Anastasia Ilyankova

Play-by-Play: Women's qualifications at the 2019 European Championships, Subdivision 1

Marine Boyer of France.

Marine Boyer of France.

Rotation 1: French gymnasts Marine Boyer and Lorette Charpy, as well as Russia’s Anastasia Ilyankova and Maria Paseka and Ukraine’s Anastasia Bachynska, grace subdivision 1.

Anny Wu (SUI), VT: FTY, small hop. Bit of a lack of amplitude.

Lorette Charpy (FRA), UB: Stalder Shaposh half. Toe blind to pike Jaager. Ricna to Pak. Toe Shasposh half. Toe full to giants to full twisting double tuck, small hop forward.

Anina Wildi (SUI), VT: Nice handspring front pike half. FTY second vault.

Anastasia Ilyankova (RUS), UB: Shang. Toe Tkatchev half to Ezhova. Stalder Maloney to Pak. Toe Shaposh half. Toe full to full twisting double tuck with a step. 14.133.

Anastasia Bachynska (UKR), FX: Full in. Double pike. Big step on front 1/1. Lovely presentation and expression. Easy looking double tuck to end with a small hop. 12.4.

Valeriia Osipova (UKR), FX: Full in pike with a step back. Full in tuck, again a little stutter on the landing, maybe 0.1. Double tuck, small hop back. Where the Ukrainian are magical is in the selection of music and the choreo they do.

Alba Petisco (ESP), BB: Bhs, bhs, layout and dances around on the beam to save it (she does). Double tuck dismount with a step back.

Rotation 2:

Anastasia Bachynska (UKR), VT: Yurchenko 1.5, wonderful in the air but a fairly big step forward. 14.0, 9.0 E. The step was really the only thing wrong with it.

Lorette Charpy (FRA), BB: Roundoff, layout stepout mount. Bhs, layout. Humphrey turn to wolf turn double. Switch to jump to Korbut, a tad offline. Split half. Looking very clam, purposeful. Double pike with a step forward.

Alba Petisco (ESP), FX: Double pike to hands and knees opening pass.

Christina Zwicker (CRO), BB: Bhs, layout. Front layout dismount. 10.333.

Sanna Veerman (NED), FX: Good Arabian double front to open, small hop. Nice folksy piece of music that the crowd can clap along to. Double tuck, bounces back a bit. 1.5 to front 1/1. Tourjete half to Popa. Double full to end, a little stutter on the landing.

Jade Vansteenkiste (BEL), VT: Excellent high FTY, just a hop/step back.

Marine Boyer (FRA), BB: Front aerial, small check. Split to tuck half. Nearly comes off on roundoff, layout, has to grab the beam. Switch to switch half, nice. Wobble on full turn with leg up. Side aerial. Split leap to sides somie. Split half. Double pike with a hop back. Likely no final.

Rotation 3:

Alba Petisco (ESP), VT: FTY, stpepb back. 13.333.

Valeriia Osipova (UKR), UB: Lovely exercise, full of stalders. Tkatchev. Double pike dismount.

Demet Mutlu (TUR), BB: Comes off halfway through, didn’t see on what.

Sanna Veerman (NED), VT: Yurchenko 1.5, nice! Just a hop forward. Little bit of leg form in the air as well.

Jade Vansteenkiste (BEL), UB: Hit routine. Double pike dismount, small hop. 12.733.

Lorette Charpy (FRA), FX: James Bond — fast at the beginning, a violin'-y “Skyfall” at the end. Full turn with leg up. Double front with a hop forward. Double tuck, small bounce back. Tourjete half. Front 1/1. Double pike.

Anastasia Bachnyska (UKR), UB: STalder to Maloney to Pak, great. Toe shoot Shaposh. Toe full — lovely 00 to Tkatchve. Blind to pike Jaeger. Just a double tuck (she went for it with the half in podium training and fell) but stuck cold. Smart play.

Marine Boyer (FRA), FX: Jazzy routine, fun to watch. 2.5 to punch front. Switch half. Double turn with leg up. Double tuck, a bit awkward on the landing. Double pike.

Rotation 4:

Maria Paseka (RUS), VT: Cheng to her hands and knees. That one was not even close. She didn’t have the block she needed off the table, bent her legs to try to get the twist around, and just came down on all fours. She’s all right though, but no vault final for her, likely. She looks deflated standing there at the end of the runway. 13.5 for that. Vault no. 2: Amanar, and it’s great. Man.

Jade Vansteenkiste (BEL), BB: Punch front mount.

Lorette Charpy (FRA), VT: Excellent, well-controlled FTY, small hop. Controlled is one word for Charpy’s gymnastics — she’s very almost careful in many of the things she does, even flying through the air.

Anny Wu (SUI), FX: 2.5, overcooks it and has to put her hands down. Double pike, steps back.

