The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Live from Worlds – Men’s All-Around Final

First and foremost, today will deliver the test of whether Nikita Nagornyy truly has supplanted Artur Dalaloyan as the king of the Russians, as has appeared the case through 2019—as well as in qualification and the team final here

For further medals, we’re looking at Xiao Ruoteng and Sun Wei from China as major contenders, as well as Kazuma Kaya. And then there’s the issue of Sam Mikulak. Because we’ve had two withdrawals from the final (Kim Hansol and Manrique Larduet), Sam is no longer the last qualifier, but he will nonetheless have to start on vault and attempt to medal from the back of the pack. On the other hand, his first three events are VT, PB, and HB, which means he should have a crazy-high score after the first few pieces and be near the top of the leaderboard.

Introductions started with the top qualifiers this time. They went in reverse for the women, which made more sense.

Rotation 1

Sun – FX – double front pike, bounce forward – DLO, nearly stuck, lovely and high, small quiver – double double tuck, bounce back, some chest position – 2.5 to 1/2, stuck – 2/1, stuck – sidewinder 3/1 but it works for a stuck landing.

Karimi knees down on Dragulescu attempt. Hegi works through on PH. Step back on doubel double for Abad on rings.

Hegi 14.233

Moldauer – PH – gorgeous flare work as always – little bit of hip angle in his straight-legs elements – once again has problems on his dismount and can’t complete it as intended before finishing. 13.133

Kaya – FX – double front 1/2 out, short with a hop forward – double front pike, small bounce – front 2/1 to front full, hop – solid russians – stuck 2/1 side pass – 2.5 to 1/2, stuck – 3/1, stuck, some leg form. Second 1/2 was strong. May be hurt by those landings on the first few passes. 14.300

Souza lunge forward on Shewfelt. Braegger just does muscle his way up to handstand on his dismount on PH.

Xiao – FX – punch randi, small step – 3.5 to 1/2, great, stuck – double double tucked, little bounce – 2.5 to front 2/1, another little hop. He is having the hops but minimizing their size – 2/1, stuck – 3/1, stuck, nice 15.025 feels a little excessive, but it was nice.

Mikulak – VT – Kas 1.5, a larger hop forward/sideward than he would have liked but not excessive – just a bit of knees. 14.266

Verniaiev – PH – a little hesitant coming back down from a handstand circle – otherwise, clean and fast work – 14.866

Dalaloyan – FX – front lay to double front pike 1/2 out, hops feet together – front full to double front pike, hop forward – 1.5 to randi, small hop – double double, smallest adjustment 2.5 to front 2/1, stuck – 3/1, stuck with a small arm wave. Excellent.

Lee on pommel horse was obviously glorious in every possible way until he dismount where he got a little crazy but somehow managed to complete a circle and land on his feet while in the process of getting caught in a heavy sidewind. 15.000

Scoreboards have gone down in the arena for now, so Nagornyy and Toba don’t know if they can start. They’re just like “whatcha gonna do” at each other.

LOL. Literal blue screen of death has come up on the event scoreboards in the arena. Excellent awesome sign that I’m enjoying a lot. Don’t think this is the kind of new sign they were talking about setting.

Dalaloyan’s score is finally up with 15.200. At least they’re willing to go there for everyone

Nagornyy – FX – triple back, nearly stuck, small bounce – front double pike 1/2 out, stuck – front double 2/1 to double front, clicks heels together – stuck combo pass and 2/1 – full in, stuck. Awesome. So that was the best of the last three floor routines. 15.041. For me that was stronger than Dalaloyan’s, even with a lower D.

Now Pakhniuk has to go on floor after those three like “AND ALSO ME TOO”

Pakhniuk – FX – double front some hopping – 1.5 to front 2/1, hop – 2.5 to 1/2 is solid – 2/1, his first stick – 3/1, little slide. A good one, just a shame he had to go after the last three. 14.033

So it’s Dalaloyan, then Nagornyy, then Xiao after the first event. Lee and Verniaiev are close after having started on such a strong event for them.

Rotation 2

Nice Kas 2/1 from Yulo, medium step back, good landing position. Kaya is through pommel horse pretty cleanly, and Moldauer has some hesitation problem in his final handstand and then a hop back on dismount on rings.

14.566 for Kaya. 13733 for Moldauer.

Meanwhile Hegi just hit himself in the face with a ring while trying to prep them for Braegger, and I know that’s the kind of content you’re coming here for.

