Sunday, Nov 27, 2022

Boyer, U.S. Women Top Podiums in Paris

Marine BoyerThe U.S. women came away with massive success at the Paris Challenge Cup today, with each member of the team taking home gold medals –..


Marine Boyer

The U.S. women came away with massive success at the Paris Challenge Cup today, with each member of the team taking home gold medals – Jade Carey on vault, Shilese Jones on bars, and Jordan Chiles on floor – while Marine Boyer of France joined them with a title of her own on beam.


The vault final ended up being pretty predictable, with the results here following what we saw in prelims as Carey led the field with a 14.375 average, ahead of teammate Chiles with a 14.025 to win the silver medal and Coline Devillard of France with a 13.850 for the bronze.

Carey opened with her super powerful Cheng, where she had some slight leg separation onto the table and some minor hip form deductions in the air, but it was a solid vault with a great landing, and the Yurchenko double she followed up with was just as good in every aspect. Both went off to the side a bit, with the Cheng getting close to being out-of-bounds while the double incurred a one-tenth penalty, but as a whole, she looked great and proved again why she will be so difficult to beat at worlds this year.

Though Chiles comes up behind Carey in her difficulty, she is equally solid in the performances of both her Yurchenko double and her Lopez. There are minor form deductions in the air – notably, her knees on the double and her hips on the layout half – and she took a hit for the big bounce back on the Lopez today, but like Carey, she is looking excellent on this event, and assuming she makes the worlds team, will absolutely be a medal threat come October.

Both Devillard and Lisa Vaelen of Belgium began their performances with handspring rudis, and while the form in the air for both is a little rough in terms of the heavy pike down as well as the knee form, Devillard’s is just a bit stronger, as is her second vault, a super clean and powerful Yurchenko full compared to Vaelen’s slightly more difficult tsuk full. It could have gone either way, but I think Devillard showed both in prelims and in today’s final that she’s just a bit more advanced in both of her vaults, giving her the edge for the bronze a little over two tenths ahead of Vaelen, who finished fourth with a 13.6 average.

The rest of the field included Kaia Tanskanen of Finland in fifth with a 12.925, Nancy Taman of Egypt in sixth with a 12.775, Aneta Holasova of the Czech Republic in seventh with a 12.675, and Greta Mayer of Hungary in eighth with a 12.625.

Most of these gymnasts were held back from getting close to the podium due to lower difficulty, though Tanskanen had a strong Yurchenko 1½ for her first vault. Her form in the air was pretty great, especially compared to the majority of this field, though she had a huge landing deduction as she came in a bit too far forward, causing her to take a massive hop and a lunge. We also saw a Yurchenko double from Taman, which looked a bit rushed with a lack of attention to some of the detail, but she landed it pretty well.


Though she fell on bars in prelims, Jones scored well enough to show that with a hit routine in the final, she’d be one of the top podium threats, and it was great to see things play out this way, especially as her hit routine here was enough for her to upset Rebeca Andrade, who was a little rushed in her routine today, causing a few uncharacteristic mistakes.

Jones’ hit routine earned a 14.7 total, with great handstands, clean skills, and a fluid rhythm in her swing. Her stalder full to Chow to Tkachev connection was especially nice, and though she was slightly off in her toe full, she connected it well to the piked Tkachev to Pak. Otherwise, she had slight leg separation on her van Leeuwen, and the leg form on her double front was a bit open, though she had a solid landing.

I found Andrade’s routine to be mostly clean, and cleaner than Jones’ routine as a whole, but it looked like a more nervous set compared to what we saw yesterday. The biggest area of concern was when she had to fight through the toe full at the end of the routine, making it a bit scary for a second as she had to connect this to the full-in dismount, and she also released a bit low going into the Jaeger. But while she took a bit of a hit in these two areas, the rest was very strong, with mostly flawless handstands and an especially clean van Leeuwen, finishing second with a 14.65, just half a tenth behind Jones with her execution score a tenth and a half higher, though Jones won on difficulty with a 6.3 to Andrade’s 6.1.

No one else in this field was capable of catching Jones or Andrade, but the race for bronze was a good one, especially between Vaelen and Ellie Black of Canada. Vaelen, who gets better and better on this apparatus every time I see her, looked incredibly clean today, with a Derwael-Fenton to Ezhova, Maloney to Pak, van Leeuwen, and full-in dismount with a step. A slight form break in her toe full was the only real issue, and Vaelen ended up with a 14.1 – her highest score of the year – to win the bronze.

Black also did fantastic work, getting the Maloney to Hindorff, Black to Ezhova, van Leeuwen, and blind full with no major problems before finishing with a stuck toe front tuck half. Overall, the quality of her skills was probably just a little weaker than those in the top three, but it was a great routine otherwise, and she was able to secure fourth place with a 13.85.

Rounding out the field were Chiles in fifth with a 13.75, Aline Friess of France in sixth with a 13.6, Lorrane Oliveira of Brazil in seventh with a 12.95, and Zoja Szekely of Hungary in eighth with a 12.25.

Of these, Chiles and Friess both had hits, though both had to fight through a number of form breaks while Friess looking especially off in her swing today, as she bent her elbows on several elements, though her double front looked so clean. Oliveira started out with a tidy set, but after struggling through a pirouette, she was unable to bring a front giant up to handstand and was forced to make corrections before her Jaeger, and Szekely had an issue where a massive leg form break in a blind full caused her to hop off and count a fall.


