Romania dominates event finals at Massilia

Romania’s Laura Jurca took her redemption for her shaky competition during the Master Massilia, by winning the title in both finals she had qualified at the Top Massilia. She started her effort on vault, with an effortless full twisting yurchenko and then, she attempted her double twisting yurchenko as her second vault. She didn’t get as much height as she usually does, she barely got the two rotations around, her chest was low when she landed and she took a big step backwards, but she put the vault on her feet and this was enough for her to win the gold medal. Even though it was not her best performance, it was great to see her hitting this vault after struggling the day before. Not having tons of energy is understandable at this point of the year, especially for an athlete like Jurca, who has participated in multiple international competitions, so I’m definitely not worried about her vault. Then, she performed a lovely balance beam routine, nailing her back handsrping + layout combination and her two back handsprings + double tuck dismount sequence. She had a couple of wobbles after her switch half, her side aerial and her johnson but overall, she did a lovely routine. Hopefully, her excellent results at the world championships and at this competition, will give her the confidence she needs going into the Olympic year.

Her teammate, Diana Bulimar did not manage to grab a medal on balance beam, after a rather shaky performance. She started with an excellent back handsrping + layout and a solid side somi and switch half but then, she had a major wobble on her side aerial. She fought hard and stayed on the apparatus and she finished with an excellent double pike dismount, but the damage had already been done. Fortunately, she got her redemption on floor, where she won the gold medal after sticking her piked full in and hitting her double layout, double tuck and double pike, while also showing great energy and personality. This year has been really hard for Diana. She worked hard to come back from a major injury, only to end up having an other surgery a few months later and then, Romania did not qualify into the team finals, so it’s great to see her doing well here. I’m not saying that a gold medal at a minor international meet it’s enough to make up for all the disappointments of the year, but it must be good for her to finish on a high note. Hopefully, the hardest part of her career is now behind her and she will be healthy enough to upgrade her routines and win a few medals for Romania during 2016.

Romania won three of the four available gold medals of the competition but unsurprisingly, the uneven bars gold was not one of them. This title went to Russian junior Natalia Kapitonova, who proved herself as the absolute best gymnast of the finals by posting both the highest difficulty and the highest execution score. Her inbar full + komova 2 + pak was lovely, her van leeuwen seemed easy for her, her inbar full + tkatcev was clean and she had no trouble with her full in dismount. She really has everything it takes to be great on this event and I’m so excited to see what she can do in the future. Her routine was excellent and she received an impressive 15.267, which was one full point higher than the score posted by the silver medalist.

Unfortunately, her teammate Angelina Melnikova, who was the star of the All Around competition, was not equally successful. She had qualified into two finals and she ended up falling in both of them. She was having an excellent floor routine, controlling her piked full in, hitting her turns combinations and sticking her two whips into a double tuck and her double full but then she put her hands down on her double pike dismount. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to put that mistake behind her and she had an other fall on the uneven bars, where a hit routine would guarantee her a medal. She had a bit of trouble with her inbar full but she still tried to connect it with her Komova and she ended up falling on that transition. The second half of her routine was really lovely and her full in dismount seemed effortless but the fall had already taken her out of contention. Angelina is actually quite a consistent gymnast so those mistakes were definitely uncharacteristic for her. It’s disappointing to see her finishing the competition like that, but she has already won an All Around gold medal, so she has every reason to be extremely proud of herself.

A gymnast who really shined during those finals was Italian Enus Mariani, who really had an excellent competition in Massilia. She has struggled with consistency during the entire year so it’s absolutely amazing to see her finally getting it together and hitting every single routine during the team and the event finals. I was worried about her balance beam routine, after she had a small wobble during a simple pose, but it turned out that this was the only balance check of her entire set. Her split leap + front aerial, back handspring + layout step out, side somi, split jump + side aerial and Y turn were all solid and even though she had a low landing during her double pike dismount, she managed to win a silver medal on this event. Then, she performed beautifully on the uneven bars showing lovely lines and execution during her maloney + bail + stalder full, her jaeger and her ricna. Her double layout dismount definitely needs some work but Enus posted the second highest score of the day on this event as well. All the injuries and the problems she has had during this quad have definitely slowed down her progress but I still hope to see her upgrading her routines, improving her consistency and fighting for a ticket to Rio.

Belgium’s Axelle Klinckaert was the other two times silver medalist of the Top Massilia. Her first medal of the day came on vault, where she showed a fantastic full twisting yurchenko and a nearly stuck front pike half out. Thanks to her excellent execution, she was less than two tenths behind the gold medalist, Laura Jurca, despite having a significantly lower start value. The distance and the height she got during her full twisting yurchenko was beyond impressive and I’ll be disappointed if she doesn’t upgrade this vault next year. She continued to impress on floor, where she landed her new double layout with only a tiny step, stuck her tucked full in and nailed her double tuck and her double pike.

