Two weeks ago following the Golden League competition, it seemed we were sure who would make it on the World Championships team. However, the Italian Championships – known as “Assoluti” – might have shaken things up quite a bit.
Unexpectedly, Tea Ugrin won the all-around title with a score of 55.45 (0.6 in bonus) for the second time in her career (she managed to claim the all-around gold in 2013 as a junior). Even though her d-scores aren’t high overall, she makes up for this weakness with very strong execution. Hitting four out of four routines on Saturday and benefitting from her competitors’ mistakes, she jumped at the top of the ranking, ahead of every gymnast currently on the nominative roster for Glasgow.
On vault, she earned a 13.7 for her FTY, and then on bars she obtained a 13.85 (d-score 5.7; 0.2 bonus) for a routine that featured a Maloney to Bail to stalder, toe shoot, inbar full to Gienger, stalder half, and a full-in. On beam, she performed a front aerial to split jump to wolf jump, full turn, switch ring, switch half, side aerial, straddle ¼, side somi, and finished with a double full, for a 13.9. Finally, floor was her strongest event, delivering an upgraded routine which included a stuck full-in, a Ferrari, a stuck triple twist, a double L turn to full turn, and finished with a double tuck that she hopped on the landing, managing a 14 (0.4 bonus).
In the event finals, she wasn’t as clean as she was in the all-around, having a hesitation on a handstand on bars and taking a couple of steps back on the dismount, though she upgraded the d-score by a tenth for a 13.65 (0.2). On beam, she placed fourth scoring a 13.9, with a tenth off for an overtime deduction.
The all-around silver medal went to the other gymnast who underperformed in Porto San Giorgio, Elisa Meneghini, with a score of 55.15 (0.6 bonus). Her 1.5 yurchenko vault is still consistent, earning a 14.45 (0.1). On bars, she didn’t commit any remarkable mistakes, performing a toe half, straddled Jaeger, Tkatchev, bail, toe shoot, toe full, and a double arabian dismount, managing a 13.7 (d-score of 5.5).
Unfortunately she fell again on her side somi on beam, scoring a 12.95 (0.1). This skill seems to give her some trouble, as she frequently falls on it. But she shined on floor, delivering a stuck double layout, a stuck full-in, whip whip to stuck double tuck, and finished with a double pike, the only pass where she hopped on the landing, for a 14.05 (0.4).
Meneghini went on to hit all of her routines in the event finals, earning a bronze on beam (13.85; 0.1), a silver on floor (14.2; 0.4), and placing sixth on bars with a 13.6.
Erika Fasana, who was considered the favorite for the title, placed third with a score of 54.95 (0.7). Actually, she has a stress microfracture on her tibia, and was thus forced to water down her routines a bit. She performed her usual DTY for a 14.7 (0.2), while on bars she delivered a toe full to Maloney to giant full, Church, Ray, a bail to toe shoot, and a double layout dismount, managing a 13.9 (0.1).
She struggled on beam, where she obtained only a 12.35. Her injury forced her to take out a couple of skills, which made it difficult to fulfill all the composition requirements. However, she looked strong on floor, where she performed a stuck double layout, a full-in (with a hop), a Memmel, a Ferrari, and an almost stuck double pike, for a 14 (0.4).
In the event finals, Fasana had troubles on bars, falling on her Church, but she claimed the floor gold with an extremely clean routine, earning a 14.35 (0.4). The Italian national team director Enrico Casella stated that the plan is to gradually upgrade Erika’s floor routine as we get closer to Glasgow, in order to not stress her injury too much. They intend to try the double double at the upcoming Novara Cup in order to prepare for Worlds. The addition of this skill would up her floor d-score to a 6.1, making her more competitive in that final.
Lara Mori came in fourth with a solid performance throughout the weekend. She earned a 13.65 for her FTY, and then on bars she obtained a 13.7 for a routine that included a stalder full, Ricna, Ray, bail to Ray, stalder half to Endo and a double layout. On beam she looked a bit wobbly, delivering a switch leap to back tuck, Y turn, bhs to loso loso (leg up), side aerial to Sissone, switch ring leap (leg up again), switch half, and a 2.5 full dismount with a hop, earning a 13.45 (0.1). Finally, she managed a 13.55 (0.4) on floor, performing a full-in, a triple twist, a double tuck, and a stuck double pike.
In the event finals, Mori earned higher scores on bars (13.85) and beam (14), winning silver on the latter. She struggled on her triple twist on floor, underrotating it a bit, not only getting heavy execution deductions but also seeing the skill downgraded to a 2.5, lowering her d-score to a 5.4. However, she looked strong in the other tumbling passes, for a final score of 13.45.
Martina Rizzelli placed fifth with some ups and downs. She scored a 14.6 (0.2) for her DTY. On bars she fell on her very first skill, the Ricna, and also lost the tenth for the connection to the pak, earning just a 13 (0.2) on what is normally her best event. On beam, her weakest event, she managed a 12.85, while on floor she delivered a Memmel, a double layout (with a tiny hop), a full-in with a step back that went oob, a double tuck, and a double pike that she hopped on the landing, for a final score of 13.2 (0.4). She redeemed herself on bars in the event final, where she won the national title with a score of 14.25 (d-score 6.0; 0.4 bonus).
