Event finals at the 2015 European Games were held Saturday with no major surprises in the results. Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland was the vault champion with an average of 14.999, all-around champion Aliya Mustafina of Russia won the bars title with a 15.4, Lieke Wevers of the Netherlands was the beam champion with a 14.2, and Steingruber narrowly beat Mustafina for the floor gold, the two going 14.266 and 14.2, respectively.
Here’s a recap of each final
1. Giulia Steingruber, Switzerland, 14.999
Steingruber had a super strong effort on her handspring Rudi vault, looking very tidy from start to finish aside from some leg separation on pre-flight. She landed a bit off-center and had to move one foot to join the other, but that aside it was a fantastic start, earning a 15.566. Due to the lack of competition in the final, she performed just an FTY instead of a DTY for her second vault, getting a great deal of height and distance and landing effortlessly for a 14.433 to easily win the title.
2. Seda Tutkhalyan, Russia, 14.683
The Russian began with a DTY, showing her typical form issues…leg separation, bent knees, a slight pike in her hips, and her chest down on the landing. She did get a nice amount of power, though, and earned a 14.833, one of her better scores. Her second vault, the Lopez, was a little cleaner but also showed a slight pike position from start to finish, earning a 14.533.
3. Lisa Top, Netherlands, 14.016
Top got things started with a mostly clean handspring tuck front full landed with just a tiny hop. Her tuck position was very open and one leg was bent awkwardly to the side instead of being glued to her other straighter leg, but she earned a 14.133 for her effort. An FTY was her second vault, and like Steingruber, she got a very strong block but her body line was quite piked and she had a huge bounce back on the landing, earning a 13.9 to very narrowly secure bronze.
4. Gabriela Janik, Poland, 13.966
Janik kicked off the final with a handspring front tuck full that showed some minor form issues and a hop forward for a 14.3, and followed it up with an exceptionally clean tsuk layout for a 13.633. Unfortunately, her lack of difficulty kept her off the medal podium by just five hundredths of a point, but her efforts were both very strong and I look forward to seeing her hopefully upgrade in the future.
5. Ana Derek, Croatia, 13.949
Last up in the final was Derek, who started off with a tsuk full, looking clean throughout but piking on the landing and hopping over to the side, where she seemed to lose her balance for a moment, earning a 13.966. Up next was a near-textbook handspring tuck half, landed with just a tiny hop in place. She did have some slightly broken leg form in the tuck position, but otherwise it was a very clean attempt, earning a 13.933 to put her just about one one hundredth away from Janik.
6. Kelly Simm, Great Britain, 7.166
For her first vault, Simm competed a Lopez, which looked decent overall but showed a heavily piked position as she prepared to land, earning a 14.333. Unfortunately, she crashed her DTY after her hand slipped from the vault table giving her absolutely no block. It was actually remarkable to see her get the twists around at all…just a very scary vault landed on her hands and knees and awarded a zero.
UNEVEN BARS FINAL
1. Aliya Mustafina, Russia, 15.400
This was an excellent routine from the Russian. I don’t love her body line on bars, and her faux knock-kneed paks will always make me cringe, but otherwise this was excellent. She began with an awesome inbar full to Maloney to pak to van Leeuwen connection, with the pak to van Leeuwen looking super quick and tidy. Her inbar half to piked Jaeger was solid, and she nailed her toe full to full-out, which she stuck cold. An excellent routine and for the third performance in a row, and she looked adorably thrilled with her work.
2. Sophie Scheder, Germany, 15.200
This was a gorgeous routine for Scheder, who was so disappointed about not making the all-around podium days earlier. She showed very clean work on her big opening sequence, including an inbar full with the pirouette straight on top of the bar to a Komova II to bail to toe full to toe shoot. She continued with an inbar to inbar half to straddle Jaeger, and then a perfectly stuck full-in dismount, a huge smile on her face. Excellent work here.
3. Andreea Iridon, Romania, 12.800
Well, it wasn’t a perfect routine, but Iridion, who has been hailed as the Romanian bars savior since her junior days for her comparatively clean lines and fluid swing, earned herself a bars medal in Baku. It was kind of a ‘by default’ medal, as pretty much everyone in the bottom four had mistakes and Iridon herself had a fall, though without the fall it was clearly the best routine of those who had errors. Iridon began with a blind half to stalder full to Gienger, which is where her hands slipped. She wasted no time getting back on the bars for her Ricna, bail to stalder to Ray, toe full (with her body a little bent over to the right though she straightened up nicely) and a stuck full-in dismount. Again, without the fall, it looked mostly clean, so she made the most sense for a medal above others who also had issues.
