The first lesson learned from today’s opening batch of event finals is not to wake up in the middle of the night to watch gymnastics and then try to go back to sleep, because if you do, you will have a dream where Julia Roberts cuts out your tongue.
Don’t worry about it.
But worry about it a little bit.
Anyway, the event finals began as they always do: with you in a groggy haze through the majority of the men’s tumbling and one Japanese handstand final.
Men’s Tumbling and One Japanese Handstand
The most important thing about this final is not to even pretend you understand the execution scores. Today’s scores were brought to you by charitable donations from the John D. and Catherine T. Blind-ass Crackwhore Foundation, Donald and Darlene Alcoholism, the Corporation for Public Da Fuq, and meth heads like you.
Fortunately, a five-year-old’s birthday party named Marian Dragulescu was able to transcend this drug-addled world order by downing his everlasting-youth potion, throwing his walker away, not tumbling like dehydration brought to life, and being Romanian. This allowed him to win his ∞ international floor title and MOMMY I GO VROOM VROOM LIKE AIRPLANE all the way up to the top of the podium.
Other medal contenders were not so lucky. Rayderley Zapata went all “my short landings do not define the beauty of my spirit” across the entirety of the arena, while Dom Cunningham hit a rather composed and precise routine compared to most, and the judges were like, “Thank you for your time, Mona [hiccup].”
Instead, taking silver was Dmitri Lankin, heretofore best known for his head being the shape of an exact cube, like a cartoon cat that got its face stuck in a tin of anchovies.
Anchovy Cat opened his floor routine with a fantastic triple back, followed by CASE DISMISSED YOU’RE FREE TO GO. That meant he could dance around a maypole on his second pass like a common farm girl and it didn’t count even a little bit. As the announcer told us, “He was so high to begin this competition,” getting his notes on Lankin mixed up with Judge # All of Them.
Last but definitely more important than anyone you’ve ever met, the gymternet’s future ex-husband Alex Shatilov decided not to ruin all hope for the future and chose not to throw away our patient love by (TWIST) hitting a whole routine (the whole thing! All the passes!), ensuring that no one had to hurl any radiators through any plate-glass windows, which is just good for the crime rate.
I don’t want to nestle in his beard like Thumbelina. You want to nestle in his beard like Thumbelina.
Just missing out on the podium was the true hero of these finals, the song choices. The songs were hand-selected for each gymnast after a hearty spin of the Wheel of Stereotypes. That’s how Artem Dolgopyat got “Hava Nagila” because of…name a Jewish thing. Ray Zapata got “Y Viva España” because of authentic Spanish culture, Coline Devillard got the arena announcer saying, “Mime in a beret holding a baguette” over and over again, and Teja Belak got “Happy Birthday” because either it’s her birthday or the event organizers were like, “Eff this, Slovenia doesn’t have a song.”
It’s the only time I’ve wished the US could compete in this meet, because I really needed them to follow a Donnell Whittenburg pommel horse routine with a moody electro-pop version of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
All DTYs are the same. In case you didn’t know that. It’s just sort of a pass/fail situation, where if you hit it, you get a 14.400. That’s why the first four DTYs in the women’s vault final all scored the same thing despite looking about as similar as apples and the concept of agoraphobia.
With pretty much everyone vaulting a DTY and a Lopez, the early standings were decided based entirely on how much each gymnast took advantage of the fact that she could perform a Lopez while strapped into an ergonomic ejection seat and holding up a sign that says, “Yo, I’m piked,” and still not get downgraded to piked.
Maria Paseka seemed best poised to break out of the DTY/Lopez prison because her hastily slapped-together papier-mache spine has finally set, which allows her to perform the Amanar again. Sadly, before she even had a chance to stumble backward on her 2.5, she opened her vaulting program by marking Earth Day with a foreboding interpretive representation of the dangers of climate change, communicated through this straddle-twisting Glurb in piked Nabieva.
It’s a vault that can only truly be described by the constant internal state of all gymnastics fans, who happened to be in attendance.
Yep. Those are the feelings. All of them. Us too, lady. Us too.
What makes this reaction so wonderful and so gymnastics is that she’s equal parts horrified, bewildered, amused, emotionally hopeless, and sympathetic, but also doesn’t stop clapping throughout.
Like, “Girl, imma clap for you, but it’s because I’m worried about you.” The motto of gymnastics.
So yeah, Paseka didn’t win, but neither did Ellie Downie, the leader of the DTY/Lopez clan, because finishing the event final was Coline Devillard of France. Devillard plunked a whirling pike-burger of a rudi and a DTY onto the table, which won her the gold because of [undefined].
I guess difficulty? All sixteen E scores sat between 8.700 and 9.166 because the world just doesn’t have enough spontaneous nosebleeds and you needed that in your Saturday.
Hilariously, Andrei Rodionenko was assigned the job of awarding the gold medal, and if you listened very closely, you could hear Valentina whispering, “Steal it, steal it, steal it” into the bewitched amulet she uses to control his thoughts and actions.
