There were very few surprises in the first two days of competition at the Melbourne World Cup, where Jade Carey of the United States took the lead on vault and floor, Anastasia Iliankova of Russia topped the field on bars, and Urara Ashikawa of Japan came first on beam.
Jade Carey hit both her Cheng and Yurchenko double full pretty effortlessly to come out nearly a full point ahead of the rest of the field with a 15.049 average, remarkable in itself as the remaining seven gymnasts in the final are all within about four tenths of one another making this a runaway lead for Carey. The DTY came with a 9.433 E score, one of the highest international E scores this quad for this particular vault, giving her a 14.833 total, and aside from slight knee form deductions and small hops on both vaults, Carey was pretty flawless.
Just behind her was Japan’s Shoko Miyata with a 14.166 average, though I can’t find any video of either of her vaults, while Coline Devillard of France finished third with a 14.050, competing a solid Rudi, but falling on her DTY in her first competition back since suffering an injury nearly a year ago.
Ahtziri Sandoval of Mexico qualified in fourth place with a solid tsuk double full, where she took just a slight step to the side out-of-bounds, and a strong handspring layout half for a 13.916, cutting in just ahead of Maria Paseka, who looked pretty solid on her DTY, but her second vault – which was intended to be a Lopez – was a bit rough around the edges and was only credited as a Podkopayeva, leaving her in fifth with a 13.883.
Rounding out the list of qualifiers were Angelina Radivilova of Ukraine in sixth with a 13.883, Teja Belak of Slovenia in seventh with a 13.849, and her teammate Tjasa Kysselef in eighth with a 13.733. Just missing out was Makarena Pinto of Chile, who finished ninth just one-tenth back from the qualifiers.
Going into the final, this is obviously Carey’s to lose, and she won’t even need to up her DTY to the Amanar to do it. I think Devillard is most likely to win the silver here based on what she’s capable of, and I wouldn’t count out Paseka for a medal either, especially as she’s known to whip out her upgrades in finals. But with everyone so close here, the podium really is anyone’s game and I wouldn’t be surprised to see yesterday’s rankings shuffle quite a bit in the final.
After a hit-or-miss year in 2019, Anastasia Iliankova is in “hit” mode right now, getting a massive 14.800 to lead the bars field by more than half a point ahead of teammate Daria Spiridonova, who currently sits second with a 14.266.
Iliankova performed a Shang, Tweddle to Ezhova, Komova II to Pak to van Leeuwen, and toe full to a stuck full-in dismount, looking pretty well on all of her skills, though she wasn’t super exact in most of her handstand positions. Her upper body actually looked like it was perfectly vertical on most, but she had a slight pike in her hips that brought her leg angle a bit too far back, making everything look just a bit too short even though she was somewhat there. Her form overall was pretty solid, however, with her legs just a bit floppy in the Ezhova, though overall I was impressed with how she looks at this early point in the season.
As for Spiridonova, I felt like she was short on most of her casts to handstand, and just didn’t look super tidy or exact on the majority of her skills, though she had a really nice inbar full at the start of her routine. She didn’t look sloppy, necessarily, but just wasn’t quite there with most of her work, which is all the more obvious when you know she can do better.
Diana Varinska of Ukraine qualified in third with a 14.100, while her teammate Anastasiia Bachynska was fourth with a 13.466, Aoka Mori of Japan was fifth with a 13.333, Georgia-Rose Brown of Australia was sixth with a 13.266, Georgia Godwin of Australia was seventh with a 13.066, and Kokoro Fukasawa of Japan was eighth with a 12.933.
I didn’t see video for pretty much any bar routines outside of the Russians, but basically everyone landed in the low-to-mid 7s in terms of their execution scores, aside from Varinska, who pulled together a solid hit routine with just a few minor form errors throughout.
Like I talked about in the preview, Iliankova, Spiridonova, and Varinska are the three clear favorites for the podium here, so there were no surprises in how the qualification rankings worked out, and I doubt we’ll see any surprises in the final unless one of the top three falters.
Urara Ashikawa was absolutely brilliant in her beam set today, hitting a gorgeous flight series, split ring jump, side somi, switch leap to sheep jump, and triple full dismount with almost no visible errors (I’d fully support an NCAA 10 here, but in elite world she got a 13.766 with an 8.266 E score).
According to a coach at the arena, Ashikawa did this routine perfectly about eight times in the warm-up gym prior to competing, and I’d believe it – she’s almost robotic in how unbelievably precise and fluid she is, so it’s no wonder her execution score was half a point higher (or more!) than pretty much everyone else in the field.
Though Bachynska’s routine wasn’t as tidy, it was still very good, and her difficulty was rated at a 5.9, putting her just a tenth back from the lead with a 13.666, while current world cup series leader Emma Nedov sits in third with a 13.100, looking overall lovely and super solid, though unfortunately the rings in her routine tend to take quite a hit in terms of her execution score.
Rounding out the field of finalists, we have Ayaka Sakaguchi of Japan in fourth with a 13.066, Ondine Achampong of Great Britain in fifth with a 12.991, Godwin in sixth with a 12.966, Varinska in seventh with a 12.666, and Emma Spence of Canada in eighth with a 12.533, while Italy’s Lara Mori missed out on the final by one tenth, placing ninth with a 12.433.
Considering all of the top beam workers hit here (a shock, I know), if routines are as well-hit in the final, I don’t see the podium changing at all. This is exactly who I expected to be at the top when previewing the meet, and while I think Nedov’s score could jump a bit, the current top three order is pretty reflective of who the top beam workers in this field are.
But of course, this is beam, anything can happen, and we already got lucky once this week. If someone were to break in, I’d like to see Achampong do it…she has one of the lower-difficulty sets, but she’s absolutely lovely to watch, and I think she can improve on what she competed today.
Again, there was no surprise seeing Carey top this field, and she looked absolutely incredible, getting a 14.366 with a combination of superb tumbling as well as new and improved music and choreography that actually works for her.
Carey competed a full-twisting double layout, a double layout, an incredible stuck double double, and a front tuck through to double tuck with an equally solid landing to show everyone who’s boss. Even with slight downgrades, it was one of her more impressive sets that I’ve seen, and though it’s still one of the most difficult floor sets in the world as-is, it actually looked too easy for her, which is a testament to just how incredible she is on this apparatus.
The Italians finished second and third just a couple of tenths apart from one another, with Vanessa Ferrari sneaking in ahead of Mori with a 13.733 to Mori’s 13.541.
This was Ferrari’s first competition back in almost a year, having last competed at Doha in March of 2019, and she looked fabulous, opening with a double double and also hitting a double layout, and then packing in some difficult dance elements before finishing with a full-in.
Mori’s routine didn’t have passes that were as difficult as Ferrari’s first two, but she spread the wealth out a bit more throughout the routine and came in a tenth ahead of Ferrari in terms of her start value. Her triple looked pretty impressive, but overall she has a number of form issues throughout that hold her back considerably from getting the higher 13-range scores she’s after.
Godwin should also be heavily in the mix for a medal here after debuting a killer new routine that was incredibly well-performed, and included a front layout to double front, solid double layout, front full, and double pike. She looked fantastic, with just a slightly low landing on that first pass, but it’s a huge pass and with some minor corrections in the final, I can totally see her getting onto the podium.
Achampong was absolutely gorgeous in her floor performance, qualifying fifth with a 12.833, while Isabela Onyshko of Canada was sixth with a 12.766, Breanna Scott of Australia was seventh with a 12.733, and Spence was eighth with a 12.700.
Most notably missing the final was Claudia Fragapane, who went out-of-bounds on her full-twisting double layout and her arabian double front, and her landings in general were a bit rough. Without the OOB penalties, she would’ve come in just ahead of Achampong, and with a few other minor fixes, I think she could’ve been a podium contender, but alas, it just wasn’t her day.
Cottbus floor champ Bachynska also missed out after going out-of-bounds on her piked full-in and then falling on her arabian double front.
The first day of finals for the women will be held on February 22 at 6 pm local time, which is 2 am if you’re on the east coast in the United States, while the second day of finals is taking place February 23 local time, or 11 pm the previous evening ET. The competition will air and stream on the Olympic Channel, as well as on FloGymnastics if you’re in Canada, and we’ll be live blogging the action as it happens.
Article by Lauren Hopkins