The 2015 City of Jesolo trophy will be surely remembered for the U.S. Domination, Simone Biles‘s 62.1-worthy show, and the successful comebacks of the 2012 Olympians Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. However, the four day competition also showed significant results for the Italian team in the face of the upcoming European championships.
The senior team placed in second with a score of 224.350 even without the help of their veteran leader Vanessa Ferrari, out due to the mononucleosis she suffered in the previous months, and Lara Mori, whose fibula fracture might keep her out of competition for quite a long time.
Nevertheless, the Italian girls where mostly solid throughout the weekend. Erika Fasana earned a remarkable all-around result (57.55), placing in sixth ahead of big U.S. names like Maggie Nichols and Kyla Ross. She scored in the 14s on all the four apparatuses, showing improvements on beam, where she’s been more consistent than she was at the Italian Serie A meets. She hit the bhs layout series, the connection between the switch leap and the back tuck, and didn’t miss the connection between the full turn and the Y turn, which sometimes she struggles to perform without wobbles. Otherwise, the routine went on smoothly, complete with the double pike dismount for a 14.05.
On bars, she delivered a clean routine for a 14.0, and her consistency on this event will meant a lot for the further team competitions, since Italy generally lacks both difficulty and execution here. She obviously peaked on vault, where she stuck her DTY, earning a 14.9 (even with some form issues…her body is usually a little piked), and on floor, where she debuted the double double for the first time this season, sticking it perfectly in addition to hitting her double layout and double pike for a score of 14.6.
These numbers show that the possibility to earn a medal in the all-around competition at Euros – especially thanks to the absence of the continent’s gymnastics stars Aliya Mustafina and Larisa Iordache – is more than just a fancy. If some of the top all-arounders make mistakes and Fasana keeps her consistency, she has both the difficulty and the execution to sneak onto the podium.
She proved herself again in the event finals, improving her qualification score by two tenths on bars, and then was excellent on floor, getting the honor to earn the silver medal right between the reigning World and Olympic floor champions with a huge score of 14.9.
She should be a huge medal threat on this event in Montpellier. What’s amazing about her routine is that she managed to build a great difficulty score even with just three tumbling passes, and her execution improves from meet to meet in her path towards Euros. Fasana has also been training a full-twisting double layout since November; while we won’t see it in competition before this summer, she is hoping to debut it by Worlds, making her chances at a medal in Glasgow more realistic than ever.
Martina Rizzelli didn’t disappoint any expectations on her performances, delivering consistent routines without major mistakes in the team final. She earned the second-best Italian score on floor with a 13.65, then she hit her DTY for a 14.6 (however, the form issues are still there, with both the leg separation and the big step on the landing).
On beam, she performed her best routine of the season, earning a 13.4, but the highlight of the day were her bars, with a 6.0 d-score. Again, she still has some form issues, but with this routine she can hit the low 14s with ease, and if she keeps this consistency in her bars performances, she will be a lock in the Italian team.
She actually made a mistake in the event final on her stalder half, where her legs came apart, but she fought hard to go on with the routine, scoring a 13.85, which remains a good score for Italy on this event in a team final’s perspective. Also on Sunday, she performed a good floor routine for a 13.9.
Carlotta Ferlito came into the meet with a foot injury, so she is still getting back all her skills on floor – she kept out the triple full, but performed a full in with a hop, stuck her double tuck, then finished OOB on her double pike for a 13.45. The floor seemed much bouncier than usual in Jesolo, and many girls from all nations struggled to control their landings on it. On vault, she performed a Yurchenko 1.5, with a hop forward and showing bent legs, but she still managed a score of 14.35.
On bars, she delivered a good routine, sticking her double front dismount for a final score of 13.95. Ferlito is looking more and more solid on this event, which used to be the toughest one for her. She has focused a lot on bars in training, since Italy desperately needs good scores here, and we can see the payoff in the high 13s scores that’s she’s receiving. Moreover, the ability to perform a clean and consistent routine on this event will factor massively in the future selections of the Italian teams, making the chance to become a two-time Olympian pretty realistic.
Though she unfortunately suffered a fall on beam, her pet event, she still managed to earn a 13.9. She performed a front aerial to sheep jump, bhs bhs layout, and switch leap to back tuck without major issues, and then she debuted a full turn to split jump series. The error came on her sissone to side aerial connection, which she missed and then fell on the latter before getting up and delivering the best switch ring leap I’ve ever seen before hitting the 2.5 dismount.
She missed the qualification for the event final, but national team director Enrico Casella decided to swap out Fasana’s spot in order to give Ferlito the opportunity to perform her beam routine in a competition again before Euros. This time, she had a big balance check on the layout, but managed to stay on the beam, earning a score of 14.3 to secure the bronze medal.
