start values: 5.8 + 5.5 + 5.2 + 5.4
notable skills: double twisting yurchenko on vault, chow + pak, maloney + bail and tkatcev on bars, front aerial, side somi, switch half and sheep jump on balance beam, tucked full in, 2.5 twists and double pike on floor exercise
notable achievements: Junior Mediterranean uneven bars silver medalist and vault, floor and All Around champion, Golden League vault silver medalist and floor bronze medalist, Italian national vault champion, Junior European vault finalist, Jesolo Trophy vault and floor finalist
Sofia was one of the most promising and successful Italian juniors on this quad. She had a fairly busy 2014, competing at multiple national and international competitions, including the Serie A, the Junior European championships, the Junior Mediterranean championships and the Italian nationals. Her first international competition of 2014 was the Jesolo Trophy, where she qualified into two event finals and placed 5th on both vault and beam and 10th in the All Around. Then, after testing out her routines at Serie A, she tied for 7th in the All Around at the Munich friendly meet and she competed at the European championships, where she placed 17th in the All Around and 5th on vault. A couple of months later, she placed 7th in the All Around at the Italian championships, where she was competing against both seniors and juniors, while also placing 6th on bars and 5th on beam. Her performance earned her a well deserved ticket to the Junior Mediterranean Games, where she was one of the biggest stars of the competition, winning the All Around, the vault and the floor exercise title, while also grabbing a silver on bars. She continued to shine at the Golden Leauge, where she placed 5th in the All Around, beating world team members Lavinia Marongiu and Lara Mori and won a silver on vault and a bronze on vault. She struggled with a foot injury in the beginning of 2014 but she came back strong to post an incredible 15.0 on vault at the 4th Serie A, helping her team win the gold medal. After that, she placed 6th in the All Around, 1st on vault (tied with Martina Rizzeli), 5th on bars, and 8th on beam at Golden League and she became the national vault champion at the Italian championships, where she also placed 7th in the All Around and ties for 6th on floor. Vault has obviously been an event that has brought Sofia plenty of success and it’s what makes her a contender for Rio. Italy deliberately needs powerful double twisting yurchenkos for their line up and Sofia’s is probably the second best vaulter in the country, right behind Erika Fasana. She has also competed a tsukahara layout, and if she added a full twist into that vault, she could be a contender for international vault finals. However, I don’t think that a double twisting yurchenko, no matter how good it is, will be enough to get her a ticket to Rio, so she needs to have at least one more team finals worthy event in order to maximize her chances. Balance beam is probably her weakest apparatus, and I don’t see her being top 5 in the country there, even though she’s training upgrades, including an an onodi. However, she shows some good potential on bars and floor. Her bars set is never going to be breathtaking, but Italy is quite weak on this event, and any routine that can score above 14 could potentially make their lineup. Sofia definitely has a very long way to go, since she dismounts with a double pike and she has plenty of major legs separations throughout her routine, but with a D dismount and some minor upgrades, she could have a very respectable start value. She would still need to clean up her form in order to be competitive, but she definitely has some potential. She’s even more promising on floor exercise, where she shows strong tumbling and nice choreography. She doesn’t have a massive start value yet, but all her tumbling passes are high and clean and her routine seems easy for her, so I would love to see her upgrading. Italy has plenty of strong and experienced gymnasts, who are all fighting for a ticket to Rio and it will be hard for a first year senior to make it, but if Sofia continues to nail her DTY and gets 5.8 + start values on bars and floor, she could surprise us. After all, Italian gymnasts tend to stick with the sport for more than one quads, so even if she doesn’t make it to Rio, she could still be a super star for Italian gymnastics in the future.
start values: 5.3 + 5.9 + 5.6 + 5.4
notable skills: 1.5 twisting yurchenko and front pike on vault, ricna + pak, stalder full + toe on + maloney + bail and double front dismount on bars, front aerial + split jump, sheep jump, switch ring and gainer layout dismount on beam, dowell and double front on floor
notable achievements: 2014 Jesolo Trophy vault and beam finalist, 2014 European championships vault finalist, 2015 Italian national bronze medalist.
