World Cup Series Wraps Up in Baku – What Does This Mean for Worlds? WAG Edition

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Oksana Chusovitina

The FIG’s four-part world cup series for the 2022 season wrapped up in Baku over the weekend, where in addition to the medals awarded for the performances at this event, the final rankings were determined for the overall series.

While the overall series winners take home monetary prizes at the conclusion of the world cups, this year the rankings also determine the athletes who will compete at world championships. Up to the top eight athletes on each event will earn spots at worlds, with two athletes per NOC per apparatus able to move forward.

The thing is, while we were able to put together the rankings based on what has happened at the world cups over the past few weeks, the apparatus qualifiers are fully determined based on which countries qualify full teams at continental championships later on in the season, so we don’t really know who’s going to take the apparatus spots just yet and we won’t for a while. In some instances, it’s pretty clear who won’t end up taking the apparatus spots – Sarah Voss of Germany is currently ranked fourth on beam, for example, but Germany will almost certainly qualify a full team at Euros – but in others, it’s going to be a waiting game to see which athletes drop off the list and which next-in-line athletes take their spots.

Here’s a quick reminder of how qualifying for worlds works this year.

  • Continental Championships (Teams) – 24 men’s teams and 24 women’s teams via team qualifications
  • Continental Championships (Individuals) – 40 men and 49 women via all-around qualifications (nominative, max two per NOC without a team qualified)
  • World Cup Rankings (Individuals) – Up to 48 men and 32 women via overall rankings (nominative, eight per apparatus, max two per NOC not part of teams qualified via continental championships)

You can check out the full WAG rankings and MAG rankings to see where things stand now, and I’ll go through each one to talk about which athletes are likely going to take advantage of their positions in the world cup rankings, which will end up dropping out once they qualify via continental championships, and who will be most likely to benefit. We’ll get through WAG here, and then I’ll tackle MAG in a separate post, because it’s a lot.

VAULT

After winning golds in Doha and Baku on top of a silver in Cairo, our favorite “retired” Olympic legend Oksana Chusovitina is running the leaderboard for the women on vault with a total of 85 points, ahead of Cottbus and Cairo gold medalist Tjasa Kysselef of Slovenia with 78, and Doha and Baku silver medalist Csenge Bacskay of Hungary with 64.

Chusovitina has focused solely on vault since 2020, dropping the rest of the events she needed to earn her worlds qualification the year prior. Given that she is now a true specialist, she’s definitely going to be satisfied to have already secured a spot, and the same goes for Kysselef, who also hasn’t competed in the all-around since 2019, though she does occasionally do beam and could also potentially get to worlds on that event.

In fourth is Protistha Samanta of India with 26 points, who I think will also rely on this as her ticket to Liverpool, and the same goes for Teja Belak of Slovenia, who returned to competition in Cairo after taking a break to give birth to her first child last summer (she had a miss on vault at her first outing, but a silver medal in Baku gave her 20 points, enough for her to jump right to eighth place).

Hungary has two gymnasts in the top eight – Bacskay and Bianka Schermann, sixth with 22 points – but I think they’re one of the most likely teams to qualify from Euros, and then Ofir Netzer of Israel – fifth with 25 points – is likely to make it via the all-around should Israel not qualify a team, but this could be a good backup way in for her. Also in the top eight is Viktoria Listunova of Russia, though with the country currently banned from FIG competition due to its war in Ukraine, it’s possible that we won’t see the Russians at worlds at all this year.

What’s interesting is that the FIG ban is “until further notice,” meaning that it is possible it could be lifted prior to worlds, but Russia and Belarus are banned explicitly from competing at Euros regardless of what happens. We could end up in a situation where Russia is not eligible to qualify a team, but should the FIG ban lift prior to worlds, Listunova (and others who are ranked high enough via the one world cup they were allowed to attend) could qualify as specialists.

For now, let’s say that there are four among the top eight women’s vault rankings who won’t need to use their spots. Who’s next? Just outside the top eight, we have Alba Petisco of Spain and Laurie Denommée of Canada, both of whom are part of teams that are capable of qualifying, and then in 11th is first-year senior Keira Rolston-Larking of New Zealand.

Oceania is allowed one team spot and two all-around spots, and since only Australia and New Zealand compete in this continental division, we’re probably going to see Australia get the team nod while New Zealand – which currently has three competing elite WAG – will get in via all-around and apparatus spots. Rolston-Larking is last year’s national bronze all-around medalist, and with bars a weakness, this vault spot could be very important for her, so I’m going to count her as ‘likely’ here, bringing our count to five.

