Along with the third and final world cup in Stuttgart, Germany next weekend, gym fans are also treated to the DTB Pokal Teal Challenge, featuring competition from eight teams who will participate in a qualification round to reach the team final held on the weekend.
This year, the host country Germany will send two teams, featuring all of their contenders for April’s test event (aside from Sophie Scheder and Pauline Schäfer, who have been placed in the world cup competition following their successful performances at the National Team Cup last weekend).
Elisabeth Seitz, silver medalist at this weekend’s Glasgow World Cup, and Tabea Alt, who made her senior debut at the American Cup a week ago, will headline the teams along with 2015 world team members Leah Griesser and Pauline Tratz. The other gymnasts competing in Stuttgart in consideration for Rio include Antonia Alicke, Maike Enderle, Amélie Föllinger, Carina Kröll, Lina Philipp, and Sarah Voss.
Russia is also sending those who are on the periphery of the country’s Olympic team. With Valentina Rodionenko naming four definite Olympians months in advance (the 2012 veterans Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova, Ksenia Afanasyeva, and Maria Paseka), she also named a Rio training group for those in contention for the final spot and to replace one of the four should they not be competition-ready. All of the top contenders will be in Stuttgart in one form or another, save for Maria Kharenkova, who was supposed to see her test in Glasgow this weekend but couldn’t attend due to “spelling errors” on her visa application.
With Seda Tutkhalyan competing in the world cup field, the Challenge team is lead by 2015 world gold medalist Daria Spiridonova and also includes Natalia Kapitonova, Angelina Melnikova, and Daria Skrypnik in their senior debuts alongside Anastasia Dmitrieva, who became a senior last year but didn’t receive any major international assignments due to low scores (she was named the worlds alternate at one point following Mustafina’s withdrawal, but days later the spot was given to Evgeniya Shelgunova).
It’s a very strong group even without the four veterans, and will be a great way to gauge the team mindset of these young gymnasts prior to the Olympic Games.
The Netherlands is also sending a team of those mostly on the outskirts, with Eythora Thorsdottir leading the team, while Switzerland, Poland, and Austria each have their top five going. Switzerland’s team, headed by Giulia Steingruber, should be the exact five we see in Rio next month, but Poland and Austria can only send two gymnasts apiece to the test event (and for each of these teams, their two look like they’ll come from these groups, though I’m concerned about two-time Austrian national champion Lisa Ecker, who was originally supposed to compete and is their top contender for Rio but has been replaced by first-year senior Tamara Stadelmann). Finally, Israel will have three gymnasts in attendance in Stuttgart, including Tzuf Feldon.
In addition to the aforementioned Schäfer, Scheder, and Tutkhalyan, the Stuttgart World Cup will also feature Ellie Downie of Great Britain, Amelia Hundley of the United States, Elisa Meneghini of Italy, Isabela Onyshko of Canada, and Céline van Gerner of the Netherlands.
A full list of the women set for the Team Challenge is below. For more information, check out our coverage guide.
Article by Lauren Hopkins