European Games and Junior Worlds – Day 4

We’ve got 15 event finals to go through from today (and I even watched like…13 of them?), so let’s get moving.

European Games

Men’s floor

You know that thing where you overcook a triple back? Where a triple back is just such an easy boring baby skill that you accidentally go too far around and end up stumbling backward OOB and into Russian airspace? Yahor Sharamkou and Dmitrii Lankin do. Both had oopsies of varying degrees on their triple back landings to take themselves out of medal contention and clear the way for top qualifier Emil Soravuo to win the gold with his lovely, superior landing control. Soravuo becomes the first x-ray to win a gold medal in gymnastics at a European Games .

What? Really? Just Finnish? Cool.

Giarnni Regini-Moran recovered from his AA performance, where a no-no on pommel horse took him way down the standings, to win the silver medal here (also downgrading his difficulty 3 tenths from qualification which seemed to work out), and Petro Pakhniuk also avoided any kind of massive landing disasters to win bronze.

Women’s vault

Fun coincidence that June 30th is actually International Angelina Melnikova Day because she had herself quite a performance in the event finals today, raking in three more medals to bring her meet total to 2 golds and 2 silvers across 5 events. If she had made the floor final, a Simone-ish 3 golds and 2 silvers would have been quite realistic.

Props to #2 qualifier Marina Nekrasova for trying to bring it in the final by upgrading to a handspring rudi, but also…maybe not that? She landed sideways and very much on her hands and hips to fall out of medal contention and clear the path for the other three qualifiers who have top difficulty, Teja Belak, Angelina Melnikova, and Sara Peter. In a bit of a surprise, however, it was Belak winning gold with some of the best landings we’ve ever seen from her on both her handspring front full and her Y1.5. No “it’s the final so I fell” problems this time. Melnikova had some lunges on her landings but mostly did her normal, and Peter vaulted cleanly enough but had to deal with a 0.2 disadvantage in D score compared to Melnikova, which put her in 3rd.

Pommel horse

Hit for a medal! Hit for a medal! Step right up and hit for a medal! The thing about these six-person finals at European Games is that a lot of people fall on pommel horse. So here, we had three falls, which meant that everyone who stayed on got a medal. Sadly, likely medalist Cyril Tommasone was one of the fall casualties, as was Marios Georgiou, who nonetheless successfully managed to return from his into-the-volcano high bar adventure yesterday to compete in multiple finals here.

Their misses opened the door for Belarus’s own salt-and-pepper fox Andrey Likhovitskiy to take a bronze medal. His difficulty is a little lower, his rhythm a little slower than the top workers in this final, but he stayed on the thing. The fight for gold, meanwhile, came down to Belyavskiy and Verniaiev, as you might have expected, with the decisive factor being that top-qualifier Verniaiev was given a D score three tenths lower than he received in qualification—putting him .133 behind Belyavskiy in the final standings.

Verniaiev filed an inquiry about his score, leading to this glorious moment when the final was over and the two were waiting to see who had won.

Can this be one of those memes where the people put the words over the people? That the kids do? With their skateboards?

Anyway, the judges took Verniaiev’s inquiry and burned it like a witch, so Belyavskiy ended up with gold and Oleg ended up with 4 surgeries probably.

Interminable medal ceremony break #1

Sometimes, people wake up at 3:00am to watch gymnastics and they’d like to go back to sleep when it’s over, which means it’s not so fun to have 80 hours of medal ceremonies in the middle when we could be doing that nonsense at the end, allowing certain people who don’t care about that part to go back to sleep.

So we need to fix this.

Also, the athletes don’t like it. Yes. That. It’s about the athletes.

Uneven bars

We had Big Fat Drama™ before this much-anticipated bars final even began because Anastasia Iliankova had to withdraw due to an allergic reaction (“There are no peanuts in this,” Valentina exclaimed, handing her a piece of peanut brittle). That meant that Melnikova, previously one-per-country-ed out of the final, got to participate. Which ultimately became…pretty significant.

Within the final itself, the big news was that Nina didn’t hit. WHAT. I know. It’s very shocking and feels like it hasn’t happened in a cool two years. That’s probably not true, but she has been so consistent with her difficulty this quad. Today, she fell on the Derwael-Fenton, which dropped her to 4th place (she still almost won a medal because TEH D).

Yes.

Becky Downie went up early in this final and hit a strong, comfortable routine with no major issues, which is so exciting to see from her again. She has a remarkable ability to pull out combinations when you assume they’re obviously lost. She’ll start dropping down from handstand so far in the midst of a full pirouette that clearly the only option is to add an extra cast handstand, but then she’ll pull out a Shap 7.5 from nowhere because WHAT ARE YOU.

With Derwael falling, you (i.e. me) would have been forgiven for thinking Downie had this one in the bag, but then replacement athlete Melnikova swooped in with what was honestly one of her best bars routines ever with no pauses in the middle of full pirouettes or anything disastrous—except that orphan half turn because code-give-me-strength—which allowed her to pass Downie by less than a tenth. You’re allowed to side eye that one.

