The last two days brought the opportunity for the MAGs to strap themselves into their manitards, chalk up the Pbars using pointillism, and turn to the women to say, “You thought you had a nightmare day this week? That’s adorable. We’ve been getting 6s in execution before you were even born, thank you.” But tomorrow, the women will have a chance for a splat-rebuttal as we arrive at the main event, the Great American Cakewalk. I mean, the team final. It’s going to be close……..anyone could win…………
The lineups for the women’s team final bring the news that Maggie Nichols will be competing the all-around. Oh. Hmm. What a groundbreaking idea. I wish someone had thought of that before. I suppose the opportunity to be the big AA star/hero for the team is Martha’s attempt at an apology alpaca. It will have to do for now.
Also note that Brenna Dowell has officially been erased from all of history. After her bars-tastrophe, Martha went back in time and killed a butterfly to ensure that Brenna was never born. Not only will Brenna compete no events in the team final, but she’s not even listed among the alternate team members on the start list anymore. Burnnnnnn. Taking someone off the roster is the gymnastics equivalent of pouring a drink in her weave. There has to be some kind of injury, right? They wouldn’t just expunge someone from the record as punishment for missing a routine……would they? Cut to Mattie Larson going, “Hello.” But, they also have not taken the opportunity to sub Skinner in to do the one-armed wonder, voluntarily competing with just five members.
Italy has made a substitution, replacing the hastily sewn-together form of Vanessa Ferrari with young Enus Mariani, who will be competing bars and beam in the TF after getting relegated to alternate status for qualification. Sadly, Ferrari is also out for the AA, meaning our global shoulder cut-out levels have reached an unprecedented low with serious environmental consequences. An inconvenient truth.
But, before we get into all that tomorrow action, there’s a whole day of men’s qualification action to break down.
-The main event today featured the US men finally getting the opportunity to enter the fray, just a few short eons after arriving in Glasgow.
-…….They’ve been better? It wasn’t a particularly glorious day for the US, one that got less glorious and more “why are you on the ground just now, honey?” as the competition went on. It was the kind of day that propagates a lot of words like “grit” and “fight” and “heart,” which are sports code for “I like you as people even though that wasn’t too nice to watch.” Today, the Americans were really gritty and full of heart. But, they qualified in 5th, which is perfectly fine, and they’ll still be in the hunt for that bronze medal come the team final, as long as someone gets the Sasha Artemev pills out of the first-aid kit and the Jake Dalton costume out of my constant clutches.
-It would have taken an unprecedented catastrophe for the US not to qualify to the team final, and this wasn’t a catastrophe, or even a fiasco. It was somewhere in between an oopsie and a snafu. You could even go as far as debacle if you wanted, but I don’t see the need. They’ll be OK.
-There wasn’t one culprit. Nearly everyone had a single fantastic moment and one or two intensely graphic PDA sessions with the mat. Come on, guys. It’s a family sport. Paul Ruggeri was a true prince on vault, just getting knocked out of the event final by people with more difficulty and worse execution. Paul had the best total execution score of any of the competitors performing two vaults, and he should take that as a victory. If you think men’s gymnastics isn’t about artistry, you haven’t seen Paul Ruggeri do a round-off.
-But then he went to high bar. Unfortunately, Brenna’s Native American lupine trickster spirit must have heard Brenna had been put out of commission because it went, “What’s next? Hmmm. Who’s that young man with excellent posture, perfectly-fitting shorts, and a tattoo sleeve everyone tries to ignore who has been waiting for this exact moment for a mere two decades? He looks delicious.” The spirit stole all of Paul’s arm bones and replaced them with eels just as he was starting bars, yada yada yada, 11.066. Thankfully, Paul at least will not be forced to rattle a coffee mug against the bars of a punishment cage during the team final like Brenna, so that’s something.
-Similarly, Chris Brooks’ emo-cockatiel haircut performed sensationally on high bar, but he looked about two months past the expiration date on his other events. Whittenburg also started excellently on rings, and then went off the rails (almost literally! Pun!) as the day went on, ultimately barely fighting through pbars and pommel horse and putting a hand down on floor, missing the AA final in a big disappointment for him.
