Due to the retirements of top international rhythmic gymnastics competitors—Yana Kuryatseva and Son Yeon Jae—plus an uncertainty about the comeback of the Olympic champion Margarita Mamun, the doors have opened for the next generation to shine in the sport’s first leg of the World Cup this year, the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Pesaro, Italy.

Since Russia’s frontrunners last year has either retired or on hiatus, the next generation of Russian women has had the chance to hog the spotlight in this World Cup. Although the graceful Aleksandra Soldatova was the youngest in the team for two years, she is suddenly their most experienced member. After beating her competitors in the previously concluded Grand Prix in Marbella where she is the crowd’s favorite, she now was hailed as the All-Around Champion at the FIG World Cup in Pesaro.

Two apparatus in into the competition, it was already obvious that Soldatova was leading by 0.700 points ahead of compatriot Dina Averina who is another emerging star by leading in the Grand Prix Series and also becoming the title holder of the 2017 Russian Championships. Soldatova’s hoop routine had a 10.000 D score and an 18.900, the best score of the day. Laura Zeng from USA was up in third which is a surprise, like Katrin Taseva being ahead of Neviana Vladinova.

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In the end, Soldatova prevailed in the All-Around, with Averina in second, and Katsiaryna Halkina (BLR) on third, surprisingly overtaking Zeng. The top three’s scores are 73.100, 72.400, and 68.250 respectively.

In the individual apparatus competition, Averina and Soldatova distributed the gold to themselves. At the hoop finals, Soldatova led with 18.050, Averina on second with 18.050 and Zeng on third with 17.150. The following three more apparatus—ball, clubs, and ribbon—has been dominated by Averina with 18.350, 19.100, and 17.100 respectively. Soldatova was then silver on ball with 17.900 and ribbon with 17.050. Younger Olympic holdover Katsiaryna Halkina from Belarus took the silver on clubs with 17.300. She also has bronze on ball with 17.850. Zeng finished on bronze as well at the clubs finals with 16.900 while Alexandra Agiurgiuculese made her country proud by being the only Italian who finished on the podium, bronze with 16.800 on ribbon.

At the Group All-Around, although Italy’s famed “Farfalle” or “Butterflies” was obviously the crowd’s favorite, they were put to the second spot by the Bulgarian team, who are 0.550 points ahead of their 36.800.  Ukraine was on bronze with a score of 34.600. Russia wasn’t as competitive in the Group All-Around competitions as they finished fifth, while Belarus was on fourth.

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In the Group 5 Hoops competition, Bulgaria topped in the qualifications with an amazing 18.700 routine that had a 10.000 D score. However, in the finals the Italy’s team has started to edge over them, easily turning the table. Italy snatched the gold with 18.700, which also has a 10.000 D score. Bulgaria finished on second with 18.150. China was close on their heels with 17.900.

The second group competition was the 3 Balls and 2 Ropes, which Italy has also easily dominated with another 18.700 and a 10.000 D score. Russia was on second this time with an 18.100 routine. Ukraine was on third with 17.700.

The scores in this World Cup are obviously lower than in the national, international or Grand Prix scores of these gymnasts. Many fans still couldn’t adjust to the new Code of Points and are not quite fans of it yet.

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