Let’s get down to business with China, shall we?
Coming off of an absolutely dominating performance at the Asian Games just a little over a week ago, the Chinese team looked fabulous on bars and beam, as expected.
Vault was decent, with nice DTYs from Tan Jiaxin and Chen Siyi. Yao Jinnan struggled to get hers around and won’t post a big score here, but at least they can count the difficulty – it’s a very weak vault year for most teams so just being able to put up three DTYs in finals is a huge deal.
The girls were phenomenal on bars. Shang Chunsong is back with her clear hip piked Tkatchev, named for her last year. She struggled on one attempt but was otherwise solid, hitting all of her skills, including a Tkatchev to Gienger. She fell and missed finals at the Asian Games, but if she hits in Nanning she’ll be in the final for sure, and is getting close to a 7.0 start value if all goes well.
Tan, Yao, and Huang Huidan have equally difficult and well-done sets. Figuring out the lineup is going to be very hard! I wouldn’t want to leave a single one of these routines out. Tan struggled with her Ray dismount in one instance but quickly fixed the problem, but both Yao and Huang looked lovely from start to finish. I’d say Yao’s was best executed and I’d be surprised if she didn’t win the final with a hit routine. Just stupendous work.
Their beam is not quite what we’ve seen in the good old Deng Linlin and Sui Lu days, so they’re definitely feeling that loss right now. I think with Russia and Romania’s superb routines, it’ll be hard for them to top the podium in event finals, but it’s not like they’ll be left in the dust. Shang continued to be excellent, and the rest seemed confident in their routines, with minor bobbles and steps on landings their only issues. We didn’t catch any falls.
As expected, floor leaves much to be desired. There were a few falls, and no one’s tumbling looked clean in any sense of the word. Yao is probably best prepared on this event, but even she couldn’t her triple full completely around, had problems with landings on passes, falling short on a few of them. She can hit the passes nicely when throwing them on their own, but her endurance just isn’t there for her more difficult passes in a full routine.
Unfortunate news from Italy this morning, as Elisa Meneghini – an all-arounder they relied on heavily in the all-around – was forced to withdraw from the competition due to back pain. She is replaced by Lara Mori, who only vaults an FTY and doesn’t have the difficulty of Meneghini, especially on beam, so it’s definitely going to hurt them a bit.
Still, Italy does have good DTYs from Vanessa Ferrari and Erika Fasana (hers looked great!), and I believe Martina Rizzelli should be able to hit a DTY as well. Bars were about what you’d expect from them – nothing beyond ‘compulsory’ routines but no big falls or mistakes all the same. Beam looked surprisingly strong, with Ferrari hitting her bhs-bhs-layout and a stuck double pike, and Lavinia Marongiu showing a nice, clean set with almost no wobbles.
Get ready for the Italians to really bring it home on floor – after a disappointing Golden League floor final, they seem to be in much better preparation, including the alternate Mori, who now might have to go up in team finals. Both she and Fasana looked clean and powerful, though Ferrari was on a whole other level. Her skills are big – a double double, double layout, full-in to back tuck, and double pike – and technically close to perfect. In one attempt, she connected a stag to her double double and a split leap to her DLO. I’m not sure if this is something she’ll throw in for her performance, but I’d say we could likely see her go for it in finals just to boost her start value.
Vault aside, Germany had a good day. With their two best vaulters out with injury, the German team will rely mainly on FTYs. Bars is another story, though – between Lisa Hill, Sophie Scheder, and Elisabeth Seitz, they have quite a lineup.
It seems that Seitz is the clear choice over Leah Griesser, who could only realistically contribute on floor and even there, doesn’t have a routine that could compete with the top three already up. Seitz, however, could make the bar final if she hits. She performed her Def and her Downie very well, and Hill also showed some big skills, including a Bhardwaj. Kim Bui‘s routine isn’t as difficult, but she should do very well in qualifications on this event.
There were some wobbles on beam, but Pauline Schäfer went for her awesome side somi half, which she hit. Bui also hit her loso mount to immediate loso, an awesome combo. And on floor, Bui looked awesome. Her tumbling gets better and better each time we see her and she had a great double layout in training today; Schaefer also looked strong there, as did Cagla Akyol who also showed quality work on beam.
Japan opted to send a B team to the Asian Games last week, and we haven’t actually seen any of their girls compete in awhile. Like Italy, they also had some unfortunate news this week, as young senior Yuna Hiraiwa was forced to withdraw due to injury, replaced by Azumi Ishikura, who nearly came straight from Incheon.
Mai Murakami did her DTY well on vault, and I believe should compete a Tsuk full for her second vault. Their other two team finals vaults should include Asuka Teramoto‘s Yurchenko 1.5 and Natsumi Sasada‘s super clean FTY; Teramoto also had a pretty good Rudi. When they were able to stay on bars, they were very clean and lovely in all of their work, but they did have a lot of falls. Granted, it’s not their best event, but they’ll need every point they can get if they want to stay one of the favorites for the top eight to go to finals.
As mentioned in our preview of the Worlds team heading into qualifications, beam is their ace event so it was no surprise that they impressed everyone on this event at podium training. Sasada and Yu Minobe have huge potential here, and while event finals may be out of reach, their routines are truly just lovely to watch. Sasada and Teramoto were clean on floor as well, where Murakami – who has had struggles there this season – also hit a strong routine, nailing her double double and double pike, though she did fall short on her quad turn.
Hong Un Jong, fresh off her vault win in Incheon, hit about 50% of her Amanars attempted, though she always seems to pull it together when it counts. She sat her Cheng, but again, she competes much better than she trains, and still is a huge favorite for the vault podium in Nanning.
Bars were overall not great, but beam was excellent. Kim Un Hyang, the underdog who beat both Chinese finalists for the title in Incheon (and then adorably sobbed on the podium), had a couple of wobbles but hit her roundoff layout nicely. It would be great to see her make a final here. On floor, Hong began her routine with a solid 1.5 through to triple full to punch front and a whip-whip-double pike, both looking super strong. She sat her double tuck, but hit her 2.5 to finish.
North Korea isn’t a team that can make a team final just yet, especially after four years of banishment, but they have a good shot at landing in the top 12 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make major strides in the future.
Article by Lauren Hopkins