The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Just the Good Stuff: Men’s Team Final

What you need to know, in quick, easily digestible bullet points.

  • Sweet lord
  • If you didn’t watch, be glad you’re not 285 years older at this moment because the rest of us sure are
  • Anyway, China won—clunking its way to a controversial .050 victory of Russia, reminiscent of the 2014 final when China also barely squeaked its way to gold, that time past Japan
  • Still, no one can righteously complain that they were hosed in this meet because everyone had misses. No one earned that gold medal
  • Basically, the winner is nobody. Come back next summer and repeat the class
  • China did its best to throw its presumed gold medal into the crack in spacetime during the first two rotations when Xiao tripped over a ghost baby on a punch randi on floor, then Sun Wei bottomed out on pommel horse.
  • There was a whole lot of “Well, China’s out of it” at that point, but China’s combined FX+PH score was actually better here than it was in qualification because qualification on PH was so bad.
  • Even though there were two falls, China had actually “closed the gap” on Russia
  • Only being moderately bad was an improvement
  • China’s mistakes did mean that Russia was very much in this thing—despite its own problems on horse (Nagornyy’s Greek leg sculpture, Kuksenkov’s dismount improv class) and a low Lankin floor score for a routine we haven’t seen yet
  • After that, nailed vaults from Nagornyy and Dalaloyan had Russia flying
  • That is, until PBars, when Dalaloyan fell immediately on his underswing up to handstand mount
  • I’ve been assured this is not a case of Shaylaing because he did it on a real skill and had at least touched the bar at that point
  • But it sure looked like a Shayla moment
  • China was always going to make up a ton of ground on PBars, but the Dalaloyan moment ensured that China suddenly enjoyed a lead of a full point, going to high bar, where it’s supposed to be the better and more reliable team
  • Yada, yada, yada, all hell broke loose
  • Lin Chaopan went over the wrong way on a handstand, and Xiao fell on a Liukin, which was exactly the opening that Russia was looking for
  • Nagornyy finished the event and needed to score 13.783 to win the team gold, a very doable number for him
  • But, Nagornyy realllllllly had to muscle out of a layout tkatchev 1/2, opening the door for it to be a judges’ decision
  • With a normal hit, Russia would have won
  • But it was left in the hands of the judges
  • The score: 13.733
  • Not enough
  • China wins
  • The FIG was vindicated (in this case and only this case) for its decision to change the team final format to alternate routines within each rotation because the back-and-forth routines made that final high bar rotation 1000000 times more exciting
  • No one, however, was helped at all by the dumpy world feed, which showed minimal routines and tons of chalking and people standing around and was altogether infuriating
  • Yet, complaints about not showing enough of the US routines are unfounded. Their job is to follow the story of the meet, and the US was not the story of the meet. Sorry
  • Speaking of the US, the team ultimately met expectations in its 4th-place finish and will be equal parts pleased and disappointed about that
  • Pleased: This team was not supposed to medal. Fourth is a very respectable result for the routines that are available right now
  • Disappointed: Two things needed to happen for the US to medal—other teams needed to screw up, and the US needed to be perfect. Other teams sure screwed up, but the US wasn’t perfect
  • Sam Mikulak fell on pommel horse, Moldauer had the same rings problems as qualification, and Modi had the same PBars problems as qualification
  • Japan’s final bronze-medal score of 253.744 was super doable for this US team if they had been excellent and hit 18-for-18
  • Another thing that could have happened with a hit day: Japan winning gold
  • This Japanese team came in at a slight disadvantage, which was illuminated by qualification, but the way things played out, Japan could have made gold happen by taking advantage of the mistakes from China and Russia
  • Alas no
  • It started out looking like Japan would do just that. The Japanese were hitting the cleanest meet through three events, but then Tanaka peached himself right into Persian Gulf twice on Pbars and that was that
  • By that point, it was always going to be the bronze for Japan, and a fall from Tanigawa on floor didn’t change much
  • Great Britain had a shot to score right with the US if things had gone well, but GB suffered a similar fate to the other top teams, throwing in a few more falls than it did in qualification
  • Switzerland improved its qualification ranking by two spots (from 8th to 6th) thanks in large part to Hegi no longer decapitating himself on HB
  • Yay for no decapitations
  • Brazil took 7th, and the Netherlands was thrilled to make the TF for 8th
  • The Dutch had a fab HB rotation of course, but big mistakes on some other events (combined with just having lower scoring potential) ensured it would be 8th place
  • For tomorrow’s women’s final—the start lists are out and Riley McCusker is going on beam rather than Hurd, despite the fall on the first day. I don’t really have a horse in that race because they can both get big scores and the US is going to win by so much it doesn’t really matter. So meh.
  • McCusker has the higher scoring potential, so you can definitely make the argument she’s the right choice, especially if she’s been hitting in training. It’s the lineup I would have had before the team left for Doha
  • Simakova is staying on the Russian team and doing beam.
  • Liu Jinru will not be doing floor, after anchoring the event in qualification
  • Shallon Olsen will be called upon to do beam in TF. Would not have predicted that one a few months ago.
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