Baku 2015: team finals

There were no surprises regarding the champions. Russia, came and claimed the gold medal everyone expected them to win. And they did that without giving us nearly as many heart attacks as they usually do. They weren’t just the three athletes with the most difficulty. They also were one of the very few nations who did not have any falls during the two days of competition. For a country as inconsistent as Russia this is a major achievement by itself. Everyone was holding their breaths during Russia’s beam rotation but it looks like there was no reason to. Seda, who has always been infamous for not being able to handle her nerves, opened the competition with an amazing routine, showing incredible difficulty without any significant breaks. She was followed by Aliya Mustafina, who managed to get through her set with only a couple of wobbles. Viktoria Komova was a bit more shaky than her teammates but it was really great to see her actually fighting to stay on the beam and finishing strong. Seda was also the first athlete to represent Russia on floor, where she gave an energetic performance and did a very impressive whip + whip + piked full in combination. Aliya did her first floor routine of the year, debuting a DLO and a gorgeous new turns combination. She had some mistakes, like a stumble out of her spin, a low landing on her first tumbling pass and a hop out of bounds. However, her mustafina turn was amazing and she still managed to get the highest score of the competition on this event. Unfortunately, things didn’t go that well for Viktoria, who landed her new double layout very low, stepped out of bounds on her two middle passes and barely got her triple around. However, we have to remember that this is the first time she’s competing a floor routine with actual elite tumbling since the London Olympics. She already has much more difficulty than I expected her too and hopefully she’ll manage to clean up in the future. After the two days of competition, Russia qualified an athlete to each event final (Aliya on AA, UB & FX, Seda on VT and BB) and won the gold medal and finished almost 6 points ahead of the next team.

That team was no other than Germany, who managed to maintain the 2nd position they had earned after the first day of the competition. They weren’t nearly as impressive as they were in day 1 but that was expected, since they had their two weakest events left. Sophie Scheder was the German athlete who really shined, She performed a fantastic floor routine, with much better presentation and expression than we’ve seen from her in the past. She finished her competition with an extremely solid beam set that solidified their position in the AA finals. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Elisabeth Seitz, who had a very rough day scoring only 11 on beam and 12.866 on floor. Those scores, neither of which counted for the team’s total, took her out of contention for the AA finals. However, there’s no doubt that she contributed a lot to the team’s silver medal which should be a nice consolation for her. Thankfully, young Leah Griesser managed to score a 13.166 on floor but she also struggled on beam where she got a 11.766. Despite those problems on beam, Germany still ended up second behind Russia, which really is the best ranking they could possibly achieve so they have every reason to be extremely proud. They will now be represented by Sophie in the AA, UB and BB finals.

The Netherlands, who was in 4th place after the first day of qualifications managed to get into the medals after two clean and solid routines on each event. Lisa Top had started the competition strong, by posting the team’s highest score on vault but unfortunately things didn’t go her way in day 2, when she fell on both beam and floor. The mistakes on floor were heartbreaking because she clearly is one of the most amazing tumblers in the entire competitions and she could definitely make floor finals and challenge for a medal. Thankfully for the team, The lovely Celine Van Gerner delivered solid scores on both events to make up for her teammate’s mistakes. Her beam routine, which includes a round of + layout and a beautiful tour jete half, was absolutely great. However, the real star of the team yesterday was Lieke Wevers. She performed as well as she possibly could have. She started on floor where she nailed her routine and captivated the audience with her beautiful elegance and expressiveness. Her clean execution was enough to earn her the 3rd highest score on this event, even though she had some of the easiest tumbling we saw. Her beam was even more impressive, including beautifully executed aerials, nice leaps and very difficult turns. She is going to be the Dutch athlete we will see during the AA, BB and FX finals, while Lisa Top will be hoping to get redemption during VT finals and Celine will participate in UB finals. Netherlands did extremely well to qualify the maximum number of athletes in those finals and is going home with a bronze medal so there’s no doubt that regardless of what happens from now on, those games have been a success for them.

France was about 1.5 point behind them. Just like Russia, all their gymnasts stayed on the apparatus during the competition. But when you compete against countries like Germany and Netherlands, just not falling is not enough and France received quite a few deductions because of short handstands, form issues and poor landings. Their beam was very nice with all three gymnasts getting E scores above 8. Unfortunately, none of them managed to make it into finals and Anne and Marine are 11th and 12th respectively on this event. The one who grabbed an event final spot was Valentine who was the last person to qualify into floor finals after nailing her full in, her double tuck and her double pike. Marine showed her usual elegance but she had a very uncontrolled landing on her 2nd pass and didn’t get her memmel around. Anne, who has a low D score, also had a couple of mistakes, including steps out of bounds. Hopefully she will manage to have a better routine during the AA finals.

