The 2015 World Championships Qualifications Day 1 Recap

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It was a long day, and this will likely be a long recap, so let’s get right down to business. In order of the teams ranked highest to lowest, here we go!

Russia, 231.437

Well, now. Who was expecting this?! I’m pretty sure most fans of this program began going through the stages of grief when it was announced Aliya Mustafina wouldn’t take part but I actually think having her sit out this year was for the team’s best interest, as it forced them to come together without relying on her to lead them once again.

The Russians had only one fall, from Daria Spiridonova in the leadoff spot on beam. They chose to count the fall rather than put Ksenia Afanasyeva up in the anchor spot because they were already so far ahead, it was better to save their kidney-infected veteran for finals.

Afanasyeva did incredible work on floor, nailing every pass and looking incredible while doing it. It’s the team’s weakest overall, but there were some other great moments featuring clean form and nice landings…and we can’t forget about Maria Paseka‘s stop, drop, and roll, quite possibly the best wolf exit strategy ever. Paseka was also incredible on vault, sticking her Cheng (albeit off to the side with some form issues) and killing her Amanar, putting her currently in the lead.

Overall, bars was where the magic happened. Even the team’s weakest on this event – Seda Tutkhalyan and Maria Kharenkova – looked clean and confident, though it’s Paseka, Viktoria Komova, and Spiridonova who get the major kudos. Paseka is SO improved, whereas Komova and Spiridonova are glorious in their work, showing near perfection aside from a slight hesitation for Komova right before her dismount. But I don’t even care, because she fought and I like that. A lot.

In the end, it looks like Tutkhalyan will be in the all-around final with Spiridonova’s spot a bit tentative at the moment, as her fall has her with a 54.998, down in 16th if you consider the two-per-country rule. She could still make it in, but it’s not quite the guarantee we may have expected.

Aside from Paseka, Tutkhalyan looks as though she should also make the vault final, it’ll be Spiridonova and Komova on bars, Komova and Tutkhalyan look like locks for beam, and Afanasyeva is in it for floor. If Spiridonova remains in the all-around, they’re filling all but one of their finals spots, an incredible change compared to last year.

Great Britain, 227.162

With their team featuring both experienced veterans and some of the best new seniors at this competition, Great Britain shattered last year’s qualifications score by three points. Considering all of their struggles on beam in podium training, they looked pretty solid there, turning their weakest event into not much of a problem at all.

Like Afanasyeva, Claudia Fragapane‘s messiness in training was just her trolling us, as she looked fabulous in competition and will make the final there. Ellie Downie and Amy Tinkler were also excellent on floor, with Downie a potential for the final if others don’t fill the spots above her. And their vault rotation was immense, featuring a total of four DTYs on top of Kelly Simm‘s Yurchenko half-on front layout full. Downie’s DTY was the strongest, and that along with her Lopez helped her to a high spot on the vault qualification list.

Bars was also supposed to be a big event for them, and the first three up were solid, including Simm hitting her brand new inbar piked Tkachev. But the big routines from the Downie sisters both sadly had falls, taking Ellie out of the all-around final as Tinkler and Ruby Harrold finished above her, and taking Becky Downie out of the bars final. Sad, considering how strong both of these gymnasts are on the event and how incredible their routines are, especially Becky’s, which was stunning after her fall.

At the end of the day, there’s more for this team to be happy about, including their epic finish that should give them the ability to become the first team outside of the “big four” to finish in that top group in years.

Italy, 224.452

Italy also looked much better this year compared to a year ago, even with the injury that took out Martina Rizzelli earlier this month. Beginning on bars, they didn’t really have any standout routines and their form was a little iffy, but for the most part, they hit. Lara Mori did have a fall, but the team luckily didn’t have to count it.

They were better off getting this out of the way, which must have been a big relief as they went to beam. Carlotta Ferlito was their best finisher there, showing some wobbles and pauses but nothing too bad, while Mori really made up for her bars fall. Elisa Meneghini fell on her side somi, but again, they did a good job to make it through without counting this.

Erika Fasana was sadly out of the all-around here due to a microfracture, but she still put up the majority of her difficulty, including a double double and double layout to finish with the team’s best score and a likely finals spot. There was another great redemptive performance, this time from Meneghini, and everyone else hit as well, including Tea Ugrin with her beautiful routine.

Finishing on vault, the team had a few Yurchenko 1.5s along with Fasana’s DTY, hitting some great routines. Imagine what they can do next year if only a couple of their gymnasts can reach these vaults? The program gets better each year, little by little, and this year is just the next step as we look to the incredible team they’re becoming.

Japan, 223.863

Another team, another big improvement from 2014. All season long Japan has been doing tremendous work with one of their best teams ever, though as they got closer to Worlds, the team they picked this spring and early summer started to crumble. Everyone was in pain, Aiko Sugihara – one of their top all-arounders – injured her knee badly enough to keep her on only two events, and alternate Yu Minobe was replaced by second alternate Mai Murakami, who ended up stepping in at the last minute in place of Yuki Uchiyama. Would she even be ready after assuming all year that she wouldn’t compete?

