The World Challenge Cup in Anadia, Portugal held this weekend saw some major routines and big scores from gymnasts who came from nearly every continent.
Marcia Videaux of Cuba won the vault gold with an average of 15.112, Jessica Lopez of Venezuela was the bars champion with a score of 14.850, Emma Larsson of Sweden won on beam with a 13.600, and Dorina Böczögö of Hungary won floor with a 13.650.
Full results are available here.
I think Videaux was a bit of a surprise in her win here, as she came in a relative unknown. The first year senior vaulted a clean tsuk double full to start and then hit an excellent handspring Rudi with just a slight hop back, earning a 15.225 to average a 15.112 to take the title. She definitely made a huge impression in Portugal and hope she gets to go to Worlds this year.
Alexa Moreno of Mexico was the silver medalist, and also started things out with a tsuk double full. Her landing was one of her best I think, with just her chest down and a step back for a 14.725. But her form was much better than usual, and it was clear she’s been working hard on this event. Her second vault was also a handspring Rudi, which also looked solid, as she had just some slight leg separation on the pre-flight and took a slight hop back. Her 14.9 was more than enough for silver.
In bronze medal position was Makarena Pinto of Chile, who hit a nice front tuck full with just a tiny step for a 14.4 followed by a tsuk 1.5, which was landed with just a small hop but showed a slight bend in the layout position in her hips and knees, earning a 14.375 to average a 14.387.
Pinto beat her own teammate, Sao Paolo bronze vault medalist Franchesca Santi, by just 0.05. Santi started with a very strong DTY, which looked clean in the air and had just a slight step out to the side to earn a 14.9. Her second vault, however, was a comparatively simple handspring front pike, beautiful in the air and with a step forward on the landing. Her execution here was a fantastic 9.175 but with the difficulty at only 4.6, her total was 13.775 for a 14.337 average.
Sweden’s Marcela Torres was also very close to the podium. The Argentinian transplant who won the Swedish all-around title this year had two very clean efforts, including on her tsuk full, where she stepped to the side and received a penalty for her toe going over the line, and on her front layout half, which was very nice in the air but she had a big bounce back on the landing. The vaults earned scores of 14.125 and 14.45 to average 14.287.
Though Teja Belak of Slovenia normally pulls off medals at the Challenge Cups, her difficulty was no match for some of those with bigger skills. She was still very clean on her front tuck full with barely any feet movement on the landing, and then she performed a beautiful Yurchenko 1.5 though came up a bit short on the landing and had to take two big steps forward, earning a 13.75 and averaging a 14.075 for 6th place.
Fan favorite Yesenia Ferrera of Cuba got started with a big Rudi but her form was quite loose in the air and she had a low landing, bouncing forward hard onto her right leg and injuring her knee. She earned a 14.875 for the Rudi but was unable to continue with a second vault. Paula Mejias of Puerto Rico was in the same boat. She hit her tsuk tuck half with a step out of bounds, but looked to be in pain as she walked away from the apparatus and did not continue with a second. The two placed 7th and 8th, respectively.
The undisputed champion on uneven bars at Anadia was Lopez with a brilliant routine. Lopez’s routine is huge, and she’s clearly working her way up to making a Worlds final. Beginning with her piked Tkatchev to pak, she showed a good deal of leg separation on the latter but kept the flow of the routine going into a Maloney to clear hip full to Tkatchev to Gienger, an excellent combination though again she had leg separation on the Maloney. She caught her Jaeger and hit her double front with a step forward getting a big high five from her coach though looking somewhat pissed, possibly about her form errors. Lopez had no cause for concern, however; she earned a 14.85 to win the title by over a point.
Filipa Martins, the hometown girl of this meet held in Portugal, earned silver for her routine. She had a clean clear hip to shaposh to bail combination, a toe full, a Ray transition with some great height, a piked Jaeger, and a full-in with just a tiny bobble to thunderous applause from her countrymates. Her score of 13.65 put her in the silver medal position by two tenths over vault champion Videaux.
Videaux ended up with the bronze for her routine, which featured a stalder full to airy Tkatchev, clear hip to stalder (arched a little) to giant half to Endo half to bail to Ray, a lovely combination, and she landed her full-out dismount with a tiny hop over. It wasn’t a super difficult routine, and she doesn’t have a tremendously natural swing, but she does a great job with what she has and earned a 13.425 for her excellent effort.
In 4th place, behind by nearly a point, was Hungary’s Böczögö, who also had a good effort but had a slight error that kept her from challenging for the podium (in addition to her lower difficulty). Böczögö performed a toe on to stalder hecht transition and a piked Jaeger before getting stuck in a handstand and needing to muscle up, and she was forced to take an extra swing before her pak. Her toe full to toe shoot was nicely done, and she had a tiny hop on her double pike dismount for a 12.65.
Two gymnasts tied for 5th place with a score of 12.45, Simona Castro of Chile and Elisa Hämmerle of Austria. Castro had only a 4.6 difficulty but gorgeous execution, including beautiful lines and a lovely toe point. Skill-wise, she had a Jaeger, clear hip to toe on, bail with a tiny bit of leg separation to a toe shoot caught a tiny bit close, and a big floaty double pike dismount nearly stuck. She’s a very lovely bar worker, and I’d love to see her increase her difficulty a bit, though I wouldn’t want to risk her gorgeous execution.