Desirèe is probably my favorite Italian new senior. I first noticed her in 2014 and I immediately fell in love. She was a bit unpolished -and she still is- but she had a certain aggressiveness and a certain sparkle that immediately caught my attention. She did not win any major medals during that year, but she got a couple of international assignments and she achieved some excellent accomplishments. She qualified into two event finals at the Jesolo Trophy, she helped her team win a bronze medal at the Munich friendly meet, where she also placed 13th in the All Around and she was named to the Italian Junior European team. There, she only competed on vault, but she delivered her team’s highest score on this event and she qualified into the apparatus finals, where she hit both her vaults to finish 7th. She had mistakes at the Italian championships and the Golden League, but she still managed to make vault finals in both competitions. After having some struggles at Serie A in 2015, she competed at the Golden League, where she placed 10th in the All Around, and she participated in the Italian championships, finishing 11th in the All Around, qualifying into the vault finals and winning a bronze medal on vault. She also competed at the friendly meet against Great Britain, Germany and Brazil, where she helped her team win a bronze medal. Desirèe certainly has lots of work to do and she needs to work on her execution and most importantly, her consistency, but she’s incredibly talented and she could certainly be an important asset for the team in the future. She has been competing a yurchenko 1.5 for about two years now, and even though it’s not a very clean vault, it’s still impressive for an athlete from a county where most seniors only competed yurchenko fulls in 2015. She is also promising on the uneven bars, which is another weak apparatus for her country. Her ricna + pak combination is very impressive, her start value is higher than most of the seniors’, her swing is more fluid than most of her teammates’ and even though she needs to work on her handstand, her form is not bad. Her difficulty on beam is very respectable and I absolutely love her gainer layout dismount, but she is very shaky and inconsistent on this event, so this is something that needs to change this year. In the past, she has competed a switch half and a front tuck, so she could add a couple of extra tenths into her start value by bringing those skills back. My favorite event to watch her is certainly floor. We don’t usually see forward tumbling from the Italian team, but Desiree is capable of a strong double front and a spectacular Dowell, which is very exciting to watch and I absolutely love her style and choreography. She has a long way to go and she will need to show major progress in order to be a contender for Rio, but she’s a powerful and dynamic gymnast, with tons of talent and she could have a bright future ahead of her.
notable skills: jaeger, bail to handstand, toe on full and full in dismount on bars, switch ring, ring leap, front aerial + split jump and split leap + side aerial on beam, double tuck, double front twist and memmel turn on floor
notable achievements: Gymnix bronze medalist (team), FIT challenge bronze medalist (team)
Michela is a beautiful gymnast, with lovely artistry and choreography. In 2014, she competed on all four events at multiple Serie A competitions but she only did bars at the Italian championships and made costly mistakes that prevented her from fighting for an event finals spot. She came back to the All Around in time for the Golden League, where she posted a 51.700 All Around total. She had a shaky first competition of 2015 at Serie A, where she only posted a 48.750 total after a rough beam routine, but thankfully, she did much better during the rest of the year. She got her first major international assignment, and she participated in Gymnix, where she helped her team win a bronze medal and placed 14th in the All Around, with downgraded routines. Shortly after that, she posted the highest All Around total of her career (53.050) at Serie A and she attended the FIT challenge, where she helped her team win another bronze medal. She competed at Golden League, placing 14th in the All Around but she did not attend the Italian championships, so she didn’t have a chance to show what she can do there. Michela is an absolutely gorgeous gymnast, with excellent artistry on both beam and floor. She’s very elegant, she’s very stylish and she has beautiful lines and toe point. She will need major upgrades in order to be competitive against the seniors, but she’s certainly promising on bars and beam. I don’t know if she will be in the mix next year, but she will certainly bring some beauty on the Italian team and I’m very excited to watch her perform.
notable skills: yurchenko layout on vault, front aerial, sheep jump and Y turn on balance beam, L grip pirouette, jaeger and double front dismount on bars, double tuck on floor.
notable achievements: Gymnix bronze medalist (team) Jesolo Trophy bronze medalist (team)
Talking about beautiful gymnasts, Clara is certainly one to watch. She is a relatively new face into the elite scene, but she already has a fair amount of experience, since she competed quite a bit during 2015. She competed on all four events at multiple Serie A competitions, and even though she had some mistakes, she posted her team’s highest score on floor multiple times. She also participated in the International Gymnix, helping her team win a bronze medal behind Canada and Russia and placed 7th on beam and floor. At that competition, she was 14th in the All Around, and she posted the second highest score of the night on balance beam and one of the highest scores on floor exercise, but she unfortunately did not perform as well during the event finals. A few weeks later, she helped her team win another bronze medal at the Jesolo Trophy, where she also finished 5th on floor and 19th in the All Around and she placed 15th in the All Around at the Italian championships, where she was competing against both juniors and seniors, but she unfortunately had major mistakes the prevented her from reaching the event finals. Clara does not have enough difficulty to compete against the seniors right now, but even if she doesn’t upgrade her routines this year, she could potentially be successful during the next quad. Her best event is definitely the balance beam where she already shows impressive skills and beautiful execution and she’s absolutely gorgeous to watch on floor. She has incredible flexibility, rhythm and fluidity in her movements and I absolutely love her style and choreography, so I can’t wait to see her perform on this event.
