Turning 17 is already pretty special but winning an all-around world cup in front of your home crowd on your birthday and having a few thousand people sing to you is a present not many people get to enjoy.
Tabea Alt made this very scenario happen today as she took the title at the Stuttgart World Cup, edging out Russian Olympic silver medalist Angelina Melnikova, as well as first-year senior Morgan Hurd of the United States, who made both her senior and international debut in Stuttgart.
Alt started off her competition with a nice double twisting yurchenko, scoring a 14.233. Her lowest score of the day came on uneven bars. Even though she hit her van Leuween (which gave her trouble in warm-ups) and showed a piked jaeger (which is a new skill for her), she didn’t manage to cast to handstand right after her same-bar release and stumbled out of her double layout dismount to her knees, scoring only a 12.400.
Going into beam, Alt proved that she’s a tough competitor, bouncing right back from her disappointing uneven bars performance with a very solid routine that included her signature series, a side aerial into two layout stepouts, as well as a solid double pike dismount. Not only did she post the highest beam score of the day with a 14.066, she also showed the most difficult routine out of all the competitors with a very impressive D-score of 6.1. Since almost everyone else made mistakes on beam, Alt was in second place going into the last rotation and managed to clinch the title on floor with solid tumbles, including a very nice tucked full in, and excellent landings, finishing with an all around score of 54.199.
Melnikova came in second place after having a much better competition than just two weeks ago at Russian Championships, where her disappointing performance left gymnastics fans worried about the fact that the Russian federation didn’t pull her from the World Cup in Stuttgart. To start off her competition, Melnikova also showed a solid double twisting yurchenko, scoring a 14.266.
On uneven bars she put up a solid performance and posted the highest score of the day, a 14.400, after almost everyone else had major issues there. Aside from a fall on her layout, Melnikova showed a good beam routine, including her always fantastic double pike dismount. Despite her fall on beam, she was the leader going into the last rotation, but unfortunately incurred out of bounds deductions on her double arabian and her piked full-in, finishing with a total score of 53.732.
When the news broke that Hurd would make her senior debut in Stuttgart lots of gymnastics fans were excited since she’s been a fan favorite for quite some time now. After having seen her compete live I’m probably an even bigger fan of hers than I was before. She managed to win over the audience immediately when she showed the best vault of the entire competition, a powerful double twisting yurchenko for a 14.366. She also impressed on bars with mostly excellent handstand work and an almost stuck full in dismount.
After her great bars routine it seemed like it would be between her and Melnikova for gold but unfortunately Hurd had to count some big mistakes on balance beam where she fell on her second element, a standing full, and immediately after on her flight series. Despite those early mistakes she fought back and finished her routine strong, including her incredibly difficult dismount – a full in. It also was nice to see the audience get behind her after her falls and cheering her on, screaming for her to stick her elements. On floor she came back strong with great tumbles, including a double double and a piked full-in, giving her an all around score of 53.265 and a bronze medal in her first international meet.
It was the second year in a row that Pauline Schäfer saw one of her teammates win gold in Stuttgart while she finished off the podium. But she wasn’t unhappy with her performance, saying that she at least improved one spot from fifth to fourth and that there should be more to come in future.
After a clean vault, she struggled on bars, having a major form break as well as a dead hang. Schäfer upgraded to a piked jaeger as well and despite her struggle, managed to impress the crowd with her unusual dismount, a Moors. Beam usually is the highlight of her program but today she had a few wobbles and didn’t look as confident overall as we’ve seen her in the past which hopefully will change as the season progresses. She absolutely nailed her eponymous element though, a side somersault with half turn, and she finished strong on floor as well, showing her beautiful routine from last year that caught the eye of many gymnastics fans at the Olympics and scoring a 53.231 in the all-around.
Olympian Eythora Thorsdottir represented the Netherlands at the Stuttgart World Cup but unfortunately it wasn’t really her competition. She showed a double twisting yurchenko as well, but it had a low landing, giving her a score of only 13.766. She managed to get through bars without major mistakes, giving her a momentary edge over most of her competitors who had major issues on bars, but really struggled on beam.
After falling on her mount she seemed shaken, wobbling on almost every skill, and unfortunately her issues continued on floor, where she landed out of bounds after her triple twist to punch front, giving her an all around score of 50.632 for fifth place. Despite her mistakes Thorsdottir showed once more that she is an incredibly expressive gymnast, especially on floor where she also showcased an impressive turn sequence, a double L-turn to full turn to double Y-turn to illusion.
China’s Zhang Jin finished in sixth place due to lower difficulty scores than most of her competitors and some major issues on bars. After getting started on vault with a solid score of 13.000, she first had a major form break on bars before falling over on a handstand. Unfortunately she continued to struggle throughout the routine but managed to come back strong on beam on floor. On beam Zhang showed a clean routine with a great layout to two feet and on floor she showcased nice choreography and managed to engage the audience into her performance, finishing with an all around score of 50.032.
Alice Kinsella of Great-Britain also made her senior international debut at the Stuttgart World Cup but unfortunately it didn’t quite go as planned. After a relatively solid full twisting yurchenko, Kinsella had to count falls on every event, finishing with a 47.099 in seventh place. She showed some great skills, though, including a gorgeous double turn on beam as well as the same flight series Tabea Alt is known for, side aerial to two layout stepouts. Even though she fell on her second layout stepout, once she gains more confidence she could be a real contributor for Team GB on this event.
Article by Sina Rothfuss