Category Archives: Meet Recap

Pan-American Worlds Qualification

The first day of women’s competition at Pan Ams—which doubles as world championship qualification—is in the books, and we have a semi-major development: Brazil’s 1st-place finish over the United States.

Brazil went 161.967 with one counting fall—compared to the US on 160.466 with two counting falls—the difference maker being beam, beam, and more beam. Brazil’s three counting performances were exquisite (and even Pedro’s leadoff miss showed lovely form), with Flavia Saraiva staying on the apparatus and therefore scoring exactly one million points, Rebeca Andrade performing confidently to go over 14 as well, and the less-discussed Julia Soares showing she can keep up with both of them with her routine that displayed wonderful rhythm and execution. 

Brazil also outscored the United States on vault, both teams bringing two DTYs to the party, though struggled to some extent on bars and floor. On bars, the first two gymnasts fell in a rotation that desperately needed to be saved by Andrade’s exceptional routine, which nearly went 9 in E score. A fairly OOBish floor rotation could have used that same saving, but Andrade previous announced that she is not performing floor at this year’s competition. Rather, Saraiva recorded Brazil’s best floor score on her way to winning the continental AA title.

As for the US women, they performed three events and also beam to finish in a comfortable but uninspiring second place. Today’s 160.466 is about 4.5 points down on what the DTB Pokal team did (McClain, Frazier, Sullivan. Blakely, Matthews) and about 3.5 points down on what the Jesolo team did (McClain, Jones, Frazier, Mueller, Miller), so not an awesome day in the scope of this year’s US performances but more than sufficient for the given purposes.

Things started acceptably on bars in the first rotation, where Miller led the team thanks to her stratospheric D score, followed by Blakely with one of her more comfortable recent bars sets. DiCello had a little bit of trouble, with a pause in casting up after her Church and another handstand issue, but ended up with a mostly equivalent execution score to the others.

Then, nearly everything fell into a garbage pail in the second rotation, when only Lexi Zeiss was able to stay on the beam, a feat which carried her to the all-around silver medal and the deeply unofficial US MVP award I just invented. Mueller came off on a side aerial in the leadoff spot, DiCello fell on her bhs loso loso series and later grabbed the beam on her side jump 1/2 (#thenewtechniqueisharderyall), and Blakely fell on her fhs front tuck series—though does get points for a smoothly accidental wolf 2.5 correction off the top.

Floor was the strongest and most comfortable event of the day for the US, with DiCello demonstrating excellent control in her landings for the top score and Blakely showing a useful 5.7 D score with a DLO 1/1 and a DLO. Most of the team went over 8 in execution, so they’ll take that. On vault, Zeiss was once again the leader with her solid DTY, while Blakely landed short on her own DTY with a lunge, and DiCello downgraded to the full after missing her double at selection.

So that happened. But it was just the appetizer, and we’ll see a rematch of this Brazil/USA showdown in Sunday’s team final at 10am local Rio time. Which really could go either way depending on who stays on more apparatuses.

Finishing an easy 3rd in team qualification was Canada, which started off trying to mimic the US’s rough time on beam but righted things for competitive results on the remaining three events. Because Canada competed at the same time as Brazil, the stream was like, “Which is a Canada?” and we have no idea what these routines looked like, but check mark for worlds qualification.

Also putting a check mark next to worlds qualification in the final rotation were Argentina in 4th and Mexico in the 5th and final spot. Argentina should be quite pleased about finishing ahead of Mexico and making it a fairly anxiety-free experience by outscoring next-best rival Colombia on every event and by more than six points overall. Mexico had some iffy moments in there, featuring three scores in the 9s that needed to be dropped, but ultimately finished right with Argentina, with none of the other teams coming close enough to challenge.

In the all-around, 11 spots at worlds were available for the women. With the top 13 in the all-around all coming from qualifying teams, the individual spots began with Tyesha Mattis (formerly of GB and now representing Jamaica) in 14th place and went from there. The full list is in the chart below. Just missing out on qualification to worlds by one spot was Olivia Kelly, who represents Barbados and made noise in the first subdivision with her lovely beam.

August 11-14
United States
Tyesha Mattis (JAM)
Laura Pardo (COL)
Ana Karina Mendez (PER)
Antonia Marihuan (CHI)
Ginna Escobar (COL)
Milca Leon (VEN)
Franchesca Santi (CHI)
Alais Perea (ECU)
Annalise Newman-Achee (TTO)
Franciny Morales (CRC)
Karla Navas (PAN)
South Korea
Aida Bauyrzhanova (KAZ)
Rifda Irfanaluthfi (INA)
Milka Gehani (SRI)
Dildora Aripova (UZB)
Nadine Joy Nathan (SGP)
Ominakhon Khalilova (UZB)
Korkem Yerbossynkyzy (KAZ)
Sasiwimon Mueangphuan (THA)
AfricaEgyptCaitlin Rooskrantz (RSA)
Naveen Daries (RSA)
Fatma Boukhatem (ALG)
Lahna Salem (ALG)
OceaniaAustraliaKeira Rolston-Larking (NZL)
Reece Cobb (NZL)

Men’s qualification will conclude later in the day with the final subdivision. There are 4 team spots available for the men, and the US currently leads qualification, followed by Canada and Colombia as expected. The final subdivision features Brazil, which should qualify comfortably, and Mexico trying to beat out Colombia for that final spot.


National Team Update — Europe & Africa


In the absence of the banned Russian team, the Italians continue to be the class of European gymnastics, dominating this week’s Mediterranean Games with gold in every discipline along with silver in the AA and on bars, beam, and floor. Martina Maggio and Asia D’Amato have been the team’s clear scoring leaders in 2022, both leaving the Mediterranean Games with 3 golds and 2 silvers. Giorgia Villa—who has competed only bars and beam so far this year—added a bars gold to Italy’s haul, and first-year senior Angela Andreoli, who already seems to have carved out a regular spot for herself in the D’Amato-Villa-Maggio government, took vault bronze.

All of which amounts to the Italians heading into August’s European Championship as the lightly-set favorite for team gold with the highest scoring potential among the attending squads. Even when using only scores from multi-nation competitions and eliminating some obviously inflated numbers from Serie A, the Italians still have the highest-scoring team in Europe, though not by a large margin over the British. The budding Italian/British rivalry that was born of Great Britain’s 4-tenth victory in the race for Olympic bronze should be reignited in Munich.  

Great Britain
Current news from the world of British gymnastics primarily concerns absences. The team-leading Gadirovas were not named to the English squad for the Commonwealth Games after pulling themselves out of consideration, electing instead to prepare for meets like the European Championship. Their absences will allow for a newly competing again Claudia Fragapane—as well as fellow veteran Kelly Simm—to see if they can use the CWG to make a case for their returns to major British teams.

Becky Downie’s Achilles tear, which will keep her out of this year’s major competitions, is a blow, and with Amelie Morgan at Utah, the current British group is in the deeply unusual position of needing to bolster its bars scores. Beam is scoring better than bars right now. The world is shaken. That probably means a significant place on teams this year for the oft-overlooked Georgia-Mae Fenton (who is now the top-scoring, actually healthy British bars worker), but it could also mean an opening for Simm, who has always counted bars as her best event.

The French team—absent Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos and this year’s scoring leader Aline Friess—nonetheless took a solid second to the Italians at the Mediterranean Games and survived a potentially devastating injury scare to Lorette Charpy, who will have to miss next weekend’s national championship but is not supposed to be out for an extended period.

Also absent from the start list for nationals is De Jesus Dos Santos, who was last seen having perfect form at WCC. When DJDS is back, the French team will have a very competitive case to challenge Italy and Great Britain, at least as long as the federation doesn’t self-sabotage itself too hard. With De Jesus Dos Santos, Friess, Heduit, Charpy, and perhaps Devillard vaulting or Boyer beaming (or veteran Morgane Osyssek, who was part of the Mediterranean team and is having her most competitive season), the scores are there on all four events.

Last weekend’s German Championship provided an opportunity to get the classic gang back together—while showing that they’re still the best in the country and should be named to all the teams with little anxiety wasted over the decision. Sarah Voss took the all-around championship and vault title, Kim Bui won the bars and floor titles and placed second in the all-around, Pauline Schaefer won beam, and Elisabeth Seitz took second on bars with a majorly downgraded routine in her two-event performance. All four continue to be leagues ahead of the rest of the German elites, even when not fully back or competing all the events. The lack of challenge they face from the newer athletes will be a problem when they retire, but as long as they never do, everything is roses.

Among the next generation, I’d consider Emma Malewski the current frontrunner. She took third in the all-around at nationals sporting a very compelling 13.350 on beam that day. Germany is always looking for someone to provide a useful third beam score to go with Schaefer and Voss, and right now that person looks like Malewski.

