Play-By-Play: Subdivision 3 - The heavy hitters
Neviana Vladinova, BUL, clubs: This is a routine that should serve Vladinova very well in the coming year. It has everything: fiery Spanish choreography and deeply interesting and original throws and catches. She biffs it at the end, kicking a club several yards away from her on a misfired back walkover throw, then hits her ending pose like nothing happened. 18.95.
Alina Chamzina, CZE, ball: Graceful work from the young Czech in white. Just one concentration error. 16.35.
Kaho Minagawa, JPN, ribbon: The last time we saw Kaho do this routine was in world finals, where she dropped the ribbon literally like seven times and scored sub-12. Thing is that when she does it well, it’s such a good piece. Here it was mediocre, thanks to a knot in the ribbon right before the big crescendo caused her to have to stop everything and fix it. Pity for that, but still better than it was in the Sofia finals, thank goodness. 16.0.
Nicol Voronkov, ISR, hoop: Casual greatness from one of Israel’s rising young stars here. Her work is so clean and precise it’s almost no-nonsense. A slip after a leap, but she carried on well. 17.75.
Seo Goeun, KOR, ball: Capable and pretty performance to a rendition of “California Dreaming.” The next Son Yeon Jae? 15.3.
Ekaterina Vedeneeva, SLO, hoop: So-so beginning for Vedeneeva as she has to reach far back on a catch to save it. 17.15.
Arina Averina, RUS, ball: Huge ovation from the pro-Russian, pro-Averina crowd here. Italian opera this year. Whoops! Ball gets away from her briefly after a leg throw. And twice more just before the end of her routine. Arina makes no attempt to hide her displeasure. 18.65.
Anastasia Salos, BLR, clubs: The promising young Belarusian continues to develop her own style, which in a word might be characterized as playful. Fun routine to “Rebel Just for Kicks.” 19.25.
Valerie Romenski, FRA, ribbon: Strong start for the young Frenchwoman whose music sounds like something from one of the castle levels in Super Mario World. 14.75.
Aleksandra Soldatova, RUS, hoop: Soldatova is concentrating really hard, and clutching the hoop with firm fingers. A good start for her, especially given that she appears to have improvised or taken out an element about a minute in (think Sofia World finals with the ribbon and you get an idea.) 21.3.
Salome Pazhava, GEO, hoop: A huge effort from the talented Pazhava with this new routine to Woodkid’s “Run Boy Run.” Technically quite sound, artistically enchanting. Finishes just behind the music. 20.2.
Sabina Tashkenbaeva, UZB, ribbon: Good start for Tashkenbaeva to Indian music. Intricate work throughout. 17.55.
Neviana Vladinova, BUL, ribbon: Pretty routine to “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” a song full of soul. Comes right after Alina Chamzina’s clubs performance to “Daddy Cool.” 17.95.
Kaho Minagawa, JPN, hoop: A soft, pretty exercise, classic Kaho. 19.2.
Ekaterina Vedeneeva, SLO, ball: Lovely classical work but a loss of the ball on a mastery 30 seconds before the end will deflate her score. 16.4.
Arina Averina, RUS, clubs: Russian folk music (and leotard) -- but drops the clubs twice in the first 30 seconds of her routine! One on a concentration error, one actually a hard skill. Arina looks less prepared than her twin so far, though this is the beginning of the season and Dina’s quite superhuman. 20.0.
Salome Pazhava, GEO, ball: Wonderful drama and expression, less wonderful control. You should get bonus points if you manage to make running after the ball that’s gotten away from you look like part of your choreography. A routine to watch to the end though: her final movements are lovely. 16.15.
Anastasia Salos, BLR, ribbon: Pretty work to a rather melancholic piece of music. One drop about 10 seconds into the routine, otherwise very good. 17.7.
Valerie Romenski, FRA, hoop: Lots of potential but a boatload of mistakes in this performance. It will be great when she puts it all together. This is going to be a low score though. 7.3.
Aleksandra Soldatova, RUS, ball: Soldatova is really at her best with a routine like this, which allows her to pour her soul and various emotional facial expressions out. Lovely work, plenty of backspins and needle scale pivots and such, but she lacks confidence in herself and occasionally bails on her big elements, improvising and hoping nobody notices. One drop. 19.0.