Valeriia Osipova (UKR), BB: Off on roundoff, layout mount. Bhs, layout, step back. Side somie. Side aerial. Switch to split leap. sneaks around a Tourjete half. Lovely lines, very classic Ukrainian presentation. Front aerial. Switch half. Falls again on double tuck dismount. 10.266.

Christina Zwickjer (CRO), VT: Yurchenko layout. 10.9.

Anina Wildi (SUI), FX: Pretty piece of music. Full in tuck, step back. Punch front to layout full. Double tuck, low landing but stands up. Double turn with leg up.

Russian coaches: Mustafina declined Euros invitation

Aliya Mustafina. Photo: Elena Mikhailovna/SportGymRus.ru.

Aliya Mustafina. Photo: Elena Mikhailovna/SportGymRus.ru.

It’s no April Fool’s joke — unless of course the Russian Federation is pranking us all big time.

Russian star Aliya Mustafina voluntarily withdrew herself from next week’s European Championships in Szczecin, Poland, citing fatigue from having competed in three big meets in the past month.

Mustafina was never formally named to Russia’s Euros roster, which includes new national champion Angelina Simakova, 2016 Olympian Angelina Melnikova, vault specialist Maria Paseka and bars star Anastasia Ilyankova, as well as world all-around champion Arthur Dalaloyan, world bronze medalist Nikita Nagornyy, 2016 Olympic medalists Ivan Stretovich and Denis Abliazin, as well as Dmitry Lankin and Vladyslav Polyashov.

But the 24-year-old did so well at the recent world cups — particularly in Birmingham, where she was the only woman seemingly unfazed by performing under spotlights in a darkened arena — that Russian coach Valentina Rodionenko let it be known that Simakova was out and Mustafina was in for Szczecin.

Apparently Mustafina herself put the k-bosh on that idea. “Aliya herself refused to participate in the European Championship,” Rodionenko told news agency TASS. “Mustafina is at the wrong stage of readiness. She told us that it was hard for her to compete in two consecutive competitions, and the European Championship would be her third start almost without a break. Therefore, we freed her from the European Championship. But it was, I repeat, her decision.”

So there you have it — for today, anyway.

Doha World Cup: Derwael leads two after qualification

Nina Getty big.jpg

Belgium’s Nina Derwael was the top scorer on uneven bars and balance beam in the qualification rounds at the Doha World Cup Wednesday and Thursday in the Qatari capital.

Back in the Aspire Dome where she won her world title on uneven bars last October, Derwael used her standby 6.5 difficulty value routine (Nabieva, Ricna half to Ezhova to stalder Shaposh, Bhardwaj, toe Shaposh half, toe 1/1 to full twisting double tuck) to top qualifications ahead of two-time world bars champion Fan Yilin of China, 15.033-14.9. Russia’s Anastasia Ilyankova, who like fan is hoping to qualify for the Olympic Games through the world cup series, was third with 14.633 for her 6.3 D value routine.

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Derwael was equally efficient on beam, where she scored 13.566 for a clean 5.3 set. France’s Marine Boyer, the silver medalist on beam from last week’s Baku World Cup, and China’s Li Qi each showed routines with a 5.7 start value, though neither could match Derwael in execution. Newcomer Soyoka Hanawa of Japan, seventh, had the highest difficulty of any finalist with 5.9.

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A recharged Maria Paseka of Russia showed her Olympic-level vaults -- a much-improved Cheng and Amanar -- to lead qualifications on vault (14.85), just ahead of American Jade Carey, who is searching for her second win on the world cup circuit after winning both vault and floor in Baku. Carey was first on floor for a difficulty-packed routine valued at 5.9, more than half a point higher than any other finalist on the event.

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Preview: Big talents in Baku for Gymnastics World Cup

The National Gymnastics Arena in Baku. Photo: Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation.

The National Gymnastics Arena in Baku. Photo: Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation.

Buckle up, Baku -- things are about to get interesting.

The Azerbaijani capital has hosted world cups in artistic gymnastics for the past several years, but it’s never seen one like this. As the individual apparatus Olympic qualification race heats up, an enormously talented group of specialists (and a few solid all-arounders) are descending en masse for the AGF Trophy (otherwise known as the Baku World Cup), which begins tomorrow and promises to be the most competitive meet Azerbaijan has ever seen. The level is so high that there’s a delicious unpredictability in it all, which is not always the case at world cup meets. That said, here’s a breakdown some of the likeliest possible scenarios for gold and those all-important World Cup ranking points.