Xiao – PH – very strong hit, I would say it wasn’t his absolute best routine, just a moment or two of knees and a moment where he got a little close to the pommels – but he has great line and no significant errors at all. 15.000.

Lee JH dismounts PB with a double pike, lunge back

Stuck Kas 2/1 for Frasca. Very strong.

Dalaloyan – PH – small hesitation up to handstand on a scissor element – great flare spindle work – going after Xiao, it emphasizes that Dalaloyan has a clunkier style, more hip angle, some moments where he loses rhythm, but a successful routine.

Oleg broke 14 on rings. That works for me.

Caio Souza’s tuck position on PBars is a dream, but getting back up to handstand out of that was a struggle. Great stick on double front 1/2 out.

14.000 for Dalaloyan

Nagornyy – PH – smooth early one pommel work, gets a little slow here and there – has some hip angle, keeping his legs pretty well extended – another strong routine for him. 14.566

James Hall sticks his vault again. He’s been sticking all week.

Pakhniuk gets a tad U-shaped on his final Russian travel, but otherwise a successful routine.

Mikulak – PB – healy, smooth – peach 1/2 just a little short – bhavsar, very smooth – tippelt, comfortable, stutz right on – double front 1/2 out, two major swims to hold the stick, but he does so, so should be a strong score

Hegi really struggles on his rings dismount, large lunge back and then another big step as he kind of turns sideways. Weird?

Sun – PH – lovely handstand position on his scissor up to hs, doesn’t cheat that at all – great speed and form on his russian circles on the end of the poomel, not sluggish like so many – super crisp routine. Love it. 14.991. Deserved, excellent routine.

15.325 for Mikulak. HUGE number. They almost went 9 in E score for him.

Karimi – PB – healy, just a little short back to handstand – peach is rather horizontal – front straddle to arms, nice – moy and tippelt – nice diam finishing position – clean stutz – double tuck 1/2, stuck. Good.

#SunWeiArmMassage

OK, so Xiao moves out in front after PH, but still followed closely by Nagornyy, then we have Mikulak and Dalaloyan. Mikulak as expected moving up with one of his good events. He’s going to HB while the leaders are on rings, so no reason he shouldn’t be right there again if he hits.

Rotation 3

Braegger sits his Kas 1.5

I always think Xiao Ruoteng has weird positions on his cross elements, but it may just be that his arms bend in a way that defies physiology, hit routine. 13.933

Verniaiev – VT – Drag – excellent, well completed, just a medium bounce back

Nice healy from Frasca, diam is right to vertical – hit stutz – double front, stuck. Very clean second 1/2 of that routine.

Dalaloyan – SR – excellent maltese positions – smooth cross, well held – pikes to tucks to roll to cross – only the smallest hesitation in a straddle planche – double double tuck, hop back. Was truly excellent until the dismount, and since this is rings, I’m pretty sure the landing control is actually the only deduction. #conspiracytheory. 14.433. Still behind Xiao and now Oleg as well.

Nice HB from Souza, including a pretty solid finishing position on his tak 1/1, he did have a tak 1/2 that was quite late – double double layout, medium hop

Fraser a little short on his PB dismount witha hop forward

Nagornyy – SR – good solid cross, excellent use of “hey girl” vibes whenever he finishes his 2 seconds of hold – some body arching in handstand, small hesitation in the next one – double double, small hop back. 14.633 puts him into first place.

Tvorogal fell on a layout tkatchev and Hegi fell on his Kas 1.5 basically simultaneously.

Tang sticks his double front PBars dismount. Lovely stuck DLO 1/1 from Tvorogal on HB, love how long he waits to initiate twist. Stylish.

Moldauer – VT – Kas 1.5 – comes up a bit short today and has to hop back

Pakhniuk has some small handstand control dismounts before his double front pike dismount, hop forward

Nice front straddle to catch from Hall – healy – stutz to one rail and back – double front, small shuffle forward. Some things but not many.

Mikulak – HB – cassina, caught – Kolman, solid – layout tkatchev – tkatchev to tkatchev 1/2, good – tak 1/2, really nice position – hop full a bit late – no Liukin – double double layout, small hop. Good.

Abad – PB – peach 1/2 a little crooked – bhavsar, not the farthest but fine – tippelt, clean – double front, cowboy, side step forward

14.700 for Mikulak puts him barely into first place –

Karimi just does catch a Cassina, getting his hand in at the last minute – great amplitude on his Kovacs elements – got a little crazy on a rybalko – double double layout, some knees, small step back

13.966 for Sun Wei on rings.