The current [eyes emoji][squiggle mouth emoji] personal situation at the national team notwithstanding, last weekend’s Dutch Championship did produce some encouraging performances for the Netherlands in the hope that the squad can keep up its current status as a regular team-final challenger. Naomi Visser put in a dominant showing to win nearly every title available, and Shadé van Oorschot proved with her all-around bronze that she could be a legitimate new contender for major teams in the absence of the Weverseseses and with Thorsdottir slowly returning. 

Thorsdottir came back to show work-in-progress beam and floor routines at nationals, falling a few times on beam and performing a floor routine that was mostly about emoting and not so much about the D score. When Thorsdottir is in full form, there will remain a spot for her on Dutch teams because she does gymnastics correctly, but as of nationals she’s not currently showing the routines that would put her on a team.

In terms of those who are currently contributing scores along with Visser and van Oorschot, Sanna Veerman didn’t have an awesome national championship on bars, her best event, but she has scored 14 a couple times so far this year, which the Netherlands needs. Tisha Volleman continues to be a stalwart presence as well, so with them, the Netherlands should still consider itself a continental contender with scores this year that are on par with the German team in that tier right below Italy, GB, and France.

Worlds watch
At the Mediterranean Games, the Turkish women put up a solid fight to finish fourth, not too far behind the bronze medalists Spain, which bodes well for their chances to qualify a full team to worlds this year in the crucible of insanity that will be the race for the final few team places from Europe.

There are 13 team spots available at worlds for countries from Europe, and nine obvious frontrunners for those spots: Italy, Great Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary, Belgium, Spain, and Romania.

Yes, Belgium’s scores have been a bit lower this year without Derwael, the same goes for Spain without Ana Perez or Roxana Popa or Cintia Rodriguez, and Romania is *gestures at 2015-2021* and all, but these nine countries should have the depth and quality of believable routines to make a 24-team worlds without an excess of drama.

That would leave four remaining team spots up in the air. If not for the everything, I’d consider Ukraine as one of the frontrunners as well, but much will depend on whether they go and the athlete availability and training situation.

Then there’s a nation like Switzerland, which is always part of the in-crowd but has more or less not competed this year. Finland has seen Maisa Kuusikko put up some gigantic scores and actually has a peak team total that would challenge the likes of Spain (probably unrealistic, but top 13 is viable), while Norway has been recording some of its best-ever results as world cups lately. Then you have Sweden, which should be in the conversation on talent, though Sweden always seems to be like, “We’ll send zero-point-three gymnasts to this meet instead of five because we hate them.”

But given the scores we’ve seen from Turkey both at world cups and the Mediterranean Games, this team should be at least amid that group of challengers, if not above. A big factor in Turkey’s favor is…actually having the requisite number of athletes to provide scores on each event, which is not an inconsequential consideration this year. There are a number of countries like Slovenia that would actually have the scores to contend, as long as they have three bars and floor routines.


Worlds watch
The Mediterranean Games also provided a look at the current state of Team Egypt as we head into next week’s African Championship, where one team spot for worlds will be available. Right now, Egypt and South Africa look pretty neck-and-neck for it given their results this year. 

Egypt took 6th place at the Mediterranean Games with a full team (which did not include Nancy Taman, whose vault you’d consider a necessity if she’s healthy), recording scores that would be about 1.5 behind the composite of what we’ve seen from the best South African athletes at various world cups so far this year. Which is basically just a single beam disaster.

South Africa has sent 11 different athletes to world cup events this year, which is an encouraging level of depth that presents a number of different, equivalently scoring options for a team. Olympians Caitlin Rooskrantz and Naveen Daries remain the top two athletes for South Africa, and you’d probably want to add the vault and floor scores put up by newer senior Garcelle Napier in Varna. We’ve also seen a countable bars score from Tamsyn Bessit in Koper and a useful beam score from Shante Koti and bars score from Caelin Mayers in Osijek, all providing realistic options. But you’ve got to pick five.

Last time around for Olympic qualification, there was a live stream of the African Championship, but we shall see this time. The precedent for continental championships in 2022 has not been encouraging.


What Happened At the World Cup? Koper Day 2 Recap

Men’s Vault

The men’s vault final successfully fulfilled the prophecy, with half the competitors staying upright and half of them, well…we’ll always have Paris.

The two world-final-level vaulters rose to the top here, with Andrei Medvedev taking gold and Courtney Tulloch taking silver, each showing two 5.6 vaults. Medvedev’s landings proved a little stronger, particularly on his handspring front double pike with only a minimal hop back. Tulloch successfully completed a Dragulescu and Tsuk double pike but was pretty deeply crunched in his double pike landing and wasn’t going to get the execution scores to match Medvedev.