Also delivering quite a fine performance was Anastasia Alistratava, who wasn’t going to match Melnikova and Downie because of lower difficulty but actually gave them a surprising battle and took the bronze medal. She had an excellent day on both bars and floor and is a savior.

Rings

So, all these rings routines were basically the same, and you cannot convince me otherwise. Strongiliboos were all strongily, and then they all had a little hitch in a handstand at the end, at which point my bars-handstand radar was like, “A ZERO FOR THIS GARBAGE,” and then a step on the dismount.

Marco Lodadio fulfilled the prophecy for Italy by winning gold, followed by Vahagn Davtyan with silver and then Igor Radivilov taking bronze because he avoided having one of those days where his head suddenly weighs 88 pounds on dismount and he collapses forward. That meant he finished just ahead of Ibrahim Colak and top qualifier Samir Ait Said, with all five separated by just a tenth.

Proving, however, that it’s possible to win an event by finishing last, Lankin’s furious head-shaking reaction to his score was the real shining comet of this final.

Beam

Grumpy is the best medicine. Nina Derwael returned from her disappointment on bars to hit the most fantastically solid, “if RBF came to life, it would be this routine” beam set, and I’m obsessed with it. She’s basically more solid on beam than on bars startingnow, you guys. Next quad, I fully expect her to be like, “Oh, now I’ve also decided to be the best floor worker in the world bye.”

My only issue with the result in this final was that Derwael should have ended up clearer of the rest of the field than she did. Instead, Melnikova nearly caught her. Melnikova ended up in silver position, just .166 behind, with a routine that showed how truly on she was today because she hit the layout and everything. TINY CLAPS. I mean, Melnikova went 13.600 on beam and it wasn’t even Russian Cup. Something was in the air this warm Olympic night.

The rest of the final was the story of “a little shaky, but fine” routines, with Varinska just outscoring Golgota and Fenton to win the remaining medal. They all had little issues, Golgota suffering some larger bends at the waist that were always going to take her score down, so Varinska was able to emerge with another bronze medal.

Also, Lorette Charpy was there. After her fantastically solid all-around performance yesterday, she was in “Mama done” mode today, falling once on bars and twice on beam, the second beam fall actually taking her through a hole in the mat and right into bed Wallace and Gromit style for a nice, long nap.

Men’s vault

Item #1) Nobody’s dead. So that’s a solid sign. And we actually had only the one fall, with Giarnni Regini-Moran missing his second vault.

The big winner of the vault final was Artur Davtyan, who came back from a not-so-much landing on his Drag in the all-around final to be much more under control today and manage an E score of 9.500 because Davtyan. An upgrade to a Kas 2/1 for his second vault allowed him to match the difficulty of Radivilov and Medvedev in this final, and he placed easily ahead of both of them on execution.

Lankin did quite well for a silver medal but didn’t have awesome control on his handspring 2.5—so the execution score was a little lower—Because his second vault is a 5.2 rather than a 5.6, he was going to have to be cleaner than the others.

I was a bit surprised to see Radivilov hang on for bronze ahead of Medvedev because I figured the short landing and bound forward on Radivilov’s second vault would take him out of contention, but he was able to stay ahead of Medvedev on the strength of his first vault and because Medvedev had “this pike is a tuck” problems of his own on the second vault.

Loris Frasca also brought the big difficulty but was off line on both of his vaults, which destroyed his E scores. And by destroyed, I mean 9.2 instead of 9.4. Men’s vault.

Interminable medal ceremony break #2

Stab me in the eye.

Women’s floor

Gold medal favorite Denisa Golgota went for the Silivas in this final and landed it both out of bounds and on her hands, taking her to last place and opening the door for an even more “wouldn’t have called that” podium that it seemed we would have following qualification.

Walking through that door was Anastasia Bachynska—the only other competitor in the final with a D score in the 5s—to win gold, an important recovery performance for her after what was not a particularly strong competition to that point. She had a few landing errors but nothing major and her “you don’t know me, but you will” moment to the camera near the end of her routine was an icon.

Aneta Holasova was, perhaps, the true star of this final, bringing out big difficulty like a double layout and double Arabian to finish a worthy second, and Jessica Castles Carmen-ed her way to a bronze medal with a smooth routine that didn’t have the individual tumbling difficulty of Holasova’s but made up for it with combinations and dance elements. Both of them hit their dance elements exceptionally well, which made a big difference.

Also about this point, Vladimir Putin showed up and it was super awkward. So this is our lives now.

Parallel bars

Oleg is back. In this final, we didn’t just see an Oleg who has getting through somehow but looking like he needed to be dragging an IV and a shoulder-replacement surgeon behind him. We saw old Oleg, the one who could hit a super difficult, clean PBars routine to score well over 15 and win the title. Our little balding goober might actually be on his way back, you guys.

