Russian Cup Field Announced


The Russian federation has announced the field of gymnasts set to compete in Penza from June 28 through July 5, with the five-day meet featuring a team competition that also serves as the qualifier for the individual all-around and event finals later in the week.

2012 Olympian Aliya Mustafina, who recently led Russia to team gold at European Championships, headlines the competition that will also feature her Euros teammates Daria Spiridonova, Seda Tutkhalyan, and Angelina Melnikova. Several former worlds team members, including Maria Kharenkova and Tatiana Nabieva, will also compete, as will 2012 Olympic vault bronze medalist and 2015 world vault champion Maria Paseka, who missed Euros this year due to a nagging injury. The roster will also see bubble gymnasts Evgeniya Shelgunova, Anastasia Dmitrieva, and first-year seniors Natalia Kapitonova and Daria Skrypnik on the roster.

Not competing are Viktoria Komova, who recently announced she is taking herself out of Olympic contention due to back pain, and Ksenia Afanasyeva, who contributed her DTY vault to the European Championships team but then immediately had surgery. Afanasyeva isn’t out of the Olympic picture just yet, especially if she can get her floor back to where it was at worlds last year, as floor is the Achilles heel for this team. Valentina Rodionenko will decide at a later date whether Afanasyeva will be prepared in time for Rio.

Udpate 6/29: Because we can’t have nice things, Kharenkova has scratched from the meet due to a nagging injury, though will participate in the selection/training camp. As of today, Valentina Rodionenko includes Mustafina, Melnikova, Afanasyeva, Paseka, and Spiridonova on her Olympic team, with Tutkhalyan, Shelgunova, and Kapitonova the alternates.

A full list of competitors is below. For more information, including the meet schedule and all related articles, check out our coverage guide.

Lilia Akhaimova
Ilsia Aminova
Ksenia Artemova
Varvara Batalova
Olga Bikmurzina
Yulia Biryulya
Ekaterina Boeva
Viktoria Bykova
Anastasia Cheong
Alyona Chernova
Anastasia Dmitrieva
Simona Fakrieva
Polina Fedorova
Elena Guseva
Ekaterina Ischchenko
Natalia Kapitonova
Maria Kharenkova
Daria Lopatina
Angelina Melnikova
Evgeniya Menovshchikova
Daria Mikhailova
Aliya Mustafina
Tatiana Nabieva
Arina Nedovesova
Maria Paseka
Alexandra Sadkova
Evgeniya Shelgunova
Anastasia Sidorova
Daria Skrypnik
Daria Spiridonova
Ekaterina Tsvetkova
Maria Tsvetkova
Seda Tutkhalyan
Margarita Varnakova

Article by Lauren Hopkins

25 thoughts on “Russian Cup Field Announced

  1. Hasn’t Tatiana Nabieva retired about five times by now? I’m glad to see her still training, but I don’t see what the point is. I hope she does floor at this Russian Cup. Her performances on floor are hilariously flippant. She obviously couldn’t care less about the choreography and often stops to adjust her leotard. It cracks me up that she’s on a Russian team that is all about ARTISTRY.


    • I think she doesn’t really give a crap but is kind of doing it for fun. Like her bars are shockingly good for someone who doesn’t care! But she clearly is barely training beam and floor so it’s super funny that she keeps coming back and doing them. Nothing is funnier to me, though, than Afanasyeva’s eye roll before a pass last year.


    • A lot of Russian/Romanians train for fun and because they don’t really know what to do. The Americans, and to a certain extent Canada and Great Britain, have NCAA to look forward to and lean on, and eventhough it’s kind of sad to see gymnasts with the physical capability to still perform elite routines, performing level 10 routines, it’s great because NCAA offers the life after gymnastics perspective, and gives the gymnasts a chance to experience “real world” while still getting to do competitive but fun gymnastics until they graduate, so that they start to figure out what they want to do when gymnastics is all of a sudden not a priority anymore. But in Russia, Romania, China, etc. they have no college squads or teams, so their options are do elite or cut gymnastics cold turkey in a sense. Like Anna Pavlova in an interview around the time she transferred to Azerbaijan was asked why she was still performing elite/ what was her motivation and she basically said that she wasn’t sure what else to do with her life. Now Pavlova is retired and decided to be a coach, but a lot of gymnasts especially in Europe where there are no extra options like NCAA to give them that half in half out so they can sort out what they want to do, gymnasts often stay in elite even if they’re not training fully and are just doing it for the heck of it basically like Nabieva. If the US didn’t have NCAA I’m sure they’d have more gymnasts who compete multiple quads (save the recent successful comebacks of Raisman/Gabby). But at the same time, Kyla said she no longer had the drive it took to compete elite gymnastics when she retired, so she’d probably be in a position like Nabieva had she stayed, competing routines that score like 11s to 12s just cause.


    • Nabieva trains to keep the club alive for upcoming girls like the new European junior champ.& pass on her skills like Eremia doing the Nabs recently. It keeps a stream of youngsters coming in & state funds . Besides that the St Petersburg girls look to all enjoy themselves. .


