The new Spanish duet of Ona Carbonell and Paula Ramírez made its highly anticipated international debut last weekend at the European Cup in Cuneo, Italy. The pair exceeded expectations and came away with two golds and high scores that bode well for the rest of the season.
Ramírez had big shoes to fill after the (second) retirement of Gemma Mengual who competed at the 2016 Olympics with Carbonell. The expectations were high to find a new partner for Carbonell that would not only match her skill level and technical abilities, but that would also at least maintain Spain at its current European and World rankings. It was no small task, as we have witnessed the coaching staff spend the last quadrennium flying through duet partners for Carbonell without really settling on one for more than a season.
In Cuneo, Ramírez impressed and proved she was up to the challenge. The transition from Mengual to her was essentially flawless, especially in the free routine. The pair easily dominated the competition by scoring 88.5512 in the technical duet and 93.1333 in the free to clinch the gold in both events. The routines were the same as in Rio, and the free duet here scored almost just as well as at the Olympics, a good sign heading into Worlds in two months.
The Italian pair of Linda Cerruti and Costanza Ferro, both 2016 Olympians, came in second in the two duet events with scores of 87.7924 (technical) and 91.5000 (free). Their style in the free event is completely different than the Spaniards’, and it was interesting to contrast and compare the two, as evidently both are bringing success to each. In third came Evangelia Papazoglou and Evangelia Platanioti from Greece, with a 85.2285 in technical, and 87.8000 in free.
In front of their home crowd and taking advantage of the absence of Russia and Ukraine’s senior teams, the Italians won the European Cup and medaled in all eight events, including gold medals in the technical and free team and mixed duets. In the team events, they unveiled their new free routine to an original musical score of Michele Brava “An experiment with time,” and showcased the same technical routine as in Rio. While the free team (watch below) was made of an even split of newcomers and veterans, the technical team roster was loaded with talent and experience, with six of its eight swimmers Rio Olympians, and it displayed technical superiority and precision against the rest of the field.
It was also the exciting beginnings of Spain’s new and young team. With many of its experienced swimmers retiring shortly after the 2016 Test Event, Spain was forced to throw in its best junior swimmers into the senior ranks. They did well here as they came away with a silver in the technical event (87.7617) and a bronze in the free (88.9333).
Russia and Ukraine had sent their junior teams to the event. Russia only entered the free team event, where it came very close to upsetting Italy’s senior team for the gold, which only demonstrates how deep the talent in Russia is. Ukraine’s junior team won the free combination event over Greece by slightly over 0.14 points. Italy’s junior team competed in the free combination and highlight event, where it won bronze and silver respectively.
The mixed duet events were just as exciting. The Italians grabbed both gold medals, but we saw the return of Mariangela Perrupato in the free routine to swim with Giorgio Minisini. Manila Flamini had previously been swimming both duets at the MUFE French Open. Perrupato’s return was accompanied by a brand new choreography, showcasing passion and a great interaction between the two swimmers. This free duet scored a 87.6333. Minisini and Flamini were still paired together for the technical duet and continued to improve on their very emotional routine that focuses on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. They scored a 85.6144 there.
Spain’s pair of Berta Ferreras and Pau Ribes grabbed silver in both technical (80.3819) and free (82.9000) duets as they also unveiled new routines here for the first time. Greece participated in the mixed duet events for the first time and was able to win the bronze with scores of 67.3786 (technical) and 69.6667 (free).
The top five in the overall rankings are as follow: Italy (703.2953), Greece (650.7343), Spain (521.6614), Switzerland (402.8080), Turkey (303.3917).
For all results and videos, please refer to our result page.