by Brina April 10, 2019
With just hours before women's qualifications start, let's talk about floor! If you missed the previews of vault, bars, and beam, you've still got time check them out.
In the table below, I've pulled the top score in the past year for some of the major contenders. Take a look, then we'll discuss.
|Melanie de Jesus dos Santos||FRA||14.200|
Angelina Melnikova is coming in as the 2017 European Champion on this event, and she has a great shot at reclaiming her title. This early in the season, stamina is the biggest question for Melnikova - not too long ago at the Russian Cup, she heavily downgraded and even performed a layout with a single twist as a placeholder pass. Of course, Russian Cup is Russian Cup, and she had a much stronger showing at the DTB Team Challenge more recently. Her d-score can be up to 5.9, one of the highest in this field.
Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos has been training floor despite a finger injury, and appears to be at her full difficulty (around 5.7). As the reigning European floor champion, she's certainly in contention for the gold in Szczecin. However, from the videos we've seen her landings aren't quite there yet and in this field, she'll need to do more than just "not fall" to take it.
Claudia Fragapane of Great Britain will be back at her first international competition since an Achilles tear last year. She's one of the most entertaining performers, and her massive tumbling includes an opening Chusovitina that she can stick. She showed that she's back in great shape at the British Championships, where she narrowly lost the floor title on a tiebreak to teammate Ellie Downie despite outscoring her handily in qualifications. (Note: I've removed domestic bonuses from that competition in the table above but not in the rest of the results stored on the Score for Score website.) Like Fragapane, Downie should easily make the final with a hit and has a good shot at the podium - though of the two of them, I'd give the edge to Fragapane.
Angelina Simakova doesn't necessarily have the difficulty to contend for a place on the podium - she tops out around a 5.1 - but she should be able to qualify to the final. She's got a new routine this year that vaguely sounds like carousel music, and while she'll be out-artistry-ed by many people on this list, literally anything is better than that infantile doll nonsense.
Giorgia Villa has the potential to make every final, but floor is perhaps where we're least likely to see her. Among other things, her consistency stats show that she's least consistent here. I haven't been able to find are recent video of her routine, and I believe she's only competed one floor routine since the YOG in 2018. If she hasn't upgraded, she likely won't make it onto the podium, but her tumbling is usually solid and she's usually able to look like she's having fun performing, so I'm excited to see her routine.
Tisha Volleman and Eythora Thorsdottir of the Netherlands both have the potential to make the final, albeit with very different styles. Thorsdottir's routine is all about the execution and performance quality, which are breathtaking. On the flip side, it's been two years since we've seen her crack a 5.0 d-score. Volleman, however, can get up to a 5.4, though her execution is more "normal gymnast" than "fairy princess." I do particularly enjoy Volleman's triple turn to double turn connection, aka "let's see how long I can spin for before falling over."
Finally, I'd love to see first-year senior Anastasiia Bachynska of Ukraine make it into the final. If you're a sucker for the way the Russians wave their arms around, you'll love watching her dance. And her routine opens with a full-in, where she uses the relatively rare technique of completing the twist before really starting to flip.
The action starts tomorrow in Szczecin. Time to see what surprises I totally missed in these previews - I don't know about you, but I'm excited to find out!
Tags: Euros 2019
by Brina April 8, 2019
Less than a week until the European Championships start! I'm previewing the field on each event - if you missed our discussion of vault and bars, check them out!
I used the Score Selector to pull the highest score in the past year for all of the major contenders. I have to admit, the numbers that came back surprised me; take a look at the table below. Of these gymnasts, I'd say Boyer, Schäfer, and Melnikova have the best shot at the podium - but let's run through the table.
|Melanie de Jesus dos Santos||FRA||13.733|
Topping the chart is Marine Boyer of France. Though she's won silver and bronze at Euros in the past, the gold has proved elusive. Boyer's hit routines are solid and packed with difficulty, but unfortunately they are few and far between. She can get up to a 5.8 in difficulty, which is one of the highest numbers in the field. However, she doesn't always have the fluidity to connect her dance and acro, as the new code demands. After many close misses, it would be great to see her atop the podium in Poland.
Angelina Simakova earned the next highest score at Russian Championships earlier this year. However, she's never topped 13.400 at a FIG-judged competition, so I think cracking 14 at Euros is a little unlikely. She's a tidy, efficient beam worker, and a hit day could see her into the finals.
Lorette Charpy has turned into a really solid competitor on beam. She opens with a layout stepout onto the beam, which is always refreshing to see. However, she has a fair number of built-in deductions and has a tendency to get "tenth'd to death" - for example, she received an e-score of just 7.666 for a routine with no big breaks at the American Cup. A good day in qualification will see her safely into the final.
Next is Angelina Melnikova. Despite her reputation for inconsistency, she's empirically one of the more consistent gymnasts in the field - her consistency stat of 0.277, which is lower than that of any of the gymnasts listed above. She looked more prepared than usual at this year's Russian Championships, where she took home a silver on the balance beam (among other medals). She's also a member of Team Real Beam Mount, with a great front tuck onto the apparatus. She certainly has the potential to end up on the podium if she hits.
