Ellie Black of Canada
The 2017 world all-arountd silver medalist and five-time Canadian all-around champion Ellie Black just keeps getting better, with her most recent performance at the Paris Challenge Cup resulting in a medal on every event, including gold on beam.
Black, 23, is set to lead Canada in Doha later this month, and she looks close to her best in terms of preparation, difficulty, and confidence, with her all-around program looking solid enough to put her in contention for a medal once again in addition to making her a threat for several finals.
Beam is absolutely where Black continues to shine the most, with her rock-solid routine in Paris earning a 13.900. With only a couple of minor checks here and there, Black crushed her opening leap series before also nailing a double spin, layout series, and a beautiful double pike with an especially nice chest position, taking the gold six tenths ahead of hometown kid Marine Boyer.
Black also picked up the silver medals on vault, where her handspring front layout full had some form issues but her tsuk 1½ was excellent, and on floor, where her tumbling was incredible (especially on her opening 2½ through to double tuck and front full through to double pike), though she lost some tenths for some of her leaps being a bit short.
Finally, Black was able to sneak onto the bars podium in a super challenging field thanks to another solid effort that brought her a 13.600. Though she’s not always the strongest technical bar worker, this weekend’s routine was outstanding, with minimal breaks and excellent control throughout her difficult set, including on her Hindorff, Shang, piked Jaeger, and stuck toe front half dismount.
The bars podium was perhaps the greatest victory for Black, who was up against such stunners as hometown girls Juliette Bossu and Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos, Ukraine’s Diana Varinska, Sweden’s Jonna Adlerteg, and Great Britain’s Ellie Downie, all of whom could be contenders for the final in Doha this year. Black is at the weaker end of this field, but proved that her strength is in focus and control, giving her a competitive edge over the more talented bars gymnasts in this field.
Bossu ended up taking the title several tenths over Adlerteg, performing a tidy set that included an inbar full to Chow half, piked Jaeger, van Leeuwen, and a double front with just a step. Her extension and lines were lovely throughout her set, making up for a couple of minor form breaks to pick up a 14.200 for the title.
This year’s European silver medalist on the event, Adlerteg still wasn’t up to her full difficulty in Paris, and she had a couple of technical errors and mistakes throughout that she doesn’t generally make at full strength, but ultimately she was good enough for the silver, earning a 13.850 to earn her second world cup medal of the season.
Unfortunately, we saw errors from Varinska, Downie, and De Jesus Dos Santos, who placed sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively. Varinska couldn’t get the catch on her Chow to Hindorff series, though the rest of her routine was lovely, and she would’ve legitimately challenged for gold without the error.
Downie, in her first international competition since winning the all-around title at Euros in 2017, qualified second on the event but had a hard and scary fall on her Hindorff in the final, and De Jesus Dos Santos caught her Galante, but was way off on the Pak salto out of it, catching it high on her wrists and bending her legs to keep from hitting them on the ground. She took a pause on the low bar for a moment before continuing mostly well, but she also kind of gave up on the dismount landing, taking a few steps back out of her full-twisting double layout.
The two Spanish girls in this final, Ana Perez and Helena Bonilla, looked excellent in their routines, finishing fourth and fifth with scores of 13.400 and 13.250. Neither was a top medal contender in this field, but both put up clean and solid routines and showed a lovely effort to rank higher than expected after coming into the final at the bottom of the pack.
Perhaps the strongest contender for this final, Becky Downie of Great Britain ended up missing out after landing her full-in dismount on her hands and knees, a bummer at the end of her 6.2-rated routine. She also fought through some form issues at the start of her packed set – which included a stalder full to Downie, Tweddle to Ezhova, Chow to Pak, and Maloney to Gienger – and it was clear that she was becoming a bit labored near the end, giving her less height on the dismount than she would’ve liked, but hopefully she’ll be able to work out some of these kinks before Doha because if she does, she’ll be a true gold medal contender.
Vault queen Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan took the title on this event with a 14.250 average for her handspring front layout full and tsuk 1½, just taking a small step out-of-bounds on the latter. She had the same little form things going on than we generally see in her more difficult vaults, but overall she definitely had the best combination of high difficulty and solid efforts in this field to reach the gold just half a tenth ahead of Black, making this her fourth world cup title of the year.
The race for the bronze was between Tjasa Kysselef of Slovenia and Ofir Netzer of Israel, who won last week’s gold in Szombathely. In the end, Kysselef made it happen, hitting her handspring front tuck full and Yurchenko 1.5 with slightly wild form in both, but she had great control on the landings to average a 13.600. Netzer looked a bit better on her own front tuck full, but a large step out-of-bounds on her tsuk full limited her from scoring well on that vault, putting her in fourth with a 13.300.
We also saw good efforts from Tijana Tkalcec of Croatia and Aneta Holasova of the Czech Republic in this final, with the two finishing fifth and sixth, though both Marina Nekrasova of Azerbaijan and Angelina Radivilova of Ukraine had falls to round out the field.
Behind Black on beam we saw Boyer take the silver with a 13.350 and Bonilla pick up the bronze with a 13.050. Qualifying first into the final, Boyer had some nervous mistakes in Sunday’s routine, and the multiple wobbles and missed connections took her score down drastically compared to her qualifications score. Bonilla, meanwhile, was rock solid throughout, with a fantastic triple series and full Y turn before dismounting with the Steingruber to grab her second world cup medal of the year.
