Almost exactly a year ago, Kim Bui tore her ACL while training on vault in Frankfurt, ending what had been a steady climb to become one of Germany’s best this quad. With the German all-around title, a worlds team spot, and world cup bronze under her belt in 2014, Bui was on a fast track to making her second Olympic team, but the injury and subsequent surgery a year before Rio threw her carefully planned goals askew.
This weekend, less than a month after Germany showed up looking super strong to qualify a full team to the Olympic Games, Bui returned to competition at the annual Bundesliga series, which pits Germany’s top club teams against one another similar to Italy’s Serie A. Representing Stuttgart, Bui had a big job on her hands with teammates Elisabeth Seitz and Tabea Alt competing only a handful of events while Kim Janas, Emelie Petz, and Lisa-Katharina Hill were out completely. But Bui easily led her team to a ten-point victory with clean and strong performances on all four events, earning a 55.8 in the all-around in addition to posting the top score on floor with a 13.6 as well as a 14.8 on bars, third place following the country’s best bar workers Seitz and Sophie Scheder.
Bui seems to have pretty much all of her skills back, with floor the only routine looking a little watered-down. She’s performing a clean FTY on vault, a Jaeger to pak and SUPERB Maloney to Bhardwaj on bars, a steady and confident set on beam (including a cool hop 1.5 spin), and a floor routine featuring a 2.5 to punch front as her opening skill, though she’s missing some of the big tumbling that set her apart there a couple of years ago, including double layout and whip to double tuck.
If she does get the big skills back, Bui would basically be a lock for this team, which notoriously struggles on floor. But even her lower-difficulty set makes her an asset there, as does her steady performance on beam, and the fact that she’d make up a lot of ground in the team score with her big skills on bars. Germany over the past year has been known for featuring the “three Hambüchens” with their big all-around scores alongside gymnasts with much weaker overall abilities, though Bui back in the mix definitely has what it takes to jump into that top group, helping to bring the team to another level this summer.
Both Seitz and Alt also did well as Bui’s teammates at Bundesliga, with Seitz looking as fabulous as always on bars, showcasing a clean Maloney to Ricna as well as a Downie to pak to pick up the best score there with a 15.0. On beam, Alt competed just a layout dismount to reduce the stress of a hard landing, but still managed a third-best 13.6 there even with the downgrade thanks to her excellent work on her side aerial to two layout stepouts in addition to an overall steady routine that should be a crucial part of the country’s Olympic program. Alt also looked good on bars, earning a 14.1 for mostly clean skills aside from the legs on her pak being a bit messy.
The team from Chemnitz-Altendorf, featuring likely Olympians Pauline Schäfer and Scheder, was good enough to place second. Schäfer and Scheder performed only one event apiece due to their country’s army duties limiting their availability, with Schäfer earning a 15.1 on beam and Scheder pulling in a 14.95 on bars. Schäfer’s work on beam was tremendous, featuring a solid layout series, a full turn to front aerial to side somi, a controlled double spin, her eponymous side somi half, and a perfectly stuck gainer layout dismount. Scheder, meanwhile, was stellar on bars, including on her inbar full to Komova II to bail to toe full to inbar shoot opening combo, as well as on her inbar half to Jaeger and nearly-stuck full-in dismount.
Lisa Ecker of Austria was a guest on the Chemnitz squad, and helped the team a great deal with her third-place all-around finish. With a 53.15, Ecker, who will compete for Austria at the Olympics this summer, showed steady work on all four events, including a big 14.3 on vault for the second-best score there and the third-best score of the day on floor, where she nailed her whip to double tuck, double full, and double pike for a 13.4.
Chemnitz also featured Helene Schäfer, Pauline’s little sister, though she struggled with consistency, falling on beam – her best event – to finish 12th with a 49.65. Nadja Schulze was 14th with a 49.35 while Lisa Schöniger competed on vault and floor for the team.
Karlsruhe-Söllingen placed third despite missing routines from Olympic Test Event competitors Pauline Tratz and Leah Griesser. Test Event alternate Maike Enderle led the team alongside junior talents Emma Höfele and Isabelle Stingl, both of whom are expected to compete in Bern next month. Enderle and Höfele tied for fifth place with scores of 52.2 while Stingl was seventh with a 52.05.
Enderle had a bit of a rough day, sitting her double front dismount on bars, stumbling on her standing arabian and wobbling on her illusion turn on beam, and then stumbling back her double arabian on floor, but the first-year senior shows a lot of promise with big elements and could definitely be a late bloomer who matures and refines in the coming quad. Höfele, 14, had a few minor blunders that added up, but overall proved to be a strong young competitor, hitting all four events.
Stingl’s performance was similar to Höfele’s, with four hit routines, though the 15-year-old stood out and looked especially strong on beam, where her 13.6 was third-best of the day thanks to her sharp and steady work on skills like her side somi, bhs loso series, and gainer layout. Sidney Hayn rounded out the team, finishing 16th all-around with a 47.6.
Another standout competitor of the day was Evgeniya Shelgunova of Russia, who lent her talents to the team from Köln, which placed fourth. Shelgunova was second all-around with a 54.6 and had the best vault score of the day with a 14.35 for her slightly messy DTY, which didn’t get a good block off of the table and landed with her chest fully piked. On bars, she hit for a 13.35, her low score a reflection of the shoddy work on several of her skills, including her van Leeuwen and pak. She did put up a relatively strong performance on beam, however, hitting a side aerial to two layout stepouts, front aerial to sheep jump, roundoff layout, and double pike dismount for a big 14.65, the second-best of the day much to the appreciation of her adoptive teammates, though her floor came in at just a 12.25.
Also competing for Köln was 2015 worlds alternate Sarah Voss, tenth all-around with a 50.95, Aiyu Zhu, Sarah Sonnenschein, Jenna Büttner, and Michelle Kunz.
Michelle Timm was the strongest competitor for fifth-place Steglitz, earning a 51.4 all-around with vault her best at a 14.1. Her teammates included Lea Wolff in 15th with a 48.9, Lina Deiss in 17th with a 46.1, Anudari Platow, and Alicia Helm.
The team from Tittmoning that placed sixth featured Kristina Iltner in 11th with a 50.05, Leonie Papke in 18th with a 45.65, Sonja Fischer, Marina Plomer, Toska Markgraf, and international guest Jessica Lopez of Venezuela, who hit solid routines on both bars and beam to help them out with scores of 13.9 and 14.15 there.
Mannheim was seventh with Amelie Föllinger standing out in ninth with a 51.2 after a fall on her Jaeger on bars; they also saw work from Johanna Himmel, Muriel Klumpp, Zoe Meissner, Hala Sidaoui, and Rebecca Matzon. In eighth was Eintracht Frankfurt, featuring Russian guest Daria Elizarova in 13th with a 49.5 after a fall on bars, Laeticia Gloger, Jenny Le, Annabelle Hölzer, Julia Liske, Christine Kuhn, and Theresa Grötsch.
The Bundesliga 2 competition featured the next best eight teams, though several strong competitors were in this early session, including Polish Olympic hopeful Katarzyna Jurkowska, on hand to help out the team from Ries. Jurkowska finished first all-around in this division with a 52.45 in addition to posting the top scores on vault (14.45) and beam (13.45). Lina Philipp, competing for first-place Hannover, was second all-around with a 50.5 and best on bars (12.85) and floor (13.55), though four falls on beam gave her just a 9.95 there. Kim Ruoff of Kirchheim was third with a 50.3.
Full results from Bundesliga are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins