We’ve seen so many national competitions over the past few weeks, and I’ve followed all of them, because what else is there to do? There’s only so many times I can hit “play it again” for Portlandia on Netflix in one pandemic. Now let’s take a look at the must-know moments of each one, and how any of this matters going into 2021.
This was a weirder-than-usual year for Russian Championships, mostly because the “ones who matter” for the Olympic team were either off at the Friendship & Solidarity Meet, or were told to not bother showing up. But despite the depleted field, it was nice getting a glimpse into those who might otherwise be overshadowed, including Uliana Perebinosova, once one of the most promising juniors in the country who won the all-around and three apparatus medals here – silver on bars, bronze on beam, and gold for a fantastic performance on floor – in what was probably one of her strongest overall meets since she became a senior in 2017.
Anastasia Kureyeva is another one who benefitted from getting to be in the spotlight here. A first-year senior in a very strong year for new seniors, Kureyeva is a decently well-rounded all-around gymnast, with her most impressive work on beam and floor, though her overall difficulty is a bit low and it’s what’s holding her back from being competitive in a deeper field. But she got silver in the all-around here, as well as the silver on floor, and it was great to see so much of her when she typically isn’t a focus of any meet.
Rounding out the podium was Viktoria Trykina with the bronze. Always a strength for Russia on vault and beam, Trykina also won silver and bronze medals on these events, and she was good enough on the other two apparatuses to reach the podium over Elena Eremina, who finished fourth due her lower difficulty and to a fall on bars in the final. Eremina has struggled to get back to top shape after her back surgery in 2018, but I’m glad that she is continuing to try, and after a couple of disappointing days for her – including another bars fall in the final – I was happy to see her come away with the silver on beam.
Speaking of beam, Maria Kharenkova, who now represents Georgia internationally, was very strong on this event throughout the entire competition, and won gold with a 13.466, her first national title since 2015! It was one of my favorite moments of the meet, and she also finished fifth all-around, with beam and floor her standout events, though she’s not working with a ton of difficulty on the other two events, and that holds her back considerably.
Another joyous moment was seeing Tatiana Nabieva sob when she won her gold medal on vault – her first individual title since 2011! – with an excellent DTY. She also had great bars performances in the team competition and in the final, where she finished fourth, and she led St. Petersburg to gold as well, referring to her squad as “Nabieva Team.” Finally, Anastasia Iliankova won the bars gold with a 14.766, and she looked fabulous, with a Derwael-Fenton to Ezhova to stalder to Chow to Pak to van Leeuwen and then a toe full to full-in dismount. First-year senior Irina Komnova was looking competitive for silver, but a fall in the final held her back to bronze.
The junior competition was full of mostly newcomers or those who were more lower-ranked last year, and honestly, most of them are still at a relatively low level…but many of the top girls were at a similar enough level that it at least made for an exciting shakeup between qualifications and the final.
In the end, Alyona Glotova ended up taking the all-around and beam titles, and her finals score of 50.400 was the highest single-day junior score of the meet, while Anastasia Rasseykina won the silver, Sofia Koroleva won the bronze as well as the title on bars, Tatiana Minayeva was fourth, Ursula Shakirova – who led qualifications with a 50.399 – was fifth after falls on bars and beam in the final, Lyubov Akhaimova was sixth and won the vault title, Anastasia Artamonova was seventh and won the floor title, and Daria Ozhigova, last year’s espoir all-around champion, was eighth.
Aleksandr Kartsev was pretty dominant in the men’s competition, winning the all-around title with a combined total of 164.100, getting an 82.175 in qualifications and then an 81.925 in the final, and he also won the p-bars title as well as the silver medal on high bar. Viktor Britan was the all-around silver medalist, and Artem Pleshkin won bronze in the all-around as well as gold on vault. The floor gold went to Ivan Sivkov, pommels went to Ivan Shestakov, rings to Denis Ablyazin, and high bar to Sergei Eltsov.
In the junior competition, Timofey Prostakov won the all-around, floor, rings, and high bar titles, Ivan Antonikhin was the all-around silver medalist, all-around bronze medalist Danil Lobach also won pommels and vault, and Ivan Zavrichko won p-bars.
Two champions were crowned at Italy’s Assoluti national championships this year, with Asia D’Amato and Giorgia Villa each reaching totals of 55.100 after going back and forth all meet long. The pair also had Martina Maggio right on their heels with a 55.050 for bronze, with their Brixia teammate now fully recovered from an injury that held her back in 2019.
