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Chinese Duo Win Swiss Cup
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Lu Bo (China)

Chinese gymnasts Lu Bo and He Ning teamed up to win the Swiss Cup, a mixed-pairs competition held Sunday in Zurich.

The 2008 edition of the Swiss Cup was the third held in the new "Hallenstadion." As the competition usually attracts a big crowd — around 6,000 people this time — it sure was right to move it to a bigger hall that also offers more technical abilities. The organizers took advantage of this by setting up spotlights on the apparatus the gymnast was competing on, and using several colored lights for the other areas of the hall during routines. The idea behind this is to get the performance even more into the center of attention. Furthermore they thought of special songs for each team played before and after routines, a special touch for this unusual mixed.

After warm ups and some show acts the competition went off with the first two rounds. Many of the female gymnasts started on vault. Only Juliana Santos (Brazil) and Lia Parolari (Italy) chose to do balance beam here and He Ning (China) and Ksenia Afanasyeva (Russia) went with uneven bars. While Parolari showed some beautiful choreography on beam, He had to fight with some form issues on bars. However, everyone still had the chance to make up for mistakes in the second round. Parolari was beautiful on floor as well but had some problems landing her tumbling and getting her twists around.

France's Youna Dufournet had a terrible time on bars, missing a pirouette several times in a row and remounting every time. This kept France from advancing to the semifinal. The German pair of Fabian Hambüchen and Oksana Chusovitina, on the other hand, took the lead despite a scary fall from Chusovitina, who missed her foot on her beam dismount and landed a double tuck on her head. The competition ended after round two for the pairs frm France, Brazil, Italy and The Netherlands.

The semifinal began disastrously for leader Germany when Chusovitina tore her Achilles' tendon on floor. Her first tumbling run (Tsukahara) went well, but then bad luck struck on the second tumbling pass (double tuck). Chusovitina, 33, was forced to stop her routine and was clearly in great pain.

He Ning (China)

After this shock, Hambüchen still managed to show two great vaults. Up to that point things had gone really well for the German team, and it was a disappointment to see them out of the final. Afanasyeva showed a very nice and elegant floor routine in this round, the two Swiss pairs showed very nice routines to the delight of the audience. The first Swiss team with Ariella Käslin and Niki Böschenstein managed to advance to the final round, although the other Swiss team just missed out placing fifth after the semifinal.

In the final round, the four remaining teams of China, Russia, Romania and Switzerland began again from zero. China's He performed uneven bars again, taking the chance to show she is able to deliver a better routine than she did in the first round. Her partner Lu Bo was very strong on rings, setting the score to beat. Käslin gave away Switzerland's chance when she fell on vault — her best event. However, the crowd still went wild for this team — especially when Böschenstein hit his vaults.

Sandra Izbasa and Flavius Koczi did their best possible to defend Romania's Swiss Cup title, but China's high total was out of their reach. Russia met the same situation, and eventually the Chinese team ended up as the winner. The victory is China's third at the Swiss Cup.

After the medal ceremony, most of the gymnasts took a seat behind prepared tables in the lobby for an autograph session. The crowd around those tables was huge and showed that the fans in Switzerland truly are interested in this beautiful sport and enjoy the unique competition format.

Click here to download results.

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