Pauline Schäfer, the 2017 World Champion on balance beam, has an excellent shot at gold and would be much higher on this list were it not for the fact that she's been out with an ankle injury for the better part of the past year. We haven't seen her beam since she was injured, but if she's anywhere near her old level she'll certainly be in the mix. Her fluid style allows her to evade deductions for pauses - plus it's lovely to watch. With any luck we'll see the element that she originated, a side somi with a half twist.
With Sanne Wevers not attending Euros, we'll have to rely on Eythora Thorsdottir to bring the orange elegance. She's a joy to watch on beam, where she combines lovely execution and beautiful choreography. What's more, her D-score can top the field if everything gets credited - she received a 6.1 last month at the DTB Team Challenge. Though Thorsdottir has yet to reach her potential on beam at a major international competition, all the ingredients are there.
Giorgia Villa earned a 13.850 just last month at the First Italian Series A meet. I love her mount and her L-turn to full turn combination, as well as her throwback hop full turn. Also keep an eye out for two other new Italian seniors, Asia D'Amato and Elisa Iorio. Though both their d-scores hover around 5.0-5.1, either could have an outside shot at the final if they hit when others don't.
Melanie De Jesus dos Santos has been dealing with a finger injury, and the extent to which this has impacted her beam routine remains to be seen. She had a great beam routine at Worlds last year in the AA competition and scored a 13.600 just last month at the DTB Team Challenge. With a respectable difficulty around 5.5, she should also be in the final with a solid qualification routine.
I'd also like to see Amelie Morgan representing Great Britain in the final. As a first-year senior, this will be her biggest international competition to date - and Team GB could certainly use a new stalwart on beam. She also does a layout step-out onto the beam, and I'm hopeful that we'll see a final with at least three or four exciting mounts! Her teammate Alice Kinsella also has an outside shot at the final with a good routine.
Beam is the least predictable event, and there's a good chance we'll see someone in finals who I haven't mentioned here. Let me know (on Twitter or in the comments) who's your outside pick to make the final!
Tags: Euros 2019
by Brina April 4, 2019
In the lead-up to Euros, I'm previewing the field on each event. If you missed the vault preview, check it out!
Below, I've taken the top score from the past year for all the major contenders. This is a field with enormous potential and an enormous number of heartbreakers, making it an exciting contest to watch.
With a massive 15.3, Anastasia Iliankova's best score tops the table. However, this score comes from last year's Russian Cup - before a somewhat mysterious injury and a big change in her routine composition. Her routine has enormous skills including a beautiful Shang to open, and when she makes all her connections she can earn a 6.3 difficulty score, as she did last month in Baku. However, her handstands and leg form haven't been quite as crisp as they were in past years and it's showing up in her e-scores. Iliankova has the potential to take this thing, but her preparedness and execution might keep her scores down.
Ellie Downie's performance at the British Championships demonstrated that her bars are back post-injury. However, I'm pretty sure that 14.900 score contains at least two tenths (edit: it's three tenths of bonus, thanks @LouiseHorton for the tip) in domestic bonus that I wasn't able to subtract out. (I use scores without domestic bonuses whenever possible, but it's been harder this year without TheGymternet's fantastic score spreadsheet.) What's more, the consistency might not be there. She had a terrible time on the uneven bars at her last outing in Birmingham, suffering multiple falls and scoring a 10.5. Her consistency stat on the uneven bars, 0.935, is quite high and indicates a larger the pattern of hits and misses. A good day in qualifying should certainly earn Downie a spot in the final, but I would be surprised to see her on the podium.
Ukraine's Diana Varinskaya also has a ton of potential. But like Iliankova, she might not currently be at the same level as she was last year when she earned that massive score. More recently, she placed 7th at the Baku World Cup, pausing oddly mid-routine to rest on the high bar. But when she's on, she's on, executing a routine that hovers around a 6.0 d-score cleanly and and beautifully. Be on the lookout for inbars to see if she's doing the more difficult version of her routine - and also just to see the beauty of her inbars.
Angelina Melnikova should certainly expect to qualify to finals with a hit routine, and one of her better routines could see her on the podium. She's been on a consistent streak this year, hitting all her routines at Russian Championships and the DTB Team Challenge, but some form issues have kept her scores to the low 14s despite her 6.0-ish d-scores.
Last year's European silver medalist Jonna Alderteg could also reach the podium with a fully hit routine. However, she hasn't had the most consistent season thus far. Of the seven routines she's shown at world cups this year, she's really only hit two to her potential, leaving her with a relatively high consistency stat of 0.529.
Boasting a new routine with an impressive 6.1 d-score, new senior Giorgia Villa is certainly in the mix for a medal. However, her new routine is surprisingly long and contains many non-counting elements with room for the deductions to add up. On the flip side, her fellow Italian wunderkind Elisa Iorio has a routine that's basically one long connection including a crazy Chow to Ezhova combination. She also ought to make the final and contend for a place on the podium.