These three also took the bulk of the hardware in the apparatus finals, with D’Amato medaling on all four events, winning gold on vault, silver on floor, and bronze on bars and beam. Villa won the bars and floor titles as well as the silver on beam, and Maggio took the beam title in addition to the silver on bars. She looked super clean and confident on beam, while her bars routine was the most difficult in the competition, and she also showed some perfect pirouette work. While the past three years have always been about the “Brixia Four” with Maggio more of a footnote, this competition definitely may have shifted things more in her favor, with her improvement on beam especially important in making her more of a serious contender for Tokyo given that this is often where the other four tend to struggle the most.
Alice D’Amato was actually leading the competition after vault and bars, but two falls on beam destroyed her podium chances, and she ended up fifth with a 53.400, definitely a major disappointment considering she was looking likely to take the title. Her DTY looked fantastic, as did her bars, and in event finals, she even showed a double front half-out dismount upgrade…but again, while she was looking likely to medal, or possibly even get the title, yet again she missed out, finishing fourth, and she ended her meet with an eighth-place finish on floor.
Rounding out the competition were Irene Lanza in fourth with a 53.450, juniors Angela Andreoli and Veronica Mandriota in sixth and seventh with scores of 53.000 and 52.150, respectively, and Sara Ricciardi in eighth with a 51.850. Andreoli was great as always on beam and floor, and she bronze medals on both vault and floor, while fellow 2006-born junior Manila Esposito won the silver on vault after finishing ninth all-around.
Ludovico Edalli, who qualified to Tokyo in Stuttgart last year, won the men’s all-around competition with an 81.750, followed by Lorenzo Galli with an 80.550 for silver, and then Edoardo De Rosa with an 80.350 for bronze, just edging out Nicolo Mozzato, who was fourth with an 80.050.
Ares Federici won floor with a 14.400 and also shared the vault title with Carlo Magliocchetti, Galli and Andrea Canazza shared the pommels title with a 13.500, Salvatore Maresca won rings with a 14.250, Edalli won p-bars with a 14.400, and Carlo Macchini won high bar with a 14.150.
With Hungary in the team medal hunt at Euros this year, nationals were more important than ever, so even though no one was really at a hundred percent coming out of lockdown, I was excited to see the top six all-arounders all come in within two points of one another, especially because there was a lot of room for improvement for all of them.
Zoja Szekely ended up with the title, riding her impressive bars work to a 50.700 total ahead of Zsofia Kovacs, who had the strongest vault, but was downgraded elsewhere and had some mistakes to take the silver with a 50.100. First-year senior Hanna Szujo, meanwhile, won the bronze with a 49.600, a tenth ahead of veteran Noemi Makra in fourth with a 49.500, and then Csenge Bacskay and Bianka Schermann finished fifth and sixth with scores of 48.800 and 48.700, respectively.
Kovacs was again great on vault in the final, winning gold with a clean FTY in addition to upping her beam difficulty for another gold with a 13.300. The bars final was a bit of a mess, with falls from Szekely, Kovacs, and Makra, so we saw a surprise gold from first-year senior Mirtill Makovits with a 12.700, and Dorina Böczögö, who competed just beam and floor here, won the floor title with a 13.000, ahead of Makra with silver, and Szekely and Szujo tied for bronze.
2006-born Greta Mayer was a delight in the junior competition, winning the all-around title with a 50.900, which also would’ve won the senior gold. She was pretty good everywhere, but her beam was especially strong, with high difficulty and fantastic skill work. She also won the beam title along with medals in the three other finals, while all-around silver medalist Anna Bogyo took the vault and floor titles. Kira Balazs won bronze in the all-around, and Emma Horvath was fourth in addition to winning bars.
For the men, Krisztofer Meszaros won the all-around with an 81.000 after an awesome competition, and he also took the floor and vault titles, while Zoltan Kollai won pommels with a 14.400, Benedek Tomcsanyi won rings, and David Vecsernyes won p-bars and high bar. In the junior competition, the up-and-coming Krisztian Balazs, who should be one to watch at Euros, won the all-around with a 79.900 in addition to getting titles on rings, p-bars, and high bar, while Sebestyen Markus won floor, Szabolcs Batori won pommels, and Botond Molnar tied on rings.
Enni Kettunen ended up getting the upset over Ada Hautala in the senior all-around competition, winning gold with a 48.600 while Hautala’s bars falls held her back to a 48.400 for silver. Hautala was great on her other events, though, and came back to take the titles on beam and floor with scores of 13.500 and 12.000. The veteran Annika Urvikko won vault, Sara Loikas – who was fourth all-around with a 47.150 – surprised for the bars title with a 12.100, and Lea Bernards won all-around bronze with a 48.050.
The most exciting gymnast here was junior Maisa Kuusikko, who won her division with a 51.500, hitting a Yurchenko 1½ and a difficult bars set, getting awarded a 5.5 D score with just a layout dismount (once she competes it with the double layout she normally she has, she’ll be up to a 5.8). She wasn’t at a hundred percent on beam or floor, but her overall performance was still good enough to finish nearly five points ahead of the rest of the competition, with Anni Vuorikoski coming in second with a 46.800, while Minea Vuorisalo and Olivia Vättö tied for bronze with a 46.400. Kuusikko also won the vault, bars, and beam titles, and she won silver on floor, two tenths back from gold, which went to Vättö, a 2007-born gymnast who is absolutely one to watch for the future.
In the men’s competition, the Kirmes brothers topped the podium in a super close race, with Oskar taking the gold with a 76.400 while Robert took the silver with a 76.200, and then Elias Koski was not far behind them with a 75.550 for bronze. Emil Soravuo was also a standout in apparatus finals, winning floor with a 14.233 (and a 6.0 D score).
Akseli Karsikas, typically the country’s top MAG junior, had a few mistakes here, but he still came out on top with a 74.282 to win the gold ahead of Antti Varjolaakso, who won the silver with a 73.766, and Niila Sinivuori, who won the bronze with a 73.333. Karsikas also won the floor, rings, and vault finals, Aleksi Vesala, who was fourth all-around, had great work on pommels to win the gold there, and Joona Reiman, fifth all-around, was super clean to take the titles on both p-bars and high bar.
I was so excited to see Camille Rasmussen, a gymnast I’ve been following since she was about 12 years old, finally make her senior debut last weekend, and she did it with a fabulous performance to win her fifth-straight national all-around title with a 51.000, the senior titles on vault, bars, and beam, and the silver medal on floor. She’s such a superstar for the Danish program, and it’s a shame she didn’t have a way to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics despite being age-eligible due to a flaw in the FIG’s qualifying system, but I hope she can keep going at this level because she’s Denmark’s best gymnast in probably half a century and I’m dying for her to go to Paris 2024.
Coming in for the silver all-around medal was Astrid Breckmann, who competes for the Faroe Islands at meets like Nordics and Northern Euros, while Victoria Gilberg won bronze in addition to getting the floor title a tenth and a half ahead of Rasmussen.
Natalie Jensen won the junior competition with a 47.400, followed by Sara Jacobsen with a 47.200 for silver and Hannah Lassen with a 46.000 for bronze, while Frida Rasmussen, Camille’s little sister, won the youth title with a 44.475, ahead of Maria Hebbelstrup with a 43.925 for silver and Sofia Eliasson with a 43.850 for bronze.
In the men’s competition, Joachim Winther won the all-around with a 76.700, followed by Aron Jacobsen with the silver and Sofus Møllgaard with the bronze. Christian Riisberg won floor with a 13.100, Jacobsen won pommels with a 12.225, Winther won rings with a 12.650, João Fuglsig won vault with a 13.625 average, Rasmus Vorup won p-bars with a 12.900, and Jacob Buus won high bar with a 13.800.
The Austrian team saw several gymnasts move up from the junior to the senior ranks this year, but it was still the three veterans who ended up on the podium, as Marlies Männersdorfer won the gold with a 49.817, Olympic qualifier Elisa Hämmerle won the silver with a 47.967, and Jasmin Mader won the bronze with a 47.350.
These three also split the bulk of the apparatus medals, with Mader taking the vault title, Männersdorfer winning bars and beam, and Hämmerle winning floor, but we also saw Linda Chai sneak in there with silvers on vault and beam, while Bianca Frysak got the bronze on bars, and Nicol Wimmer got the bronze on beam.
In the junior competition, Charlize Mörz won the all-around with a 45.883, ahead of Rosa Schwaninger, a 2008-born gymnast who got the silver with a 45.300, and Miriam Bernhard with a 44.700 for bronze. Mörz also won vault with a 13.225 average, while Leni Bohle won bars, Bernhard won beam, and Aurea Wutschka won floor.
Alexander Benda won the men’s all-around with a 78.800, followed by Manuel Arnold with a 77.100 for silver, and Ricardo Rudy with a 76.350 for bronze. Benda also won the floor, p-bars, and high bar titles, Rudy won pommels and vault, and specialist Vinzenz Höck was awesome on rings, posting a 14.450 to win gold by nearly two points. For the juniors, Askhab Matiev won gold with a 75.150, followed by Gino Vetter with a 74.400 for silver, and Alfred Schwaiger with a 71.900 for bronze.
Article by Lauren Hopkins