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Steingruber, Brägger Win 35th Swiss Cup
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Swiss Olympians Giulia Steingruber and Pablo Brägger teamed up to win the 2017 Swiss Cup held Sunday afternoon in Zürich.

Swiss Olympians Giulia Steingruber and Pablo Brägger teamed up to win the 2017 Swiss Cup held Sunday afternoon at the Hallenstadion in Zürich.

First held in 1983, the Swiss Cup pairs a female and male gymnast, each competing through four rounds of competition. After two rounds, six teams advance to the semifinal and then the top three teams advance to the final. The gymnasts cannot compete the same event through the first three rounds of competition, but can compete any event in the three-team final. (Gymnasts who choose to compete on vault must show two different vaults for an average of the two scores.) The format required the teams to choose their events strategically. Several of the teams chose to start out with one gymnast competing on his/her best event, and the other competing on his/her second-best scoring event.

The prize purse always attracts a strong field, with appearance fees for medalists at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 Worlds. The winning pair splits CHF25,000 (equivalent to $25,000 and €21,570). The second place team takes CHF13,000, with CHF9,000 for third, CHF6,000 for fourth and down to CHF1,250 for ninth.

The competition format also features the gymnasts competing one at a time under spotlights, not always desirable for safety and sometimes a distraction for some of the more inexperienced gymnasts not used to the lighting.

Steingruber and Brägger reclaimed the title in triumphant style for the host nation, whose only previous win was in 2011 when Steingruber and Claudio Capelli edged German pair Elisabeth Seitz and Fabian Hambüchen by .1 in the final.

This year the Swiss won by more than a point, earning 29.550 in the final to top Japanese duo Hitomi Hatakeda and Wataru Tanigawa (28.450) and a second Swiss team of Ilaria Käslin and Oliver Hegi (25.800).

Giulia Steingruber (Switzerland)

Steingruber, who won her first world championships medal last month with the bronze on vault in Montreal, had skipped last Wednesday's Arthur Gander Memorial to save herself for the Swiss Cup, her last meet of the year. She underwent surgery on her right foot in January to repair a partially torn ligament on her foot and remove bone fragments from her ankle, causing her to miss most of the season.

Japan, which has never won the Swiss Cup, led after round one with 28.250. First-year-senior Hatakeda hit bars, complete with a stuck dismount (13.650) and Tanigawa averaged 14.600 on vault. In a field of veterans, both the Japanese gymnasts are relative newcomers. Hatakeda, daughter of 1992 Olympian Yoshiaki Hatakeda, won the Arthur Gander Memorial. Tanigawa, 21, made his world debut in Montreal, where he competed three events (floor, rings and parallel bars).

Seitz and Marcel Nguyen, one of two German teams, were second after the first round, scoring 28.050 with Seitz on bars and Nguyen on still rings.

The Russian duo of Daria Spiridonova and Nikolai Kuksenkov were third after the first event (27.750), with Spiridonova on bars and Kuksenkov on parallel bars. Ukraine was fourth (27.200) after Diana Varinska missed her Jaeger on bars (12.900) but Oleg Vernyayev hit pommel horse (14.400). Ukraine was the two-time defending champion, after Vernyayev and Angelina Kysla-Radivilova won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016.

Fifth and sixth, Switzerland 1 (27.200) and Switzerland 2 (27.100) were close behind after the first rotation. Steingruber started on bars (13.300) and Brägger on floor (13.900), leaving their best events for round two, where they outscored the field (28.875). Steingruber vaulted a layout Rudi and stuck her Yurchenko-full for a 14.675 average, and Brägger scored 14.200 on parallel bars.

Japan led after two events (56.700), thanks to Tanigawa's 14.700 on parallel bars and Hatakeda's 13.750 on vault. Switzerland 1 moved up to second (156.075) while Ukraine was in third, with 13.000 from Varinska on beam and 14.800 from Olympic champion Vernyayev on parallel bars.

Germany 1 was fourth at the halfway point (54.300), ahead of the Brazilian duo Arthur Zanetti and Daniele Hypólito (54.125), who grabbed the last spot to the semi-final.

Russia missed the semi-final by .1 and sat out the rest of the meet, along with a mixed team of Marine Boyer (France) and Marian Dragulescu (Romania), a second German squad of Tabea Alt (fall on bars) and Philipp Herder, and a mixed team of Charlie Fellows (Great Britain) and Zachary Clay (Canada).

In the semi-final, Japan held onto its lead 83.150 ahead of Switzerland 1 (82.175) and 2 (81.200), with Ukraine ending up fourth by just .1 (81.100).

Brägger fell off high bar on his layout Tkatchev-half (12.750) but Steingruber powered through floor exercise to help Switzerland 1 qualify second to the final. She tumbled a double layout, tucked full-in (beautiful open position), double tuck and double pike, albeit with some tentative landings.

Vernyayev scored 14.700 on still rings, but Varinska fell on an incomplete 1 1/2 to triple twist (11.300), and were bumped out of the final by Switzerland 2. Käslin missed bars (11.800) but Hegi was solid once again with 14.900 on high bar for an excellent routine.

The new-life final featured the gymnasts all competing on their best events. Switzerland 1 delivered under pressure, improving on their earlier scores as Steingruber averaged 14.650 on vault and Brägger scored 14.900 on parallel bars. Their 29.550 was the highest of the day for any of the rounds.

Tanigawa outscored Brägger on parallel bars, earning the highest score of the meet with 14.950, but Hatakeda's 13.500 on bars could not match Steingruber on vault.

Switzerland 2 finished third with falls from both Käslin (beam) and Hegi (parallel bars). Despite their clear disappointment, the results were still a triumph with two Swiss teams in the final.

After the competition, Steingruber said she plans to take a break from competition and rework her routines for next year.

With eight victories, Romania is the most successful nation at the Swiss Cup (not counting mixed-mixed pairs), followed by China with five.

External Link: Official website

35th Swiss Cup
Nov. 5, 2017, Zürich

TeamRound 1Round 2SemifinalFinale
1. Switzerland 1 82.175 29.550
Giulia Steingruber 5.2 13.300 14.675 5.2 13.350 14.650
Pablo Brägger 5.5 13.900 5.8 14.200 5.6 12.750 6.1 14.900
2. Japan 83.150 28.450
Hitomi Hatakeda 5.4 13.650 13.750 5.1 13.050 5.4 13.500
Wataru Tanigawa 14.600 6.0 14.700 5.9 13.400 6.0 14.950
3. Switzerland 2 81.200 25.800
Ilaria Käslin 4.6 12.650 5.1 12.850 4.9 11.800 5.0 12.050
Oliver Hegi 5.5 14.450 5.9 14.550 6.2 14.900 6.3 13.750
4. Ukraine 81.100
Diana Varinska 5.7 12.900 5.0 13.000 4.8 11.300
Oleg Vernyayev 6.4 14.400 6.3 14.800 6.1 14.700
5. Germany 1 80.325
Elisabeth Seitz 5.8 13.600 4.4 12.400 4.3 11.950
Marcel Nguyen 5.9 14.450 6.5 13.850 14.075
6. Brazil 80.325
Daniele Hypólito 5.4 12.350 13.075 5.1 12.450
Arthur Zanetti 14.000 6.1 14.700 5.5 13.750
7. Russia 54.000
Daria Spiridonova 5.3 13.600 5.0 12.250
Nikolai Kuksenkov 5.7 14.150 5.5 14.000
8. France/Romania 53.675
Marine Boyer 5.1 12.200 5.7 13.150
Marian Drăgulescu 14.575 5.3 13.750
9. Germany 2 53.300
Tabea Alt 5.2 12.250 5.8 13.650
Philipp Herder 6.0 13.700 5.4 13.700
10. Great Britain/Canada 48.750
Charlie Fellows 5.2 11.350 4.5 11.400

Swiss Cup champions, 1982-2016

2016 Angelina Kysla Oleg Vernyayev
2015 Angelina Kysla Oleg Vernyayev
2014 Daria Spiridonova Nikita Ignatyev
2013 Larisa Iordache Andrei V. Muntean
2012 Elisabeth Seitz Fabian Hambüchen
2011 Giulia Steingruber Claudio Capelli
2010 Elisabeth Seitz Fabian Hambüchen
2009 Kim Bui Matthias Fahrig
2008 He Ning Lu Bo
2007 Steliana Nistor Flavius Koczi
2006 Oksana Chusovitina Jordan Jovtchev
2005 Han Bing Teng Haibin
2004 Cătălina Ponor Marius Urzica
2003 Oana Ban Marian Drăgulescu
2002 Monica Roşu Philippe Rizzo
2001 Silvia Stroescu Marian Drăgulescu
2000 Yelena Zamolodchikova Alexei Bondarenko
1994-1999 Individual event competition
1993 Yelena Piskun Vitaly Scherbo
1992 Svetlana Boginskaya Vitaly Scherbo
1991 Shannon Miller Scott Keswick
1990 Natalia Laschenova Valery Belenky
1989 Kim Zmeskal Lance Ringnald
1988 Gabriela Potorac Marius Toba
1987 Daniela Silivaş Nicuşor Pascu
1986 Ecaterina Szabo Marian Rizan
1985 Yang Yanli Li Ning
1984 Simona Pauca Daniel Wunderlin
1983 Not Held
1982 Natalia Soloveya Dmitry Bilozerchev
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