Women’s Vault: A colossus of talent

Vault is normally the most neglected event at individual apparatus World Cups, but not this time. Here you get the reigning Olympic silver medalist Maria Paseka, fresh off winning vault at the Russian Championships last week in Penza, where her Amanar second vault was the biggest “ta-da!” moment of the meet. There’s also reigning World bronze medalist Alexa Moreno and her ever trusty Rudi, 2017 European vault champion Coline Devillard and her ever trusty Rudi, Oksana Chusovitina and her arsenal of power, and Jade Carey, who may be the only finalist to actually throw a double twisting Yurchenko. Carey is in some circles regarded as a shoo-in for the World Cup title on vault, but in this field she’ll need to be near her best to win. Barring falls, all should make finals.

Indian sensation Dipa Karmarkar will be making her 2019 “no pressure” debut at this meet after a less-than-spectacular return last year following an ACL tear in 2017. Karmakar has abandoned her Produnova and now relies on a less risky Tsuk double full to get her into finals. She’s a wildcard category because her form often hinders her, and without the D-score power of the Produnova she’s less likely to challenge for the podium. On the home front, Azerbaijan’s best hope of a final lies with Marina Nekrasova, a former World Cup medalist on this event.

Uneven Bars: A mini-Euros, with China too

Bars is never an event you can count on a gymnast to hit, especially at a World Cup, but this field is too stacked not to produce some memorable routines. Between 2013 European bars medalist Jonna Adlerteg, Ukraine’s Diana Varinska, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Sophie Scheder and Russian specialist Anastasiya Ilyankova, we’re really spoiled for style. Lyu Jiaqi, whom China has been sending to do bars at world cups likely in the hope of getting her an Olympic spot, should be a medal contender here as well.

Balance Beam: Narrow margins

China has sent two extremely talented competitors in Li Qi and 2018 World team member Chen Yile, but both could have stiff competition from Russia’s Varvara Zubova and Youth Olympian Anastasiya Bachynska, who will be making her senior international debut in Baku. As a junior, Bachynaska proved to be a quintessential Ukrainian competitor -- elegant, poised and completely unpredictable. She does have a wonderful front handspring, front tuck combination at the top of her routine, however.

After a successful comeback on floor at the Melbourne World Cup at the end of February, Vanessa Ferrari is back on the beam here too. France’s Marine Boyer, a solid all-arounder who is quite good on beam, might have an opportunity here too.

Floor Exercise: It’s anyone’s game

Ferrari won floor in Melbourne in an extremely shallow field, and Baku is likely to be a little (but just a little) more indicative of where she stands internationally. Floor still feels like the most up-for-grabs title in the women’s competition. Carey will have far and away the hardest tumbling of the bunch, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee her anything. She had the hardest tumbling in Cottbus last November as well, but multiple passes landed out of bounds and some form mistakes left her in fifth place.

Bachynska, meanwhile, has wonderful form, excellent precision, and was quite overlooked in 2018 as a potential floor contender. Boyer could make noise here too, as might Australian floor specialist Alex Eade.

Quick hits: 2019 Russian Championships, Women's AA final

Aliya Mustafina. Photo: Elena Mikhailovna/sportgymrus.ru

Aliya Mustafina. Photo: Elena Mikhailovna/sportgymrus.ru

Rotation 1:

Daria Elizarova, vault: Beautiful stuck handspring front pike half from the 2006 European Junior Champion! Not particularly difficult but gorgeously done.

Ksenia Klimenko, vault: Has trouble coming onto the horse (way too high on the table), does only a Yurchenko layout. Had the same trouble at last summer's Youth Olympic Games, if memory serves...

Ksenia Kamkova, beam: Humphrey turn, double wolf turn. Front aerial to split to double stag ring, lovely. Side aerial to layout, wobble. Ring jump. Tourjete half. Side somie. Double twist.

Natalia Kapitanova, bars: Stalder 1/1 to Shaposh to Pak (legs apart), stalder to Khorkina II, Tkatchev, toe blind, front giant, toe full to double pike.

Anastasia Ilyankova, bars: Fantastic set Downie? to Pak, Toe Tkatchev half to Ezhova, but full twisting double tuck with a huge step to the side and off the mat.

Angelina Melnkiva, bars: Stalder full to Maloney to Park to toe Khorkina II, inbar blind to pike Jaeger, half turn to toe full to full twisting double tuck. Well done! Gelya all smiles afterward.

Rotation 2:

Elena Eremina, floor: Full in? Lovely presentation. 1.5 to front pike. Double turn with leg at head, a little rough at the end.

Aliya Mustafina, bars: Her regular royal routine. Such wonderful technique. A little tiny bit off on the toe full before her dismount if you want to be really picky, but not a big deal. Sticks her full twisting double tuck today. 14.1.

Daria Belousova, bars: Nabieva to begin, nice. Pak. Toe Khorkina II. Toe blind to pike Jaeger. Full turn to stuck full twisting double tuck. Determined routine, and very good handstands.

Sidenote: A furrow-eyebrowed Belousova is a sight! Meanwhile Melnikova still hasn't stopped smiling.