I'm expecting that a score of 14.2 or so will be needed to qualify into the final. But given that so many of the top contenders are injured and/or inconsistent, it's worth considering the long roster of gymnasts with highly competitive routines who could sneak into the final. Of these gymnasts, I particularly enjoy Asia D'Amato, who's routine tends to be tidier than her sister's.
While we're not likely to see her in finals, I'm also looking forward to seeing Laney Madsen, the cheerleader-turned-gymnast who is making her international debut for Bulgaria here. We haven't seen her compete in two years, which is about a third of her entire gymnastics career, and training videos suggest that her bars routine includes a nice Comaneci release. It's also always worth considering about the possibility that we'll see Cintia Rodriguez's original bars transition in competition. She's said she no longer thinks it's worth competing, but we can hope.
But this uneven bars field is also notable for who isn't here: the two gymnasts who originated the Stalder release hecht with a half turn in 2017. Reigning world champion Nina Derwael decided to skip Euros in an effort to upgrade for Worlds and nurse an ongoing injury. Less justifiably, Britain did not select Georgia-Mae Fenton as part of the 2019 team. Though her consistency leaves much to be desired (consistency stat = 1.191), Fenton just earned a 14.850 (14.650 without bonus) at the British Championships and could certainly contend for gold in Szczecin.
That's it for bars! Leave your podium predictions in the comments, and check back later for previews of the other events!
Tags: Euros 2019
by Brina April 2, 2019
Just over a week until the 2019 European Championships begin in Poland! Outside of the Olympics and World Championships, Euros is often the most exciting international meet on the gymnastics calendar.
This is an individual year, meaning that there will be no team competition, but medals will be awarded on each event and in the all-around. In the days leading up to the meet, I'll be previewing the main contenders for finals and medals.
Let's start with vault! Below, I've used the Score Selector to pull the best scores from the past year for all the major contenders.
This title is Maria Paseka's to lose. She performed her Amanar and Cheng combination just a few weeks ago at the Doha World Cup, and on the strength of that difficulty alone (11.8) it's possible for her medal with a fall. However, a fall doesn't seem likely - Paseka has years of experience as Russia's vault specialist, and since coming back from a recent back surgery, she's looked better than she has in years. In this field, she might decide to play it safe and vault her Lopez instead of the Cheng in qualifications, as she did a few weeks ago in Baku.
Coline Devillard, the 2017 European vault champion, has a great shot at ending up on the podium. She normally vaults a DTY and a Rudi, for a combined d-score of 11.4. Based on her consistency stats, the Rudi is actually the more consistent of the two. While not the cleanest in the air, her power and difficulty should be enough for a silver medal if she hits.
Ellie Downie and Asia D'Amato are also solidly in contention for podium spots. They both have the common DTY and Lopez combination, which has solid total d-score of 10.6. Downie has only competed two vaults once since coming back from her Achilles tear, but that effort won her a gold medal by over a point at the British Championships in March. D'Amato has shown her two vaults at both Jesolo and International Gymnix, hitting both times. Though Downie's DTY is incredibly consistent based on her stats, she's still on her way back from injury. There's a good chance Downie and D'Amato will be battling it out for bronze.
We're likely to see another Russian in the final: both Angelina Melnikova and Angelina Simakova have shown two vaults on occasion. Of these, Melnikova is the more likely. She secured a silver medal on vault at Euros last year with a DTY and a Lopez, and she showed that combo again in early March at the Russian Championships. While Simakova theoretically has a Rudi, her growth spurt and injury have left a big question mark on her ability to make this vault in competition. It's not clear if she's even planning to compete two vaults in Szczecin.
Denisa Golgota also enters the field as a sentimental favorite, largely due to to the fact that she currently shares the title of "Romania's savior" with Larisa Iordache's surgeon. While Golgota took bronze on this event in 2018, repeating on the podium will be a challenge. She has a nice DTY but her second vault is just a Tusk full, for a combined d-score of just 10.2. She's also been pulled from numerous World Cups in order to "save her body for Euros," which is usually a sign that a gymnast is dealing with ongoing injuries.
Tjasa Kysselef and Teja Belak, both of Slovenia, are familiar vaulters who have each been around the World Cup circuit for years. Both have a great shot at making a final, but in this field either would likely need someone else to fall in order to make the podium. At Euros last year, Belak showed slightly higher difficulty and qualified into the final in 7th.
Based on these gymnasts, I'm guessing that vaulters will want to average above 13.9 or so on their vaults in order to secure a spot in the finals. (Remember, the table above shows each gymnast's best score.) There are a couple less familiar names from less familiar teams who could get close that mark on a good day - or stand read to take advantage if someone else has a fall. These include Dominika Ponizilova of Czechia and Csenge Bacskay of Hungary. A spot in the final would be a big win for either gymnast.
So that's it for vault! Check back later this week for more Euros previews!
Tags: Euros 2019