With the all-around final finished and no team competition happening this year, some of the gymnasts were able to rest a little sooner and enjoy the show from the event specialists. Continuing with the trend of these championships, surprises were still found at every corner and some lesser known athletes managed to outscore established competitors.
The big surprises started right off with the vault final where Coline Devillard of France took the gold medal with an average of 14.467 after competing a Rudi and a DTY, both with some form issues in the air and a big step back on the landing, but showing some of her best work on the event. After qualifying into every single final, Ellie Downie of Great Britain followed her all-around win with a silver on vault after receiving an average of 14.350 for her DTY with an unusual deep landing and a tiny hop to the side and a very clean Lopez with a tiny step back. Also coming in as quite a surprise was bronze medalist Boglarka Devai of Hungary who finished very close to Downie, with a final score of 14.317, after showing the same two vaults as the British star, hopping back considerably on her DTY and taking a step to the side on her second vault. Even though she qualified in first place, Olympian Maria Paseka of Russia was unable to repeat her performance in finals and had some serious form issues on both of her vaults, finishing fourth with 14.283 despite upgrading her DTY to an Amanar. Tisha Volleman of the Netherlands was fifth with 14.250, followed by all-around silver medalist Zsofia Kovacs of Hungary in sixth with 14.200, Teja Belak of Slovenia in seventh with 14.183 and lastly Angelina Melnikova of Russia in eighth with 14.000, making for a very close final where all eight finalists finished within half a point.
The next final, uneven bars, finally rewarded the beauty that is Nina Derwael on bars, with the Belgian gymnast taking the gold with 14.633 after showing the highest difficulty among all the finalists and performing her routine cleanly, including a Downie release, a Ricna half to Ezhova, a Chow to pak, a van Leeuwen and a toe-on full to full-in dismount landed with a small hop back. The silver medal went to Russian first-year senior Elena Eremina who managed a total of 14.300 for her routine that featured a Nabieva to pak, a van Leeuwen with some leg form issues, a piked jaeger and a full-in dismount with a tiny hop to the side. Unfortunately she was very late on her toe-on with full pirouette and couldn’t connect that skill into her dismount, losing two tenths in difficulty but still managing to win a medal and get some redemption of her own after a somewhat lackluster all-around final. As for the bronze medal, it was shared between Elisabeth Seitz of Germany and Downie, both scoring 14.133 with 5.9 in difficulty. Downie performed a Maloney to Hindorff, as well as a toe-on full to piked Tkachev to pak, a van Leeuwen and a double layout dismount with a hop back, while Seitz got back some of her old skills, showing a Maloney to Ricna, a Downie, a van Leeuwen and a toe-on full to full-in dismount landed a bit low with a big step to the side. In fifth place was Seitz’s teammate Kim Bui with 13.900 after looking a bit below her usual level, while Kovacs was sixth with 13.100 after falling on her pak. Unfortunately, Ellie’s older sister, Becky Downie, a front-runner for the title, finished in seventh place after falling on her Gienger and injuring her elbow, which kept her from continuing her routine and gave her a final score of 13 even, and lastly Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos of France was eighth with 11.700 due to a fall on her Galante, which also made her lose the value of the skill and the five tenths of the same bar release requirement.
For the very enthusiastic crowd, the beam final was probably the best that could have happened with the two Romanians competing both finishing on the podium. For any other gymfans this was also a great competition as nine gymnasts got to perform in the final after Becky Downie was forced to withdraw due to her injury on bars and both her teammate Claudia Fragapane and Kovacs made it in after tying in eighth place in both difficulty and execution scores. In the end, veteran Catalina Ponor had one of the best beam routines of her entire life to take the gold medal with 14.566 after putting together her full 6.2-difficulty, featuring a LOSO mount, a BHS to LOSO to LOSO series, a switch leap to Kochetkova, an Onodi to split jump to Omelianchik with a small hesitation, a front aerial to ring jump and a double pike dismount with a big step back. Despite some hiccups with connections, Eythora Thorsdottir of the Netherlands managed to finish second with 14.066 after hitting her split leap to side aerial to Korbut flip, an illusion turn, front aerial to split jump to stag ring jump, switch leap to Y turn and a slightly underrotated triple twist dismount with a step back. Top qualifier Larisa Iordache of Romania, however, was unable to maintain her position during the final after scoring 13.966 for her routine that included a BHS to tuck full with a step back, a double turn and a round-off to BHS to triple twist dismount which she unfortunately stumbled backwards, taking a million steps off the mat and very much likely losing the title because of it. Outside the podium, Downie was fourth with 13.433 after a clean albeit low-difficulty routine, while 2016 Olympic Champion Sanne Wevers was fifth with just 13.341 due to unusual wobbles and issues, as well as broken connections everywhere. Kovacs was sixth with 13.133 mostly due to her very low difficulty (5.0 D-score), Marine Boyer of France was seventh with 12.966 after falling on her layout, Fragapane was eighth with 12.533 after also falling on that same skill and lastly Tabea Alt of Germany was ninth with 10.966 due to falls at the end of her side aerial to LOSO to LOSO series and on her double pike dismount, notably not quite recovered from the health issues that kept her from the all-around final.
At last, the floor final was also the stage for one of the biggest surprises of these championships, with Russian Angelina Melnikova taking the gold medal here after falling a bit short of her true potential in most of the competitions she’s entered in the last few months. Melnikova had one of her best performances ever on floor, presenting a double L turn to double turn, a double arabian with a hop back, a stuck double layout, a Memmel turn, a piked full-in with tiny steps and a double pike with a small hop back, to receive a final score of 14.100 for the top position. Winning her fifth (!) medal of the weekend, Downie finished second with 14.066 after landing her double double with a tiny hop, followed by a 1.5 twists through to a slightly low double arabian with a step back and a Gogean leap, before ending her exercise with a double pike with a hop and a switch full. Looking as pleased as she did surprised with this result was bronze medalist Thorsdottir who posted 13.700 for her always artistic performance that actually started off with a triple twist to a very low front tuck, forcing her to take a step back out-of-bounds. Fortunately she was able to recover nicely from this initial mishap and landed her double tuck with a tiny step back, before hitting her intricate dance connection of double L turn to double turn to Memmel to illusion and sticking her 2.5 twist dismount. Looking the happiest any fourth place finisher has ever looked, Bui finished her weekend with a score of 13.566, a result matched by Lara Mori of Italy who lost the tie-breaker due to higher difficulty and finished in fifth place. Just 0.033 points behind them, was another tie with Pauline Schaefer of Germany and Fragapane also getting the same exact score of 13.533. This time Schaefer was the one getting the edge due to lower D-score to finish in sixth place while Fragapane was seventh, mostly due to a big stumble out-of-bounds on her double arabian, which probably cost her a medal. Lastly, boosting the lowest difficulty among all the competitors, Eremina was eighth with 13.466 despite hitting her routine solidly.
As a whole, this competition was a great show of gymnastics, with more and more diversity reaching the higher levels of the sport. While some gymnasts might not have been at their best, they still have plenty of time before the big competition of the year and this is only the first year of the Olympic cycle so it’s actually smart to hold off some of the more daring skills and avoid increasing the always present risk of injury. For now, some of the girls will take some very deserved breaks before they head back into the heavy training towards the summer, while others have opted to continue competing in the upcoming World Challenge Cup circuit and hopefully make some money along the way. So keep your eyes open for these smaller meets as they can be a great opportunity to get to know the slightly lower level girls that sometimes are completely overshadowed by the top countries at big meets.