Daria Elizarova, bars: Stalder to toe shoot to high. Pike Jaeger. Toe full to Tkatchev. Pak. Toe half to toe shoot. Nice Arabian dismount. Elizarova, who went to compete for UZB for awhile, is one of those "in any other country in the world, she'd be at Worlds" gymnasts. Sigh.

Ksenina Klimenko, bars: Wonderful lines for this event. Stalder full to Khorkina II. Pike Jaeger to Pak. Maloney and a double front half out! Gorgeous routine. 14.1.

Angelina Simakova, bars: Inbar Gienge. Blind to Pike Jaeger. Toe full to Pak. Toe Khorkina II. Blind to double front, stuck. 14.1 as well. Popular score on bars today...

Tatiana Nabieva, beam: Punch front, big wobble. Switch, split half. Roundoff, layout to two feet, well done. Full turn with leg at head. Side aerial. As always, doesn't truly connect with her choreo but we love her anyway. Double full with a step back.

Rotation 3:

Aliya Mustafina, beam: Switch half, wobble. Onodi to ring jump, smaller wobble. Bhs, layout, very nice! Double turn, saves it. Switch to side aerial. Front aerial to split to double stag. Double tuck, close to stuck, small hop forward. Well done overall.

Daria Belusova, beam: Roundoff, layout stepout mount. Bhs, layout. Almost comes off on a switch leap. Onodi, pause, ring jump. Side aerial. Pretty leaps. Front aerial, split, Korbut. Messes up her double wolf turn but stays on. Two bhs to double tuck with a step.

After an age in which Mustafina dons a pair of red bedroom slippers and takes a lap around the arena, we have her beam score: 12.533.

Have to hand it to the judges at this Russian Championships: They don't seem to be engaging in score inflation here. A 12.533 is being scored at 12.533. Belusova earns...12.533.

Daria Elizarova, beam: Punch front, solid. Front aerial, bhs. Switch, wolf full. Side aerial. Side somie. Split half, the sole nod to this current code. Nice double tuck. Elizarova comes from a world where wolf turns on beam aren't a thing, and it's wonderful. 13.366.

Ksenia Klimenko, beam: Wolf turn. Swtich, scissone. Wonderful balletic Russian presentation. Side aerial, bhs. Side somie. Front aerial to ring jump. Front handspring, punch front. Beautiful switch ring. Front layout full dismount. Gorgeous through and through. 13.333.

Angelina Simakova, beam: Switch ring, excellent. Bhs, layout, layout, very nice! Frotn aerial, little wobble, ring jump. Switch to split jump. Side aerial. Side somie. Double tuck with a step back. 13.466.

Angelina Melnikova, beam: Punch front mount, a smidge unbalanced. Switch leap. Kotchetkova, wobble. Bhs, layout, small step back. Front aerial to ring jump. Building confidence as it goes on. Wolf turn double. Side somie. Split full. Nice lift on double pike, small hop.

Standings going into the final rotation: Melnikova in front, followed by Mustafina, Simakova and Belousova.

Rotation 4:

Daria Belousova, floor: 2.5 to punch front. Triple full, chest low on landing. Sounds like she's using a cut of Jaycie Phelps's 1996 music. Bounces out of double pike. Double tuck. Walks gingerly off the podium and looks miserable -- something must be hurting. 12.966.

Daria Elizarova, floor: Triple full to punch front. Both feet OOB on landing, but still so cool. 2.5 to front layout full, magically gets it around. Double pike. Very efficient work. Finishes with a smile. The Russian commentators like it a lot.

Ksenia Klimenko, floor: 2.5 to punch front. Jazzy piano music. Double turn with leg at head. Double tuck, step back. Switch half. 1.5 to front layout full. Switch ring. Tourjete half. Double pike to end. And a wolf turn to cap things off. 13.0.

Angelina Simakova, floor: 2.5 to front layout full. Full in. Double pike. Double tuck. Not going to lose more than 0.1 on any of those landings, very precise. Nice routine. 13.566.

Angelina Melnikova, floor: Oops, not her music. Oops, still not her music. Melnikova is hesitating between faithfully holding her opening pose for the next five minutes and walking off the floor. Ah! Here we go. Double turns in combo. Falls on 1/1 double layout. Not enough height. And again on double layout! Nearly loses it again on double tuck. A decent landing on double pike, finally, but aie.

Aliya Mustafina, floor: Arabian double front, awkward landing but not horrible. Bounces out of high double tuck. Mustafina turn, a little underrotated. 1.5 to front layout full. Double twist (legs). Not perfect but she got through it. Meanwhile, 11.633 for Melnikova.

Final standings:

1. Angelina Simakova, 107.897
2. Angelina Melnikova, 107.463
3. Aliya Mustafina, 107.398
4. Daria Belousova, 106.164
5. Daria Elizarova, 105.963