Canada’s Felix Dolci came through with a bronze, completing a solid Kas 2/1 for 5.6 D, a vault that will help his quest to emerge as Canada’s new top all-arounder. He did land a bit lock legged on his double front second vault, but it was fine. The only other real hitter in the final was one half of Romania’s only hope for continuing to have a men’s gymnastics program, Gabriel Burtanete, who performed well, but with two 5.2 vaults, didn’t have the difficulty to get into the medals.

Meanwhile, what you’re really here for with the men’s vault final: Ondrej Kalny squirted sideways on an underrotated Kas 2/1 and slid into the gutter, Riley Loos’s attempt to become the Holy Grail—a US men’s team member with an actual 5.6 vault—hit a literal stumbling block on a handspring 2.5, and William Emard directly connected a handspring double front to butt bounce.

My favorite part is how he still tries to show control on the landing after the butt bounce. Gotta minimize those deductions.

Balance Beam

Hit for the win! As is our only expectation for beam finals at a world challenge cup, staying on the apparatus was the standard for winning a medal in this final as, unfortunately, the majority of competitors suddenly found themselves performing inside the concept of ennui. These things can happen.

Continue reading What Happened At the World Cup? Koper Day 2 Recap

What Happened at the World Cup? Koper Day 1 Recap

One month post-Tokyo, gymnastics is officially back for a competition with exactly equal significance to the Olympics: the Koper Slovenia World Challenge Cup. So let’s find out who earned eternal glory for themselves and their nations on the first day of finals.

Men’s Floor

Despite perpetually looking like he has just been sent to apologize for Chernobyl, Russia’s Kirill Prokopev earned the gold medal (or, at least, the clear circle assigned to the winner) on floor. Prokopev boasted the highest difficulty score in the final and matched that with among the strongest execution performances, showing off his flares-but-make-it-interesting, along with mostly solid landings and just one plate tectonics event on a double double.

That was enough to put him ahead of Canada’s resident Super Ball William Emard, whose relative control on landings earned him the best execution score in the final, though he ended up a tenth behind Prokopev overall. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Ilia Kovtun showed up going, “I’m an Olympian now suckkkassss” and stuck his first three passes. While he was a little hoppier after that, the strength of his early passes afforded him a comfortable margin in third place.

Riley Loos of the US (or “Riley LOOOO” according to our commentator who had a small seizure during his name apparently) took 4th. He was a little lower on both difficulty and execution than the medalists but nonetheless above the all-important 14 mark—and with an original element in tow, a back dive to planche, which was given B value because the FIG hates joy.

In the remaining spots, a human bull named Andrin Frey had some excellent passes but sadly lunged back to his home planet on a piked double Arabian, Krisztofer Mezaros suffered a momentary ice floe on a randi, Mario Macchiati had some OOB trouble of his own, and Lorenzo Casali had an odd mistake where he opened up early on one of his passes and did an accidental back 2.5 that destroyed his composition. The broadcast wasn’t really sure what to do with that because while everyone else got all their passes replayed, the first half of Casali’s was a replay of a crotch close-up while he chalked.

Women’s Vault

On vault, Slovenia’s own Tjasa Kysselef took the title, finishing the competition with the strongest vault of the entire final, a handspring front tuck full that was nearly stuck. The strength of that second vault put her a single tenth ahead of top qualifier Csenge Bacskay, who landed quite lock-legged on her Yurchenko 1.5 so didn’t score as well as she might have there (even though she still got the highest highest score of any vault in the final because nothing is real).

Those two were clearly the class of the vaulters, but Yana Fedorova did hang on for bronze from the first position with her vaults, highlighted by a perfectly acceptable Yurchenko full.

I’ll admit, this final was in danger of getting boring, so it was veteran Dorina Böczögo to the rescue with the most preposterous landing on her Yurchenko full, where everything except her spine tried to scream “LET’S CONNECT A BACK HANDSPRING OUT OF THIS” for some reason.

Canada’s Rachael Riley followed that up by revealing that you could do 50+25 for 75, then 5 plus 3 is 8, take that away for 67, 67 times 9 is 603, and then take away the 2 to get our target, 601. (Americans, please direct your IDGI texts to your assigned cultural liaison.) Also her 1/2 on front fling ended in a body slam.

Continue reading What Happened at the World Cup? Koper Day 1 Recap