The vault and uneven bar finals were held at the 2014 Russian Cup in Penza today with Alla Sosnitskaya and Viktoria Komova coming out on top for gold.
Maria Paseka, the favorite for vault gold, typically performs her Amanar with messy form and a botched landing. Two times out of three, she manages to stand it up, but today was unfortunately one of her off days. It was actually one of her better attempts in the air, and she landed with both feet and her body facing forward.
However, she needs to figure out the fine balance between too much and too little. While she usually cheats that last half twist around, this afternoon she kept twisting even after she landed, causing her to put her hand down to try to stop the inertia. Of course, it didn’t work, and she kept running off the edge of the mat. It’s a knee injury waiting to happen, and while she can get the occasional 15+ score, a big error like today’s is going to take even more tenths away from their already precarious vault situation at Worlds.
Her second vault, the Lopez (Yurchenko half-on, layout half-off), had a better landing, with just a hop back. It was a little iffy in the air, with her body arching backwards a great deal as she came off the table, but she got it around well. Though she wasn’t golden here, she still managed to pick up the bronze.
Gold medalist Sosnitskaya took advantage of Paseka’s mistakes to compete a relatively clean DTY and Lopez, the same vaults as Paseka minus a half twist on the first. See why playing it safe can be the better option? I’m a firm believer in taking risks, but I think your risks should also be realistic. Like, don’t attempt a vault that will kill you (along with your team’s chances at a medal) just so you can get the difficulty points. Sosnitskaya is proof that a solid DTY will score almost a point higher than a scary ligament-tearing Amanar.
In the silver position was Tatiana Nabieva, who has no shot at this World Championships team but seems to be having fun still competing. She hit a nice DTY and a Podkopayeva (Yurchenko half-on piked half-off), both which looked mostly nice aside from a few form issues.
Aside from these three, no one else in this final will play a role in Russia’s vault puzzle this year, as the FTY was the most difficult vault among the five remaining finalists.
1. Alla Sosnitskaya, Moscow, 14.534
2. Tatiana Nabieva, Saint Petersburg, 14.317
3. Maria Paseka, Moscow, 14.117
4. Lilia Akhaimova, Saint Petersburg, 13.783
5. Kristina Kruglikova, Central, 13.683
6. Anastasia Cheong, Saint Petersburg, 13.350
7. Olga Bikmurzina, Volga, 12.867
8. Anna Vanyushkina, Northeastern, 12.600
On the uneven bars, Viktoria Komova finally came through with a solid and lovely routine, defeating Aliya Mustafina by just a tenth for the title. Though the routine is nowhere near what we saw from “the old Komova,” she isn’t “the old Komova” and is in fact two years older and roughly seven feet taller.
It still showed shades of her London self, however, as her legs were tightly together and hyperextended, toes were pointed, and she got nice amplitude between skills, showing signs of her fighting spirit. Her piked Jaeger was nice and high (and practically a layout), her handstands were lovely, her Tkatchev was huge, and she stuck her full-out (onto a big sting mat) for a 15.367.
Mustafina also had a clean set, hitting her inbar full on the low bar with such precision, I actually gasped. She had some leg separation right before her van Leeuwen and on her pak salto, but otherwise seemed clean and like Komova, she stuck her full-out dismount onto a sting mat (though a smaller one than Komova’s), earning a silver medal.
Daria Spiridonova was the bronze medalist. Though not quite the bars gymnast Komova and Mustafina are, her routine will be much appreciated on this team, as she easily made it through her clean and lovely Komova II to pak salto , inbar half to big piked Jaeger, and full-out dismount with just a step back.
Though she was just outside of the medal rankings, I can’t not bring up Ekaterina Kramarenko. I have been insanely impressed with her this competition, as she was the last Russian I expected to come back at this level. She’s not perfect across the board, but looks incredible on bars, working with a nice amount of difficulty and doing it cleanly. Because her routine is not quite as hard as Spiridonova’s, she missed out on a medal by a little over a tenth, but I thought her routine was the nicer of the two. In terms of their Worlds picture, I had Anna Rodionova roughly 80 people ahead of Kramarenko, but now I definitely see where Kramarenko could be a potential addition.
Uneven Bars Results
1. Viktoria Komova, Moscow/Central, 15.367
2. Aliya Mustafina, Moscow, 15.267
3. Daria Spiridonova, Moscow, 14.933
4. Ekaterina Kramarenko, Saint Petersburg, 14.767
5. Tatiana Nabieva, Saint Petersburg, 14.200
6. Anna Rodionova, Volga, 14.067
7. Alla Sosnitskaya, Moscow, 13.933
8. Maria Kharenkova, Southern/Central, 13.733
Article by Lauren Hopkins
Photo thanks to the Russian Gymnastics Federation