Surprises on Every Podium at Junior Euros

31th European Women's Artistic Gymnastics Team Championships, Juniors and Seniors 6/2016, June 1-5

In senior competition, there are always standouts making so many podiums and rankings predictable if everyone hits. But in the junior all-around and event finals sessions at European Championships, with so many girls performing at a similar level, fans had surprise medalists at nearly every turn.

The all-around final was especially fun to watch, with most of my favorites for the title ending up making big mistakes, leading to three totally unpredictable medalists. That would pretty much never happen in the senior field! For Russia, I think most expected Anastasia Ilyankova and Ulyana Perebinosova to come in as the strongest, but both had mistakes in qualifications, leaving Perebinosova out completely after balking her vault but touching the table led to a score of zero there. Then, in finals, Ilyankova sat her vault and imploded on beam, scoring about four points less than she did in qualifications to hold the door wide open for almost anyone to sneak in for gold.

It was still a Russian who finished on top of the podium, however, as Elena Eremina overcame some mistakes of her own on each event to finish strong with a 54.55. Eremina is generally the least consistent of the three top junior Russians, but she managed to save her own implosions for event finals, sitting one of her vaults and falling on floor. Still, in addition to her all-around victory, she also managed a good performance for beam bronze.

With other falls from the British juniors Maisie Methuen and Alice Kinsella, Lorette Charpy of France, and the Romanians Carmen Ghiciuc and Ioana Crisan, the silver and gold medals ended up being a total surprise. Hometown girl Lynn Genhart of Switzerland placed second with a 54.365 while Martina Basile of Italy was third with a 54.266, both coming within a couple of tenths from the title.

Genhart winning silver at home was a great victory for the Swiss team, coming after great improvements from some disappointing mistakes in qualifications. Looking especially nice on bars and beam as well as on her super clean vault, Genhart had a fantastic day as a whole and did exactly what she needed to do in order to take advantage of others’ mistakes. The same can be said for Basile, who is a little weak on bars and fell there, though she hit everything exactly the way she needed to and everything worked out great for her.

Methuen was fourth with a 53.599, Kinsella was fifth with a 53.498, Morgane Osyssek of France was sixth with a 53.332, Rinke Santy of Belgium was seventh with a 52.599, Ghiciuc was eighth with a 52.507, Crisan was ninth with a 52.498, Ilyankova was tenth with a 52.433, Francesca Linari of Italy was 11th with a 52.373, and Charpy was 12th with a 52.299. Among these, Osyssek and Santy both had great days, correcting mistakes they made in qualifications to wind up finishing strong (and Santy had an especially strong finish, with one of Belgium’s best junior Euros results in years, tied with Berengere Fransolet’s own seventh place finish in 2012).

As one of the top contenders for the podium, Methuen unfortunately had a fall on bars that took her out of the running, though she got off to a great start with her handspring front pike half and also hit her beam and floor. And Kinsella, who killed it in qualifications, was also expected to do well but she was downed by her own fall on beam. Ghiciuc and Crisan can both blame bars for their own downfalls, beam was Ilyankova’s nemesis, Charpy had falls on both bars and beam, and Linari fell on bars as well.

Outside the top 12, several other contenders were taken down by beam as well. Anina Wildi of Switzerland could’ve been a longshot for the podium, but had a fall there and made mistakes that hurt her on bars and floor as well, putting her in 13th with a 52.032. Maellyse Brassart of Belgium fell on bars as well as beam to finish 14th with a 51.833, and then other beam falls came from Helene Schäfer of Germany (15th with a 51.733), Sanna Veerman of the Netherlands (16th with a 51.598), and Emma Höfele of Germany as well (17th with a 51.532).

Rounding out the field was Dorka Szujo of Hungary in 18th with a 51.331, Polina Borzykh of Georgia in 19th with a 51.258, Marie Skammelsen of Denmark in 20th with a 50.932 (who was actually near the top after the first two rotations on floor and vault, though unfortunately her bars and beam are currently too weak to make her a real contender), Vendula Merkova of the Czech Republic in 21st with a 50.899, Valeriia Iarmolenko of Ukraine in 22nd with a 50.499, Kristyna Brabcova of the Czech Republic in 23rd with a 50.366, and Amelia Sanchez of Spain in 24th with a 48.499.

The Italians dominated the vault final, with Martina Maggio getting the gold with a 14.499 average while Basile got her second medal of the meet, earning silver with a 14.233. Maggio showed beautiful work on her DTY, which she landed with just a hop, for a 14.866 followed by a 14.133 for a clean FTY. Basile went for a 1.5 and FTY combo, looking clean on both, and then Denisa Golgota of Romania tied Basile for silver, her DTY looking a bit more wild than usual with a step out-of-bounds for a 14.533, though she hit her FTY well for a 13.933.

It was a bummer to see Skammelsen less than two tenths shy for the podium, as that would’ve been a huge deal for Denmark, and she was one of the only juniors to actually perform two vaults from different families (using the senior rules rather than the modified rules for juniors). But she did a fantastic job either way, getting a 14.158 for her beautiful Yurchenko 1.5 and a 13.933 for her tsuk full, landed with a big hop back.

Osyssek did a great job with her FTY and 1.5 to get fifth with a 14.033, Eremina nearly stuck her 1.5 off to the side but sat her DTY for sixth with a 13.833, Livia Schmid hit her handspring front pike half and handspring front tuck half well for seventh with a 13.866, and then Olivia Cimpian of Romania hit her FTY but had a bad fall on her DTY to place eighth with a 13.266, and sadly getting injured in the process.

After her disappointing day in the all-around final, Ilyankova came back strong on bars to win the gold with a 14.766 while Perebinosova, back from her own disappointment in qualifications, got the silver with a 14.366. Ilyankova showed an especially nice shaposh to clear hip full to Tkachev and fought for a stuck dismount, and Perebinosova wasn’t quite as clean as her teammate, but with impressive difficulty and an awesome Chow to stalder half to Ezhova connection, she was definitely more than deserving of a medal.

In third with bronze was Charpy with one of her strongest performances of the meet, earning a 14.3 with an excellent execution score after hitting her toe full to Maloney to pak, piked Jaeger, and double layout with a hop. Kinsella was fourth with a 13.808, Genhart was fifth with a 13.433, Janna Mouffok of France was sixth with a 13.4, and Schäfer was seventh with a 13.333, all hitting their respective routines. The only big mistake came from Switzerland’s Leonie Meier, who over-arched the stalder full into her layout Gienger and then fell on that skill.

The beam final saw a little more heartbreak, but still overall was impressive, with most hitting their routines. Ilyankova got a second gold medal for this routine, more than making up for her all-around mistakes with a near-perfect set, getting a 14.4 with a huge 8.7 e-score with especially nice work on her roundoff layout and side aerial to back handspring.

Kinsella got the silver medal, also looking super clean aside from a check on her double spin. With great work on her side aerial to layout stepout and on her nearly stuck 2.5 dismount, Kinsella earned a well-deserved 14.166. Coming in for the bronze was Eremina, who had a few wobbles but showed great work on her bhs-bhs-loso series and hit her 2.5 dismount for a 13.841.

Also hitting in this final was Charpy with a 13.833 for fourth and Methuen with a 13.733 for fifth. Schäfer actually would’ve medaled had she not fallen on her switch half, hitting the rest of her skills incredibly well, but instead she ended up sixth with a 12.966. Borzykh also had potential for a medal here, but wobbles on most of her skills and a huge stumble forward and off the mat on her 1.5 dismount took her out of the running. Finally, Crisan had a hard fall on her opening sequence that ended her routine just as quickly as it began, as she was forced to leave the podium with a shoulder injury that left her unable to complete her routine.

