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Can Germany Qualify for the Olympics at Worlds?

September 10, 2011

Elisabeth Seitz, Oksana Chusovitina and Nadine Jarosch will try to lead the German WAG team to the Olympics. Qualifying with the team or medaling on vault will garuntee Chusovitina a chance at competing in her 6th Olympics. Photo: http://www.gymfan.de/

Their results from the past quad say no. They were only 14th at last year’s worlds, which would make them questionable as far as qualifying to the Olympics at all goes. They didn’t even make team finals at 2010 euros, which obviously lacked some of the strongest teams in the world (USA, China, Australia, Japan, etc.). How could they magically finish top 8 in Tokyo?

I probably consider 5 teams a lock for team finals: USA, China, Russia, Romania and Japan. Japan does tend to sneak into team finals, but I can’t imagine them not qualifying at home. Here’s what makes me think Germany has a chance: they scored 224.10 at Today’s tri-meet against Romania and Switzerland. That would have been sixth at 2010 worlds. Now, I do think that the scores may have been somewhat inflated for the Germans at home, but that puts them in the mix. And Seitz did not compete floor, which probably would have increased their score a bit.

Germany’s world championships team was named after the competition. Elisabeth Seitz, Kim Bui, Oksana Chusovitina, Nadine Jarosch and Pia Tolle were named to the team after nationals, with the final competitive position and the alternate position still up in the air. According to International Gymnast, Germany’s head coach, Ulla Koch, said the following regarding that position

Her foot needs to be protected, so we can expect Marie-Sophie won’t be at the world championships in Tokyo. Lisa-Katharina Hill will round out the team and push Anja Rheinbay to alternate.

This seems like a smart decision, although it is too bad that Marie-Sophie Hindermann’s injury will keep her off the team. She  scored 14.35 (5.9) on bars, which was the only event she competed, while Lisa-Katharina Hill scored 14.15 (6.1) on bars but will also be able to compete the other four events. Koch also said

Our goal in Tokyo to qualify for the Olympics is not ideal, but difficult.

Now, this is the goal of a lot of teams heading into Tokyo. It is going to be a lot harder for anybody to qualify from worlds than in was in 2007, when 12 teams qualified, but I think that they may be able to achieve it.

Germany has two very strong vaulters: Oksana Chusovitina, who will compete a Rudi and hope to medal on vault (although there will be a lot less pressure if Germany qualifies) and Elisabeth Seitz, who has a clean DTY. Kim Bui and Nadine Jarosch both compete vaults valued at over 5.0 as well: a Barani and a Yurchenko 1.5. Hill and Tolle only compete fulls (yurchenko and tsukahara), but if all goes as planned, their scores will not count towards the team total.

Bars is undeniably Germany’s strongest event, and Elisabeth Seitz is Germany’s strongest gymnast on bars. She scored 14.85 in Erzingen with the kind of difficulty score that can put a gymnast on the podium at worlds (6.7). She has huge releases: a Def, a Church and even a future “Seitz” (Maloney 1/1), which she performs in combination. Now, I don’t absolutely love her on bars, because her releases unfortunately come with big form breaks, but she is going to get a great score if she hits. Kim Bui has high difficulty, 6.2, and has had some great results this year. She won the bronze at Europeans in April with a score of 14.675. Lisa-Katharina Hill is also has huge potential on bars; she has a 6.3 difficulty score at nationals. Nadine Jarosch has much lower difficulty than those three (5.3), but had the highest execution score on bars of the meet, 8.45. She even scored 14.0 at nationals with her low difficulty! Tolle will round out their bars lineup with another simpler routine.

Beam and floor are when it starts to get a bit questionable for Germany. This relative weakness is obvious from their 2010 worlds results: 10th on vault and 6th (!) on bars, but only 22nd on beam and 19th on floor. Between the tri-meet this weekend, both days of nationals, and the worlds qualification meet before nationals, they only had one beam score above 14: A 14.1 from Pia Tolle at the qualification meet about a month ago. Elisabeth Seitz didn’t break 13 at nationals and only scored 13.4 this weekend. Nadine Jarosch scored 13.75 this weekend, which would be good if she was capable of doing that every time. Unfortunately, beam seems to be rather inconsistent for her. Bui has been scoring low-13s at best, which is better than Hill, who hasn’t broken 13. Chusovitina is probably the steadiest on the team, but she’s still not bringing in huge scores.

Floor is looking up a bit since last year; the addition of Jarosch to the senior team has added a potential low-14s score. Seitz and Bui are capable of scoring near 14. Tolle is inconsistent, but she can score in the mid-13s. That is a gigantic (potential) improvement from last year, where their high score was a 13.333 and the average of their counting scores was 12.941.

Now, high scores don’t mean much, but this is what Germany is capable of, using scores from the three meets previously mentioned.

Vault Bars Beam Floor  Total
Oksana Chusovitina 15.15 13.85 29
Elisabeth Seitz 14.7 15.025 13.4 14 57.125
Kim Bui 14.25 14.35 13.3 14 55.9
Nadine Jarosch 14.25 14 13.75 14.35 56.35
Lisa-Katharina Hill 14 14.35 13.1 41.45
Pia Tolle 13.35 14.1 13.7 41.15
 Total 58.35 57.725 55.1 56.05 227.225

If you plug that in to the 2010 worlds results, they ends up in 5th place, a little over a point behind Romania.

A more realistic way to look at the scores is averages. The averages from the four competitions create this team scenario:

Vault Bars Beam Floor Total
Oksana Chusovitina 14.8875 13.43125 28.31875
Elisabeth Seitz 14.425 14.875 12.875 13.7 55.875
Kim Bui 14.053 13.875 12.9875 13.6625 54.578
Nadine Jarosch 14.18125 13.45625 13.0875 14.05 54.775
Lisa-Katharina Hill 13.73333333 13.8375 12.575 40.14583333
Pia Tolle 11.9 13.625 12.79375 38.31875
Total 57.54675 56.04375 53.13125 54.20625 220.928

This score is not exceptional, but it still would have been 7th in 2010. That’s pretty impressive for a team that finished 14th last year! Even adding their low scores together, the total is more than a point higher than it was in 2010. Yes, all of these meets were at home, but it’s pretty impressive.

Qualifying is definitely not a sure thing, but I think that Germany can do it. I say this about everybody, but here it is again: they have to hit. They are world class on vault and bars, and getting stronger on floor. It looks like it’s going to come down to this: can they hit beam when it counts? If they do, they will be right up there.

What do you think? Does Germany have a legitimate shot at making team finals in Tokyo? You can vote in the poll below. No, I did not include a “No, they won’t even qualify for the test event!!!” answer because I’m pretty sure that they would need a huge disaster for that to happen, but if that is your opinion, you can leave a comment below.

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