Salome Pazhava, GEO, clubs: Hard to top her “Joker” routine of the past two years, but Pazhava possibly does. This routine goes in a completely different, very soft direction, but it’s brilliant nonetheless. Passionate and infused with emotion, a new classic from rhythmic’s greatest chameleon. 18.6.
Dina Averina, RUS, clubs: In her quest for a third world title, Dina and her coaches have carefully and wisely chosen an Azerbaijani singer for her clubs routine. (Dina is best at clubs, and this year’s worlds will be held in Baku.) A fun, fast-paced, magical routine, filled with Dina’s signature difficulty. One tiny mistake that was hard to notice. Whatever. Bravo. 22.25.
Nicol Voronkov, ISR, clubs: Understated Spanish piece. Voronkov does everything right, but the routine lacks a bit of fire and soul. Still, 19.0.
Neviana Vladinova, BUL, hoop: Big, dramatic new routine for her here. Hoop gets away from her once. 19.15.
Anastastia Salos, BLR, hoop: A folksy, Flamenco version of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” if that makes sense. Salos has been given the moniker “Belarus’s Little Princess,” and this routine belies both her youth and charm. Well done. 21.35.
Arina Averina, RUS, ribbon: Very dramatic look from Arina for the second year in a row. Quite a departure from the fun folksy routine that made her world champion with the ribbon in 2017, but as with Dina, indicative of a new maturity in her work. 18.9.
Sabina Tashkenbaeva, UZB, hoop: Lovely work! A lyrical, flowing hoop routine for UZB’s bright new hope. 18.3.
Dina Averina, RUS, ribbon: An Averina twin’s first foray into really exquisite elegance, this piece to Charles Aznavour’s “Une Vie d’Amour” duet with Mireille Mathieu lands well, and opens up a whole new chapter in her artistic evolution. Lovely. 19.2.
Valerie Romenski, FRA, ball: A far, far better performance than she gave with the hoop, showcasing her potential. Music: “There Was a Boy” from Moulin Rouge. 15.65.
Salome Pazhava, GEO, ribbon: A return to her roots with this beautiful routine to Georgian folk music. The first 10 seconds are the best, but the whole thing is great. 18.3.
Dina Averina, RUS, hoop: A masterful new routine from one of the wizards of hoop. Orchestral and well-delivered. Dina thought so too, judging by the fist pump she gave at the end. 22.5.
Sabina Tashkenbaeva, UZB, ball: Stylish routine to Pink Martini’s “Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love,” her best performance of day, possibly. 17.55.
Kaho Minagawa, JPN, clubs: “McCavity” from Cats is Minagawa’s only departure from her soft signature style of her four routines this year. She does showbiz (complete with some clawing of the air) just as well as she does the lyrical stuff. Great routine. 18.6.
Arina Averina, RUS, hoop: Absolutely classic Russian work with the hoop to a big symphonic piece with huge throws and confident catches. Good for her. 22.4.
Anastasia Salos, BLR, ball: Though classically trained, there’s a lot of character and quirkiness in Salos’s movements and expressions, and I can’t help thinking that her choreographers have yet to find something that really fits her to a T -- and that she’s capable of a lot more edgy, avant-garde work than she’s showing. There are glimmers of it in this routine, but her whole artistic expression still feels like a work in progress, somehow. One thing is clear: she’s not going to be your typical rhythmic gymnast. 20.1.
Aleksandra Soldatova, RUS, ribbon: Starts with a smile, finishes with a very intense look. This routine is a departure from the soft style she showed last year in winning the world title with this apparatus. 18.4 is far off her mark, however.
Dina Averina, RUS, ball: Intriguing new routine for Dina, who performed a far more modern number to Stravinsky with this apparatus last year. This signals more of a return to her roots. 20.25.
Neviana Vladinova, BUL, ball: She’s kept her “In the Army Now” routine from 2018, a real-crowd pleaser. Terrific skills throughout, a well-placed pirouette sequence, and a stunner of an ending. What more could you want? 19.9.
Aleksandra Soldatova, RUS, clubs: No question, with this routine Soldatova makes it clear that she still belongs among the ranks of the Russian greats. A fast-paced, jazzy, blink-and-you’ll-miss something performance worthy of one of the country’s best. 18.4.