The 2019 Rhythmic season is barely underway and Dina Averina is already queen of the carpet -- for now. After ruling the competition at last week’s Moscow Grand Prix, the reigning world all-around champion took her talents to Spain this past weekend, where she casually picked up the all-around title at the Marbella Grand Prix.
Good as Averina was in the general competition, she wasn’t the sole victor in Marbs. In her 2019 debut, rising star Linoy Ashram of Israel came out stronger than ever, claiming the titles with the hoop, clubs and ribbon and confirming what everyone suspected at the end of last year: here finally is a gymnast who will challenge even the best of the Russians.
Who is going to crack the Russian dominance has been the Big Question in Rhythmic gymnastics for years. The Russians are so good in this domain that the last time they didn’t win one of the Olympic gold medals available in the domain was in 1996. They haven’t lost a world title in any event since 2013, the year Ganna Rizatdinova won hoop at home in Kiev.
Ashram is already well established, having collected six medals at the past two world championships, including all-around silver to Averina last fall in Sofia. The key to her success lies in her difficulty and her ability to control it, matching the A-team Russians. That’s important in Rhythmic these days now that the D-score ceiling, previously capped at 10, has been lifted completely, something akin to what happened in artistic gymnastics in 2006. As a result, since the new Olympic cycle began, we’ve been seeing routines jam-packed with difficulty as gymnasts from the top countries fight to outdo each other.
The good news for Russia: Dina and Arina Averina’s biggest strength is that they’re capable of realizing exceptionally difficult routines. The bad news: Ashram (and a few others) are the same way. The new benchmark for world medal-worthy routines is those with D-scores greater than 12. Ashram’s 12.5 difficulty with the hoop, especially at this point in the season, is remarkable.
Dina Averina generally leads the way in potential difficulty score, and Marbella was no different (46.7 of her 82.95 points came from difficulty), as compared to runner up Aleksandra Soldatova, whose difficulty maxed out at 45.6. Ashram, the reigning world silver medalist in the all-around, would have finished higher but for a blown ball routine, which dropped her to eighth.
Bronze medalist Anastasia Salos of Belarus, a rising star who finished 10th at the 2018 World Championships, sometimes performs like an uncut diamond. But the difficulty she’s capable of -- 46.2 in Marbella -- will stand her in good stead as she continues to improve.
2019 Marbella Grand Prix - All-around final
1. Dina Averina, Russia, 82.95
2. Aleksandra Soldatova, Russia, 82.
3. Anastasia Salos, Belarus, 79.35
4. Vlada Nikolchenko, Ukraine, 79.0
5. Ekaterina Selezneva, Russia, 77.8
6. Arina Averina, Russia, 76.85
7. Daria Trubnikova, Russia, 76.5
8. Linoy Ashram, Israel, 74.85
9. Anastasia Guzenkova, Russia, 73.8
10. Irina Annenkova, Russia, 72.9
1. Linoy Ashram, Israel, 21.05
2. Dina Averina, Russia, 21.0
3. Vlada Nikolchenko, Ukraine, 20.8
4. Aleksandra Soldatova, Russia, 20.15
5. Nicol Voronkov, Israel, 18.85
6. Viktoria Onopriienko, Ukraine, 18.6
7. Maria Ano, Spain, 17.6
8. Anastasia Salos, Belarus, 16.6
1. Dina Averina, Russia 21.45
2. Katsiaryna Halkina, Belarus, 20.800 ️
3. Arina Averina, Russia, 20.600 ️
4. Viktoria Onoprienko, Ukraine 18.850
5. Sara Llana, Spain, 18.650
6. Anastasia Salos, Belarus, 18.100
7. Alina Adilkhanova, Kazakhstan, 17.650
8. Vlada Nikolchenko, Ukraine, 16.750
1. Linoy Ashram, Israel, 21.650
2. Arina Averina, Russia, 21.650
3. Dina Averina, Russia, 21.000 ️
4. Katsiaryna Halkina, Belarus, 20.100
5. Anastasia Salos, Belarus, 18.850
6. Maria Ano, Spain, 18.200
7. Vlada Nikolchenko, Ukraine, 17.400
8. Jelizaveta Polstjanaja, Latvia, 17.100
1. Linoy Ashram, Israel, 20.700
2. Dina Averina, Russia, 20.600
3. Aleksandra Soldatova, Russia, 19.100
4. Anastasia Salos, Belarus, 19.000
5. Viktoria Onoprienko, Ukraine, 17.750
6. Vlada Nikolchenko, Ukraine, 17.500
7. Maria Ano, Spain, 17.150
8. Kim Chaewoon, South Korea, 16.400