana padurariu trying to perfect beam right down to the wire and LSJ trying to perfect bars. She finally gets a full hit routine on her 4th try.

Nice double double front Shallon on floor, better than it has looked sometimes –

Wow, looks like Tingting is legitimately the first up for China on beam. She fell on her fhs front tuck. The rest was lovely, no dismount.

Moors with a Podkopayeva to stag jump, chest down but still. All the pain of all the nations – front 2/1 to front full, good stick – obviously perfect in every sense, and while that was happening, Chen Yile hit a very solid beam routine. She was following Tang, who was a rock again. She’s having a good day of training.

Li Shijia went up and fell on a side aerial, so all is lost. She’s even just a little bit tight in her side leaps, when typically they are ideal.

Qi Qi went up 5th and Zhang Jin 6th on beam as expected, Qi Qi as the one who won’t beam in qualification and Zhang as the alternate. Both did quite well.

Tingting hit her fhs front tuck on her second routine.

Chen Yile added back the 3/1 beam dismount on her second run-through, just did…kind of…get it around.

Li Shijia worked it out on her second beam routine.

Only one more rotation!

Qi Qi’s double double looks strong.

Ellie Black nailed a handspring front 1/1 obviously.

Tang Xijing in her runthrough did the most hilarious Chinese 3/1 to punch front where she got one inch off the ground but it worked.

LSJ with a 3/1 to stag, hit – 2.5 to front pike, sat it down. She is not having a great day of PT and it might be my fault.

Shallon Olsen did a Cheng, and it sure was…something. She landed it.

Brooklyn Moors jusssst did manage to hit a handspring layout full, deep landing but not a fall.

Tingting pulls out of her first pass – Qi Qi is in her winter coat while waiting to go. Also, this arena is 100 million degrees. Tingting just doing a dance through here.

Now it’s Qi Qi on floor – struggles more with the double double in the runthrough than she did warming up passes, lands it low – full-in, stuck, chest down – 3/1, sits it down. Oof.

Floor did not look ideal for China with falls from Qi Qi and LSJ.

Chen up 5th on FX with a 3/1, sits down her 2.5 to front tuck – full spot on double tuck – arm grab to keep her upright.

OK. I’m out. There we go. See you tomorrow.

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