Kaya with a very secure rings routine – doubel double layout dismount, hop back. 14.300

Yulo – PB – makuts, hit – healy – bhavsar, comfortable – tippelt – solid – diam is literally perfect – double pike, stuck, chest up, very good. 14.833. Awesome. Also nearly 9 in E.

After 3:
Mikulak – 44.291
Nagornyy – 44.240
Xiao – 43.958
Verniaiev – 43.666
Dalaloyan – 43.633


Don’t freak because Mikulak has already gone through his best events, but good for him for being in this place after three.

Rotation 4

Handspring double front pike from Dalaloyan – nearly/basically sits it down! Super short, pops right up but still a lunge to the side. OOF. 14.066. They gave him 8.566 E, so not a full fall.

Fraser hits his cassina and kolman, just a bit of crazy legs – double double layout, step forward

Nagornyy – VT – nearly ideal dragulescu, stuck landing, just the cowboying really

Nice stuck double front pike from Tvorogal on floor. Double front tuck also stuck, but deep landing –

Verniaiev – PB – peach 1/2, good – peach to one – makuts, very smooth – tippelt with his signature flight – bhavsar – a small arch on a late handstand. Double front 1/2 out, small bounce. Good. He’ll stay up there. 15.475. Buh damn.

Nice tick from Pakhniuk on kas 1.5

Sun – VT – lovely Kas 2/1 in the air as usual, fairly large lunge back

Mikulak – FX – double front pike, bounce forward – 2.5 to double front, also a little too bouncy – front 2/1 to front tuck 1/1, bounce forward – 1.5 to front full, stuck – 3/1, small hop back. Not enough sticks but nothing major, good routine.

Lunge forward for Kaya on Tsuk 1.5. 14.000

14.400 for Mikluak, in behind Nagornyy and Verniaiev now but increases his edge on Dalaloyan.

Xiao – VT – strong Kas 2/1, a little more legs than Sun but also a more controlled landing, medium step back. 14.800 puts him ahead of Mikluak by about 6 hundreths.

Hall – HB – Cassina, good – kovacs, solid – falls on Kolman, can’t catch

Hegi – PB – really rushed through a peach 1/2 – front straddle, solid – tippelt, lowish? but fine – stutz – stutz to one and back with some hand placements and an arch – double pike, little movement

Abad – HB – layout tkatchev – layout tkatchev 1/2 – tkatchev to tkatchev 1/2 – rybalko – DLO 1/1, some piking, step back

Moldauer – PB – healy, smooth – peach – peach 1/2, small arch – diam, excellent – long swing diam, also good – tuck salto work, both hit – double front 1/2 out, small hop to the side. 14.666

Sam very vocal during Yul’s PB routine. The gymnasts rotating with him have “so the American Pie movies are, like, a documentary, huh?” face about it.

Yulo- HB – yam – tak 1/2, a litle crooked – super high Kovacs because he’s so little – rybalko, somewhat late – tak – endo 1/2 – double double layout, stuck like Excalibur. Clean routine. Also, he’s so little you guys.

Braegger – PB – tippelt, solid, a little hip angle up to handstand in some of these, but no non-built-in breaks – diam, nice – and with a 1/2 twist – 1/2 twisting double tuck, solid landing.

Frasca, DLO 2/1 on HB, fairly significant lunge back

After 4:
1. Nagornyy – 59.306
2. Verniaiev – 59.141
3. Xiao – 58.758
4. Mikulak – 58.691
5. Dalaloyan – 57.699

This rotation is where we expect Nagonyy and Xiao to begin pulling away. Dalaloyan should pull away here too, but he dug himself enough of a hole on vault that he’s still in a little bit of trouble. This HB routine will be the big test for Verniaiev.

Rotation 5

Lee CK – HB – tak 1/1 is pretty late – tak 1/2, same – layout tkatchev, good – tkatchev, smooth and high – double double layout, very nice and stuck

Nagornyy – PB – peach to one, held well into healy – peach 1/2, a bit of arm placement – makuts, good – healy, smoothly done – diam, perfect – diam 1/2, so quick and vertical – double front 1/2 out, stuck, amazing. 15.300

Nice stuck double double layout from Toba

Mikulak – PH – smooth through mikulak scissors and then immediately falls in a handstand circle. Oh Samuel. I thought this was going to be one of those days when you hit and finished 5th or something.

Pakhniuk – PB – struggles through a makuts, not quite on line –

Mikulak resumes his routine and finishes cleanly

Abad takes a double front right to his back

Hegi – HB – can’t work out of a one-arm pirouette and has to rest against the bar

13.000 for Mikulak.

