Today Italy has announced the official six member team and the alternate. Whereas the Italian national team director Enrico Casella stated at the Novara Cup that the alternate would be chosen between Lara Mori and Tea Ugrin, surprisingly they’re both on the team with Enus Mariani in the spot instead.
Mariani was expected to contribute at least on bars and beam as a specialist, and she actually looked good overall on those events during podium training. On bars she hit her routine that included a Maloney to bail to stalder full to Ray, stalder half to Jaeger, Ricna, and an almost stuck double layout dismount.
On beam she also didn’t have major mistakes, delivering a split jump to wolf jump, leap to aerial walkover, bhs to loso, side somi, sissone to side aerial, Y turn, switch leap, and finished with a double pike, but her chest was pretty low, causing her to take a step forward. On vault she performed a clean FTY, but on floor she crashed the opening full-in to her knees before going on with a double tuck (step back), Memmel, and a double pike.
It’s still unknown if she faced injuries or if she showed inconsistency in the training hall. However, the decision to take out the opening toe-on full on bars that caused her troubles at both nationals and the Novara Cup lowered her bars d-score to a 5.8 instead of a 6.0, a d-score that matches Ugrin’s. When Ugrin hits, she can score in the high 13s, if not in the low 14s, like Mariani did throughout the season, so this may be a reason why Ugrin has been chosen over Mariani.
Even though having both Mariani and Ugrin on bars in quals could maximize the team’s score on this event, their weakest one, this would be a risky choice that could weaken other events like floor and beam. On the former, given the inconsistency shown by the two gymnasts on it during this season, it would cost an increased risk to count a fall with both of them performing in quals. Looking at beam, Mariani has good execution but a pretty low d-score of 5.3, whereas Ugrin can deliver a 5.6 d-score routine, along with a great execution. Thus, it’s possible that this choice makes sense even without injuries from Mariani.
Overall, it seems that with Martina Rizzelli‘s withdrawal the team puzzle could no longer include specialists, because there weren’t specialists left able to complement each other. Indeed, this team is now made of six all-arounders who could post decent scores on every event if needed. Carlotta Ferlito, Vanessa Ferrari, Ugrin will perform on all four events, while Erika Fasana, given the tibia stress microfracture, will compete on every apparatus but beam, Elisa Meneghini will go up on every event but bars, and Mori will contribute on bars and beam only. Though, if Ferrari qualifies for the all-around final over Ugrin, I can see Italy give her spot to Ugrin in order to preserve their captain after – hopefully – two days of competition on all the events, as Italy did at Euros, giving Ferrari’s all-around spot to Rizzelli.
Ferlito will open the Italian team quals on bars (as she did in London at the Olympic quals), where she showed consistent work in podium training. She hit all of her skills steadily, including a Maloney to Bail to Ray, stalder half, jaeger, giant full, and a double arabian dismount, landed with just a tiny hop.
On her first attempt on beam, she had a wobble on the aerial walkover, thus missing the connection with the sheep jump, then she went on with her bhs bhs layout series without any wobble. She also performed a switch leap to back tuck, a full turn to split jump, a side aerial, a switch ring leap and finished with a double pike. But on her second attempt she hit steadily all of her routines, this time finishing with a layout timer.
Her floor set in podium training included a full-in landed with a hop, a stuck triple twist (though with messy leg form), a Ferrari, a Memmel and a double pike. Finishing up on vault, she landed her Yurchenko 1.5 with a hop; she usually looks a bit tucked on the second rotation, but otherwise she’s pretty consistent on it.
Ferrari is trying her best to overcome the tendinitis pain in order to help the team in quals. She didn’t perform on floor in podium training, just trying out some tumbling, probably because she doesn’t want to exacerbate the pain. On bars she has some form issues overall but she’s still solid, hitting a giant full, Ono, jaeger, Bail, toe shoot, and a full-in dismount, that she landed with a hop.
Then, on beam she took out the round-off to layout series, which is replaced by a bhs bhs loso series that she performed smoothly; the routine also included a switch leap, where she wobbled, thus missing the connection with the ring leap, an aerial walkover connected to a sheep jump, a full turn, a switch leap (wobble), a wolf jump to sissone, and a stuck double pike dismount. Finally, on vault she performed a Yurchenko 1.5, but she looked pretty tucked in the flight.
