The Ups and Downs of Germany’s Final Trial

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The German women competed in their final Worlds team trial this past weekend in front of an enthusiastic crowd in Stuttgart, home to superstar Elisabeth Seitz.

Seitz once again topped the all-around podium as she did at Championships a few weeks ago, earning a 56.45 to become one of three gymnasts named immediately to the Worlds team. The other two were Sophie Scheder and Pauline Schäfer, who finished with scores of 55.45 and 55.2, respectively, and this group has been bringing in excellent results all season long. Their inclusion at Worlds was basically mandatory.

Though their results looked strong, even these top gymnasts still had some mistakes and falls at their final trial before selection, as did a few of the other gymnasts who were in the mix…one of whom was cut from the nominative list. See how they did with our recap below.

Seitz began on beam with her new routine, hitting a great punch front tuck and bhs layout to start (though the layout was a bit piked). She had some wobbles and checks on occasion, and then unfortunately fell on her double turn, which looked off from the beginning. She recovered well, however, and hit the rest of the routine nicely, finishing with a gainer layout for a 13.35.

On floor, Seitz posted the highest score of 13.5 after hitting her 1.5 to 2.5, double pike, and double full very well before finishing with a slightly low double tuck. She vaulted a clean FTY with a bounce back for a 14.1 and then on bars, hit a phenomenal routine to earn a 15.5. She looked very sharp on her Maloney to Ricna, caught her Jaeger, hit a fantastic Downie to pak, had some tiny leg form issues on her van Leeuwen, and then stuck her toe full to full-in to huge applause.

Despite the fall on beam, she looks about 9 billion percent better than she did a year ago. I really thought her peak was in the past but it looks like she’s actually still getting better. Her all-around total with the fall was a 56.45.

In second place was Sophie Scheder with a 55.45. Scheder also began on beam, which is the event the gymnasts will begin on in Glasgow. She unfortunately got off to a bad start, balking her flight series after the back handspring. She continued without the series and had a few checks, including on her otherwise lovely Y turn, and she hit her gainer layout to finish with a 13.25.

She also didn’t have the best floor routine, posting a 12.6. She began with the smoothest Memmel turn in the history of man and later on had an absolutely beautiful triple pirouette, but her tumbling was a little weak from the start. She bounced out of her double tuck, took a big step out of her 2.5, and then put her hands down on her double pike for the finish. She vaulted a super clean FTY with a bounce for a 14.25 and then looked excellent on bars, earning a 15.35 for her inbar full to Komova II to bail to toe full to toe shoot, inbar half to Jaeger, and her awesome new piked Galante before nearly sticking a super high full-in.

Pauline Schäfer placed third with a 55.2. On beam, she had a mostly fabulous routine, beginning with a switch ring (wobble), bhs loso, and front aerial to side somi. I believe she was going for a double pirouette, but ended up losing her footing on the landing and in the process got another turn around before she hopped off, a mistake that would cut her down to her score of 14.25. She did hit her eponymous side somi half, however, in addition to a full turn to side aerial, huge switch leap to sheep jump, and a clean gainer layout dismount.

On floor, she posted a 13.1 for a big double layout, front handspring to tucked double front, quad turn (she just lost it a little at the tail end), cowboyed double tuck, and a double pike bounced out of bounds. Her vault was a big handspring layout half for a 14.55, and she hit bars for a 13.3, catching her Gienger and Jaeger well and dismounting with a Moors.

Beyond this top group, Leah Griesser, who is becoming so steady in her own work, placed 4th with a 53.55. The German floor champion this year posted a 13.2 after stumbling back her double tuck, showing nice work on her double attitude to double pirouette (though the prep took awhile), a 1.5 to front full, another nice turn sequence with a triple L turn to full pirouette (though again the prep was interminable), and then a 2.5 to finish well. On vault, her Yuchenko layout earned a 13.35.

Moving to bars, Griesser did well on her toe full to Maloney to bail to stalder full to Ray, muscling up the stalder full quite a bit and having form issues there, but she maintained the connection all the same. Her stalder to stalder half to piked Jaeger was great, and she stuck the double front cold for a 13.35…I can actually see her really going places with this routine if she can clean it up a bit. But her best score of the day came on beam, with a 13.65 for the silver medal after clean work on her front aerial, bhs loso (with a small break at the hips), switch leap, switch half, side aerial, side somi, and double full dismount. Some form issues there, but she stayed on, which is more than any of her teammates can say!

In fifth was Pauline Tratz, named to the Worlds team mostly to help out a bit on vault and floor. In Stuttgart, she had a big and clean FTY with a bounce back for a 14.1, and then on floor she posted a 13.25 – the third-best of the day – after hitting her tucked full-in (cowboyed with a bounce out-of-bounds), 2.5, 1.5 to front full to stag, and double tuck. As a new senior, she’s still a bit green, despite a trip to Euros earlier this year…she could use some attention to detail with her form on floor, but overall she is a good competitor on her strong events and I look forward to her in Glasgow.

The final gymnast named to the Worlds team was Lisa Katharina Hill, who only recently came back from an injury that kept her out of the sport for nine months. She had a good showing at nationals, but unfortunately had lots of errors here, placing 9th with a score of 49.15. Still, they considered this a fluke and trust she’ll be in better shape for Glasgow.

Her FTY on vault was a little loose in terms of form, and then bars was very unfortunate, featuring lots of form breaks (including on her Bhardwaj) and just zero flow beginning with her toe full to Maloney to clear hip half to clear hip full, where her legs broke so badly she had to take an extra swing to regroup. I think because of how things were going, she ended up opting not to do her release move, and then the landing on her full-out was a bit deep. Everything added up to leave her at just a 12.4 on her best event.

She was even worse off on beam, falling on her bhs bhs loso series, on her side aerial, and then again on her side somi before finally dismounting, earning just a 10.1 there. Finally, on floor, she had a solid double pike to start, hit a quite messy 1.5 to front layout, and finished with a double full, an easy but hit routine for a 12.7.

The surprise of the weekend was Sarah Voss. A new senior, Voss was named alternate after making herself “the best of the rest” in the all-around race and tying Tratz for the third-best score on vault with a 14.1 for her very clean FTY. She doesn’t really have great difficulty anywhere, with her next-best score of 12.5 coming with a fall on beam. She does have a great front tuck mount there as well as a lovely tour jete half. All of her leaps are beautiful, actually, and I think had she not fallen on her side aerial or shown nerves elsewhere, this would’ve been a great routine, so good for her for getting out there.

The spot she “took” initially belonged to Antonia Alicke, the new senior who competed at the Youth Olympic Games last year. Alicke got some experience internationally this year in Doha as well, and showed at Bundesliga that she is capable of great things when she hits, though hitting was a bit of a problem for her this week, as she placed 8th with a 49.8 after missing some connections and showing rough form on beam, where she also fell on her double turn and side somi to earn a 10.65; she also sat her 2.5 to punch front on floor for a 12.25 there. When your difficulty isn’t that great to begin with, you really can’t afford falls, so to have three at this very important meet was devastating to her.

Finally, Janine Berger also competed in Stuttgart, but just on bars and she was essentially just there for the practice, saying before nationals that she knew she wouldn’t go to Worlds for what is essentially a somewhat weak event for her. That said, she had a nice routine, showing a Chow to pak to stalder to stalder full to Maloney to bail to toe half to toe half to toe shoot…though the toe half to toe half should’ve been a toe full, so that was a mistake. She also caught her Jaeger and hit her tucked toe front half dismount for a 13.65 and looked very relieved when she finished.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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