But it was Murakami who ended up having the best day for Japan, becoming their top all-around finisher with a 56.366, her best international score ever, which has her currently in fifth place. With Asuka Teramoto qualifying behind her with a 55.532, it meant Natsumi Sasada – normally one of their top all-arounders – wouldn’t make an individual final this year, kind of shocking when you consider that Murakami was the one to knock her out despite coming in as second alternate.

The team began with mostly good work on vault, aside from a crashed Rudi from Teramoto. She came in with the team’s best performance on bars, however, followed by the injured Sugihara, though neither will make it to finals there. Teramoto also topped their beam performance, and despite nearly getting bronze on the event last year, her 14.1 this year won’t be enough for a spot.

On floor, the team had two world class performances, from Murakami and first-year senior Sae Miyakawa. Murakami posted a 14.1 after opening with a huge double layout and nailing the rest of her tumbling, but Miyakawa – who is sometimes inconsistent on this event – hit everything about as perfectly as she ever will, including a full-twisting double layout, front lay to front double tuck, double double, and a double layout, seriously ridiculous, earning a 14.9. The crowd basically lost their minds, and it’s no wonder that she currently sits in first place by several tenths.

They should maintain a spot in the team final, where they can be expected to have a huge performance, especially if they clean up a bit here and there.

Canada, 222.780

Okay, I know I’ve been getting excited about comparing qualification scores…but last year Canada’s was 214.102. In just a year they’ve gone from “what happened to fifth at the Olympics?!” to “oh my GOD they’re BACK.” Insane, and it’s thanks to every single one of the gymnasts who competed today.

I always lead off with Ellie Black, who deserves it, as she currently holds the top all-around spot…kind of amazing, considering both Russia and Romania competed today. She had epic performances all day, scoring especially well on vault and beam, but doing strong work across the board to finish with a 57.299.

Then there’s her 2012 Olympic teammate Brittany Rogers, who resurfaced after three years in NCAA to average a 14.766 on vault (currently fourth) in addition to showing gorgeous performances on bars and beam. Just incredible work, considering she only started training elite skills again this summer. Her Amanar may appear in finals, according to her, but she’s happy with the consistency of her DTY so don’t get too excited.

The other all-arounder we should see in finals is Isabela Onyshko, with a 55.216 after a consistent day. She did have some scary moments on beam and her form was pretty heavily deducted on bars, but she did a commendable job on the latter, getting the second best for the team. I was also impressed with Victoria-Kayen Woo‘s consistency, and was happy to see new seniors Sydney Townsend and Audrey Rousseau hold their own with this hugely talented crowd.

Brazil, 221.861

Don’t kill me, but you know how Canada’s score this year is like eight points higher than last year? Brazil’s is TEN POINTS HIGHER. Incredible, right?! They’re currently 6th, and once the USA and China compete, they’ll move down to 8th so their position is precarious, especially if Australia, France, and the Netherlands show up and kill it. They could hold onto this spot, but it’s going to be close. Very close.

Shockingly, Lorrane Oliveira was the top all-arounder in the bunch, thanks to her awesome DTY and incredible work on her remaining events. She is the team’s best bars worker by a long shot, as this event only saw two gymnasts who could manage above a 13 after especially rough performances from Jade Barbosa and Daniele Hypolito, who lost all-around spots because of this.

They rocked it on beam, however, with Barbosa looking super clean and Flavia Saraiva surviving a few of her more difficult skills to finish well, while Oliveira and Hypolito also put up lovely sets. They were fan favorites on floor, though could use some clean-up work here and there, and then had some incredible work on vault.

Despite the mistakes, this was an incredible resurgence of a team that has struggled in recent years. With Rebeca Andrade added next year, they could be a major force and I hope they can seal their spot at the Olympic Games now rather than at the test event.

Germany, 219.261

Germany also did slightly better work here in Glasgow compared to a year ago in Nanning. It wasn’t the best day, and they won’t make it into the final, but they should be happy that the routines are at least there. They have a great deal of difficulty and some excellent performers, but sometimes simply struggle to put this into practice.

Pauline Schäfer was the top all-arounder of the day, with standout routines on vault and beam. She took out her eponymous side somi half on beam, but still managed a 14.3 there for her lovely work. Behind her was Elisabeth Seitz with a 55.298. Poor Seitz fell at the tail end of her bars set, a routine she’s been hitting and hitting incredibly all season, though she did such great work elsewhere in her day that this is forgivable. Sad for both the team and her own finals chances, but forgivable.

Sophie Scheder did hit her bar routine, thankfully, and is currently third going into the final. Leah Griesser, who has been so consistent on beam and floor this season, made mistakes on both, Lisa Katharina Hill fell on her bar routine, and Pauline Tratz missed her acro series on an otherwise decent beam routine.

Considering three of their strongest gymnasts – Janine Berger, Kim Janas, and Kim Bui – are either injured or just getting over injuries, this was a decent result. In full health, they’re going to be an excellent team, but it’ll just be a matter of getting everyone at that place at the same time.

