Maria Paseka

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.

Quick hits: Women's podium training at the 2019 European Championships

Giorgia Villa of Italy.

Giorgia Villa of Italy.

8:10 p.m.: A DTY on vault from Thorsdottir! A very good one, too. My, my. Overall, she looks the best she’s looked since Rio. Watch out, Europe.

8:00 p.m.: A French update. Coline Devillard, the 2017 European champion on vault, floated a handspring Rudi like it was nothing at all when France was on vault during the first rotation, while compatriot Melanie de Jesus dos Santos did timers for what I assume was a DTY, which is what she normally competes. Devillard flies so high on the Rudi that she actually surpasses her own height off the table, which is why this vault looks so impressive. As long as she can control her landing, she’ll be in the final.

Devillard is coached in all this by France’s Thomas Bouhail, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist on vault and 2010 world champion on the event. Bouhail suffered a serious knee injury in a fluke fall off high bar at the end of 2011, which ended his career, but in Devillard’s vaulting I fancy I see a bit of Bouhail’s spirit.

De Jesus dos Santos is hands down one of the best all-around gymnasts in Europe on any day, but she was supposed to do just two events here due to a recent hand injury.

Sanna Veerman of the Netherlands is particularly daring, and technically very capable. On floor she’s doing whip to immediate full in, and working on a DTY on vault. At the moment she’s not quite getting it around, but we’ll see what happens on the day.

7:56 p.m.: Watching Eythora Thorsdottir on floor is an experience, always.

7:46 p.m.: It’s probably not fair to call Slovenia’s Adela Sajn a face from the past, since she’s competed off and on since her appearance at the 2008 Olympic Games. But here she’s doing two events — beam, which has become her specialty these past few years, as well as floor, to a piece called “I Was Born in Mexico” by the London Metropolitan Orchestra.

7:26 p.m.: A few notes on the final subdivision, which contains a doozy of talent, including Russians Angelina Melnikova, Angelina Simakova, Dutch star Eythora Thorsdottir and Great Brits Alice Kinsella and Claudia Fragapane, as well as Ukraine’s Diana Varniska and Angelina Radivilova:

Through two events, the Russians look prepared, certainly more prepared than they looked at last month’s Russian Championships. Melnikova’s bars were particularly calm, and if Simakova struggled slightly, it was nothing that won’t be ironed out before the competition. Even on balance beam, Melnikova wasn’t too frazzled the whole time, and Simakova nailed a bhs, layout, layout combination.

Thorsdottir too looks in very fine form, steady and fit. After missing last fall’s world championships, she’s likely very hungry, and this is her moment if she can seize it. She’s ditched the roundoff, layout to two feet mount she missed twice at the DTB Team Challenge in Stuttgart, opting to play it safe, at least in prelims, which is a smart decision.

The British also look very well prepared to tackle this. Kinsella, whom we last saw as a green first year at the 2017 Worlds, is fitter and more focused. She’s added a double layout on floor and also has a DTY on vault. Fragapane, despite only being named to the team as a replacement to the injured Kelly Simm, was dynamite on floor. Only Simone Biles can do a double layout as easily. Frags opens with a full twisting double layout, does a double layout second pass, an Arabian double front third. Unless something goes really awry, I smell a final.


Radilova, who has toiled for years in the shadow of the best in Europe, also looks calm and confident. She seems to have the potential to surprise.

5:50 p.m.: Pretty leos and plenty of expression from Belarusians Ganna Metelitsa and Aliaksandra Varabyova here. The Belarusians were coached for a time by Ukrainian wizard Oleg Ostapenko, the man who coached Viktoria Karpenko. Ostapenko is now back in Ukraine and is the personal coach of Diana Varinska, who will appear in the next subdivision. Belarus seems to be doing okay, even if Metelitsa and Varabyova look a little bored waiting in the line on bars — once on the apparatus, both had impeccable form and great extension.

5:05 p.m.: Between Asia and Alice D’Amato, Alice has had the more podium training so far. Asia, however, seems to possess more explosive powerful than her sister.

Golgota on bars: Good stuff. And I don’t even mean that in a good-for-a-Romanian kind of way. Good amplitude on her Tkatchev, good transitions, good double front dismount.

4:53 p.m.: Golgota on vault: DTY (good) and Tsuk full (not bad).

