Obviously, we’re starting with uneven bars. Let’s just get that sarcastic leprechaun’s fever dream out of the way right now. Here’s how it went down.
This morning, Nellie Kim met with all the women’s judges to tell them of her plans for a passage of one-legged, no-look acro elements from side position in releve requirement for beam, because TEH ARTISTRY, at which point the judges robbed a Xanax truck at gunpoint, downed all of it, then hosed themselves into the uneven bars final going, “8.7 EXECUTION PROBABLY. EVERYONE TASTES LIKE WINNERS [coma].”
Everyone tastes like winners, indeed. Except for Gabby Douglas, apparently, since the judges looked at her cleanest-routine-of-the-final and went “Not quite. BOOP.”
But notwithstanding Gabby and Sophie Scheder, who sadly got the rickets in the middle of her dismount and temporarily forgot what walking is, the judges thought it would be funny (not ha-ha funny, more like sylvia-plath funny), if they just gave everyone and everything, all the flora and fauna, the exact same score. Because who the hell cares? Not us! Great. Fun. So once Fan Yilin got a 15.366, they said “Bingo, there’s the one” and conferenced for several short life cycles of a sea turtle about how to get Komova’s score down to 15.366. And with that never-say-die attitude they’re so famous for, they did it! Because of…sure. And…reasons. Komova thought that was some hilarious bullshit. Throughout the whole tie process, from getting her shut-up-nonsense-steroid-conspiracy of a score to being forced to hop up on that sister-wives medal stand with everyone else, she was basically this.
And once they got Komova in the tie, why not get Kocian and Spiridonova into the mix too? I CAN THINK OF NO REASON. This is such a fun game of Electronic Talking Fuck It! You stepped? That’s fine. You missed some handstands in there? That’s fine. 15.366! It’s a party! Four golds! We’re doing our jobs and there’s no problem with this! We definitely won’t run out of medals and won’t have to invite tomorrow’s winners onto the podium to give them a scrap of notebook paper with “Redeemable for one Mother’s Day present” on it.
The medal ceremony was a magical treat. All four had to step onto the top tier of the podium together, like they misguidedly decided to enter a barbershop quartet in the school talent show and sing “Sweet Adeline.” Although how many millions would you have paid to see that? Thankfully, all four of them are the size of an immature asparagus stalk, so there was definitely room to stuff about 20 more gold medalists up there to do a celebrity charity single to end poverty. I half-expected Valentina to run up there with a colander on her head and an empty bottle of cooking sherry going, “I’M THE WINNER TOO.”
There were so many goddamn champions in this final that they couldn’t even use the normal flaggy-raisey bar (that’s what it’s called), so they had to kidnap some local urchins off the street to walk out carrying all the flags, including two for Russia. Commence singing that doublemint gum twins commercial from the 90s. But horribly, when they had to play ALL THE NATIONAL ANTHEMS, they played Russia’s only once. Do you know how many heavens I would have been in if they had played it twice for both Russian winners? And how is Komova feeling about all this? The same.
But why couldn’t they use the flaggy-raisey bar? I know it can fit four flags because it fit both pommel horse bronze medalists. Is it not adjustable? That seems like poor planning. I have a lot of questions.
As for the tie, obviously I hate it because ties result in far too many people feeling happy and fulfilled with not nearly enough crying and blame. My big two. But really, the point of competition is to determine a winner. Specifically, the point of event finals is to separate the best from the best, and with this four-way tie, the judges failed in doing the exact thing event finals exist to do, rank champions on a scale of 1-8 so we know how much to value them. It’s particularly eye-roll worthy because breaking a tie by execution score is actually a pretty fair way to do it. Much more fair than dropping the lowest event score and then giving the decision to whoever seems the coolest, like in an all-around tiebreaker. Four winners is too many winners and wildly unnecessary. You might as well not even have conducted a final. MORE BITTERNESS PLEASE.
But the tiebreak rules are not the biggest problem here. The biggest problem is Katy Perry. But after that, the biggest problem is our old friend, lack of separation in scores. The judges have a whole 10 points of execution to work with, and limiting so many scores to the same minuscule five-tenth range is the greatest failure of the current code, and the opposite of what it was intended to achieve. If the judges were taught to count all the way from 1 to 10 and encouraged to use a wider range of the scores (both higher and lower than they’re giving now, when warranted) this kind of debacle wouldn’t need to happen, as entertaining as it was.
