After the Chinese, the Canadians, the French, the Belgians and the Australians, the Germans also held their own national championships featuring gymnasts from the age of 12 until the senior ranks and including both all-around and event finals for all categories.
In the all-around finals for the senior women, two major players were absent for very different reasons. Sophie Scheder was forced to miss this meet due to a knee injury that she got surgery on recently and is currently recovering, while Tabea Alt and her coaches opted to sit out this competition and instead focus her training for the World Championships since her spot is practically a given consideringher results earlier this year.
In the end, Elisabeth Seitz managed to take home another title, scoring a total of 54.000 after a hit day. Starting off on vault, she presented a FTY with a small hop back to post in the mid-14s, while on uneven bars, her favorite apparatus, she received a mid-14 for a hit routine that included a Maloney to Hindorff, a Downie to pak, a van Leeuwen with some messy legs in the air and a toe-on full to full-in dismount, landed a bit low and with a step to the side. Moving next to beam, Seitz had a very confident routine with almost no wobbles at all, featuring a front tuck with a hop forward, a double turn and a stuck gainer layout dismount, though her low difficulty kept her score in the mid-13s. Lastly on floor, she was once again hampered by her low D-score (just 4.3) showing a clean performance of front tuck through to double tuck with a big hop back, a double twist also with a hop back and a double pike with a tiny hop on the landing but scoring just 12.700. After staying away from competition for a few months following Rio, Elisabeth seems to be back in shape and again topping the German all-around field, especially in the absence of 17-year-old Tabea Alt. If she keeps up this pace and manages to avoid injury, her place for Montreal should be more than secured.
Just a tenth behind Seitz was Pauline Schaefer, who posted a total of 53.900 at the end of her day. Also starting on vault, the older Schaefer sister received a mid-13 for her front layout half, though she looked a bit piked in the air and landed with a hop back. Next on bars, she managed to get through her routine cleanly, hitting a Maloney to pak with some leg separation on both skills, a piked Jaeger and a front layout half dismount with a hop back to post in the low-13s, a decent score for her on this event that usually gives her some trouble. But beam is where Schaefer truly shines. Here she received a great 14.150 for her exercise that included a switch leap mount to split leap to Y turn, with a little wobble at the end, a switch ring, also with a wobble, a double turn, her eponymous Schaefer salto, a front aerial to split jump to stag ring jump and lastly a stuck gainer layout dismount, showing great confidence and consistency throughout. On floor, she had yet another successful performance, starting off with a very clean double layout landed with the tiniest of hops, followed by a front layout to front layout full with a hop forward, a double attitude turn to double turn, a double pike with a hop back and a triple turn at the end, though she was a bit short and fell out of it. Despite struggling a little on bars, Pauline has been among the top German AAers for quite a while and is also one of their best assets on beam and floor. Just like Seitz, her spot in the World team seems pretty much locked and she could find herself making some finals once again.
In third place was veteran Kim Bui with a total of 53.450, also counting a generally hit day. On vault, she presented a FTY with a big hop back, receiving a score in the mid-13s, while next on bars she had some leg separation and form issues and posted in the low-14s for a routine that featured a piked Jaeger to pak, a Maloney to Bhardwaj, a van Leeuwen, a toe-on full to Gienger with a super tight shape and a full-in dismount with a hop to the side. Unfortunately her beam was a bit shaky, scoring just in the mid-12s after wobbles on her back pike mount and her side aerial, a slightly piked shape on her BHS to layout and some hesitation on her switch leap to switch half connection, though she hit her straight jump with 1.5 twists and stuck her gainer layout dismount, which seems to be the new trend among the Germans, even with it’s downgrade to a C skill this quad. Finally on floor, she posted in the low-13s after a solid but low difficulty routine that featured a super high double tuck with a hop back, a Gogean leap, a 2.5 twists to front tuck, a switch full, a double twist and a double pike with a few tiny steps. Just like the first two medalists, Kim is also in great shape and could very well contend for an all-around spot in Montreal if given the chance.
Outside the podium and at a considerable distance from the medalists, Amélie Follinger was fourth with 51.250 after hit routines on beam, floor and vault but dealing with some form issues on bars. In fifth place was Sarah Voss who hit her vault and floor, but had some problems on beam and bars, most likely counting a fall on each to finish with a total score of 51.100. Leah Griesser was sixth with 50.950 due to some issues on bars and probably a fall on floor, while Michelle Timm was seventh just half a tenth behind with hit routines everywhere but beam where she was a bit shaky and Nadja Schulze was eighth with 50.000 after issues on vault and probably a fall on beam.
