Event finals should be renamed “Oh . . . right. Event finals.” The forgotten step-third cousin of nationals, the event finals are mostly an afterthought, a competition barely even considered until the morning of the event. That’s what makes it fun and super silly.
Today, some have an opportunity to salvage a degree of positivity after a disappointing competition, but mostly, today’s events are an opportunity to put on one last show. Hopefully, the gymnasts will approach their routines with that same attitude. The best event finals performances aren’t the clean, regular-season routines that we’ve already seen over a dozen times. They are the attempts to do something memorably light-hearted, difficult, or interesting, like Anna Li’s chucked Yurchenko 1.5 Tiptoe Parade after she unexpectedly made vault finals her senior year.
It’s going to be a long afternoon with twenty-three vaulters in three separate warm-up groups. Make sure your survival supplies are in order (I have the trail mix and the beef jerky, you bring the water), and make sure to be really, really critical. This is event finals after all. I want to see those toes pointed and those legs not twisted.
The competitors are as follows:
Vault: Everyone who lives. Seriously. I think I saw Vera Caslavska on the start list.
Bars: Dabritz, Damianova, Morrison, Sloan, Brewer, Caquatto, Johnson, Davis, Wyrick, Clark
Beam: Williams, Nordquist, Caquatto, Shealy, Zurales, Brewer, Sloan, King, Francis
Floor: King, Sloan, Jacob, Milliner, Wong, Grable, Mable, Sampson, Damianova, Courville, Weinstein, Courtney
On vault, it’s anyone’s guess. It will come down the the cleanest, stuckiest Yurchenko full, and we’ll all gripe about how repetitive it was. Let’s just thank the rule change that removes the two vault requirement. Can you imagine? We’d be here until Wednesday.
I’d like to see Kytra stick her 1.5 and win or see someone else win by attempting something vaguely interesting. Normally, Zamarripa would be the favorite here, but with her ragged competition culminating in that preposterous fall on vault in Super Six, she’s a doubtful contender. I’m still not really clear on what happened with that one. It will be hard for her to recover and win. I’m rooting for her to have a severe case of the “screw-its” today and throw something challenging and amazing even if it means she falls again, but I also wonder whether she will want to redeem herself on vault and try to exit her career on a clean, stuck note.
On bars, it should come down to the Florida trio and Chelsea Davis. Caquatto has the most consistently clean form, but I’m not OK with her winning the title unless she adds back a same-bar release. Show us your difficulty, everyone. Sloan is in such strong form that she will be tough to beat.
There are several contending beamers, but Sloan and Caquatto have been performing the best during this competition. They will be the frontrunners. Lots of former elites are competing in this rotation, so I hope to see some elite difficulty poured into these routines, Danusia.
The rotation order makes floor a little interesting because nearly all of the favorites are in the first group and could be passed later if the scores increase. Basically, all of them are capable of hitting their tumbling for 9.9+, so this should come down to crisp execution of details that are not usually deducted (in both tumbling and dance elements) and the artistry and choreography. Standing in the corner and testing elbow flexion should be automatic disqualification.
The meet begins at 4:00 ET, 1:00 PT. I just had to go back and fix the wording of all the above sentences. Wow. Am I literate? Sorry. It looks like I have a case of the “screw-its” today too.
The broadcast is beginning now on ESPN3.com. Recapping yesterday. I hadn’t seen Ashanee’s beam fall yet.
Warmups on vault now. This touch will be lengthy.
Vault and bars flight 1:
Courtney – UCLA – VT – Actually one of the best Yfulls she’s ever done. She opened out of it better than she usually does. Good stick. It won’t stand up, but it’s a good start. Correction: score is a 9.9167, not a 9.850, which makes more sense.
Courville – LSU – VT – Looked like a little bit better legs early in the vault – still a break, hop in place, good distance. 9.9250.
Dabritz – Utah – UB – What are these Utah leos? We see her stick her tuck full.