If she hits every single connection and keeps a good amplitude on her switch ring, she can reach a d-score of 6.1, which will be a great factor for the chance to make the event final at Euros, as well as possibly earning a medal, as she did in Berlin four years ago. Even with Mustafina and Iordache out, there is still very strong beam competition, including Maria Kharenkova, Giulia Steingruber, Andreea Munteanu, and Eythora Thorsdottor, but as every gymnastics fan knows, anything can happen on this event!
In the interview she did with the Italian live stream commentators after her routine, Ferlito revealed that she will take one of the Italian all-around spots at Euros, again getting the opportunity to represent her country performing on all four events, and she could easily make the all-around final in France.
Elisa Meneghini is still fighting to getting back all of her skills after the back injury that forced her to skip Worlds. She struggled a bit on floor, where she stuck the opening full-in, but went OOB with her double tuck and bent her legs on the final double pike, for a score of 12.85. She then hit a clean FTY on vault for a score of 14.2.
On bars, she sat her double front dismount, but on beam she delivered an overall good routine, showing an aerial walkover to split jump to wolf jump, a switch ring leap (she absolutely didn’t hit this skill, because her leg was nowhere near her head, but she can’t force too much her back right now), a bhs bhs loso (where she suffered a wobble), a side somi, a switch leap to back tuck, and a double pike dismount with a step, for a 14.05.
She qualified for the final, and while her all-around routine was great, she looked very shaky and nervous on Sunday. She basically had bobbles on every skill performed, earning a 13.1 with a really low e-score for her standards (just a 7.4).
Alessia Leolini got through the team final without significant mistakes, aside from the full-in on floor where she finished OOB, earning a 13.05. On vault, she delivered a clean FTY for a score of 13.9, then she earned a 13.4 on bars, where she still shows some form issues, but she debuted a new upgrade, a double layout dismount. Finally, she suffered a fall on beam, scoring a 12.9.
This competition was Tea Ugrin‘s official debut with the national team as a senior, after the multiple injuries suffered last year. She is still on her way to get back her skills after the foot surgery she underwent last year, but delivered an overall clean performance in the team final, scoring in the 13s on all the four events. She also debuted a brand new full-in dismount on bars.
Aside from the gymnasts who were part of the official Italian team, there was another remarkable and Euros-worthy performance, given by Arianna Rocca. This name may sound new to the international gym fans, but is well known in the Italian gymnastics world. She has been the Italian vault champion since 2012, and although the Italian vault specialist field is pretty weak since there aren’t many gymnasts who compete two vaults, she can deliver difficult vaults with good execution.
She hasn’t had many opportunities to earn international assignments, as in the previous years she didn’t have any other truly competitive events, but now it seems that all the hard work that she put in training in order to increase her d-scores is finally paying-off, especially because this year the European competition is for individuals.
In Jesolo, Rocca debuted her brand new DTY, earning a 14.9 both in the all-around and the event final; then, she earned a 14.1 for her handspring front pike half-out, for a final average score of 14.5, which put her right behind Biles. Rocca’s second vault isn’t the most difficult one, as it has a d-score of 5.0, but she generally earns a good execution for it, which lets her earn a good average between the two. Her coach said that she could upgrade the second vault, opting for a handspring front pike full (which has a 5.2 start value), but obviously she’ll risk more deductions on the execution side.
With similar scores at Euros, she could easily make the event final and place at least near the podium if not on it. Rocca will take part in the national camp, which will be held in Brescia on April 6. If Ferrari doesn’t feel ready to fight for a medal in Montpellier, Rocca will get her spot – and with it, the greatest opportunity of her gymnastics career.
Enrico Casella stated that Ferrari is trying to get back in shape for Euros, but she obviously won’t go if she can’t put up medal-worthy routines. It would be just a waste of energy from her, when her real focus this year is on Worlds. Because the Italian gymnasts will travel to Montpellier by bus and not by plane, the final decision could be made on the same day of the departure.
Among the Italian individuals who took part in the team final, Sofia Bonistalli deserves a special mention for her tumbling on floor – she opened her routine with a whip whip to double arabian, which she almost stuck, and she then hit a full-in, a 2.5, and a double tuck for a final score of 13.2. If she manages to upgrade her dance elements in the future (for an example, she didn’t complete the second rotation of her Memmel turn, which dropped her d-score), this floor routine could become a very valuable one.
On the contrary, Enus Mariani had a hard time on bars throughout her days in Jesolo. She struggled in qualifications, and though she was added to the final anyway, she had two bad falls, first on her pak (she totally missed the bar with her hands) and then again on her bail, before finishing with a layout dismount. Mariani clearly isn’t ready for the upcoming Euros, mostly because the foot injury she suffered while landing her beam dismount badly in the Serie A meet held in Milan delayed her preparation.
Casella has announced that she will be replaced by Rizzelli, whose bars routine – if hit – has a better chance at making the event final in Montpellier.
There was another important bit of news announced by Casella in Jesolo – Fasana won’t compete at the European Games held in Baku, as she’ll be busy with her final high school exams at that time.
Article by Valeria Violi
Photo by Valentina Ricci