The German team in Nanning, China for the 2014 World Championships has had the unluckiest year in quite some time with the loss of their two best vaulters and the uncertain status of superstar Elisabeth Seitz.
It’s not all bad, though. Seitz is back for bars, joining all-around national champ Kim Bui, brilliant bar workers Sophie Scheder and Lisa Katharina Hill, the solid Pauline Schäfer, beam and floor specialist Cagla Akyol, and young senior Leah Griesser, likely the alternate.
With Seitz’s setback, Griesser was brought in and the two were told they would both be considered for the sixth and final spot on the team, though it looks like Seitz has more to contribute where Griesser’s numbers on beam and floor weren’t exactly what the team needed.
Overall, the team looks good and should make finals without much of a problem, though it’s unclear how well they’ll do there. They won’t make the podium, but should find themselves battling Italy, Japan, Romania, and Great Britain for the next five spots. Of course, they’ll want to be at the top end of that group, and with the loss of Italy’s Elisa Meneghini, it’s entirely possible…but they’ll really have to be at their very best.
Consistency is not a strong point for this team, evident in the fact that the majority of their gymnasts can hit a 14.5 on bars or beam one day and a 12 the next. If they hit, they’ll be great; if they miss, it’ll be a disaster. There’s very little middle ground, so they’ll need to be super focused if they want to come close to the top.
Bars is the team’s forte. Scheder, Hill, and Seitz have three incredibly difficult and unique routines, with Bui bolstering the lineup as someone who can hit well any day of the week. They should hopefully put up a DTY on vault if Schäfer is up to it; she did it well at nationals and in Switzerland less than a month ago, but otherwise they’ll rely on hopefully clean FTYs. They lack difficulty – and consistency – from even their top beam workers, and while there are some shining moments on floor – like Bui’s incredibly powerful tumbling – overall it’s a very low-scoring event.
I think Bui is a shoo-in for the all-around final, as she has generally been good about hitting four-for-four when she needs to. Floor is definitely her standout, but she also has two vaults and a typically clean set on bars, where I think she’ll be called upon in team finals if Seitz isn’t up to the task. Beam is her only real weak spot, but when she hits, even this ‘rough’ event looks pretty good.
I think Schäfer, Scheder, and Hill have pretty equal shots at becoming Germany’s second all-arounder; for them, it depends on the day. Scheder and Hill both rely heavily on their incredible bar routines, but they can be lacking a bit on the other three. Schäfer, conversely, isn’t really singled out on any one event as a top athlete, but she has a DTY and uniform difficulty and consistency on beam and floor, making her a top choice for these three events in team finals.
Akyol will definitely make appearances on beam and floor, and potentially on vault if she’s looked clean enough in training, but even then her scores are a bit low to consider her a possibility for a final. And Seitz, just coming back from multiple injuries, is likely hoping to make the bars final but this year, just hitting in qualifications and the team final might be all we can ask of her.
The Gymternet’s Team Final Predictions
On vault, Bui and Schäfer are obvious choices. Bui has a handspring front layout half in addition to her FTY, which I hope she performs in the team final to give them that extra bit of oomph, and Schäfer should bring in a nice mid-14 score on her DTY. The third spot should be between Hill and Akyol, both of whom have similarly clean FTYs. Akyol might be a tad more consistent, but I think it’ll come down to whoever performs best in qualifications.
Bars is tough, because there are potentially four strong gymnasts for three spots – Scheder, Hill, Bui, and Seitz. I’d say Bui gets the spot based on her consistency in the latter half of the season, but I think Seitz has a more difficult routine with much higher scoring potential. I think Scheder and Hill are safe, but like with the decision on vault, Seitz and Bui probably won’t be decided until after qualifications.
On beam, Schäfer and Akyol are two solid choices and haven’t really had a ‘bad’ performance on this event all year. Hill and Scheder are next in line, and while Scheder has a better average, Hill’s average is dragged down by one really bad performance, so I think she’s the better choice.
Bui will definitely anchor on floor, with Schäfer and Akyol the other best options, though again, I think qualifications could determine the final spot, especially if Hill has a good day and proves to be stronger than Akyol.
The High Scores
We took our potential team finals lineups and plugged in each athlete’s high score this year to see what their maximum earning potential looks like. You know, just for fun.
|VT||Bui 14.375||Schäfer 14.550||Hill 13.750||ALT Akyol 13.900|
|UB||Scheder 15.066||Hill 14.650||Seitz 14.500||ALT Bui 14.600|
|BB||Schäfer 14.250||Akyol 14.200||Hill 13.750||ALT Scheder 13.833|
|FX||Bui 14.450||Schäfer 13.950||Akyol 13.366||ALT Hill 13.350|
Top Pick– 170.857
The Low Scores
Same as above, but using each athlete’s lowest score this season.
|VT||Bui 12.366||Schäfer 14.066||Hill 13.400||ALT Akyol 13.800|
|UB||Scheder 14.150||Hill 13.350||Seitz 13.950||ALT Bui 14.033|
|BB||Schäfer 13.600||Akyol 13.050||Hill 12.100||ALT Scheder 12.966|
|FX||Bui 13.200||Schäfer 13.600||Akyol 12.700||ALT Hill 12.850|
Top Pick– 159.532
Their bad routines put them about ten points lower than their good routines, but it’s not a problem that affects every gymnast on the squad. Some – like Scheder – still manage to bring in good scores even with rough outings, which could be a good thing if the team starts losing their nerve.
Let’s Be Real
We know not everyone is going to have their best or worst day during team finals, so here, we averaged each athlete’s scores on each event to get a more realistic idea of what will probably happen.
|VT||Bui 13.813||Schäfer 14.304||Hill 13.750||ALT Akyol 13.850|
|UB||Scheder 14.741||Hill 13.990||Seitz 14.225||ALT Bui 14.323|
|BB||Schäfer 13.858||Akyol 13.767||Hill 13.130||ALT Scheder 13.266|
|FX||Bui 13.868||Schäfer 13.775||Akyol 13.008||ALT Hill 13.075|
Top Pick– 166.229
Germany averaged 55.0 on each event at Länderkampf Kunstturnen in Switzerland less than a month ago, which would equal about 165 in a three-count situation, and that was with low scores Leah Griesser in place of Akyol, so a score around 166.430 isn’t out of the question.
What about the other teams in the race? So far, Great Britain is coming in with a 170.094 (which could be a bit inflated due to Gabby Jupp‘s scores coming from 2013), and Japan follows with 165.909, putting Germany right between them with their 166.430. All are within about four points of one another at the moment, so there’s a lot of potential for upsets even with just three teams currently in the mix.
Stay tuned for the next in a series of team previews to see how other top nations will fare!
Article by Lauren Hopkins
Photo thanks to Elisabeth Seitz