Germany’s Veterans Still On Top

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Elisabeth Seitz has spent the past six years leading Germany’s gymnastics program. The 23-year-old has competed at two Olympic Games and four world championships, has medaled at two European Championships, and after last weekend, is now a six-time German national all-around champion, having last won the title in 2015.

At German Championships in Berlin last week, Seitz picked up three gold medals for her performance in the all-around, bars, and beam finals, and she wasn’t alone in her non-teenage awesomeness: the silver all-around medal went to 20-year-old Pauline Schäfer, who won a beam medal at worlds in 2015 and competed three events for the team in Rio last summer, while 28-year-old Kim Bui, a veteran of three Olympic games having competed in 2012 and 2016 after serving as alternate in 2008, won the bronze.

Even though the average age of elites is rising as more and more continue sticking with the sport and out-performing their younger teammates, a podium of three 20-somethings is rare, so it was great to see this trio continue to kill it as they hope to continue Germany’s success into the future.

Tabea Alt and Sophie Scheder, who also competed at the Olympic Games, were not at nationals this year, as Alt chose to focus on exams while 2016 Olympic bars medalist Scheder just had surgery and isn’t able to get back to training just yet.

Seitz had a solid performance on all days of competition, earning a 54.000 total to win the all-around title with her 14.5 on bars her best that day. Seitz competed a Maloney to Ricna and Downie to pak super well, with her only struggles coming with an extra kip cast before her van Leeuwen and with her slightly-underrotated dismount.

Her gold-winning event finals routine was also lovely, with excellent height on her releases. She missed the Downie to pak combo this time around, but the van Leeuwen was much better, as was the toe full to full-in dismount, still a tiny bit short, but even with the slightly lower difficulty she walked away with a 14.466 thanks to her performance looking just a tad stronger overall.

Despite having the lowest beam difficulty in her event finals mix, she put together a top-notch routine, wobbling on her layout series and on her front aerial, but quickly pulling it back together both times, and also hitting a solid punch front, double spin, and stuck gainer layout for a 13.233, narrowly winning the title. On floor, Seitz had one of the highest E scores and looked about as good as we could hope there, but her 4.3 D was so far behind the top contenders there, she had no way of making up for it and placed sixth with a 12.466.

Schäfer also had a great all-around performance, earning a 53.900 to come within a tenth of ousting Seitz. As expected, beam was her standout, with her opening switch leap mount to split leap to full Y turn series especially incredible, and she nailed her eponymous skill before sticking a lovely gainer layout for a 14.15.

Unfortunately, this was not the case in finals, where Schäfer put her hands down on her switch ring and then fell, and also wobbled on her side somi half before coming up a little short on her jump series. Her 12.8 got her fourth place, and she also finished fourth on her low-difficulty but hit bars routine, though she came back nicely on floor to win the gold with a 13.2, nailing her double layout and front layout full, though her double pike at the end was a little short with a stumble forward.

Like her teammates, Bui had a great all-around day, hitting all four events to earn a 53.450 with bars her obvious standout. For that event, she earned a 14.2, hitting her hop change to piked Jaeger to pak, Maloney to Bhardwaj, van Leeuwen, toe full to Gienger, and a sky-high full-in with a hop.

Bui’s bars set in finals was just as good, earning a 14.166 for silver, and she also tied for the silver on floor with a 12.866, hitting her double tuck, 2½ to punch front, stuck double full, and double pike to end her meet on a high note.

Other top all-around finishers included Amélie Föllinger in fourth with a 51.250, Sarah Voss in fifth with a 51.100, Leah Griesser in sixth with a 50.950, Michelle Timm in seventh with a 50.900, and Nadja Schulze in eighth with a 50.000. There were several good beam performances in this group, including from Föllinger, Voss, and Griesser, with bars and floor rough for pretty much everyone.

Carina Kröll unfortunately had mistakes on both beam and floor, both of which are generally strong for her, so she ended up in 11th all-around with a 48.750 and was left out of the finals. Recent UCLA commit Pauline Tratz competed only on vault and floor, with floor not her best, though her FTY was great, as always.

Tratz won the vault gold with a 13.866 average, followed by Timm with the silver and Föllinger with the bronze. Griesser ended up with the bronze on bars, earning a 13.5 for a clean and lovely routine, while Föllinger and Timm earned the silver and bronze medals on beam, respectively. Marlene Bindig, who was 18th all-around, ended up a surprise silver medalist on floor, tying Bui with a 12.866 for what was an excellent routine for her.

The junior sessions at German Championships are split up by birth year. For the 2002-born gymnasts, Kim Ruoff was the gold medalist after earning a 49.350 to finish nearly two points ahead of the rest of the division, also picking up the golds on every event but bars, where she placed last after a fall while Lisa Schöniger took the title.

Emelie Petz swept the 2003 division, earning a massive 54.450 all-around score that would’ve not only gotten her the junior title in every division, but also would’ve earned her the senior title. Petz can often be hit-or-miss, but she had everything come together here, hitting all four events in her first day of competition before going on to show beautiful work on all four events in finals as well, where her beam was a standout, featuring a punch front, bhs loso loso, and double tuck dismount for a 14.0.

The 2004 all-around gold went to Aiyu Zhu with a 47.500 while Julia Birck won the 2005 division with a 48.050, also winning the golds on bars and beam.

All results from German Championships are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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