Glasgow 2015: beam finals preview

So far, the world championships of Glasgow have been full of surprises but the most unpredictable final is yet to come. In 2013, we got to see Aliya Mustafina winning a gold medal on an event that has been her biggest weakness during the year. In 2014, we got to see her earning a bronze without having an acro series while Simone Biles, whose best events were vault and floor, walked away with the title so I’m very excited to see what will happen this time around. And to make things more interesting, most of the beam finalists are gorgeous but terribly inconsistent gymnasts with similar start values so we can’t have any idea who will come on top. This is balance beam, there are no top medal contenders, there are no underdogs, it’s all about who will actually manage to stay on the apparatus.

Simone Biles (USA)

qualifications score: 14.966

start value: 6.5

biggest accomplishment: 2013 worlds bronze medalist, 2014 world champion

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gif credit: mustafinesse

During the first years of her elite career, Simone was a relatively weak beam worker. Right now, she is one of the best gymnasts on the planet on this apparatus. She is one of the few athletes in the world who can perform a 2.5 wolf turn and actually make it look pretty, she is capable of fantastic acrobatic elements, like a grigoras and a back handspring into two layout step outs, she always hits her splits and her full in is one of the best dismounts this world has ever seen. I would love to see her getting some more height during some of her acro elements but overall, she is definitely a very clean athlete and she will be able to post a massive execution score if she hits a solid routine. She was a tiny bit shaky during qualifications, she was incredibly during team finals and then, she had a major mistake during the All Around finals so we only have to wait and see how she will perform tomorrow. So far, Simone has helped her team defend their title and she has defended her All Around title. Will she be able to do the same thing on balance beam?

Sanne Wevers (NED)

qualifications score: 14.766

start value: 5.9

biggest accomplishment: 2015 European finalist

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gif credit: icannotcountthosetwists

Finally! Sanne has been showing wonderful beam routines for so long and I’m so excited she will finally get this opportunity to show us what she can do. When you see an athlete having such an amazing spinning ability, inventing one of the hardest dance elements in the world and performing many interesting mounts through the years you desperately want her to win a major medal. But it’s hard to believe than this is actually going to happen when this athlete is fairly inconsistent and only dismounts with a double twist. However, Sanne, who is now 24 years old, finally upgraded her dismount into a D rated gainer layout and had the best routine of her entire career during qualifications. No other athlete was as clean, as calm or as precise as her during the first two days of the competition. She was awarded for her excellent routine with a massive 14.7, that helped her team qualify into the team finals and now, she has to do it all over again. She will have to nail her eponymous double L turn, she will need to hit her L turn + full turn + double turn + split leap combination and her switch leap into kochetkova before sticking her dismount. She did not score well during the team competition and she often makes mistakes under pressure but If she manages to do that, she could win a medal for the Netherlands.

Ellie Black (CAN)

qualifications score: 14.600

start value: 6.6

biggest accomplishment: 2014 worlds finalist, 2015 Pan-American champion

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gif credit: sparklesandchalk

Ellie Black was a vault and floor specialist in 2012. In 2015, she is one of the best All Arounders and the best beam workers in the world. It really is incredible to see how far she has come and her progress on balance beam has impressed me more than anything else I have seen during the quad. She had an excellent first day of competition, hitting all her routines, including her incredibly difficulty beam set. However, after that she missed twice, and she fell off the beam during the team and the All Around finals. Of course, those falls don’t change the fact that she is writing history for her country in those championships but they definitely put some pressure on her going into the event finals. If she hits her routine, she is certainly capable of challenging for a medal, even for the gold one but we can’t be sure that she will do that. She was in a similar position last year, but she had a fall that took her out of contention so I’m hoping that she will be luckier this time around. Some of her most notable skills and combinations are her back handspring + layout, her back handspring + tucked full, her front pike, her double turn and her 2.5 dismount. Ellie is Canada’s only event finalist and medal contender. Hopefully, she will soon be their only medalist too.

Viktoria Komova (RUS)

qualifications score: 14.533

start value: 6.1

biggest accomplishment: 2011 worlds and 2012 Olympic finalist

komova beam mustafinesse
gif credit: mustafinesse

In theory, Viktoria Komova could be one of the best beam workers to ever live. The amplitude on her skills, her extension, her toe point, her stunning turns, her gorgeous leaps and jumps and her stuck double tucks… it’s just magnificent.  However, when it’s actually time for her to compete, she always gives in under the pressure. Even the best routines we’ve seen from her during her comeback have been full of wobbles and balance checks and she seems to doubt herself at every move. She has been a Youth Olympic, worlds and Olympic finalist on this event but she has not managed to win a medal after making major mistakes every time. In Glasgow, she hit a shaky routine during qualifications but she had a disappointing fall at the team finals. Hopefully, her gold medal on the uneven bars will give her the confidence she needs in order to go out there and nail her routine. If she does that, she could very well become a world beam medalist.