4. Noemi Makra, Hungary, 12.733
First to go up in this rotation, Makra looked a little nervous and showed some form issues throughout. She began with a Maloney to clear hip (which was over-arched though she did a good job bringing it back into control) straight into a Hindorff, caught close and showing form problems. Her Church was nicely done, as was her hop blind to straddle Jaeger before continuing on with a bail to toe full and toe shoot. Her dismount had problems, however, with tucked knees on her double layout likely bringing her start value down a good deal…I’m almost positive they credited that as a double tuck, which would also take away from her composition requirements, as it’s below a D element. Unfortunate, as she had a shot at the podium, but definitely not her best work.
5. Celine van Gerner, Netherlands, 12.666
Van Gerner started off her routine with a toe on to toe half to Jaeger, catching the Jaeger basically with her chest, though she did an incredible job to keep her swing going as if nothing happened! I think many other gymnasts would have hopped off at that point. She continued with a toe full to bail to Ray and then landed her full-out dismount with a hop. This definitely would have been a solid effort if not for the unfortunate middle blunder.
6. Tea Ugrin, Italy, 12.533
While Ugrin’s routine on the surface didn’t seem to have much wrong with it, it was all in the details here. Her biggest problem is her bent elbows, which really adds up skill after skill. Overall, her Maloney to bail to stalder to toe shoot went well until she caught the toe shoot in a slight dead hang, and then she got stuck on her inbar to inbar full, getting the latter only halfway around before having to take extra swings. On her second attempt, she hit the inbar full into the Gienger, and then hit her inbar half to front giant half to full-in dismount with ease. It definitely looked like it lacked the larger errors made by Iridon, Makra, and van Gerner, and by the look on her face after she came off the podium, I think she really expected to medal having seen everyone’s large mistakes before her, but in the end she finished less than three tenths off the podium, a rough break for the young Italian.
BALANCE BEAM FINAL
1. Lieke Wevers, Netherlands, 14.200
The Baku beam champion was last to go in this final, but demonstrated the greatest skill and beauty on the event, and was absolutely deserving of gold. She began with a clean switch leap followed by a split leap to to sissone, beautiful shows of flexibility, and then a quick side aerial to side aerial series. Her first ‘issue’ was the pause between her front aerial and sheep jump, and then her knee bent slightly in the final half of her 1.5 L-turn. Her double pirouette was lovely, however, and she hit a clean back handspring and a solid side somi before dismounting with a clean and nearly stuck gainer layout, and she was the happiest gold medalist I’ve ever seen.
2. Andreea Iridon, Romania, 14.000
Iridon had the honor of going first on this event, and started off with her split mount. Her 1.5 Y turn had a slight wobble, but she hit her switch half without any issue before going into her side somi with a slight check. She paused between the side aerial to sissone to split leap, missing that connection, and hit her bhs layout but with her body fully piked. The switch leap to full Y turn was gorgeous (though there was a check at the tail end), there were slightly bent knees on her front aerial, and she had a slightly low landing on her double pike, but her feet barely moved. A very successful performance to earn the silver medal.
3. Giulia Steingruber, Switzerland, 13.700
Beginning with a switch leap mount, Steingruber hit her front aerial to split jump to wolf jump pretty seamlessly before nailing her bhs layout to applause. She had a big wobble on her punch front pike and put her hand down to steady herself, but hit her switch to side somi, and stuck the gainer layout full dismount, making it a very strong routine with the exception of her punch front error.
4. Sophie Scheder, Germany, 13.666
Beginning with a slight check on her bhs loso, Scheder hit a beautifully extended front aerial to sissone to split jump, a side somi with a slight check, a check on her full Y turn, and then a check on her slide aerial that cased her to put her hand down and grab the beam for support. Her switch leap to switch side had a pause, and she hit her gainer layout with just a hop forward on her dismount. Clean work, lovely work for the most part, but very nervous work, and she was definitely heavily deducted for the little bobbles on every skill. Still, this was not a bad score taking the errors into account!
5. Seda Tutkhalyan, Russia, 13.566
Tutkhalyan got off to a rough start here, opening with a bad fall on her roundoff layout. She hit her split jump to wolf jump, and then her back leg wasn’t quite where it needed to be on her switch ring. There was just a step back on her roundoff layout full, she hit her front aerial to sheep with only slightly iffy form, her switch to switch half had a small pause, and she took a step back on her double pike dismount. The fall aside, it was probably a gold-worthy routine, but you could see in the replay she kind of rolled her ankle landing that layout before crashing to the mat, just a bummer after her other great work this week.
