Rounding up the National Championships taking place in May, the French gymnasts got together in Ponts-de-Cé for their own competition, featuring male and female athletes in both senior and junior categories. While the all-around final separated the younger from the older gymnasts, the event finals combined all age categories and provided a great opportunity for the younger kids to compete alongside their role models.
Among the seniors, break-out star of the year and European Bronze medalist Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos took the title after reaching a total of 55.450 with great routines on all four events. On vault, she presented a FTY with just a tiny hop back, receiving a score in the low-14s, which she also got on bars after showing a Komova II to clear hip to Galante, a van Leeuwen and a full twisting double layout with a hop back, even if she was a bit piked on the dismount and had very flexed feet on her pak salto. She continued her day on beam, starting off with a front pike mount that she tried to connect to a split jump even if it was a bit slow to get credit, followed by another front pike already on the beam and her trademark series of handstand to BHS to layout where she had a big wobble and took some steps back to avoid falling off. She went on to show a switch leap to switch half, also with a wobble, a front aerial to stag ring jump and a switch ring, both a bit short in the air, before finishing her performance with a double tuck dismount with a big step back for another number in the low-14s.
Her lowest score came on floor, where her difficulty is not quite up to par with her other events, posting in the low-13s for her exercise that included a switch leap full, a full-in with a few steps back, a double pike with a tiny hop, a front full to stag jump with a big step forward, a wolf turn that she pretty much fell out of and a double tuck with a big hop back to finish. After her strong results at the American Cup and the European Championships, Mélanie has definitely set herself as the leader of the French women and should be one to watch in Montreal later the year, especially in the all-around final.
In second place, almost 1.5 points behind, was Marine Boyer with 54.050, mostly due to her bars which still are miles away from her other events and keep holding her back quite a bit. On vault she showed the same vault as dos Santos, a FTY, landed with a big hop back for a score just below 14, while on bars her low difficulty and poor execution kept her score in the mid-12s despite a hit routine. Beam was a bit shaky with wobbles on her round-off to layout series, switch leap to switch half and L turn to full turn, but she managed to hit her double wolf turn, her side aerial to split leap to side somi and her double pike dismount, although with a few big steps back, to post in the low-14s.
Lastly on floor, she received a mid-13 for her performance that included solid tumbles like a 2.5 twists to front full with a step to the side, a double pike with a tiny hop and a stuck double tuck, as well as some interesting dance skills and connections, such as a Gogean leap, a Memmel to illusion turn, a double L turn to full turn and a slightly short triple turn. Despite her issues on bars, Marine is quite strong on her other three events, with potential to make both the all-around and beam finals, so she too should be on that World team for Montreal and help the French team in the next few years.
The bronze medal then belonged to Alison Lepin who posted a total of 53.400 due to low difficulty everywhere but bars, as well as some mistakes here and there. Also joining the FTY gang on vault, she landed with a big hop back to score in the mid to high-13s, while on her pet event, bars, she had her highest score of the day, 14.550, boosting a great 6.1-difficulty routine that featured a Chow half with messy leg form, an inbar half to piked jaeger, a Galante to pak with some leg separation, a van Leeuwen and an inbar full to full-in dismount with a tiny hop to finish. Unfortunately, her last two events didn’t bring as high scores as the first, mostly due D-scores in the high-4s.
On beam, she started off with a BHS mount, continuing with a BHS to LOSO series with bent knees throughout, a side aerial with a big wobble and an Onodi, also with a wobble, before dismounting with a BHS to BHS to double twist sequence landed with a hop back to post in the mid-14s. Floor, on the other hand, was a bit more solid with a double tuck with only the tiniest of hop, a switch full, a 2.5 twists to front tuck with a step forward and stepping out-of-bounds and a double pike with a small step back for a score in the mid to high-12s. While not quite a top all-around for the French team, Alison is very strong on bars and can bring huge scores on the event even with some execution issues so expect to see her on big international teams in the future.
Outside the podium, Juliette Bossu finished in fourth place with 53.300 due to a fall on her front aerial on beam, while Lorette Charpy was fifth with 53.250 after hit routines on all four events but mostly low D-scores across the board. Olympian Louise Vanhille was sixth with 53.100, followed by Alix Scandella and Grace Charpy tied for seventh place with 50.700, both showing low difficulty scores and counting a fall on beam.
On the junior side, Célia Serber was the new National Champion with 52.200. On vault she performed a Yurchenko 1.5, scoring in the low-14s, while on bars she posted just 12.100 due to her low difficulty and some execution issues. Beam had her highest D-score but she still only managed a high-12 for her routine that featured a double turn, a BHS to layout and a round-off to BHS to double twist dismount sequence after some mistakes throughout and lastly on floor she received a low-13 after performing a double L turn, a full-in with a big step back, a double pike, also with a big step, a front tuck through to double twist with the tiniest of steps and a double tuck dismount landed a bit low and with a step forward.
Less than two tenths behind Serber was second place finisher Aline Friess with 52.050 despite scoring mostly in the 12s range. Her FTY on vault received a score just below 14, while her bars featuring a series of Shaposhnikova to bail to shoot to high bar and a stuck double front dismount received a high-12 from the judges. Unfortunately, her beam didn’t start off very well with a fall on her front tuck mount and she was a bit rattled for the rest of the routine, wobbling on nearly every skill like her round-off to layout (which got great height), her front tuck and her switch half to back tuck, and finishing with a double tuck dismount with a step to the side for a low-12. On floor, she received another score in the high-12s, after performing a Gogean leap, a full-in with a step back, a double tuck with a hop back, a double L turn, a front layout to front full with a step forward, a switch full and a double twist with a big hop back to end her routine.
