Alt Wins Second World Cup Title

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A few weeks after winning the all-around title at the Stuttgart World Cup on her 17th birthday at home in Germany, Tabea Alt has done it again, winning the London World Cup gold with an all-around score of 54.598 this weekend.

Alt opened her competition with an excellent Yurchenko double, which was clean throughout and basically stuck to earn a 14.466. She moved on to show a serviceable bars set, with a stalder to toe full right on the bar into a clean Maloney to Pak, a great stalder half to piked Jaeger, and a double layout with a step back for a 13.833, giving her a two-tenth edge over the rest of her competition going into the halfway point of the competition.

Her beam was a bit disappointing, if only because it was SO good throughout, with a hit layout mount, side aerial loso loso series, and lovely split leap to side aerial, a routine so good it looked like it could break a 14, but then she went overtime and rushed into her double pike dismount, which ended up being low with her hands down, getting just a 12.966.

Because nearly everyone else had an equally depressing beam rotation, Alt actually extended her lead by almost half a point going into the final rotation, and her 13.333 for her solid floor set that featured a tucked full-in, front tuck through to double tuck stuck cold, and a double pike with a step sealed the win for her nearly a point ahead of the second-place competitor.

Overall Alt showed here that she is a huge contender for an all-around medal at Euros later this month, and if she can hit beam, she’ll be a medal threat for that event as well. I’m super impressed with her, and think while she proved herself in Rio last summer, the best is still to come for her.

In second was Victoria Nguyen of the United States, who had an okay day aside from beam. Her Yurchenko double on vault was a little messy and went out-of-bounds, earning a 14.166, but she showed a mostly strong bars set with some leg separations and close catches throughout, as well as flexed feet on her inbars, but I loved her inbar full to Maloney to Gienger combo, and she was able to pull in a 13.8 to move into third place going to beam.

On beam, she wobbled on her triple flight series, the connection in her front aerial to ring jump was a little slow, she had a large wobble on her side aerial to back tuck, her knees were bent on her switch leap to Onodi to sheep jump, and she went overtime before completing the 2½ dismount, but even though she stayed on, her execution was so rough her 12.866 ended up being lower than Alt’s score with the dismount fall. She had a good enough floor routine to finish up, with a tucked full-in stumbled forward, a nice triple full, and a double tuck scoring a 13.0 to hold onto second place.

The bronze ended up going to hometown girl Amy Tinkler in her first all-around performance since British Championships exactly a year ago. Tinkler showed a fantastic Yurchenko double for a 14.6, and then got a 13.6 on bars with some messy form throughout, but her toe full to Maloney to big Tkachev was great, and the Markelov and full-in were excellent.

But even Tinkler wasn’t immune to the beam drama in this competition, putting her hands down after her gainer loso series and having a huge wobble on her front aerial, though she still managed a 12.0 with a suspiciously high E score of 7.2, too high given the quality of her routine and number of mistakes, in my opinion.

She came out of this rotation in fifth, but thankfully for her, floor happens to be a speciality, and so her full-twisting double layout, double layout, front full, and double pike were good enough to help her to a 13.233, allowing her to finish her day in a strong position for a medal with a 53.433.

I really thought Spain’s Ana Perez, who had the best day here, would end up sneaking in for the bronze, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Perez had just a Yurchenko full on vault, but it was a beautiful and flared vault and managed a 13.6 with a 9.0 E score. Her bars set was also excellent, with huge releases like her piked Jaeger, Church, and Ray on top of a Maloney to Gienger and full-twisting double layout with a hop. She did have a few minor leg separations and her clear hip full was a little late but overall it was an excellent routine, and she added a 13.833 to her total there to bring her up a spot to fifth place going to beam.

Perez had the one quality beam routine of the day, showing probably one of the best sets of her career with only tiny bobbles and a step back on her double pike, earning a 13.233. Her skills weren’t as difficult as some of the others, but it was a superb set and moved her into third going into the final rotation, and while her floor was excellent with a tucked full-in, whip whip through to double tuck, and a double pike, her difficulty was a bit low to give her a high enough score to get on the podium, slash there’s no way she should’ve scored lower than Tinkler in the all-around and there was definitely some home judging love thrown Tinkler’s way.

Ultimately, her 53.299 was just 0.134 behind Tinkler’s all-around score, which is one of those shady kind of gaps that always makes you question the judges, especially given that the quality of Perez’s routines was much higher than the majority’s of Tinkler’s, even though Tinkler’s E scores didn’t reflect it the way similar routines from other competitors did.

But at the end of the day, it was still a fantastic return to the all-around for Tinkler, and the performance also marked her first return to floor after winning an historic bronze medal on the event at the Olympic Games last summer. Of course the hometown kid with such a huge accomplishment under her belt is going to get some home judging love. It happens everywhere all the time. But with Perez having such an incredible day, including posting the best scores on both bars and beam, I was really hoping it would result in what would’ve been such a huge victory for her and for Spain.

Shockingly, or probably not so much shockingly, was Angelina Melnikova of Russia down in fifth place with a 52.599 after a short and messy Yurchenko double, a 13.466 for a bars set that started out nice but then she muscled through her toe full and had to repeat half of it before stumbling forward on her full-in dismount, a 12.333 for a fall on her layout series on beam, and then a 12.7 on floor where she put her hands down on her piked full-in.

Melnikova confuses me so much because some of her elements look incredible and lovely, but then her form elsewhere is so horrifying, it’s impossible to believe she’s the same gymnast. Aside from her fall on beam, quality-wise it was the best she’s looked there in a long time, with great amplitude on her jumps and a solid double pike, but then it’s like she loses energy for a moment and everything completely goes to crap. With only a couple of weeks until Euros, it’s going to be hard to see her doing anything truly exciting there, but if the part of her that can hit and look good while doing it shows up, she could medal. It’s literally true excellence or utter disaster with her.

Rounding out the group of eight competitors — it was supposed to be nine, but Georgia-Mae Fenton withdrew at the last moment due to a minor injury — were Ilaria Käslin of Switzerland in sixth with a 50.699, Tisha Volleman of the Netherlands in seventh with a 50.465, and poor Liu Jinru, who limped around the arena all competition long with an ankle injury that she seemed to keep re-injuring with each event she did, in eighth with a 47.665.

In the men’s competition, Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine fought through pommel horse and high bar mistakes to win the gold with an 83.864, followed by Donnell Whittenburg of the United States with an 82.665 for silver, and Lukas Dauser of Germany with an 81.698 for the bronze.

The two British men, Sam Oldham and Brinn Bevan, were just out of contention, with Oldham finishing fourth with an 81.064 while Bevan was fifth with an 80.465, and behind them we saw Eddy Yusof of Switzerland in sixth with an 80.431, Luo Jianlin of China in seventh with a 77.931, and Alexey Rostov of Russia in eighth with a 75.965.

Full results from the competition are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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