Rebeca Andrade, who won the vault and beam titles in Cottbus last weekend
At the Cottbus World Cup in Germany last weekend, the first stop on the apparatus world cup series that will determine gymnasts who will qualify to the 2020 Olympic Games, Rebeca Andrade of Brazil and her teammates ran away with an impressive collection of medals, topping the field on every event but bars, where the gold went to 2018 world champion Nina Derwael of Belgium.
Andrade kicked off her successful meet with the gold on vault, putting up absolutely incredible technique on both her Yurchenko double and her Lopez to upset the 2017 world silver medalist, Jade Carey of the United States. The 19-year-old was brilliant in her performance here, taking a slight step on the DTY and hopping a little to the side on her Lopez, but both were otherwise close to perfect, with flawless technique, beautiful straight body positions, and flared landings, getting her E scores close to 9.5 on both to average a monstrous 14.728.
With the same set of vaults, Carey also performed excellent sets, but it was clear that Andrade’s were stronger, and so the ranking made sense with Carey trailing Andrade by two tenths with a 14.516 average. Her Yurchenko double had a ton of power and was mostly clean, but she hopped back with staggered feet on the landing, and her Lopez was pretty excellent in the air, not as cleanly stretched as Andrade’s, but overall tight and clean with a more controlled landing than her first attempt.
In third was Dipa Karmakar of India, who missed out on world championships after her country set an all-around requirement to qualify for the team, taking every gymnast out of contention. She looked solid here, showing some weak leg form on her handspring front layout full and on her tsuk double full, though the landing on the latter was great and her difficulty was more than enough to push her past the majority of this field, getting her to a 14.316 average.
After winning Mexico’s first world medal in women’s gymnastics, Alexa Moreno unfortunately missed the podium here after making an uncharacteristic mistake on her tsuk double full, performing just one twist instead to bring her difficulty down by nearly a point in addition to taking large deductions for big hops back on both vaults. Moreno, who also performed a Rudi that had some form issues in the air, looked annoyed with herself at the end of her sets, but she still managed a 14.279 average, good enough for fourth place.
Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan upgraded to her Rudi for the final, but came up a bit short and took a large step out-of-bounds, though her tsuk 1½ was solid and she tied Moreno’s total of 14.279, but lost the tie-breaker to place fifth. Russia’s Lilia Akhaimova was sixth with a 14.170 for her Rudi and tsuk full, both of which had some form issues and steps back, Jade Barbosa of Brazil was seventh with a 13.983 for her solid DTY and a step forward on her Yurchenko half-on front pike, and Teja Belak of Slovenia was eighth after sitting her handspring front layout full, though her Yurchenko 1½ was much better.
In the bars competition, Derwael – who has more or less been unbeatable all year, winning both the European and world titles fairly easily in addition to not missing a single routine in the past 18 months – actually had some competition here with the return of China’s Fan Yilin, who skipped worlds so she would be eligible to attempt to qualify an individual Olympic spot.
Fan ended up leading by 0.067 after qualifications thanks to a beautiful set, but when she fell on her dismount in the stacked finals field, she ended up in last place while Derwael did what she does best – hit! – to take the gold.
It wasn’t the tidiest routine at the end for Derwael, who was a little short going into her blind full, coming out of it a little late into her full-in dismount, which she hopped back, but the beginning was magical, featuring an excellent Nabieva and tight connection work on her Derwael-Fenton to Ezhova to Chow to Bhardwaj, earning a 15.100 for gold. This was Derwael’s 23rd consecutive hit routine in major national or international competition, and though she’s doing the most difficult set in the world, she makes it look easier than anyone.
After qualifying in seventh, Andrade was spectacular in the final, ending up with an additional five tenths in her execution score to take the silver medal with a 14.500. Though the beginning of her routine had some small mistakes, like a muscle through her stalder full in the Maloney to stalder full to Tkachev to Pak series, it was overall an aggressive and tidy set, capped off with a toe full to stuck full-in dismount to ensure an excellent E score.