In one of the latest posts on the Italian gymnastics federation’s website, regarding the news about the team and the alternate, it’s mentioned that Ferrari could also opt for a DTY, though she doesn’t seem to be in good enough shape to risk it, given the tendinitis that affects her. It’s possible that she’s throwing DTYs in a pit in the training hall, but it would be too risky to count a fall there, while she shouldn’t have major problems on the 1.5.
After the bad day at the Novara Cup, Ugrin looked way more consistent in podium training, showing her beautiful lines especially on bars, where she performed a Maloney to Bail to Ray combo, inbar full to Gienger, inbar half and a full-in dismount, landed with just a hop. On beam she didn’t have major mistakes, hitting an aerial walkover to split to wolf jump (all of them connected quickly enough to get the connection credited), full turn, bhs to loso, switch ring leap, switch half, side aerial to sissone, straddle 1⁄4 (leg up), side somi, and finished with a double tuck, but her chest was pretty down, causing her to take a couple of steps forward.
On floor, she didn’t have any of the issues that affected her at nationals and at the Novara Cup, hitting the full-in, though she usually lands it with a low chest. She went on delivering a Ferrari, a triple full, a double L turn and finished with a double tuck, landed with a hop forward. Then, on vault she performed a clean FTY.
Fasana showed great work on bars; even though she doesn’t have the best form, especially on handstands, she has a solid 5.8 d-score set, which includes a toe-on full to Maloney to giant full combo, Church, Ray, Bail, toe shoot, and a DLO dismount. The good news is that despite the fact that she last performed this skill at Euros in May, she hit her double double consistently on floor, along with a DLO, a Memmel, a Ferrari and a double pike. Adding the double double will boost her d-score up to a 6.1, which will factor a lot in this rotation’s final score for Italy. Then, on vault she performed a DTY, though she showed form issues overall: she looked more tucked than usual, and she took a big step back on the landing.
Meneghini had a fall on beam in podium training on her bhs bhs loso series (though she repeated the routine without any issues), but otherwise she hit smoothly a switch leap to back tuck, full turn, sheep jump, straddle 1⁄4, side somi, aerial walkover to split jump to wolf jump, side aerial and a double pike dismount. On floor she crashed the opening DLO on her knees, but went on with a full-in, whip whip to double tuck, and a double pike. Even though this training session wasn’t the best one on her pet events, she could still help the team a great deal both in terms of d-scores and e-scores, but she needs to overcome these consistency issues that usually affect her.
On vault she hit her solid Yurchenko 1.5, then on bars she had a fall immediately on the opening toe-on full, but she hit all of the routine afterwards, including a jaeger, Tkatchev, Bail to clear hip to toe shoot, and the double arabian dismount. Since her bars set is the weakest of the team, she won’t be part of the bars line-up, so inconsistency here won’t be a problem.
Conversely, Mori looked to be in great shape in podium training. On bars she delivered a stalder full to Ricna, Ray, Bail to Ray, stalder half to Endo (where she had a slight hesitation), and finished with a DLO dismount (where she showed piked hips). She showed great work on beam, hitting a switch leap to back tuck, Y turn, bhs loso loso, side aerial to split jump to wolf jump, switch half (leg up), and switch ring leap, but unfortunately she was a bit off balance on the 2.5 full dismount, so she took a step out of the mat, and put one hand down.
She looked steady on floor, where she stuck the full-in, the double tuck and the triple full, just stumbling forward out of the double pike. It’s still a mystery why she won’t perform on floor in quals, since this is her strongest event; also, she wasn’t taped in podium training, though it’s possible she injured herself in training afterwards. Finally, she performed a FTY on vault.
Compared to last year, when Italy easily entered the top eight and had an amazing fifth-place finish in team finals, this team looks a little weaker on vault, losing a couple of DTYs but still having three Yurchenko 1.5s, while on bars, though they lost Rizzelli, they could be more consistent overall, at least avoiding major mistakes.
Beam and floor, as usual, will be their strongest rotations, potentially posting big scores here and there. But again, hit routines will be the key to enter the top eight. Some of Italy’s major competitors might have had worse podium trainings and other kinds of issues, but in gymnastics anything can happen, so the girls need to stay very focused in order to earn a direct ticket to Rio!
Article by Valeria Violi