The one who most likely to be able to challenge Verniaiev was once again Belyavskiy, but he did not go through his routine particularly cleanly and had a major lunge on dismount, allowing cleaner routines from Marios Georgiou and Ferhat Arican, who both stuck fantabulous dismounts, to take the remaining medals.

Brinn Bevan, sadly, collapsed under the weight of his bad tattoo decisions and fell against the rail in the middle of his routine.

High bar

We had two misses out of six in this final, as our David inevitably plummeted to the ground on a skill that was too easy for him—this time a Tkatchev 1/2—triggering the PTSD in all of us and dropping him out of medal contention. Top qualifier Carlo Macchini also had trouble, not being able to get back up to handstand following a pirouette and falling against the apparatus before resuming.

The path was therefore clear for a surprise winner, and that winner turned out to be Robert Tvorogal, who once again upped his difficulty for the final with ALL THE TKATCHEVS, and hit cleanly enough to take him clear of the rest of the group by multiple tenths.

This hadn’t been an ideal competition for Ahmet Onder in qualification, advancing to only the HB final, but he came through with a hit when it mattered here (not always a given with Ahmet) to win silver, and Husband of the Blog and Power Tall David Vecsernyes of Hungary did the thing he always does—going cleanly without a ton of difficulty and sticking that cool dismount—to take a well-earned bronze medal.

It’s over!

Junior worlds

Second day of event finals!

On beam, Elena Gerasimova entered as the favorite with a multi-tenth D score advantage and did not disappoint. Save for a wobble on her front handspring front tuck, she was a star, nailing a side aerial to loso series and a back shoulder roll (most important), sticking her 2.5 dismount, and showing respectable enough rhythm to get credit for pretty much all her mixed series—a major factor.

That performance meant it was actually somewhat refreshing to see Vladislava Urazova have a major break on a full turn that took her down to 4th place because I basically didn’t know what I was going to do with all this confident Russian beaming from Melnikova and Gerasimova today.

It was supposed to be all about Ou Yushan and Guan Chenchen on beam at this meet, but Guan missed in qualification and didn’t make the final, and then Ou had a true nightmare routine during finals—falling on her front handspring front tuck and her side somi, and having to bear-hug the beam when her hand slipped on a Korbut. Nonetheless, all was not lost for China because the unsung member of the team Wei Xiaoyuan came through with a solid routine despite her lower difficulty to take silver.

Bronze went to Kayla Di Cello, who led off the final with a very respectable hit. She had a bit of a leg-up check on her series and a bounce back on dismount, but otherwise it went as planned. The duration she held the handstand on her candle mount and her maintenance of toe point in her wolf turn both went noticed and appreciated.

Ioana Stanciulescu performed well and remains the hope for a better future, but she didn’t have quite the difficulty to medal, the same going for Jennifer Gadirova. But more on her when we get to floor.

So let’s do that now. Jennifer Gadirova is a treasure. I mean, her floor routine is far too joyful for my taste (have you never known pain?), but the style, potential, and investment in performance is beyond. Also she has fantastic leaps. Know this one. She finished 4th because she didn’t have nearly the D score of the medalists, but she was exceptional.

Also making everyone’s jaws drop in this final was Ou Yushan, who used lovely turns and twisting form in a sort of “I would think this was so stupid if you weren’t Chinese” set. She also attempted a triple turn in front attitude that was the most beautiful thing in the world for the 2.733 turns she completed—but I wonder if she actually got credit for it. Still, that excellent execution was enough for the silver medal, sandwiching Ou in between the Russians Listunova and Gerasimova, who were both on fire once again.

The expected gold went to Listunova for her whip-whip-triple full, accurately completed turns (her double L turn was a treat), and expressively bendy routine. It’s very “junior, big band,” but she can sell it.

It’s almost like routines with choreographic intent are going to rise to the top compared to routines where gymnasts go up, open the manual, and do Elite Poses 1, 5, 7C, and 8. Or something.

Honesty is the best policy, right? In that case, I will tell you that I did not watch the junior boys event finals on PBars or high bar. I’m not proud of it, but it’s what happened. I went back to sleep instead. Anyway, the medalists on HB were Chepurnyi (UKR), Gerget (RUS), and Balazs (HUN), the medalists on PB were Kitazono (JPN), Yang (CHN), and Oka (JPN), and the medalists on vault were (Burtanete (ROU), Yang (CHN), and Smith-Gordon (GBR).

We saw some high quality Kas 1.5s from several of the top-placing junior boys that a number of these countries would like to have in the seniors starting immediately.

Also, there was a big chicken and its chicken baby that kept creeping up for the medalist pictures.

Like this.

And this.

Japan won the medal standings for the junior men with 7 medals, followed by Ukraine with 4, China with 3, and Canada with 2.

For the women, Russia won with 9 medals, followed by China with 5, the US with 3, and Great Britain with 1.

Next stop, University Games next week!

Advertisements