Golgota picked up her second medal of the final on floor, winning gold with a 13.933 for her fantastic routine. While nothing she does is super difficult, it was one of the stronger routines of the final, and was mostly clean, opening with a great piked full-in followed by a tucked full-in, and then finished well with a great double pike and double tuck. Kinsella also got a second medal with floor silver, earning a 13.866 with the most difficult set in the bunch, including a 1.5 to 2.5, a solid triple, a double pike, and a double tuck.

The bronze went to Perebinosova with a 13.8. She was pretty clean throughout, hitting her tucked full-in and whip whip to double back incredibly well. She had helicopter legs on her 1.5 to double full and stepped out-of-bounds on her double pike, and would’ve gotten the title without that mistake, but overall she did great work.

I thought Alisson Lapp of France actually had the best routine, however. It was the only ‘total package’ routine in the mix, with great tumbling, clean execution, excellent choreography, and an unbelievable performance quality. As a whole, she’s held back by the fact that her routine is pretty easy in comparison to the others in the mix, and she also stepped out-of-bounds on her 2.5 to front tuck, but I think this was truly a fantastic routine and hope she’s able to build on the difficulty in the next few years so she can contend for medals in the future.

Lapp and Linari tied in fourth on this event, each with scores of 13.666. Megan Parker of Great Britain also had a super strong and clean routine to place sixth with a 13.5, as did Naomi Visser of the Netherlands, who was seventh with a 13.2, though both were held back a little by their low difficulty overall. Eremina was hoping to luck out with what could’ve been her fourth medal of the meet after winning team and all-around gold as well as beam bronze, but she unfortunately had a fall and finished with a 12.8.

Overall, I really enjoyed the junior competition and seeing so many with huge potential for the next quad. I’m especially excited to see what the new Swiss gymnasts can do, and think there is so much potential for lesser-known countries like Denmark and the Czech Republic to break through as well.

Full results from all sessions at Euros are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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13 thoughts on “Surprises on Every Podium at Junior Euros

  1. What are your thoughts on Komovas career/legacy/role of the Russian Federation now that she retired? Are you doing an article on it?

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      • She announced
        on her personal vk account that she’s “stepping down from training” because of continuing back pains. My guess is that Vktoria realized bars is her ticket, inbar stalders are a huge part of her routine, back pains equals difficulty in performing in bar stalders, no inbar stalders equals low difficulty , while utilizing in bar stalders too quickly in recovery pushes huge injury risk, equals no Rio and no Rio (which Viktoria confirmed in winter was
        to be her last competition) equals end of career. I know that from time to time we gets lots of rumors of gymnasts retiring or being injured or whatever but Rewriting Russian Gymnastics had a translation of her message and while I didn’t see the clip, she apparently said them in a clip as well. Viktoria has often said things she doesn’t mean at the height of bad times or in emotion, but she wouldn’t go this far if she hadn’t thought it through first.

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        • She’s stepping down and away from Rio 2016 but she didn’t announce her retirement. I’m not posting that she has retired until she has said “I’m retiring.”

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      • Thank you for the clarification. I just assumed retirement because she the “stepping down from training” bit was very vague, no specification of “stepping down from Russia Cup or Rio” but training which contextually would lead me to apply it to her career. She is and has been since London one of my all time favorite gymnasts so I would love to see her come back after resting herself for another worlds or Tokyo Olympics even if for one event only, but I don’t see it happening and I’m so gutted in a personal sense, for Komova herself and for the Russian team that Rio will no longer happen for her.

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        • Yeah, she said something about the next couple of competitions she’ll have to sit out, and for her, the “next couple” of competitions = Russian Cup and Olympics. I can see her coming back in the next quad just to give it a shot. I’m sure she’s disappointed about it not happening this year so I don’t see her finishing on that note.

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      • I think this is most likely it for her, but then I also think we’ve seen many gymnasts rewrite the rules and change our expectations on what things like longevity and retirement mean in this sport over the last 15 years. So you never know! Either way she has a lot to be proud of & I’m disappointed to see her go, though I’ve thought the writing was on the wall and getting clearer for a month now.

