Worlds Watch: World, Olympic & European Champions Battle On Beam

The 2019 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships are just days away, so we're previewing each women's event to see how the competition stacks up. Next is balance beam, where the reigning Olympic, World, European, and Pan American Games champions are just a few of the contenders on the unpredictable event.

Anastasia Bachynska (UKR)

Notable skills/combos:

  • Candlestick mount
  • Front handspring to front tuck
  • Switch leap to switch leap 1/2
  • Front aerial to ring jump to split jump to back handspring
  • Split leap to side aerial
  • Double tuck dismount

Notable recent results:

  • 2019 Paris World Challenge Cup: 2nd

Notable recent scores:

  • 2019 European Championships: 13.533 (AA, qualifications)
  • 2019 Ukrainian Championships: 14.200

Although she doesn't have scores as high as others, Bachynska is certainly capable of putting together a good beam routine. She has a good presence on the event, in addition to nice lines. When she has the control and composure, she can really hit some great combos, like the ring jump to split jump to back handspring. Even with a few wobbles at the European Championships, Bachynska earned a good, solid 13.533. So the potential is there.

Simone Biles (USA)

Notable skills/combos:

  • Triple wolf turn
  • Front aerial to split jump to straddle jump
  • Back handspring to layout stepout to layout stepout
  • Switch leap to switch 1/2 to back pike
  • Full-in dismount
  • Double double dismount

Notable recent results: 

  • 2019 U.S. Worlds Trials: 2nd
  • 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships: 1st
  • 2019 GK U.S. Classic: 3rd
  • 2019 Stuttgart World Cup: 2nd

Notable recent scores: 

  • 2019 U.S. Worlds Trials: 14.550
  • 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships: 14.700, 14.950
  • 2019 GK U.S. Classic: 14.900
  • 2019 Stuttgart World Cup: 14.200

Biles doesn't have the most difficult or intricate combinations, but she's got power, amplitude, and precision. She can control a wolf turn quite well and has excellent execution, as she does on every event. Her acro series is strong, and her other three-skill series is sharp. She can even do arguably the hardest beam skill at the end of her routine, as Biles has submitted the double double dismount to the FIG.

Marine Boyer (FRA)

Notable skills/combos:

  • Front aerial to split jump to tuck jump 1/2
  • Roundoff to layout
  • Switch leap to switch 1/2
  • Split leap to side somi to split jump 1/2
  • Double pike dismount

Notable recent results:

  • 2019 Top 12 Finals: 1st
  • 2019 Doha World Cup: 3rd
  • 2019 Baku World Cup: 2nd
  • 2019 Top 12 Semi-Finals: 1st
  • 2019 Top 12 Series 3

Notable recent scores:

  • 2019 Top 12 Finals: 13.500
  • 2019 Baku World Cup: 14.100
  • 2019 Top 12 Semi-Finals: 14.050

Boyer's beam routine isn't as flashy or difficult as other contenders, but it is solid and has some unique combos. For example, she opens with a front aerial to split jump to tuck jump 1/2, and later does a split leap to side somi to split jump 1/2. At times, she can be a bit hesitant and shaky, but overall her skills are solid, and she can put together a good routine that has scored pretty well internationally. 

Kara Eaker (USA)

Notable skills/combos:

  • Split leap mount to ring leap
  • Front aerial to ring leap to back handspring
  • Side aerial to layout stepout to layout stepout
  • Split jump to side somi
  • Switch ring leap to back handspring to Korbut
  • Switch leap to straddle 1/4

Notable recent results:

  • 2019 U.S. Worlds Trials: 1st
  • 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships: 2nd
  • 2019 Pan American Games: 1st
  • 2019 GK U.S. Classic: 1st
  • 2019 International Gymnix: 1st

Notable recent scores:

  • 2019 U.S. Worlds Trials: 15.200
  • 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships: 14.900
  • 2019 Pan American Games: 15.266 (EF), 14.850 (qualifications)
  • 2019 GK U.S. Classic: 15.400
  • 2019 International Gymnix: 14.466 (EF), 14.666 (AA)

Eaker is the reigning Pan American Games champion for a reason. Beam is her signature event, and she performs on it like no other. Her routine is full of connections and is very fluid, with the acrobatic and dance skills easily flowing into the choreography. Every movement looks like it has a purpose. Never does Eaker appear to be moving just for the sake of getting to that spot on the apparatus. She's had trouble on the event in the past, like at last year's worlds, which isn't surprising considering all of her difficult combos. But if she can simply hit her routine, even if she has to take out a skill or two from a triple combo, she should be a lock for the final.

Alice Kinsella (GBR)

Notable skills/combos:

  • Candlestick mount
  • Double wolf turn
  • Side aerial to layout stepout to layout stepout
  • Switch leap to straddle 1/4
  • Double pike dismount

Notable recent results:

  • 2019 European Championships: 1st

Notable recent scores: 

  • 2019 European Championships: 13.566 (EF, qualifications)

The reigning European beam champion doesn't have the biggest skills or the highest difficulty, but she has great lines and poise on the apparatus. Kinsella doesn't have as many skills or connections as other top gymnasts, but with her good performance at European Championships this year, she proved that she has what it takes to be a top beam worker.

Ana Padurariu (CAN)

Notable skills/combos:

  • Candlestick mount
  • Triple wolf turn
  • Side aerial to layout stepout to layout stepout
  • Switch leap 1/2
  • Front aerial to split jump to back handspring
  • Switch leap to sheep jump to back handspring

Notable recent results:

  • 2019 Canadian Championships: 2nd
  • 2019 Stuttgart World Cup: 1st
  • 2019 Elite Canada: 1st

Notable recent scores:

  • 2019 Canadian Championships: 14.333 (qualifications)
  • 2019 Stuttgart World Cup: 14.333
  • 2019 Elite Canada: 14.875 (EF)

The reigning beam bronze medalist isn't playing around and has three triple skill combos. In addition, she has a few skills that many other beam contenders aren't doing, such as a sheep jump. So Padurariu builds up difficulty not only from connections but from the skills in them. Not unlike others featured in this preview, Padurariu hasn't had the best consistency on the event this year, which is why beam is such an unpredictable event, even when the best are competing against one another. 


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Li Shija (CHN)

Notable skills/combos:

  • Switch leap to ring leap to back handspring
  • Front handspring to front tuck
  • Switch ring leap to back handspring
  • Front aerial to ring leap to Korbut
  • Straddle 1/2

Notable recent results:

  • 2019 Zhaoqing Challenge Cup: 1st

Notable recent scores:

  • 2019 Zhaoqing Challenge Cup: 15.050 (EF), 15.000 (qualifications)

Although Li doesn't have the accolades of numerous scores to show it, she is a beamer. She's capable of some great, tricky combos and can connect them well. However, past scores show she hasn't always hit. At the Chinese Championships this year, she didn't make event finals and scored only a 14.200 and 13.200, respectively, in all-around and qualifications. If she can complete all of her connections, she can score big and certainly contend for the podium at her first worlds.

Liu Tingting (CHN)

Notable skills/combos: 

  • Candlestick mount
  • Front handspring to front tuck
  • Switch leap to ring leap to back handspring
  • Front aerial to ring leap to Korbut 
  • Triple twist dismount

Notable recent results:

  • 2019 City of Jesolo Trophy: 1st
  • 2018 World Championships: 1st

Notable recent scores: 

  • 2019 Chinese Championships: 14.700
  • 2019 City of Jesolo Trophy: 14.800 (EF), 14.967 (AA)
  • 2018 World Championships: 14.533 (EF)

Liu is in a similar situation as her teammate Li: she's capable of an excellent routine with nice, difficult connections but hasn't had the best consistency this year. At this year's Chinese Championships, Liu made the beam final with a qualifications score of 14.000. She then went on to score a good 14.700 on the event in the all-around competition. But come event finals, Liu earned just a 13.100. As the reigning beam champion, it's clear she has what it takes to contend. It's simply a matter of doing what she's fully capable of.

Tang Xijing (CHN)

Notable skills/combos:

  • Roundoff layout stepout mount
  • Roundoff to layout
  • Switch leap to ring jump to Korbut
  • Switch ring leap to back handspring
  • Front aerial to split jump to double stag jump

Notable recent results:

  • 2019 Chinese Championships: 2nd

Notable recent scores: 

  • 2019 Chinese Championships: 14.667 (EF), 14.550 (AA), 13.700 (qualifications)

Tang does quite a few of the same skills and combos as her teammates, and due to the two per country rule, they can't all make the beam final. But what stands out about Tang is her attack and sharpness. When competing on the apparatus, she really attacks the beam and goes for her skills in power and precision. This will be her major senior international debut, and if she competes like she did at the Chinese Championships, it will be hard to count her out.

Sanne Wevers (NED)

Notable skills/combos:

  • Wolf jump 1/1
  • Double L turn
  • Side aerial to side aerial to jump 1/1
  • Switch leap to Onodi to split jump
  • Triple turn
  • L turn to full turn to double turn to split leap to back handspring

Notable recent results:

  • 2019 Heerenveen Friendly: 3rd
  • 2018 European Championships: 1st
  • 2018 Heerenveen Friendly: 1st
  • 2018 Dutch Championships: 1st

Notable recent scores:

  • 2018 Heerenveen Friendly: 14.750
  • 2019 Dutch Championships: 14.367

Known for her turns and elegance, the reigning Olympic champion is competing at just her second meet of the year. She's back from injuries and is certainly looks like an Olympic gold medalist. Like everyone else on this list, Wevers has the beam combos and connections, but hers are unlike anyone else's with three different turns in a row followed by an acrobatic skill. She's able to take advantage of her strengths in the dance elements and compete a high-level, competitive routine that can certainly make the podium if executed well enough.

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