The Italians were less than a tenth behind France after a good competition. 2012 Olympian Giorgia Campana had her redemption after a rough bars routine on day 1 and delivered a lovely beam set, which included a kochetkova and a switch ring. Floor has always been her weakest event, but she hit her routine nicely and contributed to the team total. Alessia did not manage to be top 2 in the country in any of the two events she competed but her contribution on bars and especially vault was definitely valuable. The most succesful gymnast of Italy has actually been the youngest member of the team, Tea Ugrin. She is an athlete without much senior international experience, but she managed to overcome the pressure and to deliver scores that were all counted for the team total. Her beam from yesterday was absolutely beautiful, and all her difficult leaps were executed brilliantly. She is Italy’s only finalist and we will get to see her during the AA and UB finals.

Only 0.033 away from Italy, we have Switzerland, who had some ups and downs during the second day of the competition. Jessica Diacci unfortunately didn’t shine on her best event, the balance beam where she fell twice. Good thing is that teammates delivered. Catarina fought hard not to fall after a major wobble and managed to successfully complete an otherwise solid set while Giulia Steingruber must have had the routine of her life scoring a 14.4. Surprisingly, her beam scored higher than her floor. She performed her full twisting double layout brilliantly but then she had some problems with her two easiest tumbling passes that cost her valuable tenths. She still made floor finals though (as well as vault, beam and AA finals) so she’ll have the chance to prove that she is one of the best in Europe on this event. Caterina, who doesn’t have top difficulty on this event, scored a 12.666 to complete their competition.

Romania managed to bounce back after a disastrous day 1 but the damage had already been done so they weren’t able to finish above the 7th place, which is still an improvement from for them. Their day wasn’t perfect. Silvia Zarzu seems to have had a meltdown on balance beam and Andreea Iridon fell on floor. But fortunately, they could drop those scores. Andreea’s mistake on floor was not too costly because they were never hoping to count her score on this event anyway. She’s the most elegant and graceful athlete on the team but both her teammates are much more powerful athletes with better start values. Laura showed an energetic floor routine., with difficult and well landed tumbling passes (piked and tucked full in, triple full). Silvia got her redemption on this event, where she surprised everyone with a brand new opening combination (1.5 + triple) and managed to qualify into floor finals over her teammate. This definitely was one of the biggest surprises of the competition. It’s a great achievement for Zarzu but it’s really unfortunate for Jurca, who has not qualified in any finals. On beam, Laura posted a solid score but Iridon was the one who really was brilliant. We didn’t get to see a video of her routine but if past performances are any indications, she showed incredible original and clean work and she was rewarded for it with a spot in the finals. Andreea has qualified to the AA, UB and BB finals which makes her the most succesful Romanian of the competition and I couldn’t possibly be more surprised or happier about that.

Great Britain is an other country who hasn’t lived up to their potential in this meet. Charlie, the most consistent gymnast of the team during the first day, now fell on her front tuck mount on beam putting pressure on her teammates. Kelly handled this pressure pretty well and hit her routine but the judges did not overlook her form issues. Fortunately Hockenhull delivered on this event where her team needed her the most. She was truly beautiful to watch, nailed her side aerial + loso and I am very excited to see what she can do in beam finals. However, in the next rotation she was the one who had trouble while Charlie and Kelly showed impressive routines. Kelly’s floor was definitely one of the highlights of the meet since she has some of the most difficult tumbling we saw in the entire competition, a DLO and a spectacular whip + full in combination. It really is a shame that we won’t get to see those passes at floor finals, especially since Kelly actually had the same score with two other athletes and just lost the tie breaker. At least, she earned a spot in vault and all around finals.

Hungary, who surprised us all by finishing in 3rd place after the first day of the competition did not perform as well during the second day. Noemi was beautiful on beam, but she missed most of her combinations, which caused her start value to be lower than she would have hoped to. On top of that she was scored quite harshly. Dorina must have had a fall or a major mistake since she only scored a 12.766. She came back strong on floor, where she has a fabulous routine with difficult tumbling. Unfortunately, Noemi couldn’t do the same. She had steps out of bounds along with other mistakes and only scored a 12.400. The third member of the team Luca Diveky didn’t manage to deliver any scores that counted towards the team total. Those numbers were not enough to beat stronger gymnastics countries but we will still get to enjoy the Hungarian athletes in the next days. More specifically, Noemi has qualified to bars finals and Dorina will participate in the AA finals.

The top 10 is completed by the lovely Belgian team. They had a rough beam rotation, with two of their athletes scoring in the 11s and Gaelle’s solid 13.5 wasn’t enough to keep them in the mix. They were 8th after the first day so a medal was a long shot for them anyway. Beam was their best event so after not performing well there it was clear that they wouldn’t be one of the top teams. However, they gave a good fight on floor where Gaelle and Lisa both scored a 13.6. After the tie was broken, Lisa was the one to make it into the finals while Gaelle will represent her country during the AA finals.

You can find videos here and here while the full competition of day 1 and day 2. The results of the competition can be found here

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