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