Ilaria Kaeslin of Switzerland is struggling with her blinds and toe stalders on bars. Seems like a timing issue — she’s just not quite sure where and when she needs to shoot. On a more positive note, she showed an improved FTY on vault. She finished on a good note, however.

4:43 p.m.: Elisa Iorio, bars. Fantastic set through and through — gorgeous Ricna to Pak, Maloney to uprise stalder blind to Ezhova, stalder Shaposh half to high, double front dismount.

4:26 p.m.: It seems like quite awhile since the Czech Republic has had so much talent at one time. Lucie Jikikova was terrific in the last subdivision, and Aneta Holasova, currently on floor, is also a strong tumbler and quite good on balance beam, judging by her recent world cup performances.

4:15 p.m.: Carmen Ghicuic on floor: 2.5 to punch front, a little lack of amplitude. Double tuck, low landing. It’s so strange how the dynamic of Romanian floor changed in about three years. It used to be chock full of things that got bonus points and contained little in the way of choreographic garnish. Ghicuic is the opposite — this is just lovely, the choreo superb and full of feeling, and there’s a great moment where she does a back handspring into middle splits. The tumbling, while not an afterthought, is also not really the highlight.

New routine for Golgota too, and much heavier than the last one. Full twisting double layout first pass. Not the prettiest position on the FTDLO, but obviously it’s something that’s still being refined. Double Arabian. Switch side full. Ah, here’s the Romanian floor we know! Double turn with leg at altitude. Full in tuck, hands down. Double wolf turn. Switch ring to Tourjete half. Double tuck.

4:11 p.m.: Marina Nekrasova of Azerbaijan’s handspring front pike (layout?) on vault is really excellent in person. Like, almost Ellie Black in Tokyo good. At least the one she just did. Her second vault appears to be a Tsuk 1.5. That one she sat down. This time, anyway — she made the next one with just a little hop to the side. This is a sub of strong vaulters — also over there right now is Alice D’Amato of Italy, who has a nice clean DTY.

4:02 p.m.: Two subdivisions down, two to come. Sub 3 features Romanians Denisa Golgota and Carmen Ghicuic. The determined Golgota is best on floor, which is where the Romanians are starting. And hey — looks like she’s got a full twisting double layout. She did one with a spot. The first one was a bit pikey.

3:24 p.m.: One of the most impressive things about Giorgia Villa is how very balanced a gymnast she is. She doesn’t have a weakness. There are big skills and combinations on every single event — the DTY on vault, quality tumbling on floor, the roundoff full twist and double pike on beam. She’s all there on bars as well — her routine is long, the combos are tough and trendy, she has a Bhardwaj just because it’s cool, and her swing is robust. Yes, certainly a candidate — maybe the main candidate — for the all-around title.

3:21 p.m.: Hungary’s Cenge Bacskay wants to make vault finals. She’s done about five double twisting Yurchenkos, each one better than the last, and then moved on to Tsuk fulls, I believe. With 2018 European vault champion Boglarka Devai absent from this competition, the title is up for grabs. Maria Paseka will have something to say about it all, no doubt, but why not a final for first year senior Bacskay here?

3:15 p.m.: Old school cool. Latvia’s Anastasija Dubova does a unique little stoop over release skill off the top of her routine, connected with a Pak salto, giving her routine this cool vintage feel. The 2018 version below.

3:09 p.m.: As you’d expect, big tumbling from the British: Morgan pens with roundoff, full in tuck, and Downie shows 1.5 to Arabian double front. Terrific choreography to both routines too — complete routines, you might say.

Over on bars, Enghels from Belgium has a most impressive set of stalders and great inbars as well. But the best thing of all is her dismount — a perfectly done, sky-high double front half out. Final? It’s very possible.

2:55 p.m.: Over on beam, we find Romania’s Nica Ivanus, the first Romanian training today. She showed an FTY on vault earlier. Beam: Bhs, layout to two feet. Side aerial. Switch to ring jump. Side somie. Walks into a roundoff, double tuck dismount (hands down.)

On the same apparatus, Morgan’s bhs, layout, layout has shown up too, and it looks on point.

2:50 p.m.: A darkhorse emerges. Look out for Hungary’s Csenge Bacskay, who got everyone’s attention by throwing a Nabieva on bars during the first rotation here. Impressive tumbling on floor as well.

2:35 p.m.: Pauline Schaefer’s original skill on balance beam boggles the mind live. It just looks like something that shouldn’t be possible.

