So I watched the second day of competition in Koper last night knowing from the results and gifs that Flavia Saraiva, who won a bars medal on Saturday and came into beam and floor finals as a leading contender for both, didn’t exactly have things go her way.
But in seeing everything in context of the meet, I couldn’t get over exactly how awful it was, because based on how everything else went, Saraiva could’ve come out of this meet with two golds. Instead, she walked away with the silliest beam mistake ever and a busted ankle.
On beam, Saraiva started out looking better than she has since Rio. Her roundoff back handspring mount was perfect, and she nailed her two big acro series off the bat, with hardly a hint of adjustment on either the triple series or the layout series. She did wobble on her double spin, but held on tight, but as she danced her way over to the end of the beam, she had a little stumble and fell. On her choreography.
Saraiva’s reaction was priceless, like she couldn’t believe that actually just happened, and as she continued through the routine you could tell she was still a bit angry with herself, which led to some other mistakes, like a wobble on her switch ring and a missed connection, bringing her D score down a bit in addition to counting the fall, with the biggest bummer being that she finished with a 12.8, only half a tenth from the podium behind her own teammate who also counted a fall.
Going to floor, she was testing out a new opening pass, upgrading the 1½ to front full that she used to have in the interior of her routine to a 2½ to front full to start things off. As the last up with a 13.1 the highest to beat, Saraiva basically had this in the bag, but then she landed her 2½ on her toes at a 90 degree angle from the ground. Somehow, she punched out of that, but only barely, and so her front full was so low to the ground, it looked like she was twisting on the top of her head before landing flat on her back, slamming her ankle at a horrifyingly unnatural angle in the process.
Saraiva sat out-of-bounds for a second and held her ankle, but then as her music continued, she jumped up to continue into her second pass and I was basically screaming at her to stop, so THANKFULLY, before she could go on to kill herself, the pain in her ankle kept her from going any further. The trainers walked her off and gave her some ice, and she looked bummed as heck, though thankfully the injury didn’t seem like anything some rest and ice can’t fix.
Between the two mistakes, I think Saraiva was clearly more upset about the beam choreo fall, especially knowing that with beam champion Larisa Iordache‘s own mistakes, Saraiva with a hit routine easily could’ve taken advantage of that. Floor was also pretty much in the bag with a hit routine, but at least she had a legitimate reason for ending the routine after the fall. But the beam fall was truly hilarious, and while it may sting right now, hopefully in the future she can come back and giggle at what happened as much as I’ve been laughing over the past couple of days. #SorryFlavia
Saraiva is expected to compete in Osijek next weekend, though with her ankle injury, that’s kind of up in the air at the moment. I could see her doing just bars or something, and maybe beam if she’s feeling up to it, but hopefully they’ll just rest her because while the cash prizes at challenge cups are nice, we need our Flavinha healthy for worlds.
So what about everyone else?
Iordache got her second gold medal of the weekend with a 14.15 on beam for a ‘meh’ routine for her. She just wasn’t on, with steps and wobbles on nearly everything as well as some messy form on her switch half, a wild double spin, and an underrotated triple full that was messy in the air and had a step back.
Despite winning gold by more than a point ahead of anyone else, she actually looked pretty disappointed in herself while waiting for and then getting the score, probably knowing the routine could’ve been a lot better (especially considering it scored half a point lower than it did compared to qualifications). But at least she can chalk most of her mistakes up to nerves and second-guessing herself rather than any real major issue. She’s still clearly not a hundred percent comfortable up on the beam, and even when she has a brilliant set, her confidence level isn’t where it once was so hopefully we’ll see that improve going towards worlds.
Canada’s Ellie Black was the silver princess of the weekend, picking up an additional two silver medals on beam and floor, thanks largely in part to mistakes from others because her difficulty right now on a fully hit day from everyone wouldn’t have been enough to carry her through.
On beam, her difficulty is nowhere near close to what we’re used to seeing from her, but she performed well enough to make up for that, with only a wobble on her double spin and a hop back on her punch front pike. The rest looked solid, and she dismounted with just a front full to earn a 13.1, looking thrilled with how things went. She was similarly downgraded on floor, competing a front full to double tuck, a front double full (stepping out-of-bounds), and a double full, but again she looked solid and steady, getting a 12.85 to win her third silver of the weekend.
Like her teammate, new senior Thais Fidelis struggled on both beam and floor, but her regular run-of-the-mill falls were nothing compared to Saraiva’s ridiculous day. Fidelis just looked a bit nervous, especially as she tackled her jam-packed beam routine, where she fell on her back handspring to arabian combination, though she hit her triple series after that with a wobble, and the rest looked good enough to get her the bronze with a 12.85, thanks to her big D value in a comparatively weak field.