    • She got injured at Euros last year and hasn’t been at the same standard since then…didn’t make the Rio training squad earlier this year either. 😦


  2. So this is rather off topic but it’s kind of in relation to Russian gymnastics – I had no where else to ask this(not on tumblr, though for such an avid gym fan I probably should “join in”), does anyone here know why Evgenia Medvedeva was recently at Round Lake? I only wondered as I had not seen any interaction between artistic gymnasts and figure skaters before.


    • Russia has large multi-sport clubs moreso than individual gyms. Medvedeva is affiliated with the Sambo-70 club, which is also Spiridonova, Paseka, & Tutkhalyan’s home club. The club threw all the gymnasts a little celebration for doing well at Europeans and maybe she came along as a representative because she’s close to their age! I’m just guessing as to why she went though, but that was the event.


      • Thank. I knew about the sports club systen, I just hadn’t ever seen much interaction before so I was curious that’s all – thanks – sorry for being off topic. I won’t make a habit of it,


  3. So is the team going to be Mustafina, Paseka, Spiridonova, Melnikova, and Afanasyeva (if healthy) or Seda (if Ksenia isn’t healthy)? Lord help Russia if they have to use Seda on beam. :-O


    • That’s the team Valentina wants…the three alternates are Seda, Kapitonova, and Shelgunova as of right now but that could change after this weekend. They leave July 24 so they have time to play with it.


    • Is Maria Kharenkova completely out of the Rio picture? I would pick Maria K to do beam in TF over Seda. But Seda’s floor routine makes her the logical choice if Ksenia doesn’t recover in time. Can Maria K score higher on floor with a hit routine than Seda on beam with a fall? That’s actually pretty close and I don’t think we have enough data on Maria K’s recent floor routines to really say.

      Also, I am pretty sure Aliya wants to do AA in this competition.


      • It looks like Maria K just withdrew from the Russian Cup…she was on the roster this morning but now it’s gone from 34 to 33. Not sure what happened but I’d imagine if she doesn’t do the Russian Cup, she’s not going to be part of the Rio picture, even as an alternate.


  4. I just saw the Russian Cup scores. OMG!!! I wish I were there to see Valentina’s head explode. She should say, “No one makes the Olympic team. No one.” Compared to the glittering performances at US Nationals, the Russians showed up and fell off everything. Seda fell on her beam dismount this time. At least she changes it up on us. By the way, I love Seda. I love how she competes with rage. Now, she just needs to win the war against the beam.

    And I take back everything I said about Nabs. She may very well make the Olympic team. LOL. I know that she won’t, but she outscored Aliya on Day 1.


    • Aliya had a meltdown on bars and was only hundredths of a point from Nabievas clean routines. Spiridonova did her job on bars and Paseka got a 15.475 for the Amanar which isn’t going to give her a medal at the olympics, but pretty good considering her injuries. Melnikova fell with an awful beam routine, and still got a 14.675 with a fall on bars- extremely over scored but would still harbor a 15 in Rio if hit. If Ksenia doesn’t go Seda is unfortunately the best option. I love Seda but she can’t hit a beam routine to save her life. Funny that the only element she won’t fall on is the layout full. They beat Great Britains A team by 6 points at Euros and that was with a fall- and before you say GB had a lot of mistakes they had 4 or 5 falls and even the latter wouldn’t have closed the gap. Not to mention that Paseka will raise the team score on vault and possibly bars. It looks kind of bleak for them I have to say, but if they need a meltdown here to get it out of their system so they can do well in Rio so be it. Or maybe if they leave the Olympics medal less it will get the Rodienkos out of the program which is what they need desperately.


      • A mistake-free Russian team beats a mistake-free GB team in team finals–especially since Paseka’s Amanar is looking good. But after the fiasco of Russian Cup Day 1, it is impossible to imagine a mistake-free Russian team over 12 routines. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse day of competition from any country ever.

        The Russian girls have a ton of potential. And they are clearly upgrading like crazy. Seda threw a full-in double pike dismount off of beam. She crashed it, but I give her credit for going for it. From the way it looked (you can see it on YouTube), she needs to abandon it for Rio.

        They need to pull it together mentally. Big time.


      • Mentally everyone except Aliya is a mess. I honestly think her falls on bars were flukes, not really mental errors. Her vault must have been good. Her beam needs work, but she showed grit because to go up on beam after a performance like that and not fall apart really showed toughness. Floor choreography still isn’t fantastic, but it’s coming together much better and I’m glad she’s only doing 3 tumbles. Her spins look good too. I think Aliya, Paseka and Spiridinova are the only three that can be counted on to hit and for Paseka and Spiridonova it barely matters because they’re probably going to be primarily one event specialists. If Aliya isn’t ready to do 3 all around competitions back to back they’re royally screwed.


      • Just a quick correction, they were practicing their Olympic qualification order so they started on beam and ended on bars. Not really sure what happened on bars, but honestly unless she looks similar the rest of this week (they may have her exhibition in EF to get more practice) she’s the last person I’m worried about. She, Seda, and Melnikova will probably have to do most of the work in TF like in Euros, and I’m more concerned about the younger two. I don’t think Afanasyeva will be healthy enough to contribute.


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