The all-around gold in the Netherlands once again belongs to Vera van Pol, a 2016 Olympian who is hoping to once again play an integral role on the Dutch team this quad.
This is the third all-around title for van Pol, who first won back and 2013 and then repeated as champion two years later. Now 24, van Pol hit all four routines this weekend to surprise for the title, performing an excellent, clean, and nearly stuck Yurchenko 1½ as the highlight of her all-around win, though she also put up a tidy bars set and nailed her double arabian, 2½ to punch front, and 1½ to punch front on floor.
Van Pol qualified into every final she attempted, and won the bronze medals on beam and floor in addition to placing fourth on bars (tying the bronze medalist with a 13.050 total, but losing the tiebreaker by a tenth on execution). Aside from a wobble on beam, her work there was calm and strong, and while she doesn’t have a lot of connections to help her build difficulty in the way some of her teammates do, she has some great individual skills, like a Kochetkova and Rulfova, both of which were standouts in her set on Sunday.
Some of her floor landings are a bit weak at the moment, mostly because all of them are blind, and so she was a bit limited in her score there due to these steps and hops, and in the final she also ended up landing out-of-bounds on one pass, though she was otherwise clean. On bars, her routine wasn’t super difficult, but she once again showed how clean and solid she is, with her Tkachev to Pak an especially nice combo, and she also threw in an awesome hop full pirouette near the end of her set.
Overall, van Pol is definitely the quiet threat of this team. Though she doesn’t have the star power of some of her teammates, she proved here that she’s the reliable one, and could go up on any event and hit a strong routine under pressure.
She was a surprise to make the Olympic team, she was a surprise for this title and her previous all-around titles, and last summer, she surprised to make the Universiade team, coming out of nowhere after an extended hiatus post-Rio. While she might not be a first choice for teams coming up this year and in the future, van Pol is absolutely someone to continue to keep an eye on, especially in the absence of Lieke Wevers this season.
Coming in for the silver medal was Céline van Gerner, who made her comeback to the sport at last month’s Koper Challenge Cups, where she won the silver medal on bars and the gold on beam. This weekend was van Gerner’s first time competing vault and floor since Rio, and while she’s a bit downgraded on both, she performed well enough to get by, and then relied on her stronger bars and beam work to get the silver, coming within just a couple of tenths of topping the podium.
Van Gerner’s bars and floor were especially tidy in her all-around performance, with her bars showing a toe on to toe half to big straddle Jaeger, toe full to bail to Ray, and stalder full to stuck full-out. She kept to the basics in her tumbling on floor, and her choreography and expressions were SO much fun to watch, going from dramatic to mysterious to pure joy, making this one of the highlights of the meet for me (and despite the lower difficulty, she still posted the second-highest score in prelims).
On beam, she had a large wobble on her flight series at the start of her all-around set, but she recovered well, hitting a big tour jeté half, split leap to front aerial, switch half, side aerial, and 1½ dismount well enough to rank second there going into the final.
In finals, van Gerner ended up with the gold on bars and the silver on beam, though she pulled out of the floor final, likely just to keep her focus on the other two. Her bars set was just as good as her all-around set, and she made vast improvements on beam, nailing the flight series this time around in addition to the remainder of her skills to post a 13.667.
Ultimately, it was an excellent meet for van Gerner at the start of her return, and there’s no doubt she’ll continue to be a major contender and force of nature for the team this quad.
Tisha Volleman ended up taking the bronze in the all-around while also winning the titles on vault and floor, despite a downgrade from her DTY in the former. She had clean work on both bars and floor in prelims, though unfortunately beam was a bit of a disaster for her, with a fall on her Erceg mount and then again on her double spin, keeping her from challenging for the all-around title.
Competing in every final but beam, Volleman ended up sixth on bars with a hit routine in addition to taking the two golds on her strongest events. Though her skills on bars are simple — she has just a 4.4 D score — she actually posted the second-highest E score of the meet here, which is awesome for her as this generally isn’t where she excels, but she performed her set very well, catching an especially nice bail and fighting for every handstand before sticking her full-in, looking thrilled with the attempt.
Her vaults were downgraded from a Lopez to a Podkopayeva and from a DTY to an FTY for this meet, but she still managed to win the vault title by just over a tenth, averaging a 13.450 for the pair, and her floor was excellent, earning a 13.267 after opening with one of the best quad spins to ever exist, which she connects directly to a double spin (which looks too easy for her after that quad). Volleman also hit her tucked full-in, double full, and 1½ to punch front well, and I enjoyed that she’s keeping her love for the front attitude alive with a hop full spin in that position.
Really, aside from the beam falls, Volleman had a great competition, and continues to be a leader on this Dutch team. Aside from Eythora Thorsdottir, she is really the only gymnast who turned senior last quad that ended up having any traction going forward, and like her older teammates did before her, I think we’re going to continue to see her get better and better as she ages.
Rounding out the top eight, we saw Naomi Visser in fourth with a 49.000, first-year senior Sanna Veerman in fifth with a 48.733, Denise Tan in sixth with a 48.599, Maartje Wurkum in seventh with a 48.133, and Marieke van Egmond in eighth with a 47.767. Additionally, Reina Beltman returned to competition for the first time since serving as an alternate for the 2016 Olympic Games alongside Volleman, finishing ninth with a 47.599.