Johnson – Florida – VT – Sticks, lands lower in the chest than yesterday, a little squatty as well. That won’t contend.
Hunter – Florida – VT – Y1.5, hop back, just landed a touch short. That’s shame. She won’t be able to beat the later yfulls that are stuck. 9.950 is still possible if they want to do that, but they go 9.850. It’s justified.
Damianova – Utah – UB – Her leg breaks and toe issues will not contend here even with a hit routine. Missed hs and a hop on the double back.
Clark – Alabama – VT – Pretty good form, great height, doesn’t have the distance of Courville and pikes on landing.
Mable – Minnesota – VT – clean stuck yfull, but just a regular yfull by EF standards, not the same height but better landing position than Clark.
Morrison – LSU – UB – Get out of the way, Jay! Just off in a couple handstands, step forward on tuck full, fine routine but enough breaks to keep her low.
Jay – Georgia – VT – Please go for the 1.5. She does, good for her. Step forward.
Davis – Georgia – VT – Not as strong as her usual Yfull, pikes lower and steps forward.
After the first flight, Dabritz is the clear leader on bars with 9.900 and Courville is up on vault with 9.9250. No question about Dabritz so far because she was clean and the others struggled. I would have put Courtney ahead of Courville because she stuck and Rheagan hopped in place, but the difference is essentially minimal between the two. I don’t think either leading scores will hold up at the end.
Vault and bars flight 2:
Lots of dancing for Florida right now. Am I the only one who doesn’t care for smiling judges? I want them to be stern and officious.
Baer – UCLA – VT – Nice stuck full. I agree with Kathy that it looked identical to her SF vault, perhaps a hop in place but I think it can count as a stick. Strong. Not the total package, but good. 9.9083. Currently 3rd.
Martin – Denver – VT – Good height on her yfull but steps forward and again to salute.
Sloan – Florida – UB -beautiful handstands, the leg break in the bail handstand, sticks her DLO, a little more ragged than her usual routine but very, very nice. 9.900. Tied with Dabritz.
Dickerson – Florida – VT – her usual stick, legs on the block and piked down a little on the landing. These are things the judges need to take for because it’s EF. 9.900. Currently 4th.
Sampson – Michigan – VT – beautiful yfull in the air with good distance but she does step back, which will take her out.
Brewer – Oklahoma – UB – very nice tkatchev, a couple of the handstands were borderline, but the DLO was stuck. Proficient Oklahoma routine but perhaps lacking the flair.
Mathis – LSU – VT – yhalf, has nice form in the air, hops in place and then struggles to hang onto the stick.
Morrison – LSU – VT – sticks her vault well, very little height off the table comparatively, but very clean otherwise.
Caquatto – UB – completely clean through the whole thing and steps back on the dismount, but she did not add a release. Couple that with the step and it shouldn’t be that high.
Milliner – Alabama – VT – great height on her 1.5, one of her better ones this year, does hop back, though, so we’re not seeing the sticks in this second session. 9.9250. Ties Courville. Neither leader stuck. I see those 9.900s. I don’t see those 9.950s.
At the end of the second flight, we saw some weaker vaulting than in the first group, so Courville remains the leader along with Milliner. Sloan tied Dabritz on bars, and Caquatto went just below them, so we could see a tie at the top. Alaina Johnson will still have something to say about that. Still a few strong vaulters remaining in this final group to change the tie on vault.
No one has been particularly amazing so far. The people who have performed the best don’t have the most profound routines.
Vault and bars flight 3:
Dayton – Stanford – VT – I forgot Stanford was in this competition. Sad. Wonderful yhalf, hop in place again. Legs on the block as well, couple that with the lesser complexity, and that will hurt her.
Beers – Alabama – VT – does the full instead of the 1.5 that she has trained before. Bigger hop than from Courville. Not nearly enough control, but good form.