This ended up being an incredibly exciting final, with all three who landed on the podium finishing within just half a tenth from one another. Boyer and Carey each posted a 13.75 total, with Boyer winning the tie-break – and the gold medal – thanks to being a tenth ahead in execution, while Black managed a 13.7 with the most difficult routine in the final to secure the bronze.

I think Boyer had a few more noticeable balance checks than Carey did, including a wobble on the switch leap as well as adjustments on the side aerial and side somi, but her technique is textbook and her elements were mostly so clean, these little mistakes almost didn’t matter. As a whole, the quality of her routine was strong, and it was great to see her at such a high level once again when she can be a little hit-or-miss on this event.

But Carey, who lacks some of the finesse Boyer has here, was stunning in her own right, namely because beam isn’t really her thing, and yet she’s performed here – both in qualifications and in today’s final – like it’s nothing. Aside from a couple of tiny adjustments, this routine was very smooth and solid, and though there are a few areas where she’s not as naturally fluid or where her dance elements aren’t as tidy as they should be, I think half of the battle for her was getting comfortable enough on this event to become consistent as well as clean enough to avoid any major deductions, and that’s where she seems to be now.

Black’s routine was interesting to me, as I think she showed a few weak areas, but then also some brilliant areas, and the two kind of balanced each other out (and her difficulty was also high enough to make some of those weak spots – like her leaps at the start of the routine as well as a sizable wobble on her double spin – not matter as much). Her acro was an especially bright spot today, with a solid punch front, flight series, side somi, and double pike, and I think her fight was also impressive.

Jennifer Gadirova and Jones were fourth and fifth with scores of 13.45 and 13.4, respectively, both performing mostly good routines, though Gadirova had a few wobbles and noticeable form errors, while Jones hit really well, though her difficulty was several tenths behind the top contenders, leaving her unable to contend.

Rounding out the top eight were Mélanie De Jesus Dos Santos of France in sixth with a 12.65 after showing a hit but nervous and wobbly routine, Nikolett Szilagyi of Hungary in seventh with a 12.55, showing some great style but loose form throughout, and Denelle Pedrick of Canada in eight with an 11.15 after falling on her switch half.


I can’t stress enough how brilliant Chiles was on floor in today’s performance, and even before the score came up, I didn’t think it would be possible for anyone to come close. She was just on another level here, and it went beyond just what she was showing off in her skills. Yes, she had the difficulty. Yes, she was clean. But where she really stood out was with a performance that was so above and beyond anything I would have expected.

Chiles has been around for so long, I forget that she’s shockingly inexperienced on the international level, especially in terms of large-scale senior competitions. But today actually marked her first individual final in front of an international crowd, and with this crowd especially loud and excited, maybe it was that extra boost of adrenaline that pushed her to new heights? Whatever it was, her performance was like nothing I’ve seen from her before, which is huge when she’s often already one of the best performers among the U.S. athletes.

With everything coming together at such a high level, Chiles managed a 14.05, which wasn’t only the top floor score of the competition here, but it’s also the best international floor score of 2022 so far, beating Jessica Gadirova‘s 14.0 at Euros last month. It was such a tremendous moment, and if she can do exactly what she did here at worlds, she has a very realistic chance at a world title.

The other podium finishers included Jones and Gadirova, who also both performed very well. Jones had a really open double double, double layout, and front tuck through to double tuck with mostly nice landings, though a bit more control on the latter two would help her execution score quite a bit. She also had some lovely dance and an impressive, artistic performance, while Gadirova was a little messier in some of her tumbling with noticeable leg separation in a couple of her elements, though she showed a fun, high-energy routine, and it was great to see her get onto the podium here.

The biggest bummer of this final, and probably any final, was frontrunner Flavia Saraiva missing the podium completely, finishing in fifth place with a 12.75. On the bright side, the mistake that took her out of contention came on her upgrade, a full-twisting double layout at the start of her routine. She looks like she just needs a bit more time on this skill, which had some pretty weak form throughout as well as coming up short on the landing, causing her to punch forward onto her hands.

But I think it was important for her to go for it, because she needs to keep upgrading to stay competitive at the highest levels, and even though it was a miss, it was a start. This new pass replaced the double double, and was followed by a double layout, 1½ to front full, and double pike, all of which had form and/or landing deductions, as I think the fall at the beginning may have rattled her a bit. Even her dance elements weren’t as tidy as usual, and her performance overall suffered a bit as well, but again, I’m glad she is going for something more and think with a bit more time and practice, it’ll all come together.

Laura Casabuena of Spain was fourth with a 12.75 (the same score as Saraiva’s, though Casabuena won the tie-break), Poppy Stickler of Great Britain was sixth with a 12.65, Mayer was seventh with a 12.3, Lorena Medina of Spain was eighth with an 11.6.

Of these, I loved Casabuena’s “Material Girl” routine, and though she had some weak areas in her form, I love her and it’s so exciting to see her rise after coming out of nowhere earlier this season to become a key member of the Spanish national team. Stickler was also super enjoyable to watch, as always, while Mayer had a few weak landings, and Medina started out with some strong work but had a big stumble back on her double pike at the end that hurt what could have been a solid score.

Article by Lauren Hopkins


By: Lauren
Title: Boyer, U.S. Women Top Podiums in Paris
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Published Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2022 18:28:13 +0000

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