Although the European Championships held last month didn’t feature a team competition, Montpellier was still a good opportunity for the different nations to test their gymnasts towards the most important appointment of the gymnastics season, the World Championships. In Glasgow, eight teams will earn a direct qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Among the countries which took part in the competition, Italy had great expectations for her girls, some of whom had legitimate shots for medals, but in the end they won none of them. However, the results earned by the Italian national team are overall positive, especially if we consider them in a team competition’s perspective.
The Italian national team director Enrico Casella stated many times this year that the World Championships are the biggest focus of the team. Italy doesn’t want to go through the same situation they faced in 2011, when they missed the direct qualification by only a spot, placing ninth in the team competition in Tokyo and then were forced to compete in the 2012 Test event in London.
Casella also stated at Jesolo that the draw for Euros hadn’t been very lucky for the Italian WAG team, who started the competition with two gymnasts in the first subdivision. This meant that the gymnasts would have competed in the morning without any information about their competitors’ results, without any knowledge of the minimum score they might need to enter an event final; also, it was pointed out that the in the early subdivision, judges might tend to be stricter than in the later ones.
All of Italy’s gymnasts performed the all-around in qualifications in order to test where they might be able to help out at Worlds this year.
Let’s begin with Carlotta Ferlito. Ferlito earned an all-around score of 54.325. On floor, she landed her full-in with low chest and took a big step, then had a little hop on her double tuck, and ended the routine with a double pike for a 13.400. On vault she performed a Yurchenko 1.5 with several form issues; she looked a bit tucked, with bent legs, and landed it with a big step forward, earning a 13.866. On bars, she debuted a new dismount: she took out the double front, opting for a full-in, and she scored a 13.000.
But on beam, her pet event and best chance at a final, she didn’t end up doing enough to qualify. Compared to the routine that she performed in Jesolo, there were some changes. She took out the full turn + split leap and the Sissone + side aerial combos, opting for an aerial walkover connected to a sheep jump, bhs bhs layout on two feet (which looked a bit piked), switch leap to back tuck, a ring leap (but the rear leg was way too low to get the credit for this skill), split jump to Sissone, a switch ring leap, and ended the routine with a 2.5 full dismount, with some form issues and a hop. Her D-score dropped down to a 5.7, likely due to the ring leap not credited and some slow connections, but the routine was overall clean and without significant wobbles, and she earned a final score of 14.058.
Vanessa Ferrari was still coming back from the mononucleosis she suffered in the previous months, which clearly affected her performance in Montpellier. On vault, she performed a Yurchenko 1.5 with bent knees and a hop for a score of 13.900. She then struggled on bars, where she had some form issues overall, and fought to not fall on her full-in dismount, scoring a 13.200. On beam she delivered a routine which featured a round-off to a layout on two feet, switch leap connected to a ring leap, then she had a balance check on her aerial walkover, missing the connection with the sheep jump, and went on with a switch half, full turn, switch ring leap with a little wobble, and finished with a double pike with a step back, for a 13.933.
On floor she didn’t conquer the opportunity to defend the title she earned last year. She missed the final with a routine where she performed a good and stuck DLO, a full-in landed with her chest pretty low and a step forward, a double tuck, and a final double pike with a scary landing, as her chest was very low and her legs were significantly bent, but she stood up quickly and avoided the fall. Either way, she scored a 13.525 which wasn’t enough to sneak in the event final.
Ferrari’s all-around score of 54.558 was the second best AA score among the Italian girls, meaning made the final, but Casella opted to replace her with Martina Rizzelli in order to prevent injuries or a further waste of energy form the Italian team captain.
Even though Rizzelli isn’t usually considered as a true all-arounder (she tends to struggle on beam), she delivered a consistent performance without major errors in qualification for a final score of 54.365. On vault, she earned a 14.333 for her DTY, where she had a big leg separation on her block, and then her body was a bit piked and she had a hop on the landing. On bars, she delivered an overall good routine. She still needs to work to clean her handstands, but she packed her routine with difficult skills, opening with a Ricna to Pak, Maloney to overshoot to handstand to Ray, then she finished her routine with a stalder full to a full-in for a score of 13.866, which let her grab the last spot in the event final.