Johnson – Florida – UB – wonderful tkatchev as always, I still don’t think she’s quite back to her normal level, sticks the DLO. Maybe best since she came back. Just needed a few more numbers for the legs. 9.9125 is the leader.
Zam – UCLA – VT – Redemption time? Does the yfull, but hops back. She would have won with a stick because the vault was back. She has barely stuck any landings at these championships. If it isn’t the foot, I do think the missed training time hurt her.
Cheek – Georgia – VT – Ever since the first flight, we are seeing everyone miss their landings. A step back from her as well.
Davis – Georgia – UB – great tkatchev, there is an opening for her to win because no one has been great, good handstands, step back on her tuck full. I think she had the win if not for that step. Now it looks like Johnson.
Mooring – Oklahoma – VT – just came in a little short on her yhalf and steps back, pikes a tad in her flip.
Wong – UCLA – VT – pikes her yfull and hops back. She had a career vault in SF to even get here.
Wyrick – LSU – UB – late full turn, she has improved these handstand positions, last one a bit late, big step back on DLO.
Wilson – Utah – VT – Opportunity for her since no one has been great, pikes down and hops in place. She could have won with one of her February sticks. Shouldn’t be any more than a 9.900.
Wong – Nebraska – VT – beautiful yfull, step-salutes out of it, which will hurt her score, but excellent
Clark – Oklahoma – UB – pretty clean but misses one handstand and steps back on the ouble back, so she won’t be able to pass Johnson.
So there we go.
Alaina Johnson wins bars. She routine is amazing, so I’m fine with that. It still wasn’t as strong as she can be. When she’s at her best, her work is a bit crisper. No one hit bars super well, though, so well done to Johnson.
We have a tie for vault winners, Milliner and Courville, neither of whom stuck. Shockingly, I think Courtney actually performed the strongest and would have won had she been later. She lacks the distance and impressiveness, though, which hurt her in comparison to Courville. Milliner had the difficulty, but her landing vault was more extreme than Courville’s. Odd vault final. I would not have picked a non-stick winner, and we had two of them.
Beam and floor flight 1:
We’ll start on floor,
King – Florida – FX – good DLO but not her best, slides back in the hips on that landing, has had more control before. This isn’t my favorite of her routines choreo-wise, there’s just a touch too much present-y dancing. Strong double pike to finish. Good job.
Williams – Alabama – BB – This will be interesting after yesterday, big wobble on the punch front but not the same as yesterday. It’s very common to see beam mistakes from Super Six repeat themselves in event finals. Big pause before series, clean, good popa this time, sticks 1.5 dismount. Secure other than the punch front, which will take her out of it.
Sloan – Florida – FX – Now, this is my favorite routine of hers choreographically, but we are only comparing it to elite, so . . . lands just slight fshort on the front 2/1 but holds the stuck landing well, great power on double pike, very secure landings. Excellent. 9.900, ahead of King.
Nordquist – Minnesota – BB – big wobble on the side straddle, nice side aerial to loso, her L turn made Kathy literally GASP. Love it. Really strong dance elements. Pikes her layout full dismount a little. Good.
Jacob – Alabama – FX – strong and secure pike full mount, just a slight slide back on that double pike, has to pike her punch layout in that final pass and is very low.
Macko – Florida – BB – very clean loso series, very slight correction on the aerial into swingdown but makes the connection, fine full turn. Cleanest so far, only two very small corrections, has to bend rather significantly to make that stick, which will hurt the score. Goes below Nordquish because of the landing.
Milliner – Alabama – FX – fantastic double arabian, she smiles more than she did earlier in her career but still looks like she has to remember to smile. Very strong tumbling. Very good landings. 9.925 for the lead.
Shealy – Iowa State – BB – very secure in her acrobatics, sticks with a hop together on the 1.5 dismount. Doesn’t have the stretch or amplitude in the dance elements, but otherwise strong.
