This past weekend was once again time for one of the most attended meets of the late season, Elite Gym Massilia in Marseille, France. Both Senior and Junior gymnasts came together to represent their countries and their home clubs, preparing for a new season that keeps getting closer and closer.

On Friday, November 11th, the Open competition took place in three separate subdivisions, with some lower level gymnasts fighting for the team and all-around titles, as well as for a place in the Master competition happening the next day. In the team competition, one of the French teams (France Open 3) won the Gold with 158.067 after great results on vault with three hit FTYs and bars where they even counted a 6.6-difficulty but also counting two falls on beam and some low D-scores on floor. In second place was Quebec-Canada 2 with 155.267 after a super vault rotation that got them the highest total on the event, followed by a very low scoring bars rotation before finishing on beam and floor with some mistakes coupled with low-difficulty. Finally, the bronze medal went to another French team (France Open 1) with a score of 154.550 after three solid FTYs on vault and a hit albeit low difficulty bars rotation but also counting falls on floor and beam. Also in the top 8 was the team Federatie Vlaanderen from Belgium in fourth with a total of 150.550 and the Western Australian Institute of Sport was fifth with 148.150, both getting into the Masters competition along with the gold and silver medalists from this session (only two teams per country were allowed and therefore France Open 1 couldn’t compete), while Quebec-Canda 1 was sixth with 147.333, Saint-Étienne was seventh with 147.083 and Dynamo Gymnastics was eighth with 146.650.

In the individual competition, Irina Alexeeva of WOGA took the title with a total of 57.100, actually outscoring the winner of the Masters competition. The 14-year-old had a gorgeous performance on bars for a 14.833 and a solid FTY on vault, as well as somewhat shaky routines on beam and floor that still earned the top scores of the competition. In second place was first-year Senior Alison Lepin of France with 53.167 after a fantastic 6.6-difficulty bar routine that matched Alexeeva’s score but also counting a fall on beam and a floor routine in the mid-12s. The bronze medal went to Lepin’s teammate Melissa Poitreau with a final score of 52.917 after hit albeit low difficulty routines on all four events. Also in the top 8 were Alisson Lapp of France in fourth with 52.667, Victoria Jurca of Quebec-Canada in fifth with 51.967, Laurie Denommee also of Quebec-Canada in sixth with 51.883, Celia Serber of France in seventh with 51.567 and Manon Muller of the Federatie Vlaanderen in eighth with 51.133.

On Saturday, it was time for the Masters competition, also featuring a team and an all-around competition. Among the teams, Russia took the title with a final score of 166.850. The Russians started with a mixed vault rotation where they counted one hit FTY and one Yurchenko 1.5 but also a crashed DTY from Seda Tutkhalyan, before moving on to bars where they counted yet another big mistake, this time from specialist Daria Spiridonova. Beam and floor were a little better with three hit routines each but low difficulty kept their scores in the 13s range. In second place was the French team with 161.700 after two solid FTYs and a big piked Rudi from Coline Devillard on vault, as well as hit routines on all the other events, with their lower difficulty holding them back a bit. The Bronze medal went to France Open 3, silver medalist at the Open competition, with a total of 157.700, over three full points higher than their previous day. On vault, they counted three simple but hit FTYs, followed by three bar routines with no falls but some form issues throughout. Unfortunately all team members had falls on beam bringing their scores to the 10-12s range, but were still able to finish on a high note with beautiful and well executed floor routines despite their low-difficulty. Outside the podium were Quebec-Canada 2 in fourth with 157.450, Great Britain in fifth with 156.700, Australia in sixth with 154.800, Federatie Vlaanderen in seventh with 150.000 and finally Western Australian Institute of Sport in eighth with 146.600.

In the individual Masters competition, Anastasia Iliankova of Russia took the title with 56.550 after a solid FTY in the low-14s and a difficult and original bar routine with multiple connections including a Maloney to clear-hip half to Ezhova, scoring just below 15, but also somewhat shaky routines on beam and floor with some landing issues for mid to high-13s. In second place was Iliankova’s teammate and current Junior European Champion Elena Eremina with 55.250 after hitting all four routines but being held back a little by her lower difficulty, boosting just 5.2 on beam and floor and 5.8 on bars, as well as a 5.3 for her Yurchenko 1.5 on vault. In third place was Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos of France with 54.450, counting a very high FTY and well-executed routines on bars and beam but unfortunately falling on her front full on floor to score in the high-12s. The remaining top 8 gymnasts were Junior Lorette Charpy of France in fourth with 53.600, Sophie Marois of Canada in fifth with 53.300, Daria Spiridonova in sixth with 53.150, Alice Kinsella of Great Britain in seventh with 52.950 and Taeja James also from Great Britain in eighth with 52.700.

Notably absent from the top spots was Olympic Silver medalist Seda Tutkhalyan of Russia who finished just 13th with a total of 51.900. On vault, she competed her usual DTY but crashed it to her hands and knees receiving just 13.900 for a vault that can easily get into the 15s, while on bars she once again had trouble with the timing on her Bhardwaj and some short handstands but managed to stay on without further issues. However, beam was where everything went wrong: she had a fall on her layout and then on her layout full and balked her dismount, doing just a layout instead of her usual double pike. This ultimately brought her D-score to 4.6 and resulted in a total of 10.400. On floor, she recovered a bit with a high-13 after a downgraded but hit routine. Seda has been having a hard time at these late season competitions, with similar issues at the Blume Memorial, and should probably seek some help to improve her mental game and learn to deal with the pressure of a competition set because she’s incredibly talented and it would be a shame to see such a great gymnast fail to reach a potential due to lack of mental preparation. But this is Russia we’re talking about so who knows? Maybe they will just wait for the problem to fix itself instead of actually trying to get her a sport psychologist that could help her feel more confident in her routines.

Also missing from the top spots but for different and rather unfortunate reasons was Britain’s Georgia Mae-Fenton after a scary fall on bars that kept her from finishing the routine and forced her to withdraw from the rest of the competition. Luckily it seems it was nothing serious and she was back with her teammates for the banquet so hopefully it was just a scary moment and she will be back soon.

Event Finals, or Top Massilia as they are called here, took place on the last day of competition, on Sunday with six gymnasts competing on each event unlike the usual eight. On vault, Devillard took the title with an average of 14.133, while Eremina finished second with 14.017 and Naomi Lee of Australia was third after matching Eremina’s score but losing the tiebreaker due to a lower individual top score. Despite being a top contender for the podium, Olympian Seda Tutkhalyan finished this final in the last place with an average of 13.733 after crashing her DTY, continuing her unfortunate series of disappointing performances. On uneven bars, Alexeeva won the Gold medal with a total of 14.733, while Iliankova and Alison Lepin of France both scored 14.400 with Iliankova taking the Silver due to lower difficulty (6.3 versus 6.5) and Lepin taking bronze. On balance beam, Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos took the title with 14.167, followed by Iliankova once again in Silver medal position with 14.133 and Alexeeva in third with a total of 13.967 after some issues. Finally, on floor, Iliankova took the Gold with a final score of 13.833, while Taeja James of Great Britain took Silver with 13.767 and Victoria Jurca of Canada took Bronze with 13.500. Once again, Tutkhalyan had mistakes and finished last after putting her hands down on her double pike and sitting her double tuck dismount.

Ultimately this competition allowed junior gymnasts and young Seniors to show what they have been working on and what they can possibly offer their teams in the future. Russia mostly run the show winning the team and all-around competition, as well as multiple event medals but other countries have also proved to be prepared for top level gymnastics and should become important contenders in the next few years further increasing the diversity of the sport.

Full results here.

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