Karimi just barely completed his PH dismount, twisting finished in horizontal.

Sun – PB – peach 1/2 with a little adjustment – long pause before double back to arms – front straddle, good – bhavsar, hit – tippelt, smooth – holds onto double front 1/2 with arm wave

Yulo gorgeous DLO 1/1, bounce – double front pike 1/2 out, bounce – just a little steppy on too many passes, including his 3/1 dismount, and had an OOB but 14.633

Hit HB for Moldauer

Kaya – PB – peach 1/2, pretty good – peach – front straddle, solid – bhavsar, goo rhythm – tippelt, comfortable hs – stutz to one – small arch in hs before dismount – double front 1/2 out, slide back. 15.000

Verniaiev – HB – yam 1/2, hit – layout tkatchev 1/2 – tak 1/2, a bit late – tkatchev – tak 1/1 is fully crazy and sideways but he continues – endo and endo 1/2 – double double layout, stuck. He got through it. 13.666

Xiao – PB – double tuck, nice – healy – a little elbowy in some of these 1/2 turn elements – great open out of his second double back as usual – front straddle, nice – tippelt, solid amplitude – double pike, bounce back. 15.266 and into 2nd place.

Dalaloyan – PB – diam good – stutz, solid hs position – tippelt, clean – bhavsar, excellent – front straddle, comfortable – healy, good hs positions everywhere in this routine – stutz – nearly sticks his dismount but not really, a little shuffle of the heels there

15.233 for Dalaloyan and into 3rd place.

After 5:
1. Nagornyy – 74.606
2. Xiao – 74.024
3. Dalaloyan – 72.932
4. Verniaiev – 72.807
5. Sun – 72.523

Mikulak has dropped out of medal contention after the PH fall, and now we have basically order restored with Nargornyy Xiao and Dalaloyan in the top 3. Nagornyy’s advantage is enough that he should continue to be considered the favorite heading to the last event.

Rotation 6

Mikulak – SR – nice cross position, maybe a little low but seemed OK – planche, secure – really struggles in his final hs but works through, double double dismount, stuck

14.00 for Mikulak. 85.691 with a fall.

Sun – HB – tak 1/1 extremely late – tak 1/2, just barely gets his hand on and pretty late – layout tkatchev and tkatchev 1/2 are good – lay tkatchev 1/2, fine – yam, nice – double double layout, small hop forward. 14.000 is a bit charitable there.

Hegi sits down a combo pass. Now readjusting his shorts mid-run, the universal sign of someone who is over it

Kaya – HB – yam 1/2, good – tak 1/2, good vertical – layout tkatchev – tkatchev 1/2, hit – german giants, hit – yam, some feet and body position there – double double layout, a little short, small hop. 13.733

Moldauer not quite his sticking machine self on floor (after the great initial randi), including a large bounce back on his 3/1.

Xiao – HB – liukin, caught well – layout tkatchev to tkatchev to tkatchev 1/2 all looked good but he couldn’t swing out of the final element and had to come off the bar! Opening for a Dalaloyan silver now. Finishes with a stuck double double layout.

Verniaiev – FX – 3/5 to full, lunge forward – 2.5 to front 2/1, small hop – double double tuck, bounce back – randi, lands a little too sideways, some legs – arches his wide arm handstand but pulls it back – 3/1, sticks with an arm wave

Now he’s dragging his coat behind himself like Linus as he walks off the podium, looking like he has 6 leprosies, but it was a great day.

Xiao does just enough to get himself ahead of Sun, but it’s just 12.666. YEOUCH.

OLEG IS AHEAD OF XIAO! 14.166 on floor.

Dalaloyan – HB – layout kovacs, nice – kovacs, comfortable – layout tkatchev 1/2, well caught – layout tkatchev – yam – DLO 1/1, bounce back. Comfortable hit.

14.233 gives Dalaloyan 87.165 and into 1st place.

Nagornyy – HB – yam – layout tkatchev – layout tkatchev 1/2, good – tak 1/1 crazy legs and late – tak 1/2, fine – tkatchev – tkatchev 1/2, solid – stalder – double double layout, small hop back. That will do it!

Gold to Nagornyy, silver to Dalaloyan, bronze to Verniaiev.

BUT OLEG.

Nagornyy did it with 88.772. That’s…quite a score.

“First of all, we have a really interesting show act.”

Longines prizes to Sam Mikulak and Melanie de Jesus Dos Santos for achievement in falling during the all-around.

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