Daria Belousova

Angelina Simakova crowned Russian all-around champion

New Russian women’s all-around champion Angelina Simakova. Photo: Elena Mikhailovna/sportgymrus.ru.

New Russian women’s all-around champion Angelina Simakova. Photo: Elena Mikhailovna/sportgymrus.ru.

Four months after making her World Championships debut on bars and beam, Angelina Simakova bested a host of experienced contenders for the Russian all-around title Thursday in Penza.

Despite a fall on vault during the early rounds of the second of two days of competition, the 16-year-old from Obninsk, southwest of Moscow, persevered to take her first senior Russian title ahead of Olympic medalists Angelina Melnikova and Aliya Mustafina.

Simakova kept pace with Mustafina on uneven bars (14.1) and presented a steady beam routine that included a beautiful switch ring and an impressive new back handspring, layout, layout series. On floor, she showed precise 2.5 to front layout full, double pike and double tuck tumbling passes, all with very secure landings.

2018 champion Melnikova, second after day one, maintained her position with steady routines on vault, uneven bars and balance beam, but came apart on floor exercise, crash-landing her first two tumbling passes. The 11.633 she received for the routine ate up the lead she had gained over Simakova and dropped her back to second overall.

Angelina Melnikova on floor.

Angelina Melnikova on floor.

Fan favorite Mustafina, readying to compete at next weekend’s Stuttgart World Cup, finished third and showed her usual brilliance on uneven bars, where she has won the last two Olympic gold medals, and steadiness on balance beam, as well as a brand new floor routine choreographed by 2012 Olympic teammate Ksenia Afanasyeva.

Fifteen-year-old Daria Belousova showed very correct technique and positions in an impressive first year senior showing, finishing fourth ahead of 2006 European junior champion and 2008 Olympic team alternate Daria Elizarova, who at 28 was as nimble as ever as she tumbled a triple full to punch front and 2.5 to front layout full on floor.

2018 Youth Olympian Ksenia Klimenko showed wonderful lines and polish in all her exercises but vaulted only a Yurchenko layout to finish sixth, while three-time world team member Tatiana Nabieva, 24, was seventh.

Russian Championships - Women’s All-around final

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
6. Ksenia Klimenko, 105.831

Aliya Mustafina on beam.

Aliya Mustafina on beam.

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