Visser’s best work in the all-around competition came on beam, while Veerman, who is coming back from injury, struggled there and on floor but showed lovely work on bars. Both of these members of the 2016 junior Euros team ended up medaling on bars in the final, with Veerman taking the silver with a 13.350 while Visser won the bronze with a 13.050.
Veerman’s routine was especially promising, showing a Maloney to Pak to van Leeuwen, piked Jaeger, and stalder to toe full to full-out. She had the highest level of difficulty in the field with a 5.5 D score, but still has some areas that are a bit lacking in attention to detail, so a bit of clean-up could make her a big threat for the team. Again, an injury kept her from beginning her senior career earlier this season after she was expected to debut at the American Cup, so hopefully a bit more time in the gym will get her to a stronger level.
Also medaling from this group was van Egmond, who won the floor silver for a simple yet near-perfect routine that picked up an insane 8.933 E score. With a stuck double tuck, lovely 2½ and front full, effortless technique on her leaps, and a fun, engaging performance, van Egmond’s difficulty of just 4.2 couldn’t get her to the top of the podium, but the silver was more than deserved for that fabulous set.
2016 Olympic teammates Sanne Wevers and Eythora Thorsdottir both competed here on bars and beam, with Wevers taking the beam title and placing fifth on bars, though while Thorsdottir qualified third into the bars final, she opted to withdraw, likely wanting to put the focus on continuing her preparation for future competitions.
Wevers upgraded her beam routine from a 5.5 in prelims to a 5.9 in the final to easily win the title with a 14.367. Her set was gorgeous, featuring a back handspring mount, a double L spin with a little bobble, a brand-new side aerial to back handspring acro series, a fantastic front aerial to split jump to Kochetkova, an effortless full L turn to full spin to double spin to split leap to straight jump full, and a Steingruber dismount with a slight hop to the side. Little errors aside, her form and presence were to-die-for, and she has clearly taken measures to ensure that what happened at worlds last year with her D score getting dropped will never happen again.
On bars, Wevers picked up a 12.950, looking a little rushed on her clear hip to shaposh to clear hip full to bail to toe shoot, though she got back under control for her Jaeger and double layout dismount, looking clean on both.
Thorsdottir was lovely as ever in her beam presentation in prelims, opening with a gorgeous full L spin to switch leap to full Y spin to full pirouette and then continuing to a split leap to side aerial to Korbut. Both series were pure magic, but she showed a bit of nerves on her front aerial and illusion turn, and she underrotated her 2½ dismount, nearly sitting it.
I don’t think she got credit for the L spin to switch leap in that opening sequence, and her dismount was also likely downgraded, but mistakes aside, she was absolutely beautiful to watch, as always, and her bars were also incredibly clean and well-performed, so I consider this a win considering it was her first performance back since worlds.
The TON Almelo girls — Astrid de Zeeuw, Vera Jonker, and Sara van Disseldorp — swept the all-around podium with a point separating all three in the junior competition, with de Zeeuw also winning the vault and bars titles while van Disseldorp won the floor gold and Senna Westen, who placed eighth all-around, topped the podium on beam.
De Zeeuw posted a 50.217 all-around to win by nearly a point, showing mostly clean and consistent work across the board. She’s not really a major standout on any event, but rather performs at a solid level pretty much everywhere. She actually had a fall on her FTY in prelims, though it didn’t hinder her from taking the title, and she came back to hit the vault in finals while also performing a clean Yurchenko layout to win that title, and her bars were incredibly well done in the final as well.
Jonker and van Disseldorp also showed a solid level of difficulty on all four events, with Jonker looking especially strong on vault, though she struggled with multiple falls on bars and beam in finals, and a fall on floor in prelims kept her from making that final. Van Disseldorp had excellent work on both bars and floor in prelims, and with a hit FTY on top of these sets, she looked ready to win the title, but unfortunately she had multiple falls in her beam routine, holding her back to the bronze medal. She also fell on bars in the final, but her floor was fantastic, and you can spot the insane flexibility and hyperextension in her knees on leaps from a mile away.
These three could do great things on the international scene at Euros this year, and they also have some solid options to round out the squad of five from those who also finished well in the all-around. Shadé van Oorschot was fourth with a 48.567, Zenna van der Lubbe was fifth with a 48.033, Isatu Barrie was sixth with a 46.000, Sarai Huitema was seventh with a 45.049, and beam champion Westen was eighth with a 44.883.
From this group, van Oorschot won the silver medal on floor and the bronze on bars with clean work on both, van der Lubbe won the beam bronze with a fall in a field that had lots of them, Laura de Witt was the silver medalist on bars, and Megan van Puffelen won the silver on beam with a fall.
Marit Reijnders, one of the juniors who had potential to win an all-around medal and likely someone who could also factor into the Euros decision, ended up 11th with just a 44.550 after multiple falls on beam, where she got just a 7.233. Reijnders is capable of much stronger work, and she won the vault bronze here while also finishing fourth on floor, so don’t sleep on her just yet.
Full results from the competition are available here.
Article by Lauren Hopkins
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