-Floor was a problem for a lot of people as they found that, in an Alice in Wonderland-type situation, the floor mat started shrinking the moment they began their routines, finishing the size of a little pea and making it impossible to stay in bounds.
-The big bright spot for the US was our darling Danell Leyva who arrived at the arena and proceeded to carve “podium training is for buttheads” on the wall before fully recovering from his recent duel with the concept of gravity to emerge today as the not-bad one. This is the Danell Leyva from last quad who was frequently, you know, a medalist/medal threat. He was quite brilliant across almost the whole day, and notably has qualified in 1st to a very depleted HB final and 4th overall in the AA.
-But now, I think I’ve gone quite far enough without discussing my favorite moment of the US men’s qualification journey, and also the broiest, dudeiest, homoeroticiest thing you’ll ever hear. It came in conversation as the team was waiting to “ro-TATE, ro-TATE, shut-UP, shut-UP” to high bar. This is an exact transcript of what we overheard, as far as I could translate from Bro-to-English (I’m a little rusty. I haven’t been in a Bro immersion program since college): “Let’s bring it in baby, high bar now, yeah, time to swing it…Halfway there. Come on, let’s get big. Let’s go baby. Let’s get some points. Grip it. Have a little fun. Then we’ll get some cheeseburgers on horse. Cheeseburgers on horse? Cheeseburgers on horse, baby. Cheeseburgers on horse? Cheeseburgers, mansion, blondies. Alright. Hair. Alright. Cheeseburgers, mansion, blondies, hair. That’s what we do on horse.” ……………………
-Sadly, Team USA was able to neither cheeseburgers, nor mansion, nor blondies, nor hair when they got to horse. Instead, they spent some quality alone time with a 6.9 E score while waiting for Alex Naddour to bail them out and then point to various places in the crowd. (Identifying all the people who could have scored better than his teammates?) We knew horse was going to be a problem, and there’s no fixing that now. The US is just going to have to eat a low total there and worry about getting big numbers on the other events to stay competitive. Though the total can’t quite be this low. A hit, at the very least.
-Alright. I’m done dwelling.
-Besides the United States, the primary competitors today were glorious people who decided for some reason or other to miss event finals and in so doing, shatter all of us from the inside. Berki won’t be going to the pommel horse final because Louis Smith called “no sharesies, no takebacks” on the title this year, and there’s no arguing that. Arthur Zanetti won’t be going to the rings final because he didn’t go “GRRR” enough times during his routine, and then there’s Epke on high bar.
-Epke did his normal routine, with usual Epke legs, and somewhat worse-than-usual Epke pirouettes, but then the judges did something weird. They suddenly decided to care about that this year and promptly threw a stale crust of bread at him as he landed his dismount while penalizing him for legs, handstands, overly beautiful hair, adorable Dutchness, shipping and handling, local tax, and processing fees, to come up with a 7.100 E Score.
-Don’t they understand that the whole point of the high bar final is Epke? And that we all signed a contract a long time ago to pretend that his form isn’t terrible so that we get to see him in finals? VIOLATION! It’s like the words “but floppy hair…” mean nothing to you!
-In the team qualification race, the only truly competitive team performing today was the US, so the situation remained largely unchanged, with Brazil staying alive and qualifying to Rio and Germany getting knocked down to the bad, bad place of bad. In the test event race, Canada managed to hang on in 15th place to advance, giving them another chance to sneak into the Olympics after missing out by just the tiniest hair last time around.
-Individually, our dear sweet little goober Oleg Verniaiev misguidedly used up his 90 in qualifications, which means he’s saving all his heartbreaking disasters for the AA final. Yes, thank you. Tantalizingly, he’s less than half a point behind Uchimura, though that does include a Kohei fall. Still, getting as close as half a point to Kohei is basically a victory, right?
-Also, Big Hunk of Manrique continued his mission to disrupt the natural order of things by qualifying into the AA in 7th. SEVENTH. You go, Manrique.