This year’s Russian Championships were held from 18th-22nd April in Kazan, Russia. With a mixture of familiar faces, new seniors and returning veterans, the standard was high and the competition an exciting one to watch.
On the WAG side, the spotlight was on Aliya Mustafina, coming back to competition just ten months after the birth of her daughter, Alisa. While we’d seen some videos of her training different skills, nobody was really sure what to expect when it came to the demands of competition, but she did not disappoint. Qualifying joint second to the all around final, she just missed out on a medal, with a fourth place finish in the final after crashing her DTY (which she attempted to change to a 1.5 after failing to get a proper block off the table). However, she managed to qualify for the bars, beam and floor finals, an impressive result considering that she has been back in training for just a few months. Finishing sixth in the bars final, Mustafina decided to withdraw from the other finals due to fatigue, but all things considered, this was a very successful meet for her.
Viktoria Komova continued with the next step of her comeback, putting in some strong performances to snag a bronze in the all around final and the bars final and finishing sixth on beam. Tatiana Nabieva, another returning veteran, finished third in the vault final and twelfth all around, looking strong overall. It was a great meet for new senior Angelina Simakova, who took the silver medal in the all around, finishing fifth in the vault final, fourth in the bars final and second on floor. 16-year-old Irina Alexeeva, now aiming to compete internationally for Russia after having issues with gaining American citizenship, exceeded expectations by placing seventh in the all around final, second in bars and third on floor, showing a huge amount of potential.
However, it was Melnikova who truly stole the show at this championships. A longtime member of the national team, Melnikova has been inconsistent in major competitions, but her recent win at the Birmingham World Cup seems to have hugely boosted her confidence. Not only did she hit all of her routines, but she qualified to every final, winning gold in the all around competition, silver on vault, gold on bars, gold on beam and gold on floor. We can’t wait to see what she has in store for the rest of the season!