After qualifications and AA Finals on Thursday and Friday, the weekend was time for Event Finals, with vault and bars happening on Saturday and beam and floor taking place on Sunday. Similar to the previous days, there were some mistakes and the Olympic Team puzzle became even more confusing.
Despite qualifying in first place on beam and fifth on floor, Aliya Mustafina opted not to compete event finals as she’s still recovering and her main goal at this competition was to test her All-Around performance. She’s the most secure spot on the team as long as she’s healthy enough, so this decision definitely didn’t affect her chances in any way.
In the vault final, the top 3 from qualifications remained unchanged with reigning World Champion Maria Paseka taking Gold, Seda Tutkhalyan taking Silver and Tatiana Nabieva taking Bronze. Paseka finished in first place as expected, but unfortunately crashed her Cheng for a score just above 14. Her Amanar, however, was clean and high and scored in the mid-15s, for a final result of 14.867, much lower than what she’s capable of doing. Second place Tutkhalyan performed a DTY and a Lopez, both scoring in the mid to high-14s, and finished about a tenth behind Paseka with 14.734, whereas Bronze went to Tatiana Nabieva after a DTY and a Podkopayeva, scoring in the mid-14s and high-13s, respectively, for a final score of 14.234. Despite her “retirement” Nabs still manages to win medals and beat currently active gymnasts, which further proves her great talent and ability in the sport. In fourth place was Anastasia Dmitrieva with an average of 14.134, while in fifth was yet another Anastasia, this time Sidorova, with a score of 13.917. In sixth place was Yulia Biryulya with 13.784, in seventh was Lilia Akhaimova with 13.767 and finally in eighth was Daria Lopatina with 13.334.
On the uneven bars, new Senior Natalia Kapitonova won Gold with 15.133 after mistakes from top qualifier Daria Spiridonova who finished in third place with 14.933. Between them was Silver medalist Angelina Melnikova with 15.033, improving her qualifications score in about four tenths (though that routine included a fall). Just outside the podium was Seda Tutkhalyan with 14.600 for her new upgraded routine, followed by Evgeniya Shelgunova (who pulled out of the vault final) in fifth place with 13.833. In sixth place was Daria Skripnik with just 13.400, which suggests some major problem since she posted almost a full point higher in qualifications, while in seventh was Tatiana Nabieva with 12.333 and in eighth was Lilia Akhaimova with 11.767, both performing at a much lower level than in qualifications. This result affects mainly Daria Spiridonova as bars is the event that could get her to Rio, since she’s (one of) the reigning World Champion and a top contender for an Olympic medal, but if other gymnasts manage to consistently outscore her, Spiridonova’s place might be in danger as she’s unlikely to contribute anywhere else for the team.
On beam, in the absence of top qualifier and 2016 European Champion Aliya Mustafina, Angelina Melnikova managed to sneak in and take the Gold after a super solid routine that scored a 15.400. In second place was Seda Tutkhalyan with just 13.967 after, you guessed it, a fall on her layout full. On the other hand, she brought back her piked full-in dismount and landed it successfully even if her chest was a bit down. Here’s hoping she’ll hit her routine when it matters or just take the layout full from her routine, since the D-value it brings isn’t worth the fall it causes 80% of the time. Bronze went to Evgeniya Shelgunova with 13.867 after a routine that included a side aerial to LOSO, a front tuck to sissone and a round-off to layout (with great height but a big wobble), though she had a pretty low execution score as has been usual for her in this competition, unlike what happens to other competitors. Next there was a tie for fourth place between Grishina’s old teammate Daria Mikhailova and 2014 Worlds alternate Polina Fedorova with 13.267, while in sixth was Anastasia Sidorova with 13.067 despite performing her routine cleanly (she deserved a higher E-score). In seventh was Anastasia Dmitrieva with 13.033 after a fall on her switch half in an otherwise solid routine, and finally in eighth was Tatiana Nabieva with 12.533 hitting her Barani to start but having big wobbles on most her other skills. Nabs clearly isn’t in it to fight for teams in major tournaments but simply because she loves gymnastics and loves competing so props to her for doing what makes her happy.
Finally on floor, Lilia “no FIG license” Akhaimova won the Gold with 14.367 for a routine that included a double layout, piked full-in, double tuck and tucked full-in to finish. Lilia has been named as one of the alternates for the provisional Olympic Team but she would need to get a FIG license in less than a month to be allowed to compete in Rio so I’m not sure how that could work out. In second place was Natalia Kapitonova with 13.867, who managed to reach the podium despite her lower difficulty after stronger contenders made mistakes, while in third was top qualifier Angelina Melnikova with just 13.733 due to trouble on her landings and turns. Outside the podium was Evgeniya Shelgunova in fourth place with 13.500 also with landing issues, while in fifth place was Anastasia Sidorova with 13.433 for a routine that once again probably deserved a bit more in the execution score. In sixth place was second place qualifier Seda Tutkhalyan with 13.133 after putting her hands down on her double pike and nearly landing her double tuck on her kness. This subpar performance can be attributed to some exhaustion after competing all four apparatus in qualifications, all-around and event finals, and hopefully won’t be an issue in Rio where finals are further part with some time to rest between them. In seventh was Anastasia Dmitrieva with 12.633 after crashing her whip to double layout (it’s a crazy awesome connection though, so props to her) and also having some landing issues on her double pike, while in eighth was Daria Skripnik with 11.800 after a rather disappointing performance with super deep landings on all her tumbles and generally looking extremely tired.
This year’s Russian Cup served as the last competition before the Rio Olympics, with some gymnasts proving their readiness but with many others showing that the preparation isn’t yet finished for the Russians. Following this competition, Valentina Rodionenko announced a provisional Olympic team that included Aliya Mustafina, Maria Paseka, Angelina Melnikova, Daria Spiridonova and Seda Tutkhalyan, with Ksenia Afanasyeva status still unknown. Things could still change a lot in the next few weeks until the team finally leaves for Brazil at the end of the month so be prepared for a long and stressful July in the gymnastics world.
Full results here.