Pranati Nayak of India in 12th with 18 points is also on the likely list, as are Wiktoria Lopuszanska of Poland (13th with 18 points) and Darya Yassinskaya of Kazakhstan (14th with 17 points), so my guess for world vault specialists is Chusovitina, Kysselef, Samanta, Belak, Rolston-Larking, Nayak, Lopuszanska, and Yassinskaya, but of course, this will depend on what happens later this season.

UNEVEN BARS

The majority of the gymnasts who competed on bars throughout this series made one-time appearances at the world cups, likely to get some competitive experience and not to qualify as specialists. Most of the top eight here are from teams likely to qualify, so this is a situation where we may have to go super deep into the rankings to find eight eligible athletes once the time comes.

Daniela Batrona of Ukraine, who competed at all four world cup events, leads here with a total of 56 points, ahead of Anastasiya Smantsar of Belarus with 36 points (who, like the Russians, is currently banned due to Belarus’ assisting Russia in its war in Ukraine), Lucija Hribar of Slovenia with 35.5 points, Listunova, Lorette Charpy of France, Tisha Volleman of the Netherlands, and Caitlin Rooskrantz of South Africa all with 30 points, and then Lea Marie Quaas of Germany with 26 points.

With Batrona – and Ukraine in general – it could be a good thing that she got her qualification out of the way early. Given that she is safely out of the country, I don’t think she will have an issue getting to Euros and qualifying as an all-arounder even if Ukraine is unable to put a full team together, but Batrona is also at the top of the beam rankings and qualified on floor, so given all of the uncertainty and stress in her life right now, it’s good that she has one less thing to worry about should Euros not work out for any reason.

Smantsar could also benefit from qualifying here should the FIG lift restrictions prior to worlds, and Hribar – another who has qualified on multiple events – could also realistically use this as her way in, though she does have potential to qualify as an all-arounder at Euros. The rest of the top eight, however, are almost absolutely going to have full team representation, as are many outside of the top eight.

The first on the list who isn’t as likely to have a team qualify is Mari Kanter of Norway – 14th with 20 points – but she has all-around potential, as do several on the coming list. Then there’s Lahna Salem of Algeria in 15th with 20 points, Yuliia Kasianenko of Ukraine in 19th with 15 points (she’s in a similar boat as Batrona, so could end up being glad for this way in), Sevgi Kayisoglu of Turkey in 21st with 14 points, Dildora Aripova of Uzbekistan in 27th with 10 points, Ella Borg of Malta in 28th with 10 points, Reece Cobb of New Zealand in 32nd with 7 points (she’s one with solid all-around potential), Alexandra Shametko of Kazakhstan in 33rd with 7 points, Maria Tronrud of Norway in 35th with 6 points, and Milana Minakovskaya in 37th with 5 points.

That’s the entire rankings list of 37 gymnasts, of which we’re able to get to about 10 to 13 athletes to realistically fill those eight spots, but should some of these athletes end up qualifying at continental championships, it could be that we’re going all the way to the very last spot to fill out the eight.

BALANCE BEAM

Batrona also leads on beam, with a total of 70 points after winning gold in Cottbus followed by silver medals in Cairo and Baku. Behind her, we have Lucie Trnkova of the Czech Republic in second with 43 points, and Smantsar in third with 38 points.

Batrona and Smantsar are both maybes here for wildly different reasons we’ve already discussed, but Trnkova was very smart to come to these events – as a gymnast who is not typically one of her country’s stronger all-arounders, and with the Czech Republic not super likely to qualify a full team, Trnkova was able to take advantage of her strengths on beam and floor to qualify on both events.

Here, the situation is similar to bars, with many one-time world cup attendees filling out the top eight, including medalists Sarah Voss in fourth with 30 points, Vladislava Urazova of Russia in sixth with 30 points, and Zsofia Kovacs of Hungary in eighth with 25 points, so I’d expect we won’t see any of these used. Then there’s Kasianenko in fifth with 30 points as a maybe, and Hribar – who tallied up to 30 points over the course of three competitions – who could be a yes.

