Puurs World Cup sets the pace for 2016
14 February 2016
Back on the World Cup circuit after a four year absence, Puurs was graced with a very promising line-up, did it deliver?
One thing was clear right from the start in Puurs, North Korean gymnasts weren’t travelling to Europe in vain. With most acro international competitions taking place in Europe, asian countries seldom participate in them, fortunately with the proximity of the World Championships in China we were able to have a glimpse of what they have in store for us. China brought what seems to be the B team, no men’s group and the great trio that participated in Geneve’s World Cup last year was left home too, the chinese were therefore left at the doorstep of the podium placing 4th in both women’s groups and men’s pairs. The north korean team on the other hand present two strong pairs, Kum Hwa Jong / Yun Ae Pyon qualified first in women’s pairs with two solid and difficult performances that were the head of the pack in both the balance and the dynamic exercises, they were however unable to match these in the finals which dropped them to 4th place albeit having the greatest difficulty of all pairs. Marharyta Bartasevich and Viktoria Mikhnovich from Belarus were the winners, performing to a medley that included “You can leave your hat on”, right above home girls Laurie Philpott and Natascha Van Es and the american duo of Jessica Renteria and Maren Merwarth. In men’s pairs the north korean also presented a strong unit, Un Hak Kim / Chol Jun Ri, who qualified in 2nd place, in part due to the russian’s bad performance in the dynamic with a bad reception in the first throw and the base apparently quitting the choreography midway through the exercise, but also due to their high level of difficult (the highest of all men’s pairs). Unfortunately the pair had trouble measuring up to the more experienced pairs in terms of execution and especially artistry, the category was won by european all-around champions Vincent Casse and Arne Van Gelder, followed by Alexey Yakovlev and Daniil Kuzmin of Russia and the always popular Belorussian pair Ilya Rybinski and Yauheni Novikov.
Women’s groups saw the return to competition of Jennifer Bailey. Along with Katrina Fearon and Roxanna Parker she won the silver medal for Great Britain. The azerbaijani group, who has been on the rise over the past twelve months, wasn’t so lucky during the finals after qualifying in 3rd place, with dynamic elements that seemed unsteady, Lala, Aynur and Narmin dropped to 5th place. The competition was won by the Belorussian european medalists Katsiaryna Barysevich / Veranika Nabokina / Karina Sandovich with a score of 27.950 and the bronze medal went to the americans Londrea Garrett / Amanda Kievsky / Emilia Segel. The second american unit, which had also qualified for the finals, dropped out at the last minute due to one of the members feeling indisposed.
The men’s group competition seemed to be interesting enough even with just two groups, since they were the european junior champions of 2013 (Erlan Ibraev / Igor Tarapat / Anatolii Volf / Nikita Zhestovskii) and silver medalists of 2015 (Vladislav Artemov / Maksim Iuferev / Iaroslav Kovalnogikh / German Kudriashov), however the latter were unable to attend and the former, who also competed in FIAC, didn’t take part in the finals after two nice performances in the qualification round.
Mixed pairs had the most intriguing line-up, with former world cup winners, european medalists, junior champions moving up to the senior level and a few new partnerships in the mix. The gold medal went to Maksim Soprunov and Ekaterina Vdovina of Russia with a score of 28.870, who are currently Russia’s number 2 pair and the winners of several medals at last year’s World Cup series. The silver medal went to the UK around the necks of Lewis Walker and Isabella Montagna, the bronze medal was taken by the american pair Axel Osbourne and Tiffani Williams. Two European junior medalists were also competing in Puurs, Ivan Nesterenko and Elena Murashko of Russia and Konstantin Evstafeev and Hanna Kasyan of Belarus, surprisingly the belorussians had a better transition into the senior circuit giving us three even performances while the russians had an excellent balance exercise with the second highest score but faltered in both the dynamic and finals. Alexis Martin of France and João Martins of Portugal returned to the World Cup competitions with new partners and placed 7th and 5th respectively.
Photos by Paul Dawson.
- FIG ACRO World Cup Puurs 2016
- Acrobatic Gymnastics