Were there other finals? Maybe.
Staying with the women, the vault final was dampened by the injury to Giulia Steingruber when she had the kind of lock-legged landing on her second vault that always reminds me of Tim Daggett. “Oh, gloh, huhhhh, that was…well, that was actually….frankly pretty dangerous, is what it was.”
But the show went on, pretty much exactly as expected as a result of the FIG’s whole flask of WTF juice being saved for bars. Biles had the best-performed vaults in the final, obviously, but lost on difficulty to the Amacheng doubles from Paseka and Hong. At first glance, I thought Hong’s vaults deserved to win because of stronger leg form and old-fashioned cut to her leo (it’s definitely not a good thing when you’re like, “Yes, the North Koreans, they’re doing it properly,” but that’s where we are), but it was quite close between her and Paseka. Simone is capable of throwing the Cheng, but as Aimee has stated in the past, they’re reluctant to work certain upgrades into her program because of the lack of a touch warmup in the final. More evidence that if the gymnasts were given touch warmups, we would get higher-quality finals.
Ellie Downie got 4th! And Karmakar’s Butt-a-Prod was only mildly terrifying and only mildly a fall, which is a huge improvement on the game of Russian Roulette she used to vault. But, there was a humongous gap between the three medalists and everyone else in this final.
For the men, some other things happened. On floor, Kenzo continued to do every skill that has ever been invented on floor in combination to boast a remarkably large D for someone his size. (That’s my first one of the WHOLE championship! I’ve been so proud of my restraint.) He won by several light years, also recording the second-highest E score of the event. The floor final has been missing something the last couple years, and I just realized what it is: an American with loads of potential falling and finishing 8th. Jake Dalton hit well last year, and this time there wasn’t any American at all. Help us, Steve Legendre, you’re our only hope!
Max Whitlock floated around on a cloud of marriage proposals to land all his passes brilliantly for a silver, and Ray Zapata raised his arm toward Bart Deurloo and Paul Ruggeri, proclaimed, “tattoo sleeve powers activate!!!” and sailed his way to the bronze and an Olympic spot for himself if the team doesn’t qualify.
The pommel horse final was a horrific disappointment. Have some self-respect. You call yourself a pommel horse, and yet you could manage only ONE fall? ONE???? What do you think we’re here for? Cleanly executed and extended, fast-paced, and controlled pommel horse circles? Fuck no. I want crazy lunatics spinning their way off the apparatus like a top and falling into competitors/officials/judges before a controversy ensues about their dismount hips. You know, pommel horse. I can barely even look at you right now, horse.
Since they can actually, you know, do pommel horse routines, the British went 1-2 with Golden Boy finishing first and Louis Smith’s stylist finishing second. The big question from all this is whether Louis Smith can somehow eyebrow-pose at the selection committee strongly enough to force them to put him on an Olympic team for one event when he’s not currently the best in the country on it. Tough task.
Kazuma Kaya is actually secretly 11 puppies in a person costume.
Memo to Harutyun Merdinyan and Robert Seligman: You’re bald. And it’s only going to get worse. The sooner you accept that, the happier you will be. Embrace the razor.
Apparently, we were expected to pay attention to the rings final right on the heels of that perfect uneven bars nonsense. Really? Have you met us? Zero percent chance. I think everyone pretty much hit, and all the competitors scored within .400 of each other on E score and .500 of each other in total score, so it really could have gone any of the ways and apparently there’s no difference between any of these routines. Congratulations, no one! By default, the judges elected to award the gold to Eleftherios Petrounias on the strength of his name and the fact that he does buttah-rings that look so smooth and comfortable compared to the near-death experience it appears to be for most humans. His level of medically serious constipation during holds is really low, and I’m proud of him for that.
I haven’t yet watched the entirety of Trautwig trautwigging it up on the NBC broadcast of the women’s team final, but I did see him acknowledge Shang Chunsong as “this is the aftermath” and refer to Romania as “the flu,” so it’s already everything I ever could have dreamed of.