The rest of the beam final was a bit messy. Varinska finished fourth after grabbing the beam coming out of her switch leap to sissone, though the rest looked solid; Ana Derek of Croatia fell on her double spin and had a few wobbles throughout the rest of her set to place fifth; Holasova and Jessica Castles of Sweden both had incredibly tidy routines but one large mistake for each – a fall from Holasova on her triple flight series and a missed foot followed by a fall from Castles on her side aerial – took them out of the running and saw them finish sixth and seventh, respectively; and Farah Hussein of Egypt finished eighth after a fall on her tuck full series.
De Jesus Dos Santos was thankfully able to regroup after her bars mistakes to come back for the floor title with a big routine that closed out the women’s meet. Aside from a step back and out-of-bounds on her full-twisting double layout, she looked powerful and clean, landing the tucked full-in well before also nailing the front full to double tuck and then the double pike, both with small bounces, to earn a 13.750.
My absolute favorite moment of the meet was Holasova picking up the bronze for one of the best floor routines I’ve seen her do. With one of the weakest start values in the final, Holasova finished just two tenths behind Black with a 12.850 after qualifying fifth on the event thanks to incredible attention to detail on every tumbling element and leap.
Opening with a solid arabian double front, Holasova continued with a great double pike, stuck double tuck, and clean double full to finish, getting the first world cup medal of her career and showing both on this event and her others at this meet that she could be a surprise contender for the all-around final if she can hit in Doha. Holasova was one of the overall standouts in Paris, making three of the four finals she attempted and looking incredibly strong and confident in her skills. Though she doesn’t have the unbeatable difficulty of some of her competitors, she nonetheless managed to impress, and is her country’s best gymnast in a very long time with great potential to continue to be a standout on the international field as she gets older and gains more experience.
We also saw lovely work from all of the other floor finalists here, including Derek in fourth, Perez in fifth, Fang Ko-Ching of Chinese Taipei in sixth, Nora Feher of Hungary in seventh, and Mandy Mohamed of Egypt in eighth.
Derek, mostly known for her expressive dance and fabulous leaps, also had some really strong tumbling in her routine this weekend, and she ended up just half a tenth off the podium for her effort. I was super impressed with Perez’s set, especially with her opening whip whip to full-in and front layout stepout to double tuck, and I was actually a bit shocked to see her E score end up so low (she earned just a 7.4), but I assume I missed something with her dance elements.
I loved seeing Fang open with a solid double layout, though she had some tentative landings elsewhere, and Feher put up lovely work, landing her double pike and double tuck well. The only fall in the final came from Mohamed, who sat her front full at the end of her routine after showing some stumbled landings earlier on, but the level of artistry in her set was incredible and she was a joy to watch aside from the tumbling issues.
In the men’s competition, Artem Dolgopyat of Israel took the floor gold with a 14.950, followed by Jorge Vega of Guatemala with a 14.650 for silver and Rayderley Zapata of Spain with a 14.550 for bronze. Once again, Alexander Shatilov was just outside of the podium, this time in fourth with a 14.500 for a solid routine.
The pommel horse title went to hometown hero Cyril Tommasone, who was lovely in his efforts for a 14.850, followed by Thierry Pellerin of Canada with a 14.650 for silver and Saso Bertoncelj of Slovenia with a 14.550 for bronze. Japan’s Kohei Kameyama also looked great here, finishing just off the podium with a 14.550, and overall this was one of the cleanest pommels finals I can remember, with no real mistakes from any top contenders!
On rings, another Frenchman walked away with the gold as Samir Aït Saïd earned a 15.100 to lead the field by just over a tenth ahead of Ukraine’s Igor Radivilov with a 14.950 for silver and another two tenths ahead of Russia’s Denis Abliazin with a 14.850 for bronze. As with the others, this was a super close final, and Ibrahim Colak of Turkey ended up also posting a 14.850, but with his E score a tenth behind Abliazin’s, he ended up in fourth.
The third French men’s gold went to Loris Frasca, who topped the vault field by just under a tenth with his super clean kaz double full and Dragulescu, averaging a 14.825. Just behind him was Andrey Medvedev of Israel with a 14.775 average for the kaz double pike and a handspring double front pike with a step out-of-bounds, and Morocco’s Hamza Hossaini surprised to win the bronze with a 14.625 average, looking excellent on his kaz double and handspring double full. Heikki Saarenketo of Finland finished fourth with a 14.225 for his simpler but super clean vaults, while top contenders Hidenobu Yonekura of Japan and Radivilov both had falls, with Yonekura crashing his kaz 2½ while Radivilov flew off the podium on his wild piked Dragulescu.
On parallel bars, Seiya Taura of Japan captured the gold with a 14.600 followed by France’s Julien Gobaux with a 14.400 and Ahmet Onder of Turkey, who recovered nicely after slipping early in the routine to pick up the bronze with a 13.800.
Taura also won the high bar gold with a 14.300, showing a difficult set that was capped off with a lovely full-twisting double layout dismount. Hungary’s David Vecsernyes was incredibly clean and showed fantastic variety in his routine to win the silver medal with a 14.150, and Spain’s Nestor Abad had solid Tkachev skills and just a small step on his dismount to get the bronze with a 14.100. Just off the podium here was France’s Edgar Boulet, who was a little wild on his Kolman and had a slight stumble on his dismount, though he still managed a 14.050.
Marios Georgiou of Cyprus and Sam Oldham of Great Britain both hit their high bar routines, but weren’t quite able to match the routines from some of the stronger guys here, while Tin Srbic of Croatia had a mistake that he had to correct mid-routine and Hidetaka Miyachi of Japan came off on his Bretschneider, though remounted and repeated the skill incredibly well before also catching a Cassina, Kolman, Kovacs, and stuck full-in double layout.
The women’s results are available here, and we’ll have the men’s up shortly!
Article by Lauren Hopkins