Hungarians, Ukrainians Each Win Nine Medals at Grand Prix

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Zsofia Kovacs

The Hungarian Grand Prix apparatus competition held in Szombathely over the weekend served as a great warmup for many gymnasts preparing for worlds, with the host country and Ukraine coming away the most successful with nine medals across WAG and MAG.

In the women’s competition, Csenge Bacskay of Hungary won vault by a huge margin, hitting a Yurchenko 1½ with a hop forward and a Tsuk full with a hop back to earn a 13.775 average, a full six tenths ahead of the rest of the field. Ukraine’s Anastasiia Bachynska ended up second with a 13.175, showing off a Yurchenko full with some iffy leg form and a handspring front pike with a hop, while first-year senior Sydney Turner kicked off her senior international debut on a high note, winning the bronze with a 12.775.

Ofir Netzer of Israel and Meta Kunaver of Slovenia also competed in this final, though Netzer unfortunately had a fall on her first vault and missed out on a medal by just two tenths after qualifying in third here.

Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs competed for the first time since making her second Olympic appearance in Tokyo this summer, going up just on bars, where she hit an excellent routine to win gold with a 14.400. Kovacs definitely has her eyes on a world medal next month, and with both the content and execution in her routine, I think it could potentially be in the cards for her. She did arch over an inbar full in this routine, but she was able to get it under control into her Chow half, toe half to piked Jaeger, Ricna, Downie to Pak, van Leeuwen, and a high double tuck dismount.

Her teammate Zoja Szekely finished with a 13.650 to take the silver medal, coming up short on a handstand before her piked Jaeger and showing some loose form and rushed transitions throughout, but it was a solid enough routine with a stuck full-in dismount. Just behind her was Bachynska, who had lots of little leg separations throughout her routine, but it was a nice hit overall, and she stuck her double tuck dismount for a 13.200 for bronze.

Other hit routines came from Turner in fourth with a 12.950, Netzer in fifth with a 12.350, and Kaja Skalska of Poland was sixth with an 11.700. Sara Surmanova of Slovakia unfortunately missed her toe shoot, finishing seventh with a 10.750, and Ukraine’s Kateryna Kulinii had falls on her Ray, toe-on, and straddle Jaeger, ending up in eighth with a 9.600.

Following two strong performances on vault and bars, Turner finally got a gold on beam, and it was for a mostly excellent routine. Her side aerial to split jump into her back handspring to layout step out was fabulous, with just a little check at the end, and she also hit a switch leap to switch half to Korbut, double wolf turn, front aerial with a wobble, and a stuck 1½ for a 13.200, which ended up being 1.65 points ahead of second place.

Kulinii came back from her rough bars set to get a little win here with the silver medal. It wasn’t a perfect routine, but despite some wobbles, stumbles, and fights throughout, she stayed on the beam and made it onto the podium with an 11.550, a tenth ahead of Szekely, who fell on a cross split jump half but was otherwise pretty solid, earning an 11.450.

The rest of the field was a bit weak overall. Surmanova had a hit routine, but with some form issues throughout, to finish fourth with an 11.200, Bachynska fell on her front acro series and sat her double tuck dismount to finish fifth with a 10.900, Ilka Juk – representing Hungary here before starting her NCAA career at LIU in 2022 – came off on her jump series and finished sixth with a 10.500 (though she had some very nice work throughout just in terms of her presentation), Geffen Dor of Israel had a great save on her flight series but was a little shaky otherwise and finished seventh with a 10.250, and Skalska had falls on her switch leap to side aerial and side somi, finishing eighth with a 9.750.

Thankfully, things picked up for nearly everyone on floor, where Bachynska got the gold with a 12.700, hitting a full-in, Arabian double front, and double tuck with some low but solid landings, and her switch leap to ring leap was very nice. Bacskay won the silver here with a 12.250, showing a great 2½ to front tuck to start and hitting the rest of her passes, and Turner won the bronze – her third medal of the meet! – with a 12.100, nailing a Memmel to pirouette, double pike, 2½, switch ring to tour jeté half, and front tuck through to double full.

Netzer got close again here, and only missed a medal due to out-of-bounds penalties after taking steps back on her double full at the end. The rest of her routine was strong, though, including a full-in, 2½ to front layout, and double tuck, earning an 11.950. Kyra Cato of Canada was fifth with an 11.950, Skalska was sixth with an 11.500, Brygida Urbanska of Poland was seventh with an 11.400, and Juk finished eighth with a 10.400, sitting her double pike, but the routine was great overall, including a double attitude turn, stuck double full, switch ring to ring leap with a half turn, switch half, and a front layout with a step into arabesque.

Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun was the star of the men’s competition, winning a total of four medals – three of them gold. He led the field on floor with a 14.450 (the 3½ to barani was excellent!), on p-bars with a 15.150, and on high bar with a 14.450, and he won the silver medal on a tie-break on pommel horse, earning a 14.700 for a strong routine with just slight hesitations on some transitions, though Matvei Petrov of Albania was just a bit cleaner to take the gold.

Nikita Simonov of Azerbaijan won the rings title with a 14.500, and Pavel Gulidov of Israel won vault with a 14.375 average after hitting his handspring double front with a great landing followed by a solid Kaz 1½. Gulidov also won the bronze on rings with a 13.600.

I was also impressed with Krisztofer Meszaros of Hungary, who won the silver medal on p-bars with a 14.350 as well as the bronze medals on floor with a 14.250 and on pommels with a 14.300. Hopefully he’ll keep up his consistency heading into world championships, where he should have a shot at landing in the all-around final if he can hit the way he did here. Hungary also saw Adam Dobrovitz win the bronze on vault with a 13.525 (he unfortunately sat his handspring double front).

Ondrej Kalny of the Czech Republic won silver on floor with a 14.300 and another on vault with a 14.250 average, Vinzenz Höck of Austria won silver on rings with a 14.400, Mykyta Melnykov of Ukraine won the bronze on p-bars with a 14.100, and Ivan Dejanovic of Serbia won the bronze on high bar with a 13.600.

Full results are available here.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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