The young Canadian junior team has had a super successful weekend so far at the Elite Gym Massilia competition in Marseille, with Ana Padurariu leading the squad not only to the gold in Friday’s Open division, but also to a team bronze in today’s Masters division, winning all-around medals both days as well.
The Open division features clubs and federations not invited into the Masters competition, and the top two teams that competed in the Open got the chance to also challenge for medals in the Masters meet tonight. 15-year-old Padurariu scored a 54.267 in the Open all-around on Friday, hitting all four events to win gold while helping Canada — which also featured Zoé Allaire-Bourgie, Quinn Skrupa, and Emma Spence, all first-year junior elites — to the team gold as well.
As always, Padurariu looked best on bars and beam, showing strong difficulty on both as she prepares to begin her senior career in 2018. I was also super impressed with Allaire-Bourgie, who had a really rough time with her difficult beam set, but she otherwise had the best meet I’ve seen her do, and she ended up fourth with a 52.200, a fantastic score for her, and both Skrupa and Spence also performed well, looking their strongest on floor after some mistakes elsewhere.
In Saturday’s Masters competition, Padurariu once again hit all four events, this time earning a 53.900 to take the all-around bronze while also leading her team to bronze, a huge deal given that they were up against teams sent by federations, including a senior team from Canada that the junior ladies beat by nearly four points.
As a whole, the team wasn’t quite as sharp as they were in the Open, but they were still able to narrowly edge out the Italian team by just three tenths. In addition to Padurariu’s third-place finish, Allaire-Bourgie finished ninth with a 51.500, Skrupa was 24th with a 48.050, and Spence was 26th with a 46.800, fighting back from mistakes on bars and beam to contribute great vault and floor scores to the team total.
The host team from France won the Masters gold with a 161.700, nearly three points ahead of the second-place Russians. All four gymnasts on the French team — including 2017 worlds competitors Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos and Lorette Charpy along with Juliette Bossu and junior Carolann Heduit — finished in the top eight all-around, with De Jesus Dos Santos winning the silver medal with a 54.150, a score that came with a fall on beam. She looked fantastic on bars and floor, however, and performed an excellent DTY on vault as well.
Bossu was fourth with a 53.200 with clean and consistent work across all four events though floor was a huge standout for her, Charpy was fifth with a 52.750 after an outstanding bars set, and Heduit, who is just 13, finished eighth with a 51.550, also showing bars as her strength.
The Russians had a pretty mixed day, with Anastasia Iliankova the ‘veteran’ at 16 as she led a team of juniors to the silver. Iliankova competed all events but floor, but she struggled on her top event, bars, falling twice to lose difficulty and score just an 11.55 which was shocking though it seemed more like a fluke than any issues she might be struggling with.
Angelina Simakova, who turns senior in 2018, won the gold with a 55.500, hitting all four of her events including a fabulous stuck Rudi on vault that earned a massive 15.050. Simakova also looked solid on bars, and though beam and floor aren’t quite as strong, she still showed solid work there.
The team’s other all-arounder, Aleksandra Shchekoldina, was 17th with a 49.250 after a rough competition pretty much everywhere but vault (she actually had a hilarious floor routine where she hit a pretty fantastic double double…but then literally crashed to the ground on her Memmel turn, which is peak Russia), while EYOF standout Ksenia Klimenko, who just turned 14, competed everything but vault, showing her best work on bars.
Italy brought 2016 Olympian Elisa Meneghini along with 2017 worlds competitor Sara Berardinelli, 2017 Euros competitor Giada Grisetti, and first-year senior Francesca Linari. Despite a fall on beam, Grisetti was the standout performer for the Italian team, posting a 14.0 for her lovely bars set while also finishing seventh all-around with a 51.75 after a fall on beam.
Conversely, it was a rough competition for Meneghini, who fell a couple of times on beam and wasn’t at her strongest on bars, though she did end up hitting one of the better floor routines of the day, and she finished 16th overall with a 49.250. Linari, who was passed over for both the European and world championship teams this year, ended up 12th with a 50.450 after mistakes on everything but vault, while Berardinelli, competing everything but floor, hit all three of her routines.
Despite showing some of the best work of the day on vault and floor, Italy’s subpar bars and beam rotations held them back quite a bit, and they weren’t able to challenge for a medal, though I am glad Grisetti continues to look strong on bars — where she could conceivably be a really big help to Italy next year — and it was nice to see Berardinelli hit, even though her difficulty is quite weak.