Among the junior kids, four different age categories were established for ages 12-15 with the top gymnast actually coming out of the 14-year-olds group. I bthe older category, Kim Ruoff took the title with 49.350 after showing a FTY on vault and hit routines on beam and floor but also counting a fall on beam which kept her from reaching the 50s mark. Nearly two points behind her was Lisa Schoniger in second place with a total of 47.400 due to low difficulty across all four events and also a fall on beam. The bronze medal then belonged to Lucienne Fragel with 46.750 after a fall on beam and issues on vault and bars, where she also only dismounted with a flyaway and had a 3.9 D-score, definitely impacting her final score.
In the second junior category, for the 2003 babies, Emelie Petz completely dominated the show, winning gold with a huge score of 54.450 that could have even topped the senior field. Starting on bars, she posted in the mid-13s after a solid routine featuring already difficult skills and connections like a toe-on full to Maloney to pak and a piked jaeger, moving next to beam where she improved a bit to reach the high-13s with another clean performance that included a BHS to LOSO to LOSO. Just like her senior teammates, floor is where her difficulty is a bit lower and she posted only in the high-12s even though she stuck her opening double arabian, and lastly on vault she presented a front layout half with just a tiny hop to received a low-14. If she continues at this level, she could be a great addition to the senior team in 2019 and help them secure a team spot for Tokyo.
Miles and miles behind her was Muriel Klumpp who got silver with 47.800 after hitting everything but bars where she had some issues and only competes very low difficulty (3.0 D-score), keeping her score in the 10s. In third place was Leonie Papke who counts all difficulty scores in the 4s range and had two falls on beam, as well as some issues on her vault to received a final score of 47.350.
Among the 13-years-olds, just barely eligible for Tokyo, Aiyu Zhu took the title with 47.500 despite issues on floor and falls on bars and beam, followed by Emma Malewski in second with 47.250 mostly due to low difficulty on vault and bars, as well as probably a fall on beam, though she did hit her other events without major mistakes. The bronze medal was shared between Sophia Steurer and Michelle Kunz, both scoring 46.350 after Steurer had some issues and low difficulty on vault and bars, while Kunz had higher difficulty but counted falls on bars and beam preventing her from scoring a bit better.
As for the youngest gymnasts competing, who don’t even know where their Olympic dreams could come true since the 2024 edition hasn’t yet been attributed to any city, Julia Birck was the National Champion with a total of 48.050. This result would have been enough to beat Zhu from the 13-year-old category and is mostly due to her clean and confident routines across all four events, even if her difficulty isn’t very high yet. Behind her, Stella McLean was second with 45.850 after hit routines everywhere but beam where she had some issues and low bars difficulty (2.3 D-score) and Maya Reichwald took the bronze after receiving a total of 44.650 for a hit day only marred by some issues on beam and floor.
Aside from the women, the German man also competed at this meet, with Lukas Dauser taking the all-around title with a total score of 81.750 after clean routines on floor, rings, vault and parallel bars, nearly reaching the 15s mark on the latter, but also suffering a fall on pommel horse, as well as on his high bar dismount, which kept his final score in the low-80s when he should be shooting for the mid-80s. Just half a tenth behind, Philipp Herder was second with 81.700, hitting everything but vault where he fell on his Roche, while Ivan Rittchik was third with 79.700, counting a great score on pommel horse, Germany’s nemesis lately, but also suffering a fall on his high bar dismount and only showing a FTY on vault. Despite not competing on all six events, fan favorite Marcel Ngyuen had great performances on parallel bars and rings, posting in the 14s range on both and qualifying to event finals where he is expected to contend for some medals.
As a whole, the all-around competition at German Nationals just reinforced the already established athletes from last quad, suggesting that they will rely on older and more experienced gymnasts at least for the beginning of the quad, while the younger kids improve their difficulty and execution and manage to reach top level. In the meantime, the veterans will continue to be their main protagonists, alongside 17-year-old Tabea Alt, and since no new players have come into the scene with a similar level of gymnastics, expect this year’s World team to look very much like last year’s Olympic team.