It looks like two of the top eight are likely here, with another two who are maybes. Next in line as a definite is Angel Wong Hiu Ying of Hong Kong, who won the bronze medal in Doha to earn 20 points for 11th place, and then others who could take advantage of their finishes here include Tronrud in 14th with 16 points, Korkem Yerbossynkyzy of Kazakhstan in 16th with 16 points, her teammate Aida Bauyrzhanova in 18th with 15 points, Kanter in 24th with 12 points, and Kysselef in 26th with 12 points.

So like bars, we have to go pretty deep to find eight potentially eligible gymnasts, but unlike bars, we’re not going all the way to the bottom, and should anyone I mentioned as maybes end up qualifying elsewhere, there are still a number of athletes waiting to take their place.

FLOOR EXERCISE

Dorina Böczögö of Hungary took over the top spot on the floor rankings in Cairo, where she won gold, and with a silver medal added in Baku in addition to her bronze from Doha, she got a decisive win with 75 points. I believe her reasoning for competing at three events was more about taking the series title and the prize that comes along with it, given Hungary’s status as a team with top potential to qualify at Euros, however, she goes on the list of those who didn’t need to qualify via the world cups.

Aripova won silver in Cairo and bronze in Baku to rank third with 45 points, while Bauyrzhanova racked up 32 points across three meets to rank fifth. These are the two gymnasts in the top eight most likely to use their spots for qualifying to worlds, as Asia gets only four team spots, and neither Uzbekistan nor Kazakhstan ranked anywhere near this high at any Asian Championships or Games last quad. Bauyrzhanova, who should also qualify on beam, is more of a specialist on her events so I have her as a definite, but I could see Aripova – who hasn’t competed all four events since 2019 – bring vault back to attempt an all-around berth, so she’s a maybe for me.

Other maybes in the top eight include Batrona in second with 50 points, Smantsar in fourth with 37 points, and Maria Minaeva of Russia in eighth with 30 points, and the “no” list likely includes Julia Soares of Brazil and Petisco, who each earned 30 points to finish sixth and seventh.

Outside of the top eight, the next in line who are most likely to take advantage of the open spots are Trnkova in 10th with 28 points, Hribar in 11th with 28 points, Ominakhon Khalilova of Uzbekistan in 18th with 16 points, Ada Ogieglo of Poland in 19th with 16 points, Rolston-Larking in 21st with 13 points, Kayisoglu in 25th with 8 points, and her teammate Göksu Üctas Sanli in 27th with 7 points, though a few of these do have all-around potential, so it’ll all come down to continental championships.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED

Vault aside, there aren’t very many specialists in WAG who saw these world cups as an opportunity to advance to worlds, likely because most of the world’s best competitors on each apparatus tend to be members of larger programs that will be looking to qualify full teams later in the season. Eight spots per event are going to be really important for MAG athletes, but I don’t think it’s as necessary to include this many for WAG, and think they should consider dropping this to four going forward, with the leftover spots returned to the all-around field.

I do like that it has potentially opened up quite a few spots for gymnasts who aren’t true “specialists” but either don’t do the all-around or who would have struggled on one or two events to hold them back from qualifying, though. Hribar, for example, is an excellent gymnast with the potential to qualify as an all-arounder, but a bad day at Euros could push her out, and depending on how things work out, she could end up at worlds on as many as three apparatuses as her backup plan.

Then there are gymnasts like Trnkova and Bauyrzhanova, who likely would not have qualified as all-arounders, but despite not being top specialists in their field were still able to reach near the top of the rankings on their strongest events, so there’s a good argument for keeping the apparatus spots at eight as well.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

4 thoughts on “World Cup Series Wraps Up in Baku – What Does This Mean for Worlds? WAG Edition

  1. Hello! Are the apparatus qualifiers allowed to compete on all four events at Worlds like what happened in Tokyo 2020ne? Or are they allowed to compete only in the events they qualified four through the World Cups?

    Also, will the Baku qualifications and final results be posted? Could not find comprehensive details anywhere else.

    Thanks!

    Like

    • Hi! They can only compete on the events on which they qualified at the world cups, which is why the FIG has allowed them to qualify on multiple events (unlike at the Olympics where they could only qualify on one event but could compete whatever they wanted in Tokyo).

      I’m in the process of posting the Baku results! I had a busy weekend doing NCAA work so I could only half pay attention to Baku unfortunately, but am trying to get everything up ASAP today.

      Like

  2. Pingback: World Cup Series Wraps Up in Baku – What Does This Mean for Worlds? MAG Edition | The Gymternet

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