The third World Challenge Cup of the 2015 elite season was held over the weekend in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Gold medals went to Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan on vault, Isabela Onyshko of Canada on bars and beam, and Eythora Thorsdottir of the Netherlands on floor, while three of Brazil’s gymnasts managed to snag bars bronze as well as the silver and bronze medals on beam.
On vault, Chusovitina performed a front handspring layout full and a tsuk 1.5. Her form looked a little rough on both, and she had big steps out, but in the end she managed to average 14.6, a couple of tenths ahead of hometown girl Teja Belak and her cleaner, yet less difficult, vaults.
Belak is 3-for-3 in terms of Challenge Cup vault medals, having earned bronze both in Cottbus and then in Doha before picking up a silver on Saturday. She had a relatively clean handspring tuck full with a step out before hitting a pretty solid Yurchenko 1.5, where there was a little bit of leg separation but a nice body line and very little foot movement, earning a 14.425 for a 14.412 average.
In third was the Dutch gymnast Noel van Klaveren, who began with a DTY. She had a nice tight body line but didn’t get a good enough block and went a little off-line, stepping over and out of bounds. She also stepped out on her second vault, a Lopez, which was a tiny bit piked down as she came in for the landing, earning a 14.2 for a 14.325 average.
The rest of the vault field was pretty far behind in terms of difficulty, so even though what we saw from the medalists wasn’t perfect, there was no one else who could really challenge. Ayelen Tarabini of Argentina had a clean effort on her tsuk half and handspring layout, however, and I loved Valerija Grisane of Latvia with her clean handspring front pike and tsuk layout.
Onyshko managed to have the most impressive bars set, even if her pak salto is still in dire need of help. She hit her impressive Maloney to clear hip full to Tkatchev combination with ease, followed by the Hindorff to pak, which I believe is losing about a billion more deductions due to the form on the pak than the connection is worth (her legs are pretty much in a straddle). Finishing with a double front dismount, she looked happy with her set, though earned just a 13.85 with a 6.3 start value due to various execution deductions.
Everyone else had big mistakes, including the Cottbus gold medalist Jonna Adlerteg of Sweden, who took an extra swing after her Jaeger and before her Church; otherwise, I thought it was a good effort, especially considering how difficult it is. Her skills were mostly clean, capped off by a solid double layout dismount for a 13.475.
In her anticipated senior debut, Rebeca Andrade of Brazil earned the bronze bars with a very aggressive set, though she unfortunately bent her knees coming out of her toe half, losing her swing and having to kip back up, breaking the rhythm. After a couple of extra swings, she had to muscle a handstand all while her number managed to get loose and drop to the floor.
All of this drama aside, she shows promise on what is not traditionally her best event. She has a Tkatchev to pak to stalder to Maloney to bail to Ray opening combination, all hit well, and also does a toe half to piked Jaeger as well as a toe full right into her full-out dismount.
Hungary’s Dorina Böczögö had a kind of scary bars fall in that it was very unexpected. She completed a stalder full, but as she swung down she let go of the bar, dropping hard to the mat right onto her tailbone. Thankfully, she was well enough to hop back on and finish with a double pike.
The rest of the lineup also had falls, including Bianca Mann of South Africa on her half-in double tuck, Kitti Honti of Hungary on her Gienger, Victoria-Kayen Woo of Canada on her shaposh in addition to taking an extra swing before her clear hip half where she also fell, and then Belak on her Jaeger, clear hip, and double front dismount.
Things thankfully looked a little better on beam, with Onyshko earning her second gold after nailing her bhs bhs layout and front aerial front aerial illusion half. There were a few small form mistakes as well as checks on her full Y-turn and then on her switch to standing loso, but over all it was a strong effort, earning a 14.075.
Lorrane Oliveira of Brazil had a hit routine for a silver medal finish. She looked to be very strong, performing a front tuck mount, solid bhs loso, punch front, a steady full L turn, and a double tuck dismount, slightly cowboyed and under-rotated because of a less than stellar punch off the end of the beam, but overall she looked great, just wobbling on a switch side.
In third was her teammate Julie Sinmon, who earned a 13.225 after showing great amplitude on most of her leaps and acro, though she did have a few bobbles here and there, and turned her full L turn into a 1.5 due to a wobble. She finished with a powerful double pike and looked happy to have completed her set with no major mistakes.
Wevers gets special recognition for her gorgeous turns, including a double L turn, an insanely beautiful triple pirouette, and a full L turn to pirouette to double pirouette to split jump; I also loved her side aerial to side aerial series. Unfortunately, she fell on her switch leap to Kochetkova, getting stuck partway in the twist on the handspring. She finished well with a gainer layout off the end of the beam, and honestly, despite the fall and her 4th place finish, this was a gorgeous set that can’t be missed.
Thorsdottir finished 7th with a 12.225 after two mistakes, a fall on her Onodi to illusion about halfway through the turn, and a big stumble off the mat on her 1.5 dismount, which she performed instead of the 2.5. She had some good work however, including on her full turn to full L turn to switch leap to full Y turn and on her bhs loso series. She also had problems in qualifications, slipping off on her Onodi, so I hope she and Wevers can get everything together in time for Euros. It would be criminal to miss these routines in beam finals!
The other non-podium routines also had problems, including Adlerteg with multiple wobbles including a big one on her side aerial, Böczögö with a fall on her side somi (though I loved her front aerial to front toss to back tuck series), and Israel’s Tzuf Feldon with a fall on her side somi.
Despite her disappointment with beam, Thorsdottir actually came back to win gold on floor, an impressive feat as her tumbling difficulty isn’t the greatest. Like beam, her dance elements are what you need to watch. Her 2.5 L turn spins as naturally as someone walking and she does it right into a double pirouette with a grin on her face before going into her double pike. There was a slight stumble on her triple full and she didn’t quite get her triple Y turn all the way around, but she hit her 2.5 and finished things off with a triple pirouette.
Onyshko picked up her third medal of the week with a silver on floor after earning a 13.6. She hit her full-in, 1.5 through to double tuck (definitely under-rotated though I’m impressed with her ability to still land it on her feet), and a double pike.
In third was Tarabini, who finally got some Challenge Cup hardware after making finals both in Cottbus and Doha. She opened her “Requiem for a Dream” routine with a huge punch double front and continued with a solid double pike, a punch layout full basically done as a side pass, and a double tuck to finish, earning a 13.5 to edge out Böczögö by a tenth.
Pretty much everyone on floor had solid efforts, with the exception of Honti, who had a long wait before her music started and it seemed to rattle her. She sat her opening double tuck and then had lots of small mistakes, ending with a big step over on her 2.5 final pass.
Full results are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins