Before the competition, German head coach Ulla Koch stated she had three Hambüchens on her team – Elisabeth Seitz, Sophie Scheder, and Pauline Schäfer.
All three are competing at the same high level, making the race unpredictable, but surprisingly, none of these three were leading the competition halfway through. Instead, it was Leah Griesser in front due to balance beam falls from “the Hambüchens,” but in the end, the expected three finished on top of the podium separated by only three tenths.
The top group started on balance beam, which is where the mishaps came in. Schäfer, who fell on her eponymous side somi half, still managed a 14.15; however, though a little surprisingly, Griesser took an early lead after a strong bar routine.
In rotation two, Scheder and Seitz recovered from their falls and showed good floor routines while Schäfer counted another fall. Meanwhile, Griesser continued her good day with a solid balance beam routine that secured first place at the halfway point.
Then, Scheder vaulted a beautiful FTY for a 14.2, Seitz went for the DTY and fell, and then Schäfer took over the lead with a huge handspring front layout half, posting a 14.9 as they moved to the final rotation.
Griesser and Schäfer had to compete on their worst events in this rotation, while Scheder and Seitz were comfortable on bars, where they can both post scores in the mid-15s. Scheder was the first to go up, but had a shocking fall early in her routine. Later, she showed a new skill she hopes to get named for her in Glasgow, an inbar piked Tkatchev.
(Note from Lauren – Kelly Simm of Great Britain is also attempting the skill this year and did a fantastic job with it at British Team Championships, so if they both hit at Worlds we can call it the Schimm.)
Griesser competed just a layout Yurchenko on vault, which dropped her behind Scheder, Schäfer showed a good bar routine but only scored a 13.65 due to her low difficulty though it was enough to put her ahead of Scheder, and then Seitz finished things up with an excellent, calm routine that earned a 15.3 to secure the all-around title.
Lisa Katharina Hill competed for the first time since last year after having surgery on her knee. She showed a very solid competition to place fifth with a 54.6. Janine Berger, fourth on vault in London three years ago, also returned to competition after her ACL tear last year. She competed only on bars, however, and fell there, earning just a 12.0.
With Scheder, Schäfer, and Seitz, the German WAG team has a great core, while Hill showed that she’s back to help the team compensate for the loss of the injured Kim Bui and Kim Janas. Griesser has also become more confident with her international assignments this year and could be a very productive member, though that last spot will be a tough one to figure out.
German Championships continue with event finals tomorrow afternoon. For full results from today’s all-around competition, click here.
Article by Lisa Schwarz
Photo thanks to Deutscher Turner-Bund