China’s Lyu Jiaqi, this year’s national bars champion who also won the gold at the Baku World Cup this spring, took the bronze with a 14.433, showing a few adjustments throughout her routine but overall looking strong, especially on her Maloney to Pak to van Leeuwen and clean Ling to Healy to piked Jaeger. Lyu also dismounts with a unique layout 2½, and she got it around brilliantly in this final, sticking it with solid rotation to cap off a very strong set.
I was impressed with what we saw from Daria Spiridonova here, especially as the Russian has struggled to make teams after Rio and has seen her technical quality deteriorate a bit. Though she was a little rushed in her Cottbus routine, especially in the first half of the set, she showed some lovely lines and mostly clean skills, including inbars that are as deep and glorious as ever, earning a 14.358 here. At this competition, she looked the best I’ve seen her since the Olympics, and hopefully some more fine-tuning and attention to detail can see her continue getting back to top shape.
Kelly Simm of Great Britain put up an excellent and difficult routine for fifth place, earning a 14.233 after showing a couple of minor form issues but overall looking solid, especially on her toe full to Downie series and solid double layout dismount. Ukraine’s Diana Varinska, who has struggled with her connections this season, put together a stellar set that included an epic Chow to Pak to Maloney to clear hip full to Tkachev half to Jaeger series, and though she had some form deductions throughout, she was overall solid, placing sixth with a 14.200.
In seventh was Kim Bui of Germany with a 14.033, showing clean work on her piked Jaeger to Pak, though she had a few tiny mistakes throughout, including a late toe full into her Gienger while her full-in dismount was quite close to the bar. And of course, poor Fan made it through a mostly beautiful set just to crash the dismount, hitting her lovely Komova II to Pak to Chow to Gienger series at the start before then making it through her inbar half to Ling to Healy, which went straight into her eponymous dismount, though she came off the bar a bit early and landed it too far forward, dropping to her knees on the landing to earn a 13.866 for eighth place.
Andrade took her second gold of the meet on beam, and a surprising gold it was, as this tends not to be a very strong event for her typically, and she qualified in seventh place coming into the final. But with falls from everyone else in this competition, and with a mostly tidy set of her own, Andrade was able to take advantage of the circumstances to put herself in the lead.
Starting her routine with just a slight adjustment on her back handspring to layout stepout, Andrade had only minor bobbles in her routine, covering what could’ve been a costly mistake on her full turn well, though her front aerial to split jump to back handspring looked excellent and she had great extension on her transverse split jump half. Capping off the routine with a solid landing on her double pike, Andrade picked up a 13.766 for the title, an impressive score considering she has only recently brought beam back to a competitive level following several injuries.
Her teammate, Flavia Saraiva, was the favorite for the gold coming into the final, and it could have been an easy win for her had she not fallen on her layout series. But even with the fall, the rest of her routine was so excellent, she managed a 13.266 for silver, with her triple series, front aerial to split ring jump, and stuck double pike beautiful highlights in an overall solid set.
Coming in for the bronze was Varinska, who technically didn’t fall, though she did put her hands down on her layout series. Still, she ended up with a 13.200 to reach the podium after an otherwise good set, fighting back from the early mistake to hit her switch ring, front aerial to split ring jump, split leap to side aerial, and double full dismount, picking up her fourth world cup medal of the year.
Lyu ended up missing some connections in her set, getting her difficulty knocked down by nearly a point compared to qualifications to finish fourth with a 12.500, though she didn’t have any falls in her set; Sophie Scheder of Germany placed fifth with a 12.200 after falling on her side aerial; Marine Boyer of France missed her layout series and then rushed through her super difficult split leap to side somi to transverse split jump half, falling at the end of it to finish sixth with an 11.733; Yurika Yumoto of Japan, who made her major international debut at this year’s Asian Games, fell on her side somi to finish seventh with an 11.700; and Denisa Golgota of Romania ended up in eighth with a 10.533 after falling on her layout series and then wobbling nervously through nearly every other skill in the routine.
In the floor final, Saraiva showed off a truly excellent set, earning a 14.100 to take the gold – the fourth world cup floor title of her career – for what was one of the best performances I’ve seen from her. Opening with a big tucked full-in, Saraiva continued to stun with a switch leap full, a beautiful double layout, a switch ring to tour jeté full, a 1½ to front full, a ring leap, and a near-stuck double pike to finish in style, winning over the crowd in addition to topping the podium.
Her teammate, Barbosa, picked up the silver medal for a routine that showed a ton of attack. Her whip to full-in at the start of her routine and the piked full-in that came after were both excellent, and though she took a tiny step out-of-bounds after lunging forward on her 1½ to front full, she came back with a good landing on her double pike, putting up a 13.550 to grab her first world cup medal since 2015.
I loved seeing Marta Pihan-Kulesza of Poland, who returned to competition earlier this year after having a baby in 2017, get a bronze medal with her sassy Pink Panther routine, which the crowd loved. The 31-year-old earned a 13.433, hitting her 2½ to front pike, arabian double front to stag, and front double full with absolutely no problems, and like Barbosa, this marked the first world cup medal for the legend since 2015, when she won the gold at Cottbus.
Lara Mori of Italy came in a close fourth, finishing just a tenth behind Pihan-Kulesza with a mostly excellent routine, though a stumble forward on her low double pike at the end of her routine cost her a spot on the podium. Otherwise, though, she had just a little hop on her opening whip to full-in, she got her Memmel to illusion turn around well, and her 2½ to front layout and triple full were both done nicely.
For Carey, who topped the field in qualifications, landings seemed to trouble her in this performance, with her Moors coming up short with a foot landed out-of-bounds, while she also hopped back her full-in double layout and front tuck to full-in out-of-bounds as well, incurring a total of four tenths in penalties for this set. Her tucked double double was also quite short here, but as her final routine in a long four-day international meet, she seemed to lose a bit of steam, causing her score to drop by more than half a point between prelims and finals, though this seemed like a majorly uncharacteristic thing for Carey to face, and hopefully her next world cup will go as planned.
In her second final of the meet, Bui showed a fun performance and dynamic tumbling, hitting her double tuck, double full, 2½ to front tuck, and double pike very well to post a 13.000 for sixth place. Axelle Klinckaert of Belgium finished seventh with a 12.900, looking short on her opening leap in addition to landing her piked full-in a bit wild while also finishing her front tuck to double tuck almost to her knees, though her landings on her double layout and double pike were solid. And last but not least was Leah Griesser of Germany, who was stunning as always in her performance, but struggled a bit with her tumbling, looking a bit short on her double tuck and then again on her 1½ to front tuck full, almost sitting the latter.
Full results from the competition can be found here, and below are the current standings for the world cup rankings leading up to the 2020 Olympic Games. Another seven world cups remain in the series, including four in 2019 and three in 2020. To earn the individual apparatus spot for Tokyo, a gymnast must be ranked first on her event with her best three world cups counting toward her total.
As a note, many of the current leaders on these ranked lists will likely be integral members of teams that will qualify at world championships in 2019, so while they are currently eligible to qualify individual apparatus nominative spots, this could change based on the results of worlds next year. For example, Andrade leads two of the four apparatus rankings at the moment, but if she contributes scores to the Brazilian team at worlds next year, and if the team achieves a top 12 ranking to qualify a full team to Tokyo 2020, Andrade’s rankings would be void and the leader would be the next eligible gymnast down the list.
|2||Jade Carey||United States||25|
*Was part of a qualifying team at 2018 world championships and is ineligible to qualify an individual apparatus cup spot.
UNEVEN BARS RANKINGS
|5||Kelly Simm||Great Britain||16|
BALANCE BEAM RANKINGS
|12||Lai Pin-Ju||Chinese Taipei||5|
FLOOR EXERCISE RANKINGS
|5||Jade Carey||United States||16|
|11||Kelly Simm||Great Britain||6|
Article by Lauren Hopkins