As Marta Pihan-Kulesza trains, this time it’s husband Roman who stays with one-year-old Jagna, who today has her tricycle in the arena. Terrific floor set to “The Pink Panther,” really her signature routine, with 2.5 to punch front opening pass and good Arabian double front to single stag jump and front 2/1. Baby Jagna made a lot of noise after Marta was done — cheering for mom, of course.

Olympians Marta Pihan Kulesza and Roman Kulesza with daughter Jagna following men’s podium training at the 2019 Euros.

Olympians Marta Pihan Kulesza and Roman Kulesza with daughter Jagna following men’s podium training at the 2019 Euros.

2:19 p.m.: Italy’s Asia D’Amato, another exciting new senior, did a clean floor routine except for her Arabian double front, but she just went out there and drilled one into the ground.

Lucie Jirikova of the Czech Republic does one of the best Assassin’s Tango"s of the past several years. Loads of elegance in this routine — and a cool double front to open the show.

2:12 p.m.: Belgium’s Fien Enghels, another new senior, will delight you with her floor routine.

Giorgia Villa, however, had difficulties with her first routine, a splashy, happy Italian opera piece. She fell on her double layout, landed a full in and went to her back on her third pass, front double full. But, you know, training.

1:47 p.m.: Good things are happening over on bars as well. Sweden’s Jonna Adlerteg, who won silver on this event at the 2013 Europeans, looks in great shape. Terrific clear hip pike Shang (thanks, Twitter) to Pak, Bhardwaj, the works. A wonderful routine to watch.

1:40 p.m.: Giorgia Villa, beam: Roundoff, layout stepout, mount. Roundoff, tucked full. Double turn. Lots of kicky, steppy choreo, which she makes work for her. Switch to side aerial. Switch, split jump. And a roundoff, double pike she lands low on. Still, that was VERY impressive right out of the box for her here.

The Italians are wearing take-no-prisoners black, by the way. They mean business.

1:35 p.m.: Big gymnastics already in subdivision two, from the British, who are starting on vault. Seeing a DTY from Amelie Morgan and big air from Ellie Downie on the same skill. Downie’s is terrific — Morgan’s was at first a little low, a little underrotated, but am assuming that she’s just getting used to the podium.

Poland’s Marta Pihan-Kulesza marched out with a huge smile on her face, looking thrilled to be doing this. On bars, she showed a Shaposh to Pak. Toe Shaposh to bail to Ray, clear hip blind, etc.

11:35 a.m. With a light spot from her coach, Maria Paseka of Russia breaks out her much improved Cheng (roundoff, half on, 1.5 twist off). It’s not perfect — there’s still a large leg separation as she comes onto the table, but it’s hard to deny that it’s an impressive vault that she lands well. Two of those done, she moves onto the Amanar, and does at least two of those, both with good landings. Looking like a solid vault.

Bachynska on beam: Makes her handspring front tuck, falls on some kind of switch half. Oh Ukraine, the things you do to us.

11:24 a.m.: Anastasiya Bachynska, the hope of Ukraine, who showed a nice Yurchenko 1.5 on vault earlier, looks good on uneven bars here as well. Her full twisting double back dismount gave her some problems in 2018, and she’s changed it to a double back half out, though she missed that too in her full routine. (Gymnastics is hard.) Still, lovely work overall.

11:16 a.m.: Lorette Charpy has become a Bond girl. The French star is debuting her new floor exercise here, and it’s a pleasing medley of Bond hits, from the fast chase stuff to Adele’s “Skyfall.” Charpy sat her opening double front during her full routine, but I don’t expect that to hinder her in the competition. The image of her after her first pass, fingers poised to form a gun, will likely be one of the iconic photos of her career.

10:39 a.m.: Valeriia Osipova of Ukraine shows a nice Yurchenko 1.5 on vault.

On floor, Veerman, performing to Andre Rieu and Johann Strauss Orchestra’s “Bella Ciao,” shows powerful tumbling. It’s a big piece of music that draws the eye to the floor, which is a nice for the gymnast. All eyes will certainly be on Veerman when she performs this routine.

10:32 a.m.: Marine Boyer didn’t train bars, but she looks solid and focused on balance beam. Her first time up on the beam we get her flight series and a well done double pike dismount.

Over on floor, look out for both Sanna Veerman of the Netherlands and Alba Petisco of Spain. Both have terrific Arabian double fronts. Petisco also tumbles double pike, double full and double tuck in an upbeat, drum-filled floor set.

10:16 a.m.: Tale of two halves for Ilyankova on bars — she doesn’t show a full routine, just pieces. She also does more turns than anyone else. Just an open double tuck dismount to this point.

Over on beam, Spain looks like Spain — pretty gymnastics, and risky skills, like a roundoff, layout stepout mount for Alba Petisco.

10:09 a.m.: Marine Boyer cheers Lorette Charpy through her full bar routine (sans dismount) with all the fervor of the old-time Romanians. (“Pousse!” she cries. “Allez, bien la. Dur. Bien! Pousse! Allez, allez.” Etc.) Charpy, for her part, does very well.

It takes Ilyankova three tries but she finally gets through the first half of her routine — and it’s a doozy — clear hip pike Tkatchev, toe Tkatchev half to Ezhova. There’s real wow factor there, but also a kind of solidity, the same you see from Mustafina. She swings with lots of strength — you don’t fear that she’s going to fly off and crash.

9:55 a.m.: Unlike the men yesterday, the women march in for podium training. Over on bars, we’ll see the French and the Russians and likely a dozen people with their smartphones out. The Swiss and the Irish are on vault, Belgium’s Jade Vansteenkiste on floor.

Nobody’s monkeying around — Vansteenkiste does two tumbling passes and her 2018 animal-inspired floor routine — triple full, 1.5 to front layout 1/1 and choreography that evokes all the animals in the forest and jungle.

Over on bars, Ilyankova shows a very nice clear hip pike Tkatchev but misses her first toe Tkatchev half. Alas.

SZCZECIN, 9:30 a.m.: This one is going to be interesting.

With some of the biggest European stars like Russia’s Aliya Mustafina and Belgium’s Nina Derwael missing from this European Championships, the door is wide open for new ones to emerge — or for those who have long rested in the shadows to get their much-deserved due.

Let’s start with the newcomers. Italy’s Giorgia Villa, the 2018 Youth Olympic champion, is making her senior European debut here, and the Italians have reason to be excited — Villa is the best gymnast from Italy to emerge since Vanessa Ferrari stunned everyone to win the world all-around title in 2006. Italy’s whole team is young and packed with talent— in addition, we’ll see Alice and Asia D’Amato and Elisa Iorio. If there were a team competition here, I’d bet on Italy to podium.

Russia of course remains a gymnastics powerhouse, especially on the European scene. It comes to Poland with the intention of winning medals, and it should. The team is led by two-time Olympic vault medalist Maria Paseka, who should easily win the vault title here given what she’s been doing on the world cup scene, and Russia has strategically sent specialist Anastasia Ilyankova here to challenge to win bars. (Without Derwael in the mix, that will be significantly easier for her to do.) The all-arounders are more of a mystery. Rio Olympian Angelina Melnikova might be the on-paper favorite for the all-around title, but she has so often failed to seize the moment (most recently at last month’s Russian Championships, when she gave the title away to newcomer Angelina Simakova) that her supremacy is certainly in question here.

Don’t count out the French — the most experienced team on the floor, they’re starting strong all-arounders Lorette Charpy and Marine Boyer, the extremely talented Melanie de Jesus dos Santos, vault star Coline Devillard. All are capable of taking medals, and this could be a banner championships for them.

Ukraine brings beauty and grace in Anastasiya Bachynska, Valeriia Osipova, Angelina Radivilova and bars star Diana Varinska. Whether they bring consistency is another open question. Great Britain has a solid, experienced team in world medalist Claudia Fragapane, national champ Ellie Downie and 2017 world team member Alice Kinsella, but the potential of Youth Olympic all-around silver medalist Amelie Morgan, here in her first senior Euros as well, may be the most intriguing thing of all.

Elsewhere, there’s just lots of beauty — from the Netherlands’s Eythora Thorsdottir, whose fado-flavored new floor exercise is a masterpiece of gymnastics as theatre, from Swiss veteran Ilaria Kaeslin, who should win Longines Prizes of Elegance on a daily basis, from Germany’s Leah Griesser and 2017 World beam champion Pauline Schaefer, from Poland’s Marta Pihan-Kulesza, competing in her native city, breaking the stereotype that a mother cannot be a top contender, and ready to stun everyone on floor exercise, her best event.

It’s Euros. Get excited.

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.