The Russian Championships were held for the junior gymnasts over the past week, and we saw some fantastic work in both the master of sports division (pretty much anyone old enough to compete at the Olympic Games with a few exceptions) as well as the candidate master of sports division (the 2001-2002 babies).
Daria Skrypnik won the MS all-around title with a 58.333, defeating last year’s champion Angelina Melnikova by a full point. Melnikova earned silver with her score of 57.332, narrowly edging out Ekaterina Sokova, who brought home the bronze with a 57.134 after growing tremendously in the past year. Last year’s CMS champion Elena Eremina placed fourth with a 57.033.
These four also shared the event titles. Eremina won on vault with an average of 14.134, Skrypnik won on bars with a huge 15.567, Melnikova won on beam with a 14.767, and Sokova won on floor with a 14.633.
The team final was combined for both MS and CMS athletes. The girls from the Central Federal District (featuring Melnikova, Simakova, and Sokova) reached the top of the podium with a score of 275.267 in the six-up, five-count format. In second was the group from Moscow (featuring Varvara Zubova) with a 266.700 and in third was the Volga Federal District (featuring Uliana Perebinosova and Natalia Kapitonova) with a 264.134.
Though Skrypnik counted falls during the team competition, she was very impressive in the individual finals, especially on bars. She has an excellent opening combination, including a Komova II to pak salto to Chow to clear hip half to inbar half right into the piked Jaeger. It’s gorgeous and super clean, and she also does an inbar full right into her full-in dismount.
Skrypnik also has a serviceable DTY, and with some work on beam and floor, she could be considered a nice contender for the all-around final next year. Right now her beam is a bit shaky and there are noticeable form deductions in terms of bent knees where they shouldn’t be, but she does have some promising elements – like the side aerial to illusion turn and a beautiful Onodi. She’s also dismounting with a triple full that she’s struggling to get fully around, but again, with work it could be impressive.
On floor she competes her opening triple full so well, it looks like she could add another twist in there, and she’s also doing a 2.5 and a double tuck. It’s not very difficult, but there is some great work happening putting her on a very good path for 2016.
Melnikova showed tremendous prowess on beam, performing difficult work and looking both clean and elegant while doing it. She does her bhs bhs layout series into her split jump and then wolf jump, and no element seems like a struggle for her (though she did have a fall in the team final).
Otherwise, based on this competition alone, it’s hard to say what her future holds. On vault, she has a DTY, which is very messy and was way over-scored (she received a 15.133 despite leg separation at the start, crossed legs at the knees during the second twist, and two steps back on the landing). She goes for some big tumbling on floor – including a piked full-in, whip whip to double tuck, 1.5 to double full, and a double pike – but the control isn’t really there.
Bars is a strong routine if she hits, but her consistency there isn’t great with her bigger skills, as she fell both in the all-around and in event finals, and her form in both was iffy. I think with Melnikova, I was in awe of her last year, but we just haven’t quite seen the improvement to keep us on board for this year.
We did see that improvement from Sokova, and the good thing about her is that there’s still room for more (especially on vault, where she’s only doing an FTY…that alone would have boosted her ahead of Melnikova in the all-around).
I think Sokova, who just turned 14 in December making her the youngest of the juniors eligible for Rio, will be a key player for Russia in the next year because of her floor. It’s no secret that the country is sorely lacking here, but she is a tremendous force on the event, beginning with a huge double arabian. She also does a 1.5 to front full, a 2.5 to punch front, and a double pike, all polished for the most part, and her leaps and dance elements look nice as well.
She’s solid on bars, and while she’s not as pretty as the typical Russian bar worker and her form definitely needs work, she seems like she could be counted on to put up a strong score in a pinch. Plus, she has some big skills, including a Church and a double front half-out dismount. If she hits beam, it’s a great routine with a bhs bhs layout series, awesome front handspring to front tuck, full Y-turn, and double tuck dismount. Throughout the week, there were definitely nervous wobbles and falls, though she earned a 15.0 on the event in the team final, so she has the potential to make it happen. That’s what the next year will be all about.
Overall, I got the impression that bars was the strongest event among the juniors. Are you surprised? There’s definitely no shortage of great Russian bar workers, with Eremina and Kapitonova both looking especially exquisite.
Eremina is just 13 and too young for Rio, but she’s already showing tremendous work on every single event. She won the vault title by half a point, and though she made mistakes in the floor final, her all-around routine was superb, showing strong stumbling throughout. On beam, she was a little wobbly and fell in her all-around performance, but she hit her event finals routine well enough for silver, including a bhs loso loso series and a double tuck dismount.
Though Kapitonova is comparatively weak in the all-around, she more than makes up for it on bars, showing a Chow full to Komova II to pak as her opening combo and dismounting with a toe full to double pike.
All results available here. Keep your eyes peeled for the recap of the CMS competition!
Article by Lauren Hopkins