First-year senior Viktoria Listunova got her senior career off to an incredible start as she led Moscow to the team gold with a brilliant all-around performance.
Listunova, 15, finished first in individual qualifications with a 57.566, more than a point ahead of the rest of the field thanks to a great combination of clean and difficult routines on all four events. Despite not competing in more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it looked like no time had passed for her in terms of how confident and consistent she is.
She also showed some improvements on some events. Where her Yurchenko double on vault was once a bit weak, for example, she’s now getting the pop off the table she needs to get it fully around with a great body position on the landing. There are a few form issues, mostly with noticeable split legs on her vault block and in her full-in bars dismount, but she is mostly textbook on everything, from her extension in leaps to her glued legs on skills like her Komova II and her Pak.
Despite the judges going a bit high on some routines, and while the scores she got here are largely unlikely in international competition, the truth remains – Listunova looks incredible, and will be a major threat in Tokyo. What I love most about her is that while her routines are difficult, she’s also not pushing past her limits. Her floor, for example, has a whip whip to triple combo, but then the rest of her passes are only a front full, double tuck, and double pike. She warmed up a double layout, but she had no reason to add it in, because she doesn’t need to rely on difficulty to get the big scores. If she can add in more difficulty, great, but if not, she’ll still be a top contender.
In second was Vladislava Urazova, also making her senior debut despite turning 16 last year, though she didn’t end up getting the chance to compete in 2020. Urazova is like Listunova in that she has some great difficulty, but doesn’t need to go above and beyond to still find herself at the top of the pack. She handles her most difficult skills very well, but also takes it easy when she can, and that’s really working for her.
Urazova actually had a fall on beam in qualifications, yet still managed a 56.299, bolstered by a 14.9 for her excellent bars set, where she performed a gorgeous inbar full to Komova II to Pak to van Leeuwen, inbar half to big piked Jaeger, and a toe full in perfect handstand directly into her textbook full-in dismount, which she nearly stuck. She had some small form breaks on her Yurchenko double, and came up slightly short on her triple full on floor, but she’s so good overall, these little things will barely affect her scores in the grand scheme of things.
Surprising for third place was Yana Vorona, who was a bit overshadowed as a new senior last year, yet she proved here that she’s one to keep an eye on going into the Olympic selection process. Vorona hit all four events to earn a 55.199, hitting a Yurchenko double, clean bars skills, and a strong beam set that included a great leap series into a front tuck, a solid triple flight series, a switch ring to Korbut (with a slightly slow connection there), and a double tuck with a step. Her floor was a little weak, with several rough landings, but a fully hit routine from her would get a respectable score.
Vorona ended up edging out Angelina Melnikova for that third-place spot after Melnikova struggled a bit on bars and beam, and she also wasn’t at a hundred percent on the other two events, either.
Starting on floor, Melnikova had a step out-of-bounds on her full-twisting double layout, though she hit her double layout well, and then was just a bit iffy on her front layout full and double pike. On vault, she only had a Lopez, which wasn’t bad, but then she whacked her feet on the bar while catching her piked Jaeger, and she came off on her wolf turn in what was otherwise a lovely beam set to that point. It looked like the fall rattled her, so her last couple of skills – a side somi and transverse split jump half – were a little wobbly, but she hit her double pike dismount.
Melnikova ended up with a 55.198, just one one-thousandth behind Vorona, but given the mistakes today, she obviously has a lot of room to play catch-up with her young teammates.
Rounding out the top eight were Lilia Akhaimova in fifth with a 54.365, Elena Gerasimova in sixth with a 54.298, Maria Minaeva in seventh with a 54.264, and Angelina Simakova in eighth with a 53.098. Akhaimova was a little messy on everything, and counted a fall on her Dos Santos on floor (where she also struggled with her other three passes), while Gerasimova was at her strongest on beam, and Minaeva was excellent on bars.
Other notable gymnasts who qualified into the all-around final were Olga Astafyeva in ninth with a 52.031, Daria Skrypnik in 11th with a 51.531, Elena Eremina in 13th with a 51.465, Aleksandra Shchekoldina in 15th with a 51.166, Viktoria Trykina in 16th with a 51.165, Daria Belousova in 17th with a 51.099, Varvara Zubova in 18th with a 50.900, Uliana Perebinosova, the 2020 all-around champion, in 23rd with a 50.132, and Valeria Saifulina in 24th with a 50.099.
Just missing out on the final was Irina Komnova, who wasn’t at full strength on her best event – bars – and also struggled on beam and floor, and the 2017 national champion Natalia Kapitonova was 29th with a 48.731.
Anastasia Iliankova competed only bars and beam here, and she currently leads the bars field with a 14.9, while Maria Kharenkova hit beam well enough to make the final, but then unfortunately suffered an Achilles injury in her first pass on floor to end her competition prematurely.
In addition to leading the all-around, Listunova also led Moscow – which also includes Astafyeva, Perebinosova, Simakova, Trykina, and Zubova – to the team gold with a 216.495, four points ahead of the Southern Federal District, where Urazova was the top competitor. The Volga Federal District, led by Gerasimova and Minaeva, won the bronze.
Article by Lauren Hopkins