In third place was 2003-baby Carolann Heduit with 51.350, showing enormous amounts of potential and already great D-scores but also counting multiple mistakes in her performance. On vault, she boosts a nice DTY for which she received a low-14, moving next to bars where she showed an inbar to toe-on full to Maloney to Ricna, a piked jaeger, a van Leeuwen and a nearly stuck double front half-out dismount for a score in the mid to high-13s with 5.9 D-score. Unfortunately, beam and floor weren’t as great as her first two events, which eventually cost her the title here. She started her beam routine with an LOSO mount, wobbling a bit on this skill, followed by a front aerial, also with a wobble, and a switch leap that she couldn’t exactly connect to her Onodi. Her shakiness continued on her switch half and her full turn and she ended up counting a fall on her side aerial to LOSO, before finishing with a round-off to BHS to double pike dismount sequence, landed with a step forward for a final score in the high-11, well below her capability. On floor, she opened her performance with a double arabian with a step back, followed by a double L turn and a switch ring to switch full dance connection, but she sadly put her hands down on her double tuck and underrotated her triple twist, which forced her to take a big step to the side. She finished up with a Memmel turn and a double pike with an uncontrolled hop back, bringing her back leg up and posting a final score of 11.650.
Beyond the three medalists, Aglaé Adam-Cuvillier was fourth with 50.800 after falling on her tuck full on beam, while Alisson Lapp was fifth with 50.550, counting a fall on her double layout dismount and multiple other issues on bars. Mélissa Paries was sixth with 50.100, followed by Morgane Osyssek in seventh with 50.000 after a big form break on bars and issues on beam and Sheyen Petit in eighth with 49.550 due to falls on bars and beam.
As for event finals, juniors and seniors competed together given the younger kids a chance to perform side by side with their idols. On vault, 2003-baby and Junior National Champion Serber took the title with an average of 13.700 for her Yurchenko with 1.5 twists landed with a few steps forward and her Tsukahara layout with a big step back. The silver medal was then shared by seniors Léanne Bourgeois and Oreane Lechenault, both receiving a final score of 13.325 after showing a FTY and a front tuck as a second vault.
On the second final of the day, first-year senior Lorette Charpy won gold on bars with a total of 13.750 for her clean routine that featured a Chow half, a piked Jaeger, a Ricna, a van Leeuwen and a stuck double layout dismount to wrap up her exercise nicely. Lepin was second just half a tenth behind Charpy after very messy leg form on her Chow half and van Leeuwen where she also hit her feet on the low bar, though she did have difficult skills and connections like an inbar half to piked Jaeger and a Galante to pak, before finishing with an inbar full to full-in dismount, nearly sticking the landing. The bronze medal then belonged to Bossu who received 13.500 for her very Russian-like routine featuring an inbar to Komova II to pak, a van Leeuwen and a double front dismount with a hop forward.
On beam, Boyer was the true star, proving why she was last year’s European Silver medalist and fourth place finisher in Rio, with a huge score of 14.900 for a great routine. She started off with a double wolf turn, continuing with her round-off to layout series where she had great height and shape. Her exercise also included a switch leap to switch half, an L turn to full turn, a front aerial to split jump to tuck jump half and a very fluid side aerial to split leap to side somi, before finishing with a double pike dismount with just a step back on the landing.
Trading places from the all-around final, dos Santos got the silver medal here with 14.000 after wobbles on her front pike and her handstand to BHS to layout series, as well as being a bit short on her switch ring and her stag ring jump after her front aerial, though she did hit her front pike mount to split jump connection and her switch leap to switch half, capping everything off with a solid double tuck dismount with a step back.
In third place was Vanhille who posted 13.200 for her routine due to slightly lower difficulty caused by some broken connections. She started with a switch leap mount where she wobbled a bit and couldn’t connect to the switch half. She continued with her BHS to LOSO series, showing some bent knees throughout, before moving on to her split leap to side aerial series that she also intended to connect to a switch leap but was a bit too slow to get credit for it and then finished her routine with a gainer layout dismount, sticking the landing.
At last, the floor title was shared between Boyer and Bossu, both scoring a total of 13.600 with solid performances. After medals in the all-around and beam, Boyer had another great routine that featured solid tumbles like a 2.5 twists to front full with a step to the side, a double tuck with a step back and a stuck double pike, as well as difficult dance elements like a Gogean leap, a Memmel turn to illusion turn and a double L turn to double turn where she was a bit short and didn’t quite finish the second rotation. On the other hand, Bossu showed elegant lines throughout her exercise, starting off with a whip to whip to triple twist with a stuck landing, followed by a double tuck with a big hop back, a Memmel turn, a front layout full to stag jump and a double turn on her back to finish her routine.
Interesting enough, the bronze medal was also shared between two gymnasts, the Charpy sisters, who both scored 13.200 with the exact same difficulty and execution scores. The younger of them, Lorette, started off with a Gogean leap, followed by a double front from a run landed with a hop forward, a double tuck with a hop back, a double L turn a bit short, a front layout full to stag jump and a stuck double pike to finish, while Grace, two years older than Lorette, performed a double L turn, a double tuck with a hop back, a 1.5 twist to front layout full with a step forward, a triple turn and a double me twist with a hop back to end her day.
Overall, this was another great chance to see the French girls in action as they continue to improve and reach for a place among the best of the best in the sport of gymnastics. With this results and the recent European Championships, dos Santos and Boyer have probably secured their spots for the world team as the two leading AAers with also strong potential to make bars and beam finals. As for the other two spots, Lepin seems to be the leading contender given her super difficult bars and her off chance at the all-around finals if one of the first two misses out. Aside from these three, the fourth spot is pretty much still up for grabs and everyone is trying to be on top of their game as we get closer and closer to the first World Championships of this Olympic cycle.