After the completion of the team and all-around finals from Wednesday to Friday, the weekend brought the event specialists to the front stage with the individual apparatus finals. Because this is Russian gymnastics, not everyone was able to put forward their best work and some surprise champions were crowned when more experienced players faltered.
On vault, Olympian Seda Tutkhalyan managed to take the gold medal with an average score of 14.233 after showing a DTY with some messy leg form and a hop on landing, as well as a Lopez with a step back, both vaults scoring in the low-14s. Nearly four tenths behind her was soon-to-be 20-year-old Lilia Akhaimova receiving a 13.849 average for her Yurchenko 1.5 with a big step forward and her front layout half, also counting a large step back. The bronze medal eventually went to Angelina Melnikova who surprised us all by showing a second vault at these championships. Melnikova was awarded an average of 13.783 for a DTY with a sizeable hop back and a Lopez landed very low, forcing her to take a large step forward and out of the mat. Outside the podium were Anastasia Dmitrieva in fourth with 13.649, Alla Sosnitskaya in fifth with 13.616, Eleonora Afanasyeva in sixth with 13.416, Alena Arkusha in seventh with 13.183 and Daria Elizarova in eighth with 12.716.
As always, bars was the best event for the Russians with six of the finalists scoring above 14, a score that even the top finisher couldn’t achieve on other events. After steady performances, the gold medal was shared between 2015 World Champion Daria Spiridonova and 2016 Russian Cup Champion Natalia Kapitonova with a total of 14.700. Spiridonova was much better than in previous days of this competition, connecting the Komova II to pak to van Leeuwen without any problems, but wisely downgrading some of her inbars to toe-ons. Kapitonova, on the other hand, continued her streak of beautiful bars routines that she has presented during the week with special shout outs to her opening combination of stalder full to Komova II to Pak to Chow half and to her inbar full to Tkachev, which were complete hits. The bronze medal belonged to Daria Skrypnik with a score of 14.433, finally managing to put together a great routine after struggling during AA finals. The remaining finalists were Anastasia Ilyankova in fourth with 14.400, Elena Eremina in fifth with 14.333, Elizaveta Kochetkova in sixth with 14.133, Daria Elizarova in seventh with 13.400 and finally Seda Tutkhalyan in eighth with 11.666 after counting a fall.
Then there was beam. Oh, beam, why must you always be such a nightmare for Russians? Once again, the beam final was marred by falls and errors by most competitors and medals were basically awarded to those who managed to stay on, or just screw up the least. New Senior, and pretty much unknown before this competition, Viktoria Trykina and experienced beamer (and headcase) Seda Tutkhalyan shared the title after both scoring 13.533, albeit for very different performances. Trykina was the cleaner of the two, managing to stay on the beam despite some considerable wobbles on her switch half and her layout to two feet, as well as balance checks on almost every skill, while Tutkhalyan was, well, Tutkhalyan, boosting the highest difficulty of the final (5.8 D-score) and hitting most of her skills, but falling for the millionth time on her layout full after previously wobbling a lot on her double wolf turn. Her routine seemed a bit overscored compared to others but we all know Russian judging and how much they love Seda so what’s new? The bronze medal once again belonged to Angelina Melnikova who also counted a fall of her own on her new upgrade, a Barani (front tuck half), as well as her usual wobble on the 2.5 wolf turn and some leg issues on her layout and switch ring. Behind her were Lilia Akhaimova in fourth with 13.233 despite showing the lower difficulty of the final, Anastasia Dmitrieva and Elena Eremina tied for fifth with 13.166, Evgenia Shelgunova in seventh with 12.200 and Daria Spiridonova in eighth with 12.100 after crashing her double tuck dismount.
Finally it was time for floor, which is not a good thing for Russia right now. B-teamer Lilia Akhaimova was the champion after scoring 13.800 for what was indeed the best routine of the day, featuring difficult tumbling such as a double layout, piked full-in, double arabian and tucked full-in with just small landing errors and actually managing to stay in one piece by the end of it and not run completely out of breath like some of her teammates. The silver medal went to Elena Eremina after receiving a score of 13.400 for her solid routine which included a full-in mount, 1.5 twists through to 2.5 twists to front tuck (seemed to be landed out-of-bounds) and an underrotated triple twist dismount which is a disaster waiting to happen. Seda Tutkhalyan was then able to get bronze with a 13.366 after sticking her double layout mount and hitting her remaining passes with just small hops and steps, while also showing a difficult switch leap full and completing her triple wolf turn all the way around. Outside the podium were Natalia Kapitonova in fourth with 13.066, Daria Elizarova in fifth with 12.733, Viktoria Trykina and Elizaveta Kochetkova tied for sixth with 11.933 and lastly Angelina Melnikova in eighth with 11.233 after crashing her double arabian and her piked full-in.
On the men’s side, things weren’t much better with mistakes happening everywhere and top level gymnasts failing to reach the podium due to falls and errors. On floor, Kirill Prokopyev managed to take the title by a wide margin with a 14.533, while 2012 and 2016 Olympian David Belyavskiy won the gold on pommels with a 14.366. The next two event titles, rings and vault, both belonged to Dmitry Lankin after receiving 14.466 for his rings routine and 14.333 for his front 2.5 twists and Tsukahara 2.5 twists vaults. The parallel bars were the top scoring event, with the champion Nikita Nagornyy breaking the 15s barrier with a 15.066 and by contrast high bar was the most problematic event with David Belyavskiy taking the title with just 13.800 and 5.0 in difficulty score after most of the other finalists counted falls on their routines.
Despite some of the results of these championships appearing disappointing, this is still very early in the season and gymnasts are not expected to be in their top shape. Nonetheless, some came here with difficult upgrades and improvements on execution and performance, hoping to show what they can do in competition and prove their value to the team. With World Cup events and Europeans approaching, as well as smaller meets like Jesolo, the Russians will still have plenty of opportunities to get some more experience and adapt to the new code before they head to the biggest competition of the year, the World Championships in Montreal. Hopefully they can steady their nerves and hit their routines on the big stage so that they can show the world their true potential.