The first day of competition at the Russian Cup featured a surprise performance from Aliya Mustafina with her usual domination after hitting mostly strong routines, aside from a fall on beam. First-year seniors Maria Kharenkova and Daria Spiridonova took the silver and bronze spots, respectively.
In watching the meet, I noticed a lot of interesting skill trends among those at the top, like the whip whip to triple fulls and Memmel turns on floor, the huge piked Jaegers, inbar work, and full-out dismounts on bars, and switch to Onodi combos on beam. Often the same skills tend to not work for multiple athletes across the board, but I thought these skills were some of the best competed overall…they are basically compulsory skills for the Russians, who execute them very well.
Mustafina finished on top with a 59.133 after competing solid routines across the board and qualifying easily into all event finals but vault, where she only competed one vault rather than the required two (though her DTY looked solid).
She looked very clean on the uneven bars, performing an inbar full, van Leeuwen, inbar half to piked Jaeger, stalder full to pak salto to immediate stalder half to toe shoot (a gorgeous combination!), and she finished with a toe half into her immediate full-out dismount. She earned a 15.4 here with 6.3 difficulty, not as high as we’ve seen from her in the past but still impressive, as she has been dealing with a shoulder injury.
On beam, she began with a lovely double twist before hitting a fantastic standing arabian to wolf jump to split jump combination. Her next combination was even more impressive – a switch half to Onodi to side aerial. The connections were slow from skill to skill and unfortunately, she fell on the side aerial, but it’s just so gorgeous to watch. Rumor is she hopes to connect that combo with the next beautiful series, a front aerial to front aerial to back handspring.
Just very interesting, unique work overall. She dismounted with double tuck, taking a step back on the landing for a 14.6, even with the fall (her difficulty here was a 6.4). I noticed she was working with a sting pad for her standing arabian, which her coach took away and then brought back for the punch she gets out of her roundoff going into her dismount, something I’ve never seen in competition before.
Kharenkova began on floor with an ambitious routine, competing an awesome double arabian, 1.5 through to pike, whip whip to triple full, and a double tuck. Unfortunately, she put her hands down on that last (easiest!) pass, but otherwise she looked solid so I’m going to chalk it up to her losing stamina, something she can definitely work on before Worlds. She brought in a 13.667 here.
She vaulted a clean Yurchenko full with just a tiny bounce back, and though her bars had a couple of mistakes (including arching over on a handstand before doing extra kip casts to get back in the flow), she had a lovely toe full to Maloney to Pak, a nice piked Jaeger, and a stuck full-out dismount for a 13.867.
Her beam was outstanding, though the 16.2 she received for it was slightly high! Working with a 7.0 start value, she competed a solid punch front and bhs bhs layout to start. Her split on the split jump was oddly only at around 120 degrees at its full height, and the front aerial to sheep jump connection was a bit slow but I believe they gave it to her. Her side aerial was lovely, there was a bobble on her switch to back pike, and her full L turn was excellent. She also competed a switch ring and ring leap before sticking her double pike dismount.
Spiridonova had a solid day to land in third place just slightly ahead of Alla Sosnitskaya, who was ahead at the end of the second rotation after hitting solid floor routine (complete with a nice double layout, a whip whip to triple, and a near-stuck double pike) and a DTY on vault (a bit messy, but something they’ll likely need to count in the team final.
Though Spiridonova had to catch up by over a point after just an FTY and a slightly messy floor routine (her triple full was underrotated and she hopped her way through her Memmel turn), she more than made up for the gap on bars, earning a 15.033 for her lovely routine. She had an inbar full to Komova to pak salto, all with good form, a nice van Leeuwen, a big piked Jaeger, and a full-out dismount with a slight step.
Her connections on beam were a bit tentative and she had many checks and wobbles, but the majority of the skills themselves looked very fluid, like her effortless side aerial and Onodi.
Maria Paseka missed out on the uneven bars final due to her messy routine and very low execution. She received a 13.3 with a 7.4 execution score despite no falls; her routine actually reminded me a lot of how Mykayla Skinner looked on bars this week in Pittsburgh!
She topped those coming into the vault final, however, earning a 14.433 combined total for her Amanar and Lopez. She looked a bit scary on her Amanar, though her form there is to be expected. Her body line was very bent and she was incredibly deep on the landing, stepping out to the side and off the mat to steady herself, earning a 14.633. The Lopez wasn’t tremendously better, though her line was much better, as was her landing…though she still bent her knees significantly upon hitting the ground, it wasn’t by much, and she just took a step out to hold it up.
I have to say, I was quite impressed with her floor. She earned a 14.2 because it wasn’t perfect, but it showed a ton of promise. She opens with a beautiful Memmel turn…I honestly wasn’t expecting that from her. Her whip whip to triple full was hopped over slightly but looked better than she was hitting it in training, and I loved her 2.5 to front full. Even with the step OOB on her slightly under-rotated double tuck, I thought this was a great routine.
Viktoria Komova made an appearance only on bars, qualifying third into the event final with a 14.7 on the event after losing half a point when she whacked her foot on the low bar on a giant before her dismount. I’m not one who has her old routines memorized but it looked like she was working with a less difficulty, though still, it was a nice routine. She hit her Komova II to lovely pak salto, a Komova, an inbar half to big piked Jaeger, an inbar full to Tkatchev, and a full-out dismount onto a sting mat.