Seda Tutkhalyan (RUS)

qualifications score: 14.533

start value: 6.6

biggest accomplishment: 2015 European Games finalist

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gif credit: sparklesandchalk

What can I even say about Seda? She’s fabulous, she’s fierce, she’s powerful, she’s flexible, she’s capable of incredible difficulty and she’s also terribly inconsistent. Her routine is one of the hardest ones being done in the world and it includes some fantastic combinations, like a round of into a layout full, a round of into a layout and a front aerial into a sheep jump. She has some form issues but she hits her splits and she gets great height during her double pike dismount. The problem is that she can’t stay on. Her consistency is definitely improving and she has actually managed to hit some routines during the year but that doesn’t change the fact that she is not reliable on this event. She fell during the team finals, she fell during the All Around finals and she has fallen plenty of times before that. If she can actually control her nerves and deliver under pressure, she is a strong medal contender but if past performances are any indications, she’s not very likely to do that. After a disappointing team competition, Russia had an excellent first day of event finals so I am hoping that both Seda and Vika will surprise us and continue to win medals for their country.

Wang Yan (CHN)

qualifications score: 14.500

start value: 6.5

biggest accomplishment: 2014 YOG champion

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gif credit: I-dont-understand-gymnastics

Wang Yan’s presence was life saving for China’s vault and floor line ups, and because of that, we tend to forget how stunning she can be on beam. The height she gets during her elements is simply insane. Her layout is a masterpiece, her front tuck is sky high, her leaps and jumps are fabulous and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen any other athlete in the history of the sport performing a grigoras as well as she does. Wang has one of the most difficult routines of the competition and her execution is absolutely fantastic but she fell during the team and the All Around finals on this event. She also fell on floor during the team finals and on vault during the event finals so she’s clearly having a rough time handling the pressure. If she actually manages to stay on, she could be our beam champion, but can she do that?

Pauline Schaefer (GER)

qualifications score: 14.300

start value: 6.2

biggest accomplishment: 2015 European finalist

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gif credit: elisaminimeneghini

Pauline has been one of the most valuable members of the German team during this quad and she has represented her country during several international competitions. She managed to maintain her composure when her teammates were falling apart during qualifications and she posted her team’s highest score on three events and qualified into the all around and the balance beam finals. The balance beam is definitely her best event and she became famous for the original skill she created: a side somi with a half turn. She did not compete this element during qualifications, probably because she wanted to play it safe but she will probably bring it back for the finals. Her routine also includes a front aerial + side somi combination, a switch ring, a double turn and a gainer layout dismount. She is a clean and flexible gymnast, with an impressive start value and she should definitely not be counted out. She is definitely not a rock, she had trouble on this event during the All Around finals and we have seen her making mistakes in the past, including a fall that cost her a medal during the European championships but she actually is one of the most consistent in the finals. Germany has had a rather disappointing championships, with the team not managing to qualify into team finals and Sophie Scheder having mistakes during bars finals, so a medal would certainly mean a lot to them.

Eythora Thorsdottir (NED)

score during qualifications: 14.233

start value: 6.5

biggest accomplishment: EYOF silver medalist

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gif credit: huanghuidan

If I could only watch one athlete on beam for the rest of my life, I would chose Eythora without a second thought. I am obsessed with this girl’s work! In a time where we see the same skills and combinations over and over again, she somehow managed to create a stunning routine, full of unusual combinations. From start to finish, her routine is unique, artistic and beautifully executed. I can’t think of anyone else in the world right now performing a korbut out of a side aerial or connecting an L turn, a switch leap and a Y turn. Her routine is packed with difficulty, but unlike most of her competitors, she somehow fins the time for some gorgeous low the beam choreography and she moves from one element to the next with incredibly fluidity. She was only the last person to qualify into those finals but this does not mean she is not a strong medal contender. She missed most of her combinations during qualifications so if she actually manages to connect all her elements she is right up there with Biles, Wevers and Wang. The truth is that we have not seen her really nailing her beam set since the very beginning of the year, but if she actually does what she’s capable of tomorrow, she has a very realistic chance to earn a medal. The Netherlands have had such an impressive performance here in Glasgow and it would be great to see them getting rewarded with a medal.

The draw for the final is: Thorsdottir, Wevers, Wang, Komova, Schaefer, Black, Biles, Tutkhalyan

photo credit: sports2visual

gif credit: elisaminimeneghini, huanghuidan, sparklesandchalk, icannotcountthosetwists, i-don’t-understand-gymnastics, mustafinesse

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