This Russian team at the European Youth Olympic Festival is probably one of their best ever in terms of consistency and hitting when it counts. Seriously, coming into this meet, I was like “they’ll have some good moments but will blow their chances at podiums because that’s what Russia does.”
And yet they are doing work this week! They’re not perfect or coming in with wildly difficult routines, but they’re fighting, and they’re hitting. The young team at Gymnix performed similarly well earlier this year, and while recent senior teams have kind of driven my expectations into the dirt, the juniors are really learning how to compete, proving it time and again this year.
Ksenia Klimenko, 13, had a steady performance across all four events to take the all-around gold ahead of Italy’s Asia D’Amato earlier today, with 14-year-old D’Amato also performing well, though her comparatively weak beam and floor held her nearly a point back from being able to overtake Klimenko.
D’Amato held the lead ahead of Klimenko after the first two rotations, performing a beautiful Yurchenko double and a clean bars set, though Klimenko made up ground with stellar sets on bars and beam, and ended up leading D’Amato by three tenths going into the final rotation. On floor, the two gymnasts were pretty evenly-matched, though D’Amato ended up having some bouncy landings, whereas Klimenko was once again pretty solid, giving Klimenko the edge to take the win with a 54.450 to D’Amato’s 53.750.
The bronze medal was a bit of a shock, going to Varvara Zubova, who managed to have a clean day to take advantage of the stronger all-arounders who just couldn’t figure out how to compete today. Zubova, who turns 15 in October, actually hit beam — her first hit routine of the season — which earned a 14.050 to help her to a 52.850 in the all-around. Zubova also hit her FTY well, and made it through her bars set, which is about all you can expect from her on that event. She’s seen better days on floor, but was still able to hit all four passes nicely, and she finally picked up the first international all-around medal of her career.
She ended up edging out Elisa Iorio by fewer than three tenths, with 14-year-old Iorio again really struggling through her DTY, earning just a 13.7 with rough form and a giant step out-of-bounds. Iorio hit bars today, but with mistakes and form issues, earning a 13.3, and then she made it through a shaky beam and a floor routine with low landings to come in just slightly behind Zubova with a 52.600, a score that could’ve been at least two points higher without all of the mistakes.
It was a bummer to see her finish off the podium with her level of ability, but she still managed to stave off a true meltdown, always coming back to tackle the next task at hand rather than freak out and fall completely apart. She still has time to clean up her good events and improve her skill level on her weak events, so now with the bulk of her long season over (EYOF was Iorio’s sixth international meet this year), hopefully she’ll be able to refocus before coming back strong.
As we expected, Taeja James of Great Britain — who qualified in 21st and missed the all-around final due to the two-per-country rule — subbed in for her younger teammate Zoe Simmons, with the ‘official’ word being that Simmons was injured, though I think it was more about the fact that James could very well go from missing the final to making the podium.
James, 14, had a mostly strong performance, earning a 52.500 to finish only a few tenths from the podium after hitting a huge clean FTY, a mostly-strong beam aside from a save on her punch front and a step on her dismount, and a solid floor set. On bars, generally her weak event, she ended up bending over on a handstand at the end of her routine, with her score there about a point lower than the rest of her scores. Still, it was a great comeback from the three falls she had on day one, and she should be very proud for making such a great recovery.
Rounding out the top eight were Célia Serber of France with a 51.650, Amelie Morgan of Great Britain with a 51.550, and Nora Feher of Hungary with a 51.400. All three did great work with lower combined levels of difficulty, with Serber looking lovely on beam, Morgan showing beautiful lines on bars, and Feher hitting a great bars set, one I wish she’d done in qualifications because it absolutely would’ve gotten her into the final. Her teammate Bianka Schermann, who competed instead of Csenge Bacskay in yet another instance of gymnast-swapping tom foolery, ended up placing ninth, looking fabulous on bars and beam to earn a 51.350, also a much better score than she was able to pull off yesterday.
The two most dramatic downfalls of this meet were Emelie Petz of Germany and Anastasiia Bachynska of Ukraine placing 10th and 11th, respectively. I mean, I totally called it for both of them, and while I was thrilled to see both of them do so well in qualifications, I knew they wouldn’t surprise us two days in a row.
It was a bummer to see both get off to such great starts, with Petz, 14, nailing her Yurchenko 1.5 and Bachynska, 13, performing a lovely FTY. Moving to bars in the same rotation, they both ended up falling, one right after the other, and then they both dug the hole even further with falls on beam, putting them near the bottom of the pack. They made nice returns on floor, with both hitting excellent double arabians, but by that point it was too late to factor higher in the rankings, with Petz earning a 51.200 and Bachynska posting a 50.150. As a side note, I find it funny that they both basically had the same exact day and placed one behind the other, just as they both had great days in qualifications and also finished one behind the other then. They should be best friends.
Margaux Daveloose of Belgium was 12th with a 50.000 and Dominika Ponizilova of the Czech Republic was 13th with a 49.900, both hitting all four routines, with Ponizilova especially fantastic on vault while both did fabulous performances on floor.
Leonie Meier of Switzerland was 14th with a 49.650 after crashing her FTY to her knees in the final rotation of the meet, Denisa Golgota of Romania was 15th with a 49.100 after falls on both bars and beam, and Sanna Veerman of the Netherlands was 16th with a 48.650 after falling on beam and floor. Veerman was another one I thought could either get to the podium or at least make it into the top eight, but she just happened to have a bad day when it counted.
Anna Subbotina of Georgia ended up 17th with a 48.600, Kim Ruoff of Germany was 18th with a 48.500, Aglaé Adam-Cuvillier was 19th with a 48.450, Lali Dekanoidze of Georgia was 20th with a 48.300, Julie Vandamme of Belgium was 21st with a 47.650 (her beam was actually fabulous, but she had multiple falls on bars), Chiara Bunce of Slovakia was 22nd with a 47.550, Violeta Sanchez of Spain was 23rd with a 47.300, and Elina Vihrova of Latvia was sadly 24th with a 46.400 after a crashed vault as well as falls on bars and beam.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
This post was made possible thanks to our amazing patrons who help us fund things like travel and video production as we work to grow the site. This month’s patrons: April, Dodi Blumstein, Wendy Bruce, Kelly Byrd, Jillian Cohen, Brittany Cook, Kristyn Cozier, Holly Glymour, Hydrick Harden, Lauren Haslett, Inaya, Lauren Jade, Alexis Johnston, Katrina, Sarah Keegan, Ishita Kent, Jenny Kreiss, Maria Layton, Rae Lemke Sprung, Leigh Linden, Annabelle McCombe, Bridget McNulty, Cindy McWilliams, M. Melcher, Alison Melko, Emily Minehart, Eyleen Mund, Melanie Oechsner, Jessica Olaiya, Cordelia Price, Abbey Richards, Christine Robins, Kaitlyn Schaefer, Lisa Schmidt, Brian Schwegman, Stephanie, Lucia Tang, Rachel Walsh, Laura Williams, and Jenny Zaidi. THANK YOU!
Want to help out and qualify for super fun rewards for as little as $1/month? Check us out on Patreon!