Her D score was a point higher than those with hit routines, Barbora Mokosova of Slovakia and Carina Kröll of Germany, so while I hate wins with falls, it made sense here, because these two started off at such a major disadvantage.
Mokosova’s extension in her opening choreo killed me, and she had a mostly lovely routine with only a few minor wobbles and form errors, and Kröll’s set was similar, with some wobbles, a jerky illusion turn, and a step off the mat on her 1½ dismount. Fidelis in comparison had one big mistake, but overall, I think she still had the better routine, making the ranking correct.
On floor, though, Mokosova and Kröll got medals of their own, with Kröll taking the gold scoring a 13.1 and Mokosova earning the bronze with a 12.6, edging Fidelis off the podium by half a tenth. Fidelis came into this event with the highest difficulty of the field, but she sat her big opening pass — the 1½ to double arabian — and despite a solid rest of her routine (including an awesome stuck double tuck), she couldn’t manage to pull off what she made happen on beam a rotation earlier, coming fourth with a 12.55.
Kröll did a great performance with her floor routine, done with lots of energy to “Hit the Road, Jack.” Her opening 2½ had a low landing going into the front tuck, but she hit a Memmel to illusion turn, double tuck, and double full nicely to secure her second apparatus cup gold (her first was at the Cottbus World Cup in November).
Mokosova had a simpler routine, with a double tuck, gorgeous leaps, a 1½ to front layout, and a front full to stag to finish things up, and I was thrilled to see her get the bronze because I think she’s such an underrated gymnast. Her difficulty is generally not strong enough to make her a contender, but I would’ve been annoyed to have her and Fidelis swapped in the rankings since Fidelis’ difficulty wasn’t so much higher than Mokosova’s that it would’ve made up for the fall.
Rounding out the beam final was Rose-Kaying Woo of Canada in seventh with an 11.55 and Dalia Al-Salty of Hungary in eighth with an 11.35, both with falls. Woo’s fall was actually pretty freaking terrifying; after a mostly solid routine, she went for a double pike dismount, performing the first pike well but it looked like her hand slipped from her leg on the second pike, causing her legs to open up into a straddle, slowing her rotation and basically landing on her head. Al-Salty’s was less dramatic, as she just underrotated her layout stepout a bit and popped off.
On floor, between the four at the top and Saraiva at the bottom, we had Valeriia Osipova of Ukraine in fifth with a 12.4, Tamara Mrdjenovic of Serbia with a 12.25, and Thea Brogli of Switzerland with an 11.65. Osipova stuck her opening tucked full-in, and also made me giggle because her bangs came out of their clip, giving her routine a throwback feel to the 90s when feathered bangs were all the rage, and I absolutely loved Mrdjenovic’s “Hey Big Spender” routine, which had some fabulous choreo moments (and pique turns!). Brogli unfortunately had some struggles with her landings, and then sat the front full to finish her routine.
For the men, Andrey Medvedev of Israel won vault with a 14.975 average, though his scoring was a bit controversial concerning his first vault. His first vault, a handspring double pike, was literally tucked for the entirety of the second flip, making it more like a handspring front pike front tuck. To be honest, I wouldn’t actually mind seeing different salto shapes in double salto skills, but because this isn’t a thing, he absolutely shouldn’t have been rewarded for doing two pikes when he actually only did one (less frustrating, but still heinous, was that he somehow got a 9.4 E score on top of full D credit). His second vault, a tsuk double pike, held its shape throughout, but he was a little less controlled on the landing.
In second was Donnell Whittenburg with a 14.6 average, and Casimir Schmidt of the Netherlands was in third with a 14.575. Eddie Penev’s difficulty was a little behind the top three guys, and his first vault — the Yurchenko half-on front double full — was a disaster, but then he had a perfect, beautiful, stuck Shewfelt for the second. I think he assumed that alone would be enough to jump ahead of Schmidt, but yeah, no. That first vault was just…never again.
On parallel bars, Whittenburg finally got his gold, earning a 14.75 with a beautifully-performed routine, while Jossimar Calvo of Colombia won the silver with a 14.1 and Euros fan favorite Marios Georgiou of Cyprus won the bronze with a 13.95 for his own lovely work. Tin Srbic of Croatia was the high bar champ with a 14.4, a score that tied silver medalist Bart Deurloo’s, though Srbic won it on execution, while David Vecsernyes of Hungary with the bronze with a 13.95 in an otherwise messy final.
Article by Lauren Hopkins