Desperate for a taste of the attention the less “just what even is this…?” events get, the pommel horse final decided to knock itself into the purgatory of judging controversy so that everyone would come running. Classic case of boy who cried neutral deduction. Also, Catalina Ponor is suing for copyright infringement and misdemeanor theft of thunder.
And no, the controversy wasn’t because Oleg Verniaiev got placed in between Berki and Bertoncelj in the lineup order, making him look like their small son who sneaked out of bed in his footie pajamas and wandered into the grownup party.
“Daddy, can I do horsey?”
“No, son, you’re far too tired. Get some sleep.”
But Oleg then shouted, “You’re not the boss of this event final!” rebelled against his dads, and competed anyway, soon learning that they were right all along. Wisdom. Oleg didn’t even have enough energy to wave to the crowd for his introduction, then quickly slipped into a temporary fatigue coma in the middle of a circle, and later attempted to dismount only to realize that dismounts are a stupid butthead who’s stupid. So, he quit halfway through and went to play with his trucks.
No, the real controversy involved Papa Krisztian, who was so busy thinking of new and exotic ways to transform all of us into a flock of butterflies through the medium of leg extension that he forgot to start his routine. Berki received a 0.3 neutral deduction for taking longer than 30 seconds to begin, which was enough to knock him from gold to silver.
I went back and timed it (because of course I did), and it’s a tough call because he grabbed the pommels within 30 seconds but took a deep breath to expel the demons and let his beauty shine through before beginning the actual routine, which took him over 30 seconds. Sigh. Thems the rules. Berki didn’t even look up toward the judges to see what was happening and present until after 15 seconds because he was busy tucking in little Oleg, which was going to put him up against it no matter what. It’s a real shame to see medals decided by technicalities instead of gymnastics, though. The time rule exists for a reason because you can’t have gymnasts taking forever, but Berki wasn’t abusing it or taking a ridiculous amount of time by any means.
Instead, gold went to David Belyavskiy, who also had an elegant and pristine routine, successfully managing to impregnate at least six people in the crowd solely using his one-armed circle, which is quite the feat and quite deserving of a title. With three medals so far, the Russian men are making the Russian women look like a garbage barge full of Valentina’s bloody old wigs.
The fight for bronze came down to bald-denier Harutyun Merdinyan up against recovering bald-denier Robert Seligman. (Is there something about being a pommel horse specialist that makes you go prematurely bald? Because I don’t know if Louis can take that emotionally.) Merdinyan used his remaining wisps of comb-forward—that are definitely fooling everyone—to outpace Seligman’s buzz by the smallest of margins.
By a hair, you might say.
Heading in, the uneven bars final looked to be the highest-quality and most thrilling of the…and Dos Santos already fell. Awesome. Sadly, it was the falls more than anything else that defined bars, with the sour ending of Becky Downie falling on a gienger and landing arms-first, ruining the whole everything we have ever loved. Becky immediately grabbed her hand to her chest and started to Ellie all down her cheeks (but the bad version). It’s being reported as an elbow injury that will take her out of the beam final.
The broadcast production didn’t completely understand that gymnastics fans have the emotional sturdiness of a jellyfish on a seesaw and couldn’t really deal with the shot of Ellie crying because Becky got injured, which is also what allowed Ellie to win a bronze. That is 940% too poignant.
In better affairs, Nina Derwael got up and promptly saved Gotham City by directly connecting all the furriest animals of the forest together, and it was glorious. She won Belgium’s first Euros gold for her routine, will be given the key to the gymternet sometime next month, and has been shortlisted for Nobel Prizes in Peace, Physics, and Slaying.
Much like her countryman Lankin, Elena Eremina was able to use her completely impressive and (now) reliable Nabieva to hypnotize everyone like a cobra through the second half of her leg separation for the silver medal, while Elisabeth Seitz had a sudden and unexpected gravity emergency on her dismount that dropped her to a tie for third.
In other unfortunate news, the NONE FOR KIM BUI light came on right before Kim Bui’s routine, which was super unlucky, so there was none for her.
All the rippling little potatoes got up and did their all of their most impressive strongies. Good job?
In this final, we learned that Eleftherios Petrounias has a dedicated bicep masseuse (“that’s a job?” he inquired casually), which I’m sure is what saw him soar to the top of the podium by several tenths. Most impressive in his set is the smoothness with which he moves from cutting a diamond with his deltoids to lifting up a car to let a trapped orphan crawl out to…Iron Albatross Planche? Probably?
Even in a rings final, his work is a step above all the rest.
Courtney Tulloch earned GB’s first man-medal of the event finals with a silver here, showing superior control in eating a whole cow in a single bite and then holding the earth in the palm of his hand. Igor Radivilov took bronze at the behest of the Guinness World Records people, who were very impressed by his revelation of the first-recorded neck that is wider than his waist.
Also, I call Kostantinos Konstantinidis. No switches, no take-backs.