Her teammate, Nina Derwael would definitely have a great chance to win the uneven bars title, but she did not manage to advance into the finals after a fall during qualifications. However, she grabbed a bronze medal on balance beam after nailing her switch leap + ring leap, her side somi and her flight series. She had a bit of trouble with her front aerial and her sheep jump and her steingruber dismount is definitely not layout (but again, Giulia’s is not layout either) but it’s great to see her gaining confidence on this event. She also hit her routine on floor but since she does not have a very high start value, the steps in her landings were enough to take her out of medal contention. Nina and Axelle did not win as many medals as they could have but they they showed massive potential. They are training new skills, they are upgrading their routines and they continue to show a unique style and excellent artistry. Belgium has not qualified a full team into the Olympics yet, and it will be hard for them to make it through the test event, where they’ll have to compete against teams like Romania, Germany, Australia, Brazil and France, but those two girls are certainly going to help their chances.

The two French ladies, who had qualified 1-2 into the balance beam finals with massive scores were not able to repeat their stunning performances from qualifications. Claire Martin, who had posted a 15 during Master Massilia had a major mistake in the beginning of her routine. She was supposed to perform two back handsprings into a layout step out, but something went wrong during her second back handspring and she was never able to perform her loso. This means that she did not have a flight series, as she is required to, so she lost 0.5 tenths from her start value. This mistake, along with a couple of wobbles was enough to drop her in the sixth place. Her teammate Marine Brevet hit her routine but she had a few balance checks and a big step during her dismount, so this hurt her execution score. However, she got an other medal on floor exercise, where she nailed her double layout, 1.5 twist and double tuck for a 14,067.

French Rio eligible junior Oreane Lechenault was the bronze medalist on the uneven bars, after some of the top contenders had falls. She had a scary moment when she was way too close to the bar during her jaeger, but her komova 2 + pak, her van leeuwen and her double front dismount were all beautifully executed. She really has great potential on this event and there’s so much room for upgrades on her set so I’m very excited to see more of her in the future.

Her  teammate, Alison Lepin is another promising uneven bars worker from France. She still has lots of cleaning up to do, but her performance today was a huge improvement from what she did at the Open competition. Her Komova 2 is still a work in progress and she was short on her bail to handstand, but her inbar half + endo half combination was gorgeous, her full in dismount was very well controlled and god, that Galante was simply stunning. Alison already has some very impressive skills, and once she’s able to add more combinations, she will have a massive routine.

Loan His, who was one of the top contenders for the uneven bars podium had an unfortunate fall that took her out of contention. She had almost gotten through her routine with only some form problems, she had hit her toe on full + van leeuwen, her jaeger and her maloney + bail but then, she lost her back tension and fell on the final handstand before her dismount. It was definitely a frustrating mistake, but His has achieved so much during her first year as a senior and she has a lot to celebrate as this season ends.

Italy’s Elisa Meneghini had qualified second into the floor finals, but she finished just outside of the podium yesterday. She gave us a good performance, starting with a fabulous double layout and nailing her two whips + full in and her double pike. She only had some trouble with her full in, where she landed a tiny bit low but she managed to save that. The scoring was much less lenient than it was during the previous days of the competition and this is the main reason why Elisa’s score was so much lower than it was during Master Massilia. She certainly did not have a bad routine, it’s just that other athletes performed a bit better than she did.

France’s top vaulter, Camille Bahl, who was a finalist on this event at the 2015 European championships, performed a full and a double twisting yurchenko to win the bronze medal. She took a big step forward after her full twisting yurchenko and those 0.3 were probably what made the difference between bronze and silver for her. Her DTY is not quite as crisp as it was in the beginning of the year. She got it all the way around and her form is fairly clean but she doesn’t get tons of height and distance and her landing is quite low. Hopefully, she will be able to perform that vault better once she’s in top shape next year.

EYOF vault champion, Marine Boyer finished fourth on the same finals after choosing to downgrade her vaults. She performed a huge full twisting yurchenko and an effortless yurchenko layout and even though her execution was very clean, her difficulty was not enough for a medal. Both vaults were very powerful and dynamic so I’m sure she’ll have no problem bringing the DTY back next year.

American Jessica Hutchinson, who was representing her gym at this competition was fifth with a slightly messy but promising yurchenko full and yurchenko 1.5. Coline Devillard showed impressive difficulty, with a double twisting yurchenko and a front pike half out, but her execution prevented her from reaching the podium while Alison Lepin finished 6th after with a slightly piked full twisting yurchenko and a yurchenko layout.

You can find the full results of the competition here

gif credit: mustafinesse

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