notable skills: full twisting yurchenko on vault, jaeger and bail to handstand on bars, split leap + front aerial + jumps, back handspring + layout step out + layout step out, side aerial, full turn + Y turn and johnson on balance beam,, tucked full in, double pike, double tuck and memmel on floor
notable achievements: International Gymnix and Jesolo Trophy finalist, Junior European team member, 2013 Italian national bronze medalist
Pilar is a very promising beam worker, who started making a name for herself internationally in 2014. During that year, she competed at the International Gymnix, placing 10th in the All Around, 7th on vault and floor and 4th on beam and then, she participated in the Jesolo Trophy, where a rough bars routine prevented her from finishing higher than 17th in the All Around. However, she posted one of the highest scores of her career on floor exercise, and she qualified into the event finals, where she finished in the 4th place. She proved herself as one of Italy’s top junior and after testing out her routines at the Munich friendly meet, where she was 15th in the All Around, she headed to Sofia for the Junior European championships. She didn’t have a perfect competition, but she was Italy’s top All Arounder, finishing 15th in the finals, and she delivered some of her team’s highest scores on bars and floor. She was also successful at the Italian championships, where she tied for a bronze medal on floor and she was selected to represent her county at the first Junior Mediterranean Games. She did a great job during that competition, winning a silver medal in the All Around, right behind teammate Sofia Busato and a bronze on balance beam. She unfortunately didn’t compete as much in 2015 and we don’t have much recent coverage or updates on her, so it’s hard to make any predictions about her chances. The only thing we know for sure is that Pilar is a lovely gymnast, who is capable of some excellent work on beam and some nice choreography and tumbling on floor, and I’m very excited to see more of her.
start values: 5.0 + 5.8 + 5.7 + 5.3
notable skills: full twisting yurchenko on vault, inbar stalder + maloney + bail to handstand + stalder full, tkatcev, stalder 1/2 + endo + double front dismount on bars, switch ring, onodi, ring leap, two back handsprings into a layout step out, front aerial + split jump, side aerial and double tuck dismount on balance beam, double tuck, double pike, memmel and 2.5 twists on floor
notable achievements: Junior European finalist, Massilia Open All Around champion, Italian uneven bars silver medalist
Giada is a gorgeous, artistic gymnast, with lovely lines, flexibility and toe point. She has dual citizenship and she was actually competing for Switzerland until last year. However, her coach, who is Italian, moved to Italy and she decided to follow him. She hasn’t competed internationally for Italy yet, but she has a fair amount of international experience, since she has represented Switzerland in multiple competitions. In 2014, she competed three events at the Munich friendly meet, where she helped her team finish in fourth place and posted one of the highest scores of the competition on balance beam. After that, she attended the Junior European championships, where she was Switzerland’s most successful All Arounder, finishing 10th during the finals. She also posted her team’s highest score on three events and she made it into the uneven bars finals, where she finished 7th. She finished her year in a high note with an incredible competition at the Elite Massilia, where she actually won the Open All Around title, beating gymnasts like Rose Kaying Woo, Eythora Thorsdottir and Valentine Pikul. She only placed 19th at the Master competition, but her gold medal was still an excellent achievement. In 2015, she competed at the Italian Golden League, where she helped her team win a gold medal and placed 12th in the All Around and 5th on both vault and floor. She had mistakes on her strongest events, bars and beam, and she didn’t score as well as she could have there. However, she was much more successful at the Italian championships, where she finished 8th in the All Around and posted the highest uneven bars score of the day, outscoring athletes like Ugrin, Campana and Rizzelli on this event. She also won a silver medal on the uneven bars finals and placed 8th on balance beam, after having two falls. Giada still has a FIG license for Switzerland, so I’m not sure which country she’s planning to represent. Switzerland is very unlikely to qualify a full team to Rio, and Giulia Steingruber would be the obvious choice to represent them at the Olympics. This means that if Giada’s main focus is Rio, she would probably choose to compete for Italy, even though it will obviously be very hard for her to make the team. The truth is that she would have a better chance to get selected for major events, like the Test Event or the European championships, as a Swiss gymnast, but she could also be a great addition to the Italian team. The event where she could contribute the most, is certainly the uneven bars. Her 5.8 start value is already one of the highest difficulty scores of the country on this event and she has tons of rooms for upgrades. She already performs a beautiful inbar stalder, so if she could just add a couple of variations of those skills, and learns how to perform a komova 2, an inbar half and an inbar full, she will easily have a 6 + routine. I don’t know if she’s actually working on any of those skills, but her routine has lots of potential and she can certainly challenge for the top 3 in national competitions. She is also promising on balance beam, where she shows a respectable level of difficulty and gorgeous style and flexibility. She still needs to increase her start value and work on her consistency on this event, but the potential is clearly there. She is also a lovely dancer, with a very artistic floor routine and she has a solid full twisting yurchenko on vault, but I don’t expect her to be team finals worthy on those events any time soon. It will be very difficult for Giada – or for any other first year senior – to earn a ticket to Rio, but she could be part of the discussion if she shows upgrades and consistency on bars and beam. She certainly has tons of talent and she can have a great career, regardless of the country she chooses to represent.
All photos are by Silvia Vatteroni unless stated otherwise
Thanks to elisaminimeneghini for the help and the gifs
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