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  2. I hope Vika continues. She hasn’t had enough time to showcase her brilliance on the world stage. And she is a brilliant gymnast. I don’t know why she gets injured so much. Not all of her injuries/ailments are gymnastics related, either. Remember her bout with meningitis? She is the most unfortunate gymnast I can remember for a while. She’s up there with Chellsie Memmel.

    The Russian WAG team has a serious problem with back injuries. For the Americans, it’s mostly knee injuries. And Romania… well, they have every injury imaginable. This is one of the curses of the COP. These girls’ bodies cannot take the pounding and twisting required for top D scores.

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    • Three words I would use to describe Viktoria is Elegant, Poised and Disappointing. She usually peaks during the off season and collapses during the prime of the season. Valentina’s updates after Glasgow was of how Viktoria had been improving; Aliya recovering, Paseka doing alright and Afanasyeva taking her monthly pilgrimage to Munich. And now, with Rio a month and a half a way is when she’s out of it. She’s so beautiful, so complex in her gymnastics and for me, is the only gymnast out there that really has the full package; the power she (used to) show on vault, the absolutely beautiful and intricate work on bars with a swing that I’ve never seen done so effortlessly, grace and elegance combined with difficulty in constant flow and motion on beam and the lines, interpretation and use of every body line on floor that no gymnasts can quite replicate… her career deserved more then two uneven bars world titles, she deserved the “grand slam” of all around titles (nationals, Euros, Worlds, Olympics) yet the only non Russian AA titles she owns is youth Olympic and junior Euros. It’s so unfortunate. Sorry if I sound like the most obnoxious Russian Stan ever (really the only two Russians that i cared about for Rio is Aliya and Viktoria) but it’s just so unfair. This quad has given us great gymnastics but disappointment layered upon disappointment. A once gymnastics superpower crumbling at the seams all at once. Iordache stoically carrying her nation on her back for four years only to be forced to fight and potentially (though maybe not) lose to a veteran who has already tasted Olympic glory, without her loving teammates by her side.
      Bulimar coming back up from the test of injury only to be knocked down again. The Russians who have bit back the disappointment of silver medals galore only for their fearless veterans and gymnastic swan to be tested by injury and illness time and time again. China’s team leader and Olympian being knocked down at the moment she least needed it. Really the only country that has gone almost completely unscathed is USA, they don’t have problems with their knees at all, the only gymnast with a knee injury is Nichols, and even then she may very well end up on the team anyway.

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      • The Americans have plenty of injuries, but the US field is very, very deep. If the US could field two teams, they would probably win gold and silver. (Although China is peaking at the right time, so they might be better than a US B team.) I have to say that Simone and Gabby do not get injured very much (knock, knock, KNOCK on wood). Many US gymnasts have had knee injuries from trying to land that dang Amanar. I think Laurie Hernandez is battling knee injuries right now as well as Maggie.

        Injuries are a part of the sport. However, that will be even more true as young bodies take even more pounding to increase D scores. I miss the 10.0 system for that reason only–gymnasts were allowed to do sane routines that preserved their health.

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  3. When was the last time a gymnast from Georgia made a final at Europeans? Nice to see countries like Georgia in finals, along side Denmark – as you mentioned Lauren.

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    • It’s a little different with Polina…Georgia is trying what Azerbaijan is doing by bringing in Russian girls but they’re going after juniors instead of seniors so they’ll have strong seniors once they get to that level. Polina was 4th AA at Russian nationals this year and made the Russian national team but then decided to accept the offer to compete for Georgia since it’s less competitive than the Russian program and basically guarantees international spots. So it’s cool to see Georgia represented by name in finals but the beam final basically had three Russians really.

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      • Ah – I see. Interesting. I did see that she had results at Russian nationals but assumed she was a guest from Georgia.

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