Wong – Nebraska – FX – her triple full is my everything, very good, strong lift into dance elements, stag out of the middle pass helps her control it but it was rushed. Her routine is a little wiggly for my taste, but she moves very comfortably and seems natural doing so. Sticks rudi dismount. Comes in just behind Milliner.
Zurales – Michigan – BB – good full turn, very secure side aerial to bhs with a little bent knees in the aerial, small wobble out of sheep jump, sticks a wonderful 2/1 dismount.
Grable – Arkansas – FX – Get it. Nice secure landing on double arabian. It never looks like she’s going to get that middle pass together but she does. Very compact double pike dismount, small slide. I’ll be interested to see what the judges do with that in comparison. Just not quite precise enough, I fear.
After the first group, Zurales and Nordquist are tied on beam. Both had small breaks in their routines and will likely be passed by the second group. No one has been completely precise yet. Milliner leads floor currently.
Beam and floor flight 2:
Oh, Megan Ferguson and Sara Stone in the crowd. Want to come compete? Please?
Mable – Minnesota – FX – nice double pike to open with a very small bounce, way past on her straddle 180 position – nice, safe combo second pass but very good amplitude, has potential as a performer, clean routine, good for her. 9.900 into third.
Brewer – Oklahoma – BB – did her two layouts series as expected, big wobble to stay on the beam, so she won’t contend. Having a rough time in these straddle elements and comes off the beam. First fall of the day so far. Sticks double back. It’s irrelevant, but a 9.2750 for a fall and a major wobble is too high.
Sampson – Michigan – FX – wonderfulbulous DLO, secure and strong, again solid on the landing of the front full to layout, so high on her double pike – maybe too high and a small bounce on it. Still very reminiscent of the 9.950s she got in Feb-March. Into first with 9.9375.
Sloan – Florida – BB – wobble on her loso series, the first time I’ve seen her wobble there in months, great full turn, aerial bhs series is perfect, split positions are perfect 180s, side aerial is great, stuck 2/1. The wobble at the beginning is the only deduction, so that can still go into first. Into 1st with a 9.900.
Damianova – Utah – FX – secure double tuck, I wonder how the judges will feel about her difficulty now in EF, a little low on the double pike. They will also take for toes, I would assume. Clean, though.
King – Florida – BB – very good front opening but takes a major wobble on her layout and will not move ahead of Sloan, stuck 2/1 with crossed legs. That’s a shame about the layout.
Courville – LSU – FX – not secure on her double arabian, large lunge out of it, same as the lunge that got DeMeo a 9.875 yesterday, though, but it will keep her from matching Sampson. Dance elements are excellent, as were the landings on the final two passes.
Francis – UCLA – BB – opportunity for her with a hit routine since Sloan did have the wobble. Wonderful mount as always, dance elements are perfect, secure and 180. DO IT!!!! Side aerial in side position! Only the smallest of wobbles. Great full turn. Nooooo – comes off on the front aerial. She could have won. Dismounts with a hop. A+ for throwing the skill, though. Greatness. She wins EF in my book.
Weinstein – Illinois – FX – lands a little locked on her tuck full and bounces up, so Sampson will remain the leader. Great loso in the middle pass, tj 1/2 is a little short of split. Great double back to finish.
One more left. Courtney – UCLA – FX – only very slightly short on her double arabian and steps back, but fine. Secure tumbling until coming in very short on the double pike with a large lunge forward.
So, Sloan wins beam and Sampson wins floor. Sloan had the strongest beam routine, certainly. No one was wobble free, so her one wobble and excellent everything else was enough to win. Sampson wins floor. Hers is not the most memorable routine, but she did have the best combination of cleanliness and difficulty.
Vault: Milliner and Courville
So there we have it for another season.
It wouldn’t be a UCLA championship without a dance at the end, would it? GIF of Danusia’s face, please. Maloney committing to the dance. That’s a UCLA gymnast for you.