The Bundesliga season in Germany came to a close this weekend with the team final for the top four clubs in the country, and the ladies of Stuttgart easily won their fifth title in a row, defeating second-place Karlsruhe-Söllingen by seven points with a 213.5.
This season, two-time Olympian Kim Bui has been behind Stuttgart’s success, but she had some outside help in this final competition on Saturday. In the absence of strong contributors like fellow two-time Olympian Elisabeth Seitz, who hasn’t yet returned to the sport after her success in Rio, and Kim Janas, who retired last week due to a third ACL injury, Dutch Olympian Eythora Thorsdottir joined the club and earned the top all-around score of 54.95 ahead of Bui’s 53.0 to help the team to victory.
It’s been a busy autumn for Thorsdottir, who made this her fourth meet in the past month. After sweeping at the Dutch Team Championships a couple of weeks ago, she held back a little in Ludwigsburg, sticking to an FTY vault and sitting her dismount on bars (though she still had the third-best score there with a 13.1).
Her beam was strong, however, with a lovely sissone to side aerial to Korbut, illusion turn, split leap to front aerial to split jump to wolf jump, switch to Y turn, and a solid 2½ dismount for a 13.95 (the second-best in the meet), and on floor, she posted the top score of 14.1 with one of her typically magical performances, though her tumbling was downgraded slightly, with only a double tuck and 2½.
Bui placed second all-around here after a rough bar routine, but she had the top all-around scores in two of the three regular season meets and was honored at the final for being the top overall all-arounder of the year. She showed an excellent FTY here, as well as strong work on both beam and floor, getting the third-best scores on all three of these events. Her bars, however, had some messy form on her Jaeger to pak, and then she lost her swing after her Maloney, hopping off to re-chalk. She did catch her Bhardwaj and made it through the rest of her routine, but stuck to just an easy double tuck dismount to finish safely, dropping her D score in the process.
The other Stuttgart competitors included 13-year-old Emelie Petz in fourth with a 51.0, recent Cottbus floor champion Carina Kröll on all events but vault, and 2016 Olympian Tabea Alt in her first meet back from Rio, posting the top score of 14.25 on vault with a beautiful FTY.
I was especially impressed with Kröll on floor, where she was second to Thorsdottir with a 13.95 after hitting an easy but clean set that included a double pike, double tuck, and 2½ to finish. A first-year senior, Kröll has struggled with consistency a bit this year, but she actually has some superb routines when she hits and I bet we’ll see her make more of an impact as she gets older.
Karlsruhe-Söllingen, home to Olympic alternates Leah Griesser and Pauline Tratz, came second in the final with a 206.7. Both gymnasts competed three events apiece, with Griesser posting the top bars score of 13.75 with a lovely set and reaching a 13.6 for her always beautiful floor routine, while Tratz, who recently announced her commitment to UCLA, contributed a 14.05 on vault and a 13.5 on floor. Both struggled with falls on beam, however, though even had they hit, the team wouldn’t have surpassed the Stuttgart squad.
15-year-old junior Isabelle Stingl had the top all-around score for Karlsruhe, finishing in third place with a 51.1 after crashing her FTY, though she came back with hit routines on her remaining events. The team also saw routines from first-year senior Maike Enderle on all but floor and from 15-year-old Emma Höfele on all but beam.
In third with a 198.3 was Chemnitz-Altendorf, the team normally headlined by Olympic bronze medalist Sophie Scheder and her 2016 teammate Pauline Schäfer, who won a bronze of her own on beam at worlds last year. Scheder has not yet returned to competition, which limited them a bit, though Schäfer made this her comeback meet, and a fantastic one at that.
Competing her two best events, vault and beam, Schäfer first hit her handspring front half vault for the second-highest score of 14.15 (it’s supposed to be a layout and generally scores a little higher, though she was a little piked here). She then reached the highest beam score by a full point with a tremendous performance that included a solid bhs loso, front aerial, side somi, a nicely controlled double spin, her eponymous side somi half, and a perfectly stuck gainer layout for a huge 14.9.
Lisa Schöniger, 14, was the top all-arounder for Chemnitz in fourth place with a 50.75, and Pauline’s younger sister Helene Schäfer was fifth for the team with a 48.4 after uncharacteristic mistakes on beam and floor, typically standout events for the gymnast who reaches the senior level next year. The team also had Nadja Schulze contributing on bars and beam while Jasmin Haase added scores on vault and floor and Anuschka Maltzan competed on bars and floor.
Finally, Köln came in fourth with a 177.0, featuring all-around performances from Sarah Sonnenschein in seventh with a 48.35, Elisabeth Wagner in eighth with a 44.85, and Jenna Büttner in ninth with a 41.8 while Johanna Deutschmann helped out on vault and bars and Aiyu Zhu performed on beam and floor. In the regular season, Köln had Sarah Voss leading the team as well as outside help from Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs and Russia’s Evgeniya Shelgunova, so without these three in the mix, the team struggled to score as high as it normally does.
Article by Lauren Hopkins