Italian gymnastics begins the elite season with the first of four Serie A meets in Ancona this Saturday, February 7.
Both MAG and WAG teams will take part in the competitions, which will also be held February 28 in Milan, March 14 in Florence, and May 9 in Pesaro. This year, the Italian federation will also introduce T&T competition as part of the Serie A events.
It may be useful for international readers to get to know something more about the rules of this championship. In Italy, national team championships for all sports are divided into different “serie” – the “Serie A” is actually “Serie A1,” which is the highest level of competition, followed by Serie A2, then B1, B2, and so on. For gymnastics, the Serie A2 meets will be held in the morning while Serie A1 will be held in the afternoon.
Each gym competes as a team using a three-up, three-count format during the Serie A meets. After receiving a team score, a points system is used, wherein the 1st place team receives 25 points, 2nd place receives 22, 3rd receives 20, fourth receives 18, and so on down the line with each subsequent team earning two points less than the last. At the last of the four competitions in May, the points earned by each team are added together, and the best-ranked team will be crowned champion of the Serie, winning the “scudetto,” which is the name of the trophy awarded. The four best teams will also qualify into the Golden League, to be held from September 11 through September 13.
This year, following in the footsteps of USA Gymnastics last year, the Italian gymnastics federation has decided to give bonuses to the WAG routines at the home meets, so the scores will be quite different from what we’ll see on the international stage.
But there’s a big difference between how the U.S. system worked and what Italy will do – while the U.S. bonuses focused on execution, pushing the girls to stick their landings, the Italian bonuses focus on the D-score. For example, if a gymnast performs a DTY, she will receive a 0.2 bonus, and on floor, she will receive a 0.2 bonus for each tumbling pass with a minimum difficulty value of E (so a floor rotuine with a double arabian, a full-in, a triple full, and a double pike would earn 0.6 in bonus points). On beam, every E element will earn 0.2 (dismount aside), and then on bars, she will earn a 0.2 bonus for up to two flight elements both valued at D.
The purpose is to push the girls to upgrade their routines in order to be more competitive internationally, and is something Canada has done for their junior athletes in the past, producing great results in gymnasts like Shallon Olsen. As a side note, the U.S. this year will do pretty much the opposite on vault to produce a similar effect – they’ll actually take away tenths from the FTY in order to encourage gymnasts to compete more difficult vaults.
Back to this weekend’s Serie A1 competition, there’s already a big controversy brewing with 2012 Olympian Giorgia Campana. In the past, Campana competed at the Serie A meets with the Olos Gym 2000 Roma team, though this year she will compete for Artistica ’81 Trieste. Initially, GAL Lissone requested Campana, but the national team direction decided to send her elsewhere.
It may sound strange to non-Italian readers that a gymnast can be “borrowed” or “lent” by a team, so here’s an explanation. In Italy, professional athletes who are champions in their sports, who win international medals, or who just obtain international assignments join different groups like the army, the police, or the firemen, for example. Female gymnasts usually become part of the army while male gymnasts are part of the navy, as it provides an opportunity for athletes to earn a living while continuing to practice their sport at a high level.
Right now, among the WAG gymnasts currently competing, Vanessa Ferrari, Carlotta Ferlito, and Campana are all part of the army, so they are basically “borrowed” by the different club teams for domestic gymnastics competitions. Even after becoming part of the army, the gymnasts typically return to compete for their former teams, which is why Campana’s change is a big deal for Italian gym fans.
This year, there’s also a new rule that states each team will be allowed to borrow only one gymnast from the army, which is why the Italian federation didn’t allow GAL Lissone – which already counts Ferlito as one of its members – to pick up Campana.
Ferrari will again be the leader of Brixia Brescia, where she’ll compete alongside her teammates Erika Fasana and Martina Rizzelli. Fasana is expected to show upgrades, which could include a full-in double layout on floor in addition to a few new skills on bars. This year, Lavinia Marongiu, who made her big international debut at last year’s World Championships in Nanning, will also compete for Brixia, and will likely compete in the all-around in each meet.
GAL Lissone will have a pretty strong beam lineup, thanks to Ferlito and Elisa Meneghini. Ferlito is expected to perform her bhs-bhs-layout acro series as well as an improved switch ring, and will debut her brand new floor routine as well, which features the full-in she showed at the Grand Prix in November. She may also perform a double layout, though it seems she only recently began training it, so it might not happen just yet. Elisabetta Preziosa, who competed for GAL Lissone before retiring at the beginning of this year, will be on hand as an additional coach for her former teammates.
After her international comeback and fourth place finish at the Mexican Open in December, Enus Mariani will compete for the Pro Lissone team; she’s expected to perform a triple Y turn (now called the Mustafina turn) on floor, and recently shared a video of this upgrade on Instagram.
Lara Mori, who competed as part of the 2014 World Championships team, will lead Ginnica Giglio along with teammate Alessia Leolini. Leolini competed in the all-around at the 2013 World Championships, though a foot injury last year prevented her from competing at a highly competitive level.
2013 Italian Champion Tea Ugrin will compete for the first time since last year’s first Serie A meet, leading the Artistica ’81 Trieste team along with Federica Macri, who is a sort of veteran of Italian gymnastics, as she was part of the legendary team to win the first ever European team gold medal for Italy in 2006.
Another veteran who will compete on Saturday is 32-year-old Adriana Crisci, who will lead the Gymnasium Treviso team.
Chiara Gandolfi recently underwent surgery on her shoulder, so she will be missed by the Olos Gym 2000 Roma team, and we will see the return of Francesca Deagostini, the 2012 Olympic alternate who suffered multiple injuries last year; Deagostini will compete for Fratellanza Ginnastica Savonese.
Finally, the Italian Serie A rules allow teams to borrow international gymnasts for these meets, though these athletes can perform on only two events. Polish superstar Marta Pihan-Kulesza will compete, as will the young Romanian Ioana Crisan and Spanish national team members Claudia Colom, Melania Rodriguez, and Ainhoa Carmona.
On the MAG side, we’ll see some veterans like the 2012 Olympian and pommel horse specialist Alberto Busnari, the 2012 Olympic rings bronze medalist Matteo Morandi, the six-time Italian champion Enrico Pozzo, and the 2012 Olympian Paolo Ottavi.
2013 European floor bronze medalist Andrea Cingolani is expected to provide strong performances on floor, rings, and vault, while the 2013 Italian champion Ludovico Edalli is a great all-arounder as well as a solid parallel bars specialist, so it will be interesting to discover his upgrades after his 24th place all-around finish in Nanning.
Among the younger gymnasts, Nicola Bartolini is the one to watch. Last year, he competed both at the European Junior Championships as well as the senior World Championships. This will be his first Serie A as a senior, so be sure you don’t miss his pet events, vault and floor.
The international gymnasts who will compete alongside the men on Saturday will include Nestor Abad from Spain and Great Britain’s 2013 World vault bronze medalist Kristian Thomas.
The full teams set to compete are below.
|Brixia Brescia||Sofia Busato
|Forza e Virtu 1982
|Estate ’83||Giada Bara
|Gal Lissone||Sofia Arosio
Chiara Dalla Vecchia
Giulia Sara Pedico
|Pro Lissone||Martine Buro
Simone Di Tello
Tommaso De Vecchis
Matteo De Martini
|Jean Paul Augugliaro
Oliver Pietro Giachino
Luca Lo Presto
The Serie A will be held this Saturday, February 7. A2 athletes will compete at 10 am local time (4 am EST) while A1 athletes will compete at 4 pm local time (10 am EST). While no live stream will be available, the Italian federation will upload videos on YouTube afterwards.
Article by Valeria Violi