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Qualifications Day 1 - Romania Melts Down while Russia Thrives

The first day of qualifications has concluded in Glasgow, Scotland. There were heart breaks and triumphs and surprises.

Romania had about the worst day in qualifications they've ever had, while Russia had an awesome day. How did it all go wrong for Romania, but so right for Russia?

They started out strong on floor and it really looked like they were going to pull this off with only five athletes in qualifications. But then, bars happened.

There's no sugar coating it, it was bad. I'm not sure what was worse. LSU's beam melt down at NCAAs this year or Romania's utter flop on bars. Laura Jurca lead them off on bars, and hit, but no one else could manage to stay on the bars. Diana Bulimar fell on her Hindorff, and then on her Tkatchev.  Siliva Zarzu lost it, Lari fell, yeah you get the picture. Everyone fucking fell. I'm sorry for the language. Nothing makes you scream the word "fuck" so many times in 20 minutes. Their highest score was a 13.200, from Larisa Iordache.
Even Tyra's pissed
Beam wasn't much better. They started off well. Laura Jurca hit her routine in the lead off position. Beautiful back-handspring to two-foot layout series, gorgeous.  Sadly, she took out her swim dance move that gave her beam so much personality! Diana Bulimar goes up next and hits her routine. She has a balance check on her switch ring, but hits her dismount with a clean double tuck. Larisa Iordache, the woman everyone wants to see. What tricks will she throw? Right off the bat, she falls off on her back handspring to tucked full series. She took out her laid out full because it's so inconsistent, but I have to say, the tucked full doesn't seem to be anymore consistent. It's super frustrating because she is amazing on beam, she's a European Champion on beam, and she's got a couple more gold medals from the World cups for beam, so she CAN hit, which is why this is so frustrating. She hit the rest of the routine and finished with her usual triple twist dismount, but the damage was already done. That wasn't the end of this nightmare of a rotation. The final performer on beam, Silvia Zarzu,  does a freaking awesome front tuck mount, but has an Asac 2008 meltdown and it's all over. She falls again on her two back handspring to back tuck series.

When all was said and done, Romania had a 217.220. Currently, as of this writing, they are sitting in 8th place, 2.041 points behind the current seventh placers, with qualification rounds from the USA, China, France, Australia, North and South Korea, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Switzerland and Mexico. It's likely that both the USA and China will secure a spot in the team final, which could effectively push Romania out and leave them to have to fight for a spot at the Rio Test Event in April. This is a VERY, VERY, REAL possibility for Romania. Their mistakes give an opening to teams that are on the bubble, such as Australia and France to slip into the 8th spot and knock Romania into 9th place. Giving themselves a gift of qualifying a full team to the Olympics.


On the flip side, there was Russia. Maybe no one had any expectations since Aliya Mustafina was not going to be on this team, or they thought they were going to lose Ksenia Afanasyeva right away due to her kidney stones (she is one tough freaking chick), but Russia was The Little Engine That Could and by golly, did they.

They started on floor, and hit with no real problems as far as I could see.  Maria Paseka led the team off. Nice to see her actually competing again, she's been out with injuries for what seems like forever. Her first pass was a nice 2 1/2 to front full. She did that awful ubiquitous wolf turn the USA girls have all of the sudden developed a fondness for, it went a little wonky and I was sure she'd fell out of it, but alas. Also nice to see in action was one Miss Ksenia Afanasyeva. She's been out with injuries as long as Paseka has. The last time she was at worlds was 2011, with Viktoria Komova. For a girl that had kidney stones, she put up a lot of sass on the floor. She opened with a beautiful double layout and did two whips to a triple full. With a 14.666, she's back.

Really, the only time Russia really had issues was beam. Daria Spiridonova went first and fell on her two back hand spring to layout step out series. No one else fell, or at least they were determined not to. Seda Tutkhalyan looked like she was going to come off the beam on her round off to two foot layout, but by sheer will, she stayed on that beam.  Viktoria Komova, also back for the first time since the London Olympics. She's grown, and she's much more mature and refined. She's no longer that crying 17-year-old from the Olympic Games. She floats with ease on the beam. She had a minor issue on her L-turn, she appeared to have a balance check, but maneuvered her way into an extra quarter turn and kept on going. Job done, all Afan needs to do is scratch. Done, and done.  They're sitting in first place with 231. 437, a generous 14.217 points.

Honestly, I had my doubts about this team. They're missing Aliya Mustafina and they've gone through several different team rosters since the Russian Cup. However, this isn't the same team that barely secured a bronze medal in the team final over a year ago. The young players are now more experienced, with another year of competition. The youngest member is Seda, and even she is experienced, having competed in the Youth Olympic Games and other high pressure situations since then. This is a team that thrives on pressure. They're the kid who never studies for the big final, but somehow, passes with flying colors. This is the Russia gym fans know and love.  I'm excited to see how they fare in the team final.

Second to Russia is Great Britain, the home team. If Romania is in fact knocked down to 9th place, could they contend for a medal in the team final? They definitely have the talent. Bars and floor are their best events, with Ruby Harrold throwing crazy ass connections like a Maloney to a Bhardwaj and a Van Leuwen to Pak and the Zuchold. Ruby looks amazing, that Bhardwaj is much improved over last year. Amy Tinkler has that huge Markelov and Kelly Simm is aiming to have that inbar Tkatchev named for her.  Ellie Downie, sister to Becky Downie, fantastic on floor, throwing a Dos Santos like it was nothing, whateves, totes a normal day for her.  Ellie and Becky both struggled on bars in qualifications. Ellie fell twice and Becky fell on her eponymous skill. But, both sisters put up a great show on beam. Becky put up a beam routine that is as smooth as creamy real butter. She floated up above the beam on her back handspring to layout stepout, and like Viktoria Komova, had a balance check on an L-turn but just held her leg up until she was under control.

Second day of qualifications begins in T minus 6 hours. That's 4:15 a.m. on the east coast of the US. Starts with subdivision 6 - featuring China and North Korea.  The US is in subdivision 10 with the Netherlands, at 11:30 a.m., ET. France and Australia precede them in subdivision 9 at 8:40 a.m. ET.

Watch it on USAgymworlds.com or on the FIG's YouTube page.


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