With a consistent performance from start to finish, 15-year-old Zsofia Kovacs of Hungary managed to defeat reigning European all-around champion Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland by a narrow two-tenth margin at the Austrian Team Open in Linz this weekend.
Kovacs put up a score of 56.25 to Steingruber’s 56.0, bolstered by a huge 15.4 for her beautiful stuck DTY on vault. While she did have minor errors on her other events, including going out-of-bounds on floor, she managed to mostly hit her difficult routines very well, adding a 13.9 on bars, a 13.55 on beam, and a 13.4 on floor to her successful finish.
According to the Hungarian federation, 2015 worlds all-around finalist Noemi Makra is all but a lock for one of their two test event spots, with the second spot between Kovacs and two-time Olympian Dorina Böczögö. Though Böczögö has the experience, she doesn’t come close to matching Kovacs in the all-around, so the country could see its first shake-up in quite some time if Kovacs continues to perform well in the coming weeks.
The competition was the first back for Steingruber, who was injured during the vault final at worlds last year. She competed nearly all of her full difficulty, though was a bit watered down in places, holding back a little as she works her way up to the test event next month. Her 14.15 on floor was the best on that event, and she had the second-best scores of 13.8 on bars and 13.95 on beam as well. Even though she wasn’t at a hundred percent, Steingruber managed to continue looking strong and should be an easy option for her country’s Olympic choice again this year.
In third was Barbora Mokosova of Slovakia, who came in with what was probably her best all-around performance of all time, counting four hit routines for a 54.5. Normally, Mokosova will look strong on one event but fall on the next, and when she makes challenge cup event finals with great qualifications routines, her mistakes always seem to come when it counts. But this weekend, everything fell into place and she had the highest overall execution of the entire meet to snag the bronze medal. Also with the test event in sight, Mokosova should walk away from this with a renewed sense of confidence to hopefully make it to her first Olympic Games this summer.
Katarzyna Jurkowska-Kowalska of Poland was fourth with a 53.9 after a fall on bars, though her beam score of 14.25 was the best on that event for the day. Austria’s own Elisa Hämmerle was fifth with a 53.8 in what was a very good day for her, Gabriela Janik of Poland was sixth with a 53.05 after a fall on floor (though her 14.7 for her excellent vault was the second-best there), the Hungarian junior Dorka Szujo was seventh with a 51.85 also with a fall on floor, and Ilaria Käslin of Switzlerand finished eighth with a 51.1 with falls on bars and floor.
Caterina Barloggio of Switzerland competed only on three events, but her score of 13.95 on beam was the second-best of the day there, while Austria’s Jasmin Mader had the third-best score on vault with a 14.3. Lisa Ecker, the two-time national champion who hopes to contend at the test event this April, competed only on beam here, earning a 12.65.
In the team competition, Switzerland had a big win with a 161.75 over second-place Hungary with a 160.05 and third-place Poland with a 157.25. The Austrians were split into several teams based on each region, with the Vorarlberg team featuring Hämmerle, Tamara Stadelmann, Erja Metzler, Fabienne Kostelac, and Olivia Jochum having the best finish for fifth place with a 148.2.
The Austrian Team Open was held at the Tips Arena in Linz on March 5. Full results are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins