While the seniors were battling it out in Stuttgart, Tokyo, and Doha last weekend, a French junior squad from which nearly all of the members of the silver-medal-winning 2008 Junior European squad were missing traveled to Ponzano Veneto, Italy, to take on the Italian juniors.
As it happened, the hosts were clearly superior, beating the French, 224.350-211.000. In fact, the French were not just beaten by the "official" Italian junior team, but by the Italian junior-junior team (consisting solely of girls born in 1996). Sounds like Italy has a fair bit of depth, doesn't it?
Our favorite Italian junior, 13-year-old Carlotta Ferlito, only finished 3rd in Ponzano Veneto (55.100), mainly because she only had a 3.9 start value on bars (not sure what happened there). She did, however, post the highest scores on beam (15.000) and floor (14.350), where she does some very good turns and original stuff on her toes. Watch out for Ferlito - she could be another Vanessa Ferrari in the making.
Serena Licchetta (photo: Jasmin Schneebeli-Wochner)
With Ferlito underachieving on bars, the AA title went to Serena Licchetta (56.300), who does a promising floor exercise to Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" (here's hoping she'll learn to connect that front double twist and Korbut flip one day!) and mounts bars with a kip to Comaneci. You've got to hand it to the Italians: They do try to come up with original stuff.
Placing 2nd in Ponzano Veneto was 13-year-old Andrea Foti, who hails from the same club as Ferlito (G.A.L. Lissone) and has a very pretty beam exercise with a serious attempt at choreography. Watch her arms - they're nice.
The highest AA score of the day, 56.700, was amassed by 12-year-old Erika Fasana, who competed in the 1996 division. Fasana needs to watch her form, but if she ever learns to point her toes and keep her knees straight, she'll definitely be one to watch. Click here to see a beam routine she did half a year ago.
The top French competitors were Justine Crosato and Marine Brevet (the only member of France's successful 2008 Junior European team to make the trip to Ponzano Veneto). Both scored over 4 points less than the top-ranking Italians.
Full results of the ITA-FRA meet can be found here.