Carlotta Ferlito, who won the all-around gold at the Golden League two weeks ago, had a rough meet on day one, making several mistakes. She started the competition on bars, where she fell first on an overarched stalder full, and then on the double arabian dismount, earning only a 12.2 (0.2). On beam, her standout event, she put her hands down on the beam on the back tuck, and looked shaky overall. After these troubles, she opted to play it safe for the dismount with a simple layout, though she still managed a 13.100 despite losing a tenth for going overtime and getting her d-score downgraded to a 5.1.
But she pulled herself together on floor, where she looked very clean, performing a full-in (with a hop), a stuck triple twist (though she crossed her legs), and a double pike. She also attempted the Mustafina turn again, and earned a final score of 14.1 (0.4). Finally, she delivered a 1.5 Yurchenko on vault for a 14 (0.1).
Ferlito had a much better outcome in the event finals, winning the beam gold with a routine that included an aerial walkover well connected to a sheep jump, a bhs bhs layout, switch leap, back tuck, full turn to split jump, side aerial, switch ring leap, and a double pike with a step back, for a final score of 14.7 (0.1), an excellent outcome. She also won the floor bronze medal, scoring a 14 (0.4).
Enus Mariani also struggled throughout the weekend. She fell on bars on both days on the same skill, the opening toe full, earning the same score of 13.35 (0.2) for each routine. Casella stated that it’s only a matter of self-confidence, and that they’ll fix it in time for Worlds. For the very first time, Italy might have a bars line up at Worlds with two 6.0 d-score routines, which would factor a lot for the team’s qualification chances.
Mariani also fell on beam, losing her balance on a relatively easy split jump, and looking wobbly overall, for a 12.05 (0.1). She has low difficulty scores on both vault and floor, earning a 13.9 for the FTY, and a 13.700 for a routine that included a double tuck, a double full, a clean Memmel, and a stuck double pike. In the floor event final, she managed a 13.65.
The vault final was won by the promising junior Sofia Busato, who managed a relatively low average of 13.975, thanks to a huge 14.85 (0.2) for her first vault, a DTY. Her second vault, however, is still quite simple due to the foot injury that kept her off the competition floor for several months. Silver went to veteran Adriana Crisci (average of 13.875), while Desiree Carofiglio won the bronze medal (average of 13.75).
Giorgia Campana and Giada Grisetti tied for bars silver respectively with a bonus-free 14 and a 13.85 (0.2 bonus), respectively. Grisetti deserves an honorable mention for coming out of nowhere (at least for the Italian fans) with beautiful lines and a stunning elegance among the Italian gymnasts. She is actually Swiss, but she opted to represent Italy internationally from this point on in order to continue training with her coach. She’s eligible for Rio, so keep an eye on her! Switzerland must be very upset to see her go.
During the live stream, there was an update about Iosra Abdelaziz, who was a guest commentator for the bars final. She basically disappeared after her impressive performance at the Youth Olympic Games due to an ankle injury, but we learned she has since undergone surgery and this week has been allowed by the doctors to tumble again. However, in the interim she kept up with bars training, upgrading with a shaposh half (and no one else in Italy performs this kind of skill).
There were updates on Vanessa Ferrari’s situation too. She skipped both the Golden League and the Italian Championships due to her foot tendinitis (this time it’s not the tendon that she underwent surgery for in the past). The plan is to come back on all the four apparatuses at the Novara Cup, maybe with a watered down routine on floor, pacing carefully toward Worlds. It’s still not known if she would be healthy enough to help the team in Glasgow, however this is the aim she’s working for.
In conclusion, the Italian Championships gave us more open questions than answers. With Tea Ugrin’s victory, the gymnasts in contention for Worlds are now at eight. While Fasana, Ferlito, and Rizzelli, given their standout events, are basically locks for the team right now, the remaining four spots are pretty open.
Meneghini pulled herself together after the Golden League, but she is still struggling on beam, where she’s supposed to shine. She tried throughout the season to include the double turn and the switch ring leap, but the former is way too inconsistent to risk it in Glasgow, while the latter is hardly ever credited. She has a solid 1.5 Yurchenko on vault, which could be very helpful in quals, and she has a good floor too, though her bars aren’t very consistent.
Mori has lower d-scores on vault (just a FTY) and floor, but she has an impressive record of 13 out of 13 hit routines between the Golden League and the Italian Championships, which makes her the most consistent gymnast on the national team, able to step up on every event if needed.
Then there’s the decision between Mariani and Ugrin. Mariani has a huge 6.0 d-score routine on bars which could help Italy a lot on their weakest event, but she showed consistency issues, while Ugrin has lower d-scores but good execution if she hits.
Moreover, it’s hard to predict the Italian puzzle for Worlds until Ferrari’s chances become clearer. Will Vanessa be able to perform on all four apparatuses? And if not, which events will she do? Who will step up to replace her and where? After this weekend, can Ugrin give everyone a run for their money? Could Mariani’s consistency issues take her out of contention? Stay tuned, as surely the upcoming Novara Cup will tell us more!
Full results are available here.
Article by Valeria Violi
Photo by Filippo Tomasi / FGI