The home team from Germany defeated the Russian team by two points at the DTB Team Challenge held alongside the World Cup in Stuttgart, Germany. Switzerland brought home the bronze medal, while the German gymnasts representing the Swabian region placed fourth.
The Germans got off to a good start on vault, with a lovely handspring layout half from Pauline Schäfer earning a 14.733. Michelle Timm competed the same vault, but looked a bit piked and came in short on her landing, finishing with her chest down.
On bars, Timm fell twice on her shaposh, slipping off the first time and then after catching it the second time. Schäfer hit her routine, and then Sophie Scheder had a fantastic exercise, finishing with the highest score on the event. Scheder also had a smooth beam routine, with no major issues; she also hit a lovely aerial and layout gainer off the end of the beam. Schäfer was best on beam for the day, hitting a nice bhs loso, a front aerial to side somi combination with a slight wobble, and nailing her side somi half before hitting her gainer layout dismount. With these two strong routines, it didn’t matter that Timm’s routine was a bit shaky, including a fall on her roundoff layout series.
Nadja Schulze got things started on floor, nearly falling on her opening pass and then putting her hands down on her double tuck at the end. Timm had no major mistakes in her exercise, bringing in a 12.7 for a routine that included a solid double full and a triple full with a step. Schäfer was best among the Germans here; though her front handspring to double front didn’t get quite the punch she normally gets, she landed it without a problem and also hit her double tuck and double pike.
Since the meet featured a three-up, two-count format, Russia was at a disadvantage coming into the challenge, as they fielded only three athletes. Because Ksenia Afanasyeva was only able to compete on vault and floor, her teammates Polina Fedorova and Ekaterina Kramarenko couldn’t afford any mistakes on bars and beam. Unfortunately, issues on beam led to their downfall.
In her comeback performance, Afanasyeva managed the top scores on both of her events – a 15.0 on vault, where she performed a DTY, and a 14.033 on floor, which included a triple full, double pike, and a 2.5. Though it was quite a bit easier than what fans are used to seeing, she performed it very well.
Kramarenko began her day with a hit bar routine, showing a nice stalder full to Chow half, Jaeger, pak to stalder to van Leeuwen, and full out with a hop. She had a fall on beam, though hit floor and showed a very clean FTY on vault. Fedorova also started out with a nice routine on bars, including a stalder hecht, Jaeger, stalder full to pak, and stalder half to Ray. She hit her beam routine, albeit with some wobbles, and also hit floor and her handspring tuck half on vault.
The young Swiss team performed decently without leader Giulia Steingruber, though didn’t have the difficulty needed to challenge and are still a bit inexperienced on an international stage. They finished with a 105.097, nearly six points behind the Russians.
Jessica Diacci, Ilaria Käslin, and Nicole Hitz each showed decent vaults, with Käslin’s clean FTY the standout. There were big mistakes on bars and beam, though Käslin showed a relatively difficult and lovely beam routine, and also looked good on floor, as did Diacci and Stefanie Siegenthaler, for the most part.
The team from Swabia, the southwestern region of Germany that is home to host city Stuttgart, was comprised of some of the lower-ranked Germans who hail from the area. They were quite far behind in their skill level, though nevertheless showed some polish in their routines.
Beginning on bars, Sarina Maier had the most difficult routine but unfortunately fell on a toe-on after botching the handstand after her bail. She had a great save, basically going into a stag before getting back in control, though she lost it again after casting up from the toe-on. She showed a nice Maloney and lovely Jaeger, though sat her double arabian dismount.
Her teammates were a bit messy and had difficulty in the 2.0 range (with no releases performed), but Nicole Fritz had a cool toe front half out dismount and Dorothee Henzler held onto a gorgeous handstand for several seconds before dismounting with a double tuck.
Only Maier and Henzler performed on beam, floor, and vault. Both had quite a few beam errors, including two falls in Henzler’s routine. On floor, Maier hit her double tuck and front 1.5 while Henzler showed her excellence as a performer, getting everyone in the arena to clap along. Maier then hit her handspring front tuck quite well, and Henzler performed a handspring front pike to finish things up for the Swabian gymnasts.
Team Final Results
Team Qualification Results
Article by Lauren Hopkins