Now, I’ve been hearing that in order to be considered for the Worlds team, athletes must have at least two events, so the fact that Komova didn’t compete beam and didn’t break 15 on bars is worrisome to me. I would think if her bars were back up in the high 15s, they’d want her for that event alone, but I don’t know if this would cut it. Even without hitting her foot, it’s not a routine that’s going to be winning any event medals, though I’d think they’d want it in their arsenal for team finals anyway because it’s not as though they have anyone else passing that 15 mark outside of Mustafina?
I did think Ekaterina Kramarenko’s bar work was nice, however. The girl famous for balking her vault in 2007 could make her first major international team since she competing in Beijing six years ago, which is kind of remarkable. Though the majority of her routines are not standouts, she did show some nice work on bars, hitting a stalder full to Chow half, a straddle Jaeger, pak salto, clean van Leeuwen, and toe-full to full-out dismount for a 14.667.
Daria Elizarova, who competed for Uzbekistan for several years before returning to Russia in 2013, is similar to Kramarenko in that the majority of her routines aren’t stellar, though she actually qualified first into the floor final with a 14.467 making her at least an option to explore for Nanning. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of her routines on the broadcast, which focused only on the one key group aside from a few peeks at Tatiana Nabieva.
Speaking of Nabs, while she’s not much of a threat in the all-around due to relatively weak performances, she did hit a decent uneven bar routine for a 14.533. The same goes for Anna Rodionova, who had an equally good bars routine but didn’t impress on beam.
The competition continues with team finals on Friday followed by event finals over the weekend. Though several girls were missing from competition in Penza making it an unclear picture of the Russian team as they prepare for Worlds, seeing Mustafina in great shape leading a couple of top notch younger seniors has to make Russian fans excited for what’s yet to come.
1. Aliya Mustafina, Moscow, 59.133
2. Maria Kharenkova, Central/Southern, 57.834
3. Daria Spiridonova, Moscow, 56.799
4. Alla Sosnitskaya, Moscow, 56.432
5. Ekaterina Kramarenko, Saint Petersburg, 55.534
6. Daria Elizarova, Central, 55.433
7. Tatiana Nabieva, Saint Petersburg, 54.834
8. Olga Bikmurzina, Volga, 54.266
9. Polina Fedorova, Volga, 53.700
10. Lilia Akhaimova, Saint Petersburg, 53.567
11. Alla Sidorenko, Saint Petersburg, 53.133
12. Anastasia Cheong, Saint Petersburg, 52.033
13. Alexandra Yazydzhyan, Moscow, 51.167
14. Kristina Kruglikova, Central, 50.667
15. Lina Akhmetshina, Volga, 46.500
16. Yelena Shcherbakova, Southern, 45.966
17. Natalia Medvedeva, Southern, 45.934
18. Arina Nedovesova, Far Eastern, 45.801
19. Valeria Golenishcheva, Southern, 43.267
20. Maria Paseka, Moscow, 42.133
21. Anna Vanyushkina, Northwestern, 36.100
22. Anna Rodionova, Volga, 27.834
23. Viktoria Komova, Moscow/Central, 14.700
24. Anastasia Osetrova, Southern, 10.100
1. Maria Paseka, 14.430
2. Alla Sosnitskaya, 14.150
3. Lilia Akhaimova, 14.030
4. Tatiana Nabieva, 14.000
5. Anastasia Cheong, 13.700
6. Kristina Kruglikova, 13.634
7. Olga Bikmurzina, 13.167
8. Anna Vanyushkina, 12.850
Uneven Bars Qualifiers
1. Aliya Mustafina, 15.400
2. Daria Spiridonova, 15.033
3. Viktoria Komova, 14.700
4. Ekaterina Kramarenko, 14.667
5. Tatiana Nabeva, 14.533
6. Anna Rodionova, 14.467
7. Maria Kharenkova, 13.867
8. Alla Sosnitskaya, 13.833
Balance Beam Qualifiers
1. Maria Kharenkova, 16.200
2. Aliya Mustafina, 14.600
3. Polina Fedorova, 14.400
4. Daria Spiridonova, 14.233
5. Alla Sosnitskaya, 14.033
6. Olga Bikmurzina, 13.730
7. Anastasia Cheong, 13.670
8. Daria Elizarova, 13.633
Floor Exercise Qualifiers
1. Daria Elizarova, 14.467
2. Aliya Mustafina, 14.300
3. Maria Paseka, 14.200
4. Polina Fedorova, 14.167
5. Alla Sosnitskaya, 14.033
6. Lilia Akhaimova, 13.767
7. Daria Spiridonova, 13.700
8. Olga Bikmurzina, 13.700
1. Moscow (Mustafina, Sosnitskaya, Paseka, Spiridonova), 173.664
2. Central (Komova, Kruglikova, Elizarova, Kharenkova), 167.367
3. Saint Petersburg (Nabieva, Akhaimova, Sidorenko, Kramarenko), 165.435
4. Volga (Bikmurzina, Akhmetshina, Rodionova, Fedorova), 160.733
5. Southern (Medvedeva, Golenishcheva, Shcherbakova, Kharenkova), 152.134