On beam, she performed an aerial walkover, a switch leap to back tuck, bhs to LOSO (but her legs were pretty bent), split jump connected to wolf jump, side aerial, side somersault, a switch half where she didn’t reach the 180° amplitude, Y turn with a big balance check, and a double pike dismount with a step back, earning a 12.933. Finally, on floor she didn’t have big mistakes and earned a 13.233 for a routine which included a DLO that she landed with a tiny hop, a full-in, double tuck (with a step back), and a stuck double pike as her last tumbling pass. She needs to work on the amplitude of some of her leaps, but on the acrobatics side she can deliver difficult tumbling.
During the all-around final, she kept herself consistent. On floor, she scored a 13.333, then on vault she obtained the same score of the qualification round. On bars, she was a bit cleaner earning a 13.900, and finally on beam she improved her routine for a 13.100. With a final score of 54.666 she came in ninth, and that’s a really good payoff for a gymnast who had a sort of melt down in Sofia at last year Euros, and used to have many consistency issues.
But obviously the highlight of her competition was the bars routine she delivered during the event final, where she placed fifth with a score of 13.933. She still suffers some leg separation on the giant in reverse grip and on the stalders when she does the turns, but nevertheless she’s consistent and she can perform a routine of 6.0 d-score, so she could become a real lock in the Italian team both for Glasgow and Rio.
Italy had huge expectations for Erika Fasana, especially after the brilliant performances she delivered at the Italian Serie A meets, at the American Cup, and in Jesolo, and even if she didn’t come home with any medals, she performed very well throughout her days in Montpellier.
She earned the highest all-around score (56.040) among the Italian girls in quals, where she scored a 14.433 for her DTY (she usually pikes her body especially in the second part of the vault). On bars she earned a 13.766. On beam, she performed a bhs to layout on two feet, switch leap connected to a back tuck, full turn to Y turn, split jump to wolf jump, switch half, side somersault, aerial walkover, and finished with a double pike dismount with a hop for a score of 13.841. She made the floor final with a score of 14.000. Unfortunately, she went oob with her double twisting double back on her first tumbling pass, which cost her a 0.3 deduction, and then she almost stuck her DLO, hit her Memmel turn and ended the routine with a double pike, landed with a hop.
Since she placed fourth in the all-around qualification, it was clear that she could realistically fight for a medal, but her consistent performance wasn’t enough to place ahead of Ellie Downie and sneak onto the podium. She earned a 14.533 for the DTY, and then she was less clean than her usual on bars where she scored a 13.500. On beam, she earned a 13.941 after the submission of an enquiry, which let her get the credit for two additional tenths. Finally, on floor she delivered an impressive routine, earning a huge 14.500. She gave all that she could to maximize the opportunity to beat Downie, taking out the DLO and performing instead a full twisting double layout as her second tumbling pass, reaching a 6.3 d-score, but she missed the bronze by just 0.149.
In the event final, she was again unfortunate. She almost stuck her double twisting double back, but then she was a bit piked on her full twisting double layout and stumbled forward, and she didn’t complete her Memmel turn and finished with a double pike with a hop. Missing the Memmel turn made her d-score drop down to 6.0, and she came again in fourth position for just a 0.166.
Fasana tried her best at Montpellier, risking the full twisting double layout for the first time in a competition (if you give a look at our Jesolo coverage, you’ll find that Casella stated that they planned to deliver this skill only in Glasgow, but the strong competition field on floor at Euros forced them to try it in Montpellier) and still earned the best results of her gymnastics career in the continental competition.
The medals that she missed don’t minimize the great improvement that she showed on all the four apparatuses. Her scores could factor a lot in Glasgow for Italy in order to qualify for the Olympic Games, and among the Italians she definitely had the best outing in Montpellier.
In conclusion, the Italian WAG team might lack European medals this year, but the expectations for the team at World Championships are still very high.
Article by Valeria Violi