The other Open team to qualify to the Masters competition was France’s B team, featuring 2016 Olympian Louise Vanhille alongside Grace Charpy and juniors Celia Serber and Salsabil Tounan. The team got the silver medal in the Open competition, and they performed just as well in the stronger Masters field to place fifth.
Vanhille is a little downgraded at the moment, but even so, she won silver in the Open all-around with a 53.050 for four hit routines while also placing sixth in the Masters all-around with a 52.450, once again hitting though she wasn’t quite as polished on beam or floor.
Both juniors showed immense promise here, with 14-year-old Serber taking the Open all-around bronze after reaching a 52.200 and then finishing 11th in the Masters with a 50.700, falling on beam in the second day of competition while not looking as clean on her DTY. Tounan, who turns 13 on Monday, is a little low-difficulty in comparison, especially on bars, but she mostly had two solid days of competition, placing 27th in the Masters with a 46.800, while Charpy — Lorette’s older sister — was 23rd all-around with a 48.150 after a fall on beam.
After injuring her knee in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympic Games, Axelle Klinckaert was forced to withdraw from the team and aside from a bars set at nationals this year, her recovery has kept her out of competition for 15 months. We finally got her back in the all-around today, and while she didn’t have a great meet on bars or beam, she nailed vault and floor to finish tenth all-around with a 50.900, not a bad start at all.
Klinckaert led the Belgian team to a sixth-place finish, with Olympian Senna Deriks (also returning from an injury that kept her out of worlds), Julie Meyers, and junior Margaux Daveloose also contributing. Deriks had a really rough set on beam, but otherwise was clean to finish 15th with a 49.900, while Daveloose hit everything but beam to finish 20th with a 48.550 and Meyers struggled everywhere but vault to finish 21st with a 48.350.
The seventh-place Canadian senior team featured 2016 Olympian Rose-Kaying Woo alongside sister and two-time worlds competitor Victoria-Kayen Woo as well as Sophie Marois and Laurie Dénommée. Marois was somewhat surprisingly the strongest in this bunch today, finishing 13th all-around with a 50.350 thanks to a fantastic DTY on vault, while Rose Woo was right behind her with a 50.200 for 14th, struggling on bars and floor.
Victoria Woo, in her first meet back in over a year, ended up 18th with a 49.000 after a rough meet on beam and floor, while Dénommée was 22nd with a 48.350. From what I can remember when we last saw her at nationals, it looked like Dénommée actually had quite a few upgrades on beam and floor, which is awesome, but that added difficulty could be what led to weaker-than-usual performances.
Finally, a strange mix of a team from Germany finished eighth, led by first-year senior Helene Schäfer, who was the team’s strongest all-arounder of the day, in 19th with a 49.000. At one time, Schäfer — like her older sister, world beam champion Pauline Schäfer — showed tons of promise on beam, but that’s where she was at her weakest today, though the rest of her events seemed relatively solid.
Junior Aiyu Zhu, 13, was 25th with a 47.850 after a weak bars set, first-year senior Emma Höfele was 28th with a 46.400, and junior Michelle Kunz was 29th with a 41.550 after falls on every event but floor.
In addition to the Masters competitors, there were some solid Open performers, including 2016 Olympian Vera van Pol headlining the team from the Netherlands. Van Pol had a fall on beam, but otherwise looked okay, earning a 50.500 to place fifth while helping the Dutch team to a fourth place finish, and the club team from Pole Marseille in France won the bronze in this division, led by juniors Alison Faure and Sheyen Petit, who placed sixth and eighth, respectively.
Event finals, which combine scores from Masters and Open competitors, will take place tomorrow. In the senior competition, we can expect De Jesus Dos Santos to put up a huge challenge on bars and floor, the latter of which should also include great performances from Bossu, Klinckaert, and Meneghini, while Lorette Charpy, Grisetti, and Deriks will also be competitors to watch out for on bars.
In the junior division, Simakova will compete as a medal threat in all four finals, with her vaults pretty untouchable, though she’ll face big competition from Padurariu on bars, beam, and floor. Klimenko will also be one to watch on bars, as will Heduit, and you should keep an eye out for the super entertaining Fien Enghels on floor. Enghels, who represented Belgium on an Open team, is a 14-year-old junior who reminds me of a young Klinckaert, is delightful to watch here and will hopefully put up a challenge for a medal, though her tumbling isn’t quite as strong as her performance ability.
Full results from the competition are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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