Toronto 2015: beam finals preview

The lovely Flavia Saraiva was the highest qualifier on beam despite a mistake she made during the first day of the competition. The 16-years-old from Brazil has been very succesful so far, winning two bronze medals, one with her team and one in the AA. She really has the whole package on balance beam, where she performs difficult elements, like a layout, a back handspring connected with two layout step outs, a switch ring and a double pike. She is probably the cleanest and most flexible athlete in the finals and we should expect high execution scores from her. Flavia did the exact same mistake during team and AA Finals, she had a massive wobble during her layout but still scored in the middle 14s both times. That means that if she lands all her elements well she has a great chance to score above 15 and win the gold medal. I would certainly love to see her doing that.

start value: 6.0 (potential 6.5):

USA’s Rachel Gowey, who already became the uneven bars champion, qualified second into the finals. Beam has always been her best event and she won a bronze medal there during the only secret classics she has attended. Just like Flavia, she has great difficulty, execution and flexibility. She also performs a lovely backh handpsring + layout step out + layout stepout combination as well as a powerful front pike and a front aerial + sheep jump combination. Last year, she dismounted with a triple full and injured her knee after underrotating it during nationals podium training. Thankfully, her coach was wise enough to take that skill out of her routine and now she ends her program with a safe 2.5 twists. Rachel’s only weakness is her lack of experience. She already is 18 years old but this is only her second international competition because she has been injured for the biggest part of her career. However, she has handled the pressure very well so far so there’s no reason to believe she will struggle now. Rachel is the last gymnast who will perform at the finals and she is a major contender for the gold medal.

start value: 5.9

Those finals will be Ana Sofia Gomez Porras‘ best chance to win a medal for Guatemala during those Games. Ana, who has qualified into three event finals, recovered beautifully after a disappointment during the AA and performed very well during bars finals. However, beam has always been the event where she really is a medal contender. Ana won the gold medal on this event in the 2011 Pan-American Games and in the 2014 Pan-American championships last years so she has two titles to defend. The highlight of her routine is definitely her back handspring + tucked full series, but she also performs a switch leap + switch half and a lovely double tuck in combination as her dismount. She is the only athlete representing Guatemala in those Games and therefore, she is her country’s only medal chance.

start value: 6.3

An other contender for the title is Canada’s Ellie Black. After three days of competition, Ellie already has a full set of medals, a silver from team finals, a gold from AA finals and bronze from vault finals. So far she has medalled in every final she entered, and I’m sure she’d love to win an other gold medal in front of her home crowd. She has one of the most impressive start values in the competition and she has posted the highest score we’ve seen on this event during the AA Finals. She also performs a back handspring + tucked full as well as a layout, a front piked and a double turn into a full turn. She often slightly bends her knees and has small legs separations, but all her skills have good height and she has stuck her dismount every time she performed it. Ellie has come such a long way on this event. She wasn’t even a contender for major beam finals back in 2012 and now, she has already become a Commonwealth Games Champion and a World and Pan American Games finalist. She only qualified fourth, but this is because she had a very shaky performance during qualifications. However, she really showed she is a fighter, by refusing to fall even though she landed her front pike on only one foot. If everything goes well for her, she will most likely be on the podium.

start value: 6.4

16-years-old Megan Skaggs of USA earned a spot into those finals, after her more experienced teammate Maddie Desch had a fall. She is a first year senior and this is only her second international assignment so qualifying into event finals is probably the biggest achievement of her short career. Despite her lack of experience, Megan has proven that she knows how to control her nerves and she really hasn’t put a foot wrong this year. A few months ago she competed at Jesolo, where she did an excellent job and during qualifications here she was 5th into the AA and 9th on uneven bars. She is a clean and confident beam worker, who shows great precision and flexibility throughout her routine. The most impressive skill we’ll see from her is a 2.5 wolf turn. During the first day, her double pike dismount was very low so she can improve her score by landing it better this time around.

start value: 5.7

Brazilian Julie Kim Sinmon only competed balance beam during qualifications and she did not have the routine she wanted. She was doing a good job hitting her back handpsring + loso, switch leap + switch half + back tuck and her front tuck but then, she was offline during her side aerial and had to touch the beam. Her double pike dismount was excellent though. Thankfully, she’ll have the opportunity to prove she can hit this routine today. During her first year as a senior, Julie won two medals at Brazilian nationals, became the bronze beam medalist at the Pan-American championships and earned her ticket for Nanning. Unfortunately, 2015 hasn’t been equally succesful for her, since she has struggled a lot with consistency. Hopefully, she will grab this opportunity with both hands and make up for any disappointments she has had during 2015.

start value: 5.6

Victoria Woo of Canada must be delighted to be the 7th highest qualifier for this final. She has been a part of many teams, including the 2014 worlds team, since she turned senior in 2013, but this is the first time she manages to make it into a major final. Her work on beam is really pretty. She shows nice lines, clean execution and a respectable level of difficulty. She has been competing a double full as her dismount for the first half of the year but she now upgraded to a 2.5, The one skill in this routine that has given her a fair amount of trouble is her double turn. She doesn’t have the start value to really challenge for a medal, but hitting this routine would be a huge confidence booster for her and it would improve her chances to be part of Canada’s world team once again.

start value: 5.5

Venezuela’s Jessica Lopez was the last person to make it into the finals. She competed bars and beam during the first day of the competitions and qualifying to both finals is obviously a fantastic achievement. She already won a silver medal on bars with an excellent routine and now she’s hoping to finish strong on beam. During qualifications, she did a watered down routine, taking out some of her skills and downgrading her dismount to a double full. She hadn’t shown her full difficulty on bars either, but then she upgraded for the finals so I wouldn’t be surprised to see her doing for more difficulty today. Her beam routine includes a high layout, a lovely front aerial + sheep jump combination and beautiful well executed leaps. Jessica, who is a two times Olympian and at the age of 29, she will be the oldest athlete competing in beam finals.

start value: 5.1


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