The first day of finals competition at the 2016 Doha World Challenge Cup saw big routines from 2015 European all-around champion Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland on vault as well as Sweden’s Jonna Adlerteg on bars.
Steingruber led the field in the qualification round with a 14.65 average, and managed to improve on this in finals by averaging a 14.712 for her strong Rudi and full-twisting Yurchenko vaults. Her FTY, watered down from her usual DTY, was clean and well-rotated with a nice flared landing, hopped back only slightly. Her Rudi had some ankle form issues and a slight pike down, but it showed incredible power and control, with only a small hop on the landing. With her prowess here, it comes as no surprise that Steingruber is currently training a handspring layout front double full, which will be named for her should she compete it successfully this year.
The Slovenian gymnasts Teja Belak and Tjasa Kysselef won the silver and bronze medals with averages of 14.337 and 14.087, respectively. Belak, who won four world cup vault medals last year, was especially impressive with her handspring front tuck full to start and then a nearly-stuck Yurchenko 1.5, which was clean from start to finish aside from some leg separation going onto the table. The landing was SO good, and could be considered a “college stick,” with the only movement coming when she brought her feet together after hitting the mat.
Kysselef was fifth at qualifications due to some errors and steps out of bounds on her handspring front tuck full, but she showed a huge improvement on that vault today, looking clean and landing well with only a hop to the side. She stuck her FTY with no problems, though her form in the air definitely limits her scoring potential a bit there. Still, she averaged a 14.087 to come in just 0.012 ahead of Zsofia Kovacs for the bronze.
The Hungarian first-year senior has a clean and powerful DTY in her arsenal, but her second vault is a tsuk back pike, which has only a 4.2 start value. She performed both well today, but due to her low combined difficulty, was unable to make a big enough impression today despite coming into finals in third place. Behind her was Marcela Torres of Sweden, who had a bad landing on her handspring front layout half but then made up for it with a solid tsuk layout full, averaging a 14.0. Torres, who is from Argentina and competed there until moving to Sweden a few years ago, had a cute Instagram post with her enjoying breakfast with the Argentinian women competing at Doha, Maria Stoffel and Ailen Valente.
“Breakfast of champions with the delegation from Argentina!” she wrote. “I’ve missed speaking Spanish!”
Rounding out the field was Marina Nekrasova of Azerbaijan in fifth with a 13.887, Argyro Afrati of Greece in seventh with a 13.575, and Tan Ing Yueh of Malaysia in eighth with a 12.55. Nekrasova and Afrati performed mostly well, but Tan Ing sat her handspring tuck half and had a bad landing on her tsuk layout full.
Adlerteg led the bars field by a half point margin coming into the final, and though she looked to be in pain before beginning her performance today, she managed to hit her huge routine for a 14.925. At last year’s European Championships, a bad landing on floor led to a knee injury that kept Adlerteg out of worlds, but her work on bars is still fabulous, with her routine featuring a Church to pak, shaposh to Bhardwaj, Maloney to clear hip full to Tkachev, and a double layout dismount, all performed incredibly well aside from a few leg separation issues.
After she dismounted, Adlerteg looked to be in even more pain than before the routine, and was unable to accept her medal after, with her coach standing on the podium for her. Something must have happened either in training or warm-ups, but we hope she gets well quickly and is able to contend for an Olympics spot at the Test Event next month.
Rebeca Andrade of Brazil also performed well, earning a 14.25 for a routine that included a stalder full, super clean Tkachev to pak to stalder to van Leeuwen, a piked Jaeger, and a toe full to full-out with a tiny hop. There are a few little places she can still work to clean up, but her comeback seems to be going well and this should be a huge bars routine for the Brazilians this year.
Portugal’s Ana Filipa Martins didn’t look quite as clean in the final as she looked in qualifications, but due to a mistake from Kovacs on her full-in landing, she managed to sneak ahead of Kovacs to pick up the bronze with a 13.625. Kovacs meanwhile got a second fourth place finish of the day with a 13.45, down nearly a point from her own qualifications score. Dismount aside, it was a very strong and clean routine featuring an inbar to toe full to Maloney to pak, super tight van Leeuwen, and a big straddle Jaeger. She’s going to do fabulous work for Hungary this year.
The Greek women Afrati and Vasiliki Millousi tied for fifth with scores of 13.175 for hit routines, Dora Vulcan of Romania was seventh with a solid set for a 13.0, and her teammate Diana Bulimar was last with an 11.925 after a fall on her clear hip full (she couldn’t hold it in handstand and had to hop off halfway through) and a rough landing on her full-in dismount. The local gymnast Farah Mahmoud of Qatar also competed here despite not qualifying, though she didn’t factor into the standings, and earned only a 10.025 after several mistakes throughout her low-difficulty routine.
The competition continues tomorrow afternoon with the beam and floor finals. Full results are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins