This year’s team challenge at the DTB Pokal introduced a new format instead of the 4-3-2 format that was used during qualification in previous years. The Olympic 5-4-3 format was implemented in order to make the team challenge more attractive in the Olympic year. The final on Sunday will be held in the Olympic team final format (5-3-3) and will feature the top 4 teams from today’s qualification.
Russia, already qualified to this summer’s Olympic Games, sent five gymnasts who are still battling for a spot on their country’s Olympic team. As expected, the team easily qualified in first place into Sunday’s final with a 169.450 – more than 4 points ahead of Germany I.
While Daria Spiridonova is the 2015 European and world champion on uneven bars she still has to prove that she has more to offer to the Russian team than just her – no doubt fabulous – bar routine. Today she once again showed what she’s capable of on bars, scoring a 15.650 (6.7/8.95) and earning the highest score of today’s competition both on that event and overall. The only other event she competed today was balance beam where she managed to get through her routine without major problems, scoring a 13.600 (5.6/8.0).
Evgeniya Shelgunova, the 2015 worlds alternate, was a last minute replacement for Daria Skrypnik. She’s been a senior since 2013 but started to score really well in the beginning of 2016, just in time for the Olympic year. Her scores in 2016 all came from rather small meets though, so the big question was if she would manage to do as well here. Unfortunately she didn’t have the best meet, scoring only a 52.150 in the all around and counting falls on every apparatus with the exception of floor where she tied with Marta Pihan-Kulesza for the second highest score of the night.
Angelina Melnikova and Natalia Kapitonova both made their senior debut at this meet and did not disappoint. Both got through the competition without major errors – though Melnikova had to put her hands down after her double tuck on floor and went out of bounds – and finished second and third in the all around respectively. Anastasia Dmitrieva contributed a 13.250 (5.8/7.55) on vault and a 13.200 (5.7/7.6) on floor to the team’s first place finish.
The Netherlands had nominated five gymnasts for the competition as well but only Eythora Thorsdottir, Mara Titarsolej and Vera Van Pol were there to compete, meaning they weren’t able to drop a single score. Titarsolej started them with a solid routine on bars but unfortunately both Thorsdottir and Van Pol struggled. After the team already had a hard time on bars and beam, they were forced to count a zero on floor and vault after Vera Van Pol hurt her foot and couldn’t finish the competition. Without Van Pol’s scores they had no chance to qualify for the final – a huge disappointment for the Dutch team which probably affected their performances on floor. Thorsdottir – known for her unique floor routine – sat down her second pass and Titarsolej struggled as well. Both gymnasts managed to finish their competition with solid vaults though.
Germany sent two teams this year in order to give a greater number of gymnasts the chance to prove themselves before the Rio test event in April. Notably absent was Tabea Alt who was pulled from the competition due to a knee injury which she sustained one week ago in training.
2015 world team members Elisabeth Seitz, Pauline Tratz, Leah Griesser and Sarah Voss competed for Germany 1 together with Lina Phillipp. Germany 1 qualified in second place to the final with a 165.400. Seitz started their competition off on beam and unfortunately fell on her acro series. Despite the fact that Seitz fell, Griesser, Voss and Tratz hit their routines afterwards meaning they didn’t have to count a fall there.
The team got through floor and vault without major errors, though Tratz only competed a full twisting yurchenko. She showed a 1 ½ at the National Team Cup two weeks ago – which is an upgrade for her – and also signaled a 5.3 difficulty to the judges so it seems she was planning to compete it today as well but decided not to go for it. After Voss who was first up on bars for Germany fell twice, Griesser managed to keep her nerves in check and delivered a very nice bar routine, scoring a 14.150 (5.8/8.35). It was her highest score of the day and a good finish to her consistent performance. Seitz, who struggled on bars at the National Team Cup, delivered a great routine today, almost sticking her full-in and scoring a 15.450 (6.6/8.85) for second place behind world champion Spiridonova.
Germany 2 didn’t manage to qualify for the final, despite nice performances from Maike Enderle on bars and Amelie Föllinger and Antonia Alicke on floor. Interestingly, Föllinger and Alicke put up the highest scores on floor from both German teams (both 13.600), an event where the team traditionally struggles to put up good numbers across the board.
With Giulia Steingruber, Ilaria Käslin, Stefanie Siegenthaler, Caterina Barloggio and Thea Brogli – who are all on the nominative list for the Rio test event – Switzerland sent their top gymnasts, which paid off. The team qualified into finals in third place with a score of 163.700.
Steingruber, who recently came back from an injury sustained at world vault finals last year, looked good overall, winning the all around with a 56.550. On vault she competed her double twisting yurchenko, scoring a 14.450 (5.8/8.75). On floor she showed impressive tumbling, including the Silivas she hoped to add for event finals at worlds. Her second pass was a double layout as usual and as her third pass she showed a double pike. Switzerland’s second best gymnast of the day was Käslin who showed especially nice work on beam, scoring a 14.250 (6.0/8.35).
Poland qualified in fourth place for Sunday’s final with a team total of 160.200. They had the highest score on vault, a 42.5, and also showed nice work on beam where Marta Pihan-Kulesza and Katarzyna Jurkowska tied for third place with a 14.350. Pihan-Kulesza also tied for second place on floor with Shelgunova, scoring a 13.700 (5.5/8.2). Her routine featured a double arabian to stag jump and was well received by the crowd thanks to the very nice choreography.
Unfortunately Austria had to count some falls and finished in sixth place with a 152.800. Elisa Hämmerle was their top all arounder, tying for seventh place with Pihan-Kulesza with a score of 53.250.
Israel sent three gymnasts to the Team Challenge as well, but only Ofir Kremer competed on all 4 events. Gaya Giladi did vault and beam and Tzuf Feldon did bars and beam. Israel intended to use this competition to give the gymnasts experience in order to improve and achieve better results in the future.
The team final will take place this Sunday at 11:30 am local time.
Article by Sina Rothfuss