Romania, 217.220

The worst for last? *sad face* Among the eight best teams that competed today, the teams with the team final chances, Romania was the weakest of the bunch, finishing two points less than last year when their team was even weaker. How does that happen? Four falls on bars is how it happens. Other things, too. But this was the catalyst.

Beginning on floor, the team had decent but not great work, where even top floor worker and all-around podium hopeful Larisa Iordache had a messy routine, taking out her double double, showing form and landing issues absolutely everywhere, missing two of her turns, and just generally not looking up to par at all. Her 13.766 there was third best among the Romanians, but none of them made a final here so there’s no one she can even sub in for, if that’s what the team had up their sleeve.

Vault was fine, with DTYs from Iordache, Laura Jurca, and Silvia Zarzu leading the way alongside Diana Bulimar‘s full. They only put up four routines because they didn’t have a fifth gymnast who could vault, but it was still their best score by a long shot.

And bars was nearly ten points lower. With just a 49.133 team total on the event, everyone fell but the leadoff Jurca, who shockingly emerged as the team’s rock for the day, though her ‘hit’ routine was rife with form issues and lacks difficulty. Iordache’s fall came on her van Leeuwen, a shame as this skill – and entire routine – has looked incredible since her comeback. Bulimar missed her Hindorff and Tkachev, Zarzu didn’t quite fall but had massive form breaks on her giant full that basically was the equivalent of a fall, and Andreaa Iridon came off on her Tkachev. Just a very sad rotation that clearly kept the girls in low spirits as they went to finish on beam.

Some of the work on beam was great, though they did count a fall as Zarzu came off on her punch front mount and back tuck while Iordache fell on her tuck full. Still, Iordache’s score with a fall – 13.866 – was better than most of her scores for hit routines, so it wasn’t as devastating as it could’ve been. But it was for her personally at that point, as it meant she didn’t qualify into a single individual final and finished with just a 55.698, her lowest score of the season by about five points, putting her in 9th place currently.

Jurca could also make the all-around final, as she’s just behind Iordache with a 55.332, but that’s it in terms of finals for this once dominant country. No team final, no apparatus final, no Olympics berth. It’s the first time in forty years the Romanians won’t get the chance to challenge for a team medal, and they’ll have to essentially peak twice next year, first to earn a team spot at the test event and then again at the Olympic Games if they want to reclaim a spot on the podium once again.

There are no up sides to this, but I will justify my own personal selfish happiness with the fact that a team outside the big four will place in the top four in team finals, something I’ve wanted to see for quite some time in this current world order.

Other Things of Note

Roxana Popa of Spain fell on bars, a major bummer after her set looked so good in training yesterday.

Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan performed her new Produnova vault, but brushed her butt on the mat and received just a 7.766 e-score, averaging a 14.683 on the event and currently sitting in 7th. I doubt she’ll keep a spot in the final let alone medal, so she’ll have to qualify in the all-around at the test event in April.

Paula Mejias of Puerto Rico COULD potentially find herself in the vault final, however, after showing incredible improvement on both of her vaults to average a 14.7! She is currently 5th and could possibly hold onto that after the second day of competition.

Jessica Lopez of Venezuela had a bummer of a day, falling on both bars and beam. With a hit bars routine, she was a dark horse for the final, but sadly as it looks right now, she may not even qualify into the all-around final. The bright spot, however, was her DTY. It’s looking much more stable now and she hit for a 14.733. Her all-around score of 54.231 makes her the best all-arounder not on a full team at the moment.

Marta Pihan-Kulesza of Poland did some great work on beam, but unfortunately struggled on floor, normally a killer event for the gymnast who is her country’s best Olympic shot. The fall will keep her out of all-around contention, as she posted just a 54.065 which is probably exactly a point too low.

Thema Williams of Trinidad & Tobago missed the Olympics in 2012 because she was hitting somewhere around a 46 or 47 on a good day. Now that she’s been training in the U.S. this quad, she is looking incredible and reached a 52.466 in the all-around! That includes a 13.966 for her vault and a 13.5 for her amazing floor routine. Such an exciting turnaround, and she should absolutely get an Olympic spot if she keeps it up!

Another great floor routine came from Filipa Martins of Portugal, who earned a 14.0 for her excellent work. Unfortunately, however, the typically super consistent gymnast fell on bars and earned a 54.199 total. Like Pihan-Kulesza, that fall will likely keep her out of the all-around final.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

2 thoughts on “The 2015 World Championships Qualifications Day 1 Recap

  1. Pingback: #Glasgow2015 Qualifications Day 1 Recap | Excellent Liquid Chalk for Weight Lifting

  2. Its so sad for Romania and actually the whole community…. Would be nice if a non Big4 gets in thr their own merit of beating out one of the big4 “fair and square” at full strength rather than due to due to a decline in the Romania program….

    Even if Romania makes it thr test event, they are still facing the same problem during qual….Lack of depth and problems with bars again could again put them into a bad qual round although with 4 up 3 count might suit them better…

    Like

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