The next two weeks leading up to the Olympic Test Event are super duper hectic in the gym world, with seven pretty big elite meets running nonstop beginning tomorrow March 31 and going straight through to Sunday April 10.
While you know we’re always tracking everything that’s going down on our 2016 calendar, we decided we’d help you out a little bit more with this guide that will help you navigate the coming two weeks! Click the links in each header for rosters, full schedules, how to purchase tickets if you’re in the area, and live coverage information.
COTTBUS CHALLENGE CUP – March 31-April 3
With two days of qualifications followed by two days of apparatus finals, the Cottbus Challenge Cup – also known as Turnier der Meister – is the third of its kind in the FIG world challenge cup series thus far in 2016. Big names here include Oksana Chusovitina, Sanne Wevers, and the German stars Sophie Scheder and Pauline Schäfer competing on their home turf. The competition will also be the second-to-last time we’ll see Marta Pihan-Kulesza in competition after the Polish legend announced her pending retirement following not being named to a test event spot.
THIRD ITALIAN SERIE A – April 2
Rome hosts the third competition in Italy’s Serie A this Saturday, featuring Italy’s top gymnasts in a drawn-out team competition spanning the first half of the year. Teams earn points based on their rankings at each meet with the top-scoring overall team winning the scudetto trophy in May. Most of the country’s top gymnasts compete, though at the moment there are so many injuries, the field is getting pretty depleted. The Italian federation just announced that unlike the first two, this meet WILL be streamed live! #amen
BELGIUM FRIENDLY – April 3
The senior session features a team competition between Germany, Romania, and host team Belgium in what will be the best test event preview we’ll have all season. Romania and Belgium are expected to bring their full test event squads, though Germany’s team is missing its top girls, who will be at Cottbus instead. I don’t think we will get a live stream for this meet, though videos should without a doubt pop up on YouTube shortly after its completion. Individual competitors from Spain and Austria will also compete in the senior field, while the junior team competition is between Belgium and Romania.
RUSSIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS – April 4-10
The annual national championships will determine the junior and senior champions, though Viktoria Komova is likely to miss due to back pain and Aliya Mustafina‘s participation could also be hit or miss (Valentina Rodionenko’s information is incomprehensible, as usual). This should be a great meet for the first and second-year seniors to battle it out for consideration for an Olympic spot, with Seda Tutkhalyan, Angelina Melnikova, and Natalia Kapitonova all hoping to make an impression. The competition will likely be streamed by the Russian federation, though there’s no link yet. We’ll update the coverage guide linked above when we get that information.
LJUBLJANA CHALLENGE CUP – April 8-10
Like Cottbus, this meet is part of the FIG world challenge cup series and will be the fourth one thus far in 2016. There’s no nominative list yet, but I expect many of the “usual suspects” from the series to be present, and am hoping for big things from hometown girls Teja Belak and Tjasa Kysselef on vault. No streaming info is available yet, but I’m sure our friends at the Italian federation will come through, as always.
PACIFIC RIM CHAMPIONSHIPS – April 8-10
A six-member U.S. team headed by Simone Biles should dominate this meet, but also keep your eyes out for Australia, which will use their full test event team in Everett as practice before traveling down to Rio to contend for an Olympic spot a week later. Canada will also send a great team, featuring neither of its two stars but a whole field of hopefuls, including four first-year seniors as well as Brittany Rogers, who will compete here a week before NCAA Championships, assuming Georgia makes it all the way. #dedication We’ll also see the fan favorites from New Zealand as well as the Costa Rican gymnast Ivanka Victory, known for her gorgeous dance elements on beam and floor. A stream should be made available thanks to USA Gymnastics. We’ll update the coverage guide linked above when the link is posted.
BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIPS – April 8-10
The British national championships will feature junior and senior levels of competition, and should be a great preview of those we can expect to see at the Olympic Games this summer. Claudia Fragapane and Amy Tinkler are already killing it this year, and hopefully we’ll see Ellie Downie – who has yet to compete in 2016 – jump into the mix as well. We should also get more from Rebecca Tunney and Gabby Jupp, both recently back from injury, as well as the typically fab bars from Becky Downie and her bronze-winning Glasgow teammate Ruby Harrold. Several of the nation’s gymnasts have been dealing with injury, including Catherine Lyons, who has yet to make her senior debut…it’s unclear whether she’ll be ready in time for this meet but our fingers are crossed. The BBC is set to air event finals live, but we’re not sure about an all-around feed yet.
Article by Lauren Hopkins