Saturday’s event finals at the Cottbus World Cup — the first in the FIG apparatus series that kicked off this weekend and will go through to 2018 — saw few surprises. With a small field on both the women’s and men’s sides, those who came in as standouts for each event ended up taking home the medals.
For women’s vault, the gold went to 2012 Olympian Emily Little of Australia, who came into the meet with the greatest level of difficulty and also led by a large margin after qualifications. Little competed a DTY for a 14.766 as well as a tsuk full for a 13.833, the latter of which had a step out-of-bounds, though both were executed very well, and she averaged a 14.299 to take a four-tenth lead.
Two-time Olympian Dorina Böczögö and 2016 Olympian Zsofia Kovacs of Hungary were the silver and bronze medalists separated by just a third of a tenth, as Böczögö averaged 13.899 and Kovacs averaged 13.866, both competing the same level of difficulty. Böczögö had beautiful work on both vaults, showing a clean FTY followed by a solid handspring front pike while Kovacs had a brilliant FTY, earning the highest execution score of the competition and a total of 14.233, as well as a tsuk layout.
Pauline Tratz of Germany was fourth with a 13.783 average, showing clean work on her FTY and handspring front tuck, though the difficulty on her second vault ended up being what held her back from outscoring Kovacs and getting on the podium. 2016 Olympian Angelina Kysla of Ukraine and Valerija Grisane of Latvia also had excellent work, with Kysla placing fifth with a 13.716 average while Grisane was right behind with a 13.683.
Rounding out the field, 2016 Olympian Irina Sazonova of Iceland was seventh with a 13.049, hitting her first vault, the FTY, for a 13.866 but then falling on her second vault. Her teammate Sigridur Bergthorsdottir finished eighth with a 12.916, hitting her vaults but with issues that both brought her execution scores down in addition to adding hefty penalties.
On bars, Kovacs ended up easily taking the win by nearly a point in a field that became far less competitive with the loss of the German gymnast Kim Janas. Janas, who qualified second right behind Kovacs with an excellent routine on Thursday, felt a sharp pain in her knee after landing her dismount in qualifications. With her history of injuries — she had been away from the sport due to elbow and knee injuries for 18 months before returning at Bundesliga in October — Janas opted to skip today’s finals in order to get checked out by a doctor.
With her difficult routine, Kovacs managed a 14.133 for a hit routine today while the rest of the competitors here either had low difficulty, mistakes, or a combination of the two. Böczögö had one of the lower start values at 5.0, but her routine was the cleanest of the day, and she won a second silver medal with a 13.233. Kysla had a mistake in her routine, but thanks to some big skills, managed to snag the bronze with a 12.966.
Germany’s Leah Griesser, who should be a strong contender in Sunday’s beam and floor finals, also had a mistake in her routine, placing fourth with a 12.866. Behind her, everyone else had falls, including Ivana Kamnikar of Slovenia in fifth with an 11.633, Sazonova in sixth with a 10.6, and Agnes Suto of Iceland in seventh with a 9.666.
The one real surprise of the meet was when Naoto Hayasaka of Japan upset Rayderley Zapata of Spain for the gold medal on floor. Hayasaka had the higher D score, but floor is Zapata’s thing, and he killed it in qualifications, leading by four tenths going into the final. Both performed well on Saturday to get nearly identical execution scores, allowing Hayasaka’s difficulty to give him the edge.
Hayasaka walked away with the gold medal after scoring 15.433 to Zapata’s 15.166, which was good enough for silver. Zapata had several issues with his landings in today’s performance, which cut his E score down a little bit, but he did land his brand-new skill — a double front with one and a half twists — very well with just a slight hop back, so gold or not, it was still absolutely a success.
In the bronze medal position was Rok Klavora of Slovenia with a 14.9 for his expertly-performed routine, and his teammate Ziga Silc was right behind him in fourth with a 14.433. The rest of the routines in this final all went well for the most part, with Ukraine’s Igor Radivilov (Kysla’s new husband!) in fifth with a 14.4, Botond Kardos of Hungary in sixth with a 14.333, and Lukasz Borkowski of Poland and Andrej Korosteljev of Croatia tying for seventh with 13.966.
On pommels, Krisztian Berki showed once again why he is the master of this event, nailing his 6.7-difficulty routine for a 15.766 to easily win the gold over Hayasaka, who picked up silver with a 15. Robert Seligman of Croatia was just behind with a 14.833 for bronze, edging out Saso Bertoncelj of Slovenia, who finished fourth with a 14.8.
Rounding out the field, we saw Dmitrijs Trefilovs of Latvia in fifth with a 14.433, Zoltan Kallai of Hungary in sixth with a 14.266, Juho Kanerva of Finland in seventh with a 13.766, and Yusuke Saito of Japan in eighth with a 13.4.
Finally, on rings, Radivilov had the top score of 15.433, showing great control and clean skills to win the gold over Japan’s Yuya Kamoto, who had a 15.066 for silver. Nick Klessing of Germany won the tight race for bronze with a 14.533, followed by Rokas Guscinas of Lithuania in fourth with a 14.433, Nestor Abad of Spain in fifth with a 14.333, Saito in sixth with a 14.1, Tomi Tuuha of Finland in seventh with a 13.533, and Nils Dunkel of Germany in eighth with a 12.3.
In Sunday’s finals, Kovacs leads going into beam, and it’ll be interesting to see if she can repeat Friday’s performance, which was the best beam routine of her career. She normally struggles with nerves on this event, so if that happens, the race for gold will be wide open. On floor, Griesser led qualifications, but several others weren’t far behind, and if Böczögö and Little clean up after some of their qualification mistakes, they will be thrown into the medal mix as well.
For the men, the vault title will likely go to Radivilov by a wide margin, Kamoto is the biggest threat for the p-bars gold, and Andreas Bretschneider leads high bar with a great qualifications routine, though if he tries to spice things up with even higher difficulty in finals, Saito could be a threat.
Full results from everything that’s happened so far in Cottbus are avaiable here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins