After the conclusion of the 2019 all-around world cup series came with a win from Morgan Hurd in Tokyo, the U.S. women wrapped up a successful campaign with the overall series win, totaling a near-perfect 235 points.
Hurd was the third U.S. gymnast to capture a world cup all-around title this year, slightly edging out Canada’s Ellie Black in Tokyo over the weekend to earn 60 points toward the federation’s overall score, with Leanne Wong‘s American Cup gold and Simone Biles‘ victory in Stuttgart also snagging 60 points, while Riley McCusker added 55 points with her silver medal in Birmingham.
Next year, this result would have secured a non-nominative individual Olympic qualification spot for the U.S. women, and just behind them, Canada and Japan would have also earned spots, as the Canadian’s totaled 205 points with three silver medals and one fifth-place finish, while Japan finished third in the series with 170 points, getting two bronze medals in addition to gymnasts ranking fifth in Stuttgart and seventh in Birmingham.
It was a great battle between Hurd and Black for the gold in Tokyo, where the two went back and forth until the very end, fully reminiscent of their tight title race in Montreal. Black got the edge on vault, where she continues to crush the landings on her handspring front layout full, and while Hurd stepped ahead on bars with a lovely and tight routine, she had a few slip-ups on beam that gave the lead back to Black, who was stellar in her performance there.
On floor, Hurd was great while Black took a step out-of-bounds, incurring a penalty that kept her from taking the win just about a half a tenth back with a score of 55.032 to Hurd’s 55.099. It was a meet that could’ve gone either way, with the two so close in their abilities, so I was glad to see them really push each other from start to finish, making this another exciting match-up between the two.
The only thing that could’ve made it better was Mai Murakami, who competed at the American Cup at the start of the season, but Japan was in great hands here, with Asuka Teramoto doing phenomenally to take the bronze. With a strong Rudi on vault – one of the best I’ve seen from her in recent competitions – she managed to jump-start a fantastic competition overall, putting up a score of 54.799 to finish just a couple of tenths behind the leaders.
With the All-Japan Championships coming up in a few weeks, it’s going to be incredibly exciting watching Murakami and Teramoto continue to take the charge as the two best in the country, but don’t sleep on Aiko Sugihara. She might not be quite at their level, but she’s excellent on vault, beam, and floor, and though she missed her double layout in Tokyo, she still managed a 51.966 on Sunday, finishing fourth. Now that she’s hopefully injury-free, she’ll once again join the other two as the three top contenders for Team Tokyo, and will hopefully continue to improve on the already strong foundation she set this week.
Rounding out the rankings in Tokyo were Carolyne Pedro of Brazil in fifth with a 51.132, who showed a great comeback after a rough performance in Stuttgart, Liu Jingxing of China in sixth with a 50.533, Lee Yun-seo of South Korea in seventh with a 49.498, Ksenia Klimenko of Russia in eighth with a 48.732 after falling twice on bars, grabbing the beam, and vaulting just a Yurchenko layout, and Carina Kröll of Germany in ninth with a 47.732.
Stuttgart was the more memorable of the two, with an incredible lineup that saw Biles easily take the gold with a 58.800, hitting all four events and posting the top scores on every event but beam, where Canada’s Ana Padurariu, who took the silver medal with a 55.132, had the best routine of the day, and hometown girl Elisabeth Seitz was solid on all four events with a 54.399 for bronze.
Lorette Charpy of France was also super clean and precise here, finishing fourth with a 53.731, and Aliya Mustafina of Russia brought back her all-around set to finish fifth with a 53.400, falling on beam but looking better than anyone could have expected, with noticeable improvements on vault and bars. Rounding out the field were Hitomi Hatakeda of Japan in sixth with a 52.699, Kim Bui of Germany in seventh with a 52.166, Zsofia Kovacs of Hungary in eighth with a 51.166, and Pedro in ninth with a 47.765.
When Mustafina came back to the floor a week later in Birmingham, not only was the field a bit weaker, but there were also about a million mistakes from nearly everyone there, and so despite scoring just about a tenth higher than she did in Stuttgart with a 53.564, which included another beam fall, she ended up getting the win, her first all-around gold – international or domestic – since the European Games four years ago.
McCusker, who also fell on beam in addition to crashing her Yurchenko double on vault, ended up taking the silver medal with a 53.065, while Thais Fidelis of Brazil was one of only two gymnasts to hit all four events, winning the bronze with a 51.832.
First-year senior Carolann Heduit of France had been on track to medal until falling on beam, finishing fourth with a 51.632, Victoria-Kayen Woo of Canada had a mostly solid day to finish fifth with a 51.099, Leah Griesser of Germany finished sixth with a 49.799, Ellie Downie of Great Britain had falls on bars and beam to finish seventh with a 49.333, Nagi Kajita of Japan finished eighth with a 48.998, and Liu Jieyu of China finished ninth with a 47.866.
Also check out our recap of the American Cup, where Wong took the gold with a 56.765, her teammate Grace McCallum won the silver with a 56.465, and Black and Murakami shared the bronze with scores of 55.732 (though Black won the official tie-break in terms of the world cup ranking, as well as the points that go along with it).
Article by Lauren Hopkins