Hämmerle had the higher difficulty – 5.3 – but also had an error that limited her score at just 12.45. After performing a toe half, she struggled with her forward giant and instead just dropped right off the high bar, landing as if she was dismounting, which is what the crowd seemed to think as they applauded this fall. The fall aside, she had a solid Maloney to bail to toe on to toe shoot, a nice Jaeger, and a double layout dismount with a bit of leg separation but landed with a smile despite the fall.
The remaining two routines also had falls, both Claudia Colom of Spain (7th place, 11.925) and Belak (8th place, 10.875) on their toe-on to handstands, which they didn’t hit and had to hop off, and then Belak again after arching over on her bail. Colom actually has a ton of difficulty, though she looks a little rushed and has various form issues throughout (and I believe also took an extra swing before her Maloney in this routine). She has a great stalder to Bhardwaj, however, and whips her double layout around nicely. Belak’s difficulty was a bit low in addition to the mistakes, but she had a nice Jaeger and hit her double front with a hop.
It was great to see the lovely Swedish gymnast Larsson win the beam medal after a nicely hit routine. She did have a bobble on her bhs bhs layout series, but fought to stay on, and then had a little check between her front aerial and sheep. Her Onodi was lovely, she got great amplitude on her switch half, and her full Y-turn and side somi were both beautiful. Larson finished with a big double pike dismount, just jumping her feet together at the end, earning a 13.6 to secure gold by just about a tenth.
She defeated Argentina’s Ayelen Tarabini, who had a slight bobble on her full turn and a slip on her switch half, and I believe her front aerial and side aerial should have been connected though she took a pause between the two. She did hit a powerful punch front pike, showed great work on her leaps and bhs loso series, and had just a step back on her double tuck, earning a 13.475 for silver and finishing with a smile.
The bronze medal was shared between two very unexpected young ladies, Charlotte Sullivan of New Zealand and Tzuf Feldon of Israel, neither of whom qualified in medal position – Sullivan was 8th and Feldon was the first reserve, but got a spot when first place Ferrera had to back out due to her vault injury. The ladies each earned a score of 13.1, Sullivan with a 5.3 d-score and Feldon with a 5.2.
Sullivan, looking lovely in a purple version of Jordyn Wieber’s 2012 nationals leo, started with a front aerial to wolf jump, hit a solid bhs layout, a lovely full attitude turn, and hopped forward a tiny bit on her 1.5 dismount. There were a few little issues like her switch half, which was a little short, and she was definitely a bit tentative at times, but it was an excellent routine.
Feldon began with a little wobble on her bhs loso series and she was a tiny bit short on her leaps but had a beautiful Y-turn, front aerial to sissone, split jump to wolf jump, and side somi, showing her insanely lovely lines on each skill. Feldon dismounted with a punch layout full, landing well and walking all smiles to her coach after that great job.
In 5th place was Hämmerle, showing a great double pirouette, a solid bhs loso, a bobble on her side somi, powerful punch front, and a punch layout full dismount, earning a 12.975. She was followed by Lovisa Estberg of Sweden in 6th, who earned a 12.8 for her routine, which included a steady bhs loso, side somi, back tuck, side aerial, front aerial, and sheep jump, all looking very nice on their own but nothing was connected, bringing her difficulty down quite a bit. There was a bobble on her full pirouette, and she finished with a low double tuck with a hop on the landing.
Colom finished in 7th with a 12.6, hitting a lovely bhs loso, front aerial, full Y-turn with a bobble, side aerial with a check, switch to wolf jump, switch side, and punch layout full dismount, a very tidy if simple routine. She was followed by New Zealand’s Courtney McGregor in 8th. McGregor struggled a bit with her routine, which had the highest d-score of the bunch, earning just an 11.95.
Böczögö was the gold medal winner on floor with an exceptional routine earning a 13.65. Opening with a piked full-in, she went on to stick the heck out of her double front, a super nicely controlled full Y-turn, a double tuck with a slight bounce back, a gorgeous illusion turn, and a double pike with a tiny bounce to finish. It was one of her best routines I’ve seen, and more than deserving of the win.
About two tenths behind her for silver was Tarabini, earning her second medal of the day. She ran into a punch double front, which had an excellent landing, and then hit her punch front layout full as well as her double tuck with just a bounce, leaving the floor with the biggest smile – and perhaps a few happy tears – after her beautiful routine, which earned a 13.425.
Sasa Golob of Slovenia won the bronze here, opening with a big double pike rebounded back slightly, and continuing with a double tuck bounced back, a 2.5, and a lovely switch ring to finish for a 13.225.
In 4th place was Castro with a 12.95. Castro began with a rebounded double pike, hit her double full, and stumbled her 2.5 over slightly before finishing. Moreno was 5th with a 12.725 for her double layout, double arabian (which she stumbled back quite a bit), somewhat sloppy 2.5, and a low double pike, and Estberg placed 6th with a 12.675 after a 2.5 to punch front tuck bounced forward a bit, a double tuck with lost control on the landing, a hit double full, and a double pike to finish.
In 7th was Martins, who opened with a tucked full-in bounced back a bit. She went on display some unique choreography and a double Memmel turn, but came in far too low on her triple full, which she landed on one knee. Her double tuck was a bit low but fine, and she scored a 12.55 with the mistake. Her teammate, Zoi Lima, placed 8th with an 11.825 after a rough routine of her own.
Article by Lauren Hopkins