6. Georgina Hockenhull, Great Britain, 11.833
This was a bummer of a routine for Hockenhull, known for her normally great performances here. Right away, she was way off-line for her side aerial to loso and you could tell a quarter of the way through the series that she just wasn’t going to make it anywhere near she needed to be. She slipped off the edge after landing on one foot, and it looked like it hurt, too! She hit her front aerial but paused before the switch leap and then did some choreo before the switch side, so didn’t get any connections there, but hit her sissone to wolf jump and her full turn with no problems. She also performed a switch side, side somi, and a clean double tuck dismount, but by that point the damage had unfortunately been done.
FLOOR EXERCISE FINAL
1. Giulia Steingruber, Switzerland, 14.266
Steingruber went up last, giving her a slight advantage over the others in terms of judging, though this event truly was hers to lose, as she was easily the strongest tumbler of the bunch and with some great dance elements as well, including that awesome tour jete full right at the start, which she got around very nicely and hit a solid 180 in the split position. Very well done, as was her full-in double layout, landed with just a tiny bounce forward. The double layout was equally solid, with a tiny bounce back, she showed strong accuracy in her turns, and she nailed her double tuck with a rebound back into the corner. Unfortunately, her last pass – the double pike – had a bit of a wild landing causing her to flip one leg up backwards as she bounced out-of-bounds, but otherwise this was one of her overall most solid floor routines to date and she was certainly deserving of her finish atop the podium.
2. Aliya Mustafina, Russia, 14.200
Going up second, Mustafina began her routine with a super straight double layout, landed with just a slight hop back into the corner. The turn sequence she went for was unbelievably gorgeous, with 1.5 rotations in attitude and then raising the leg into the split position to continue with another 1.5 rotations in, though she stumbled out of it a bit early, unfortunately. Had it worked out I would’ve cried at the beauty. The form on her 2.5 to front full was messy, as usual, though she landed it well, and she worked her triple Y turn straight into a full pirouette, which was excellent. Her 1.5 to Rudi was landed right on the line, and then she nailed her quad turn going right into her leap series before finishing with her final tumbling pass, a double tuck landed just a tad bit short and with a step forward before completing her double Y turn (slightly stumbled). A beautiful routine, her best of the week, but the many small errors here in the end were costlier than Steingruber’s one larger error. She didn’t seem so bothered by it, smiling at Steingruber’s score and waiting to give her a big hug. Terrific sportsmanship as usual for these two.
3. Lieke Wevers, Netherlands, 13.800
Wevers’ enchantingly beautiful routine began with her signature pirouette into position, my favorite thing in life. Her opening choreography sequence went perfectly with her first dance elements, a double L turn into a double pirouette. She hit her double tuck with a hop back before her middle choreography, which is absolutely breathtaking. She did lose form a bit on her double turn in attitude, and her ankles were crossed on her 2.5, which she finished with a slight hop forward. At the end, she got her triple pirouette only to about a 2.5, stumbling a bit instead of finishing it cleanly, but as with all of her floor work in Baku, it was a truly lovely routine, earning just enough for bronze after a slightly lower execution than what she’s used to.
4. Lisa Verschueren, Belgium, 13.566
Verschueren opened with a double tuck bounced back but still landed nicely in what looked like a choreographed lunge. Her 1.5 to front full had a slight hop, and she got her double wolf turn around pretty expertly, timed exactly to her super dramatic and freaky music. Ending with a double pike into a controlled lunge, this was a great routine for the Belgian gymnast, who was just about two tenths from the podium.
5. Silvia Zarzu, Romania, 13.566
I was pleasantly surprised by Zarzu’s floor, which is so much fun to watch. Beginning with a 1.5 through to triple full landed only slightly short, she went right on to het a 2.5 to punch front tuck, landed just slightly out-of-bounds. There was a good landing on her double pike, and then a hop back on her double tuck to finish. Had it been a bit cleaner in the landings (as it was in qualifications), she definitely would have challenged for a spot on the podium, but either way she has lots of promise as a tumbler and with a bit of polish, could be a future bright spot for the Romanian program on this event.
6. Valentine Pikul, France, 12.766
I love this routine, and Pikul started it off with a beautifully controlled quad turn before going into her full-in, landed with just a slight hop to her right. She landed her double pike with a hop back, and continued with her frantic choreography, which I continue to find super entertaining even on my 800th viewing of the week. Her double tuck was a bit weak on the landing, with bent knees and looking a bit short. Though there were no major errors her aside from some form and landing deductions, she did seem to stumble through some of her dance elements a bit, especially before the middle pass.
Article by Lauren Hopkins