The Melbourne apparatus world cup, the 6th of 8 events in the series used to determine which 10 individuals (4 women, 6 men, one for each event) gain Olympic berths.
When is it?
Qualification Day 1
Thursday, February 20, 6:00pm local/2:00am ET/11:00pm PT
Qualification Day 2
Friday, February 21, 6:00pm local/2:00am ET/11:00pm PT
Finals Day 1
Saturday, February 22, 6:00pm local/2:00am ET/11:00pm PT
Finals Day 2
Sunday, February 23, 3:00pm local/11:00pm ET/8:00pm PT
How do I watch?
We think the finals will be live streamed on the Olympic Channel, but they haven’t posted the specific information yet. They streamed it last year and have broadcast rights because they’re showing it tape delayed on TV later.
Why is this one particularly important?
The best 3 results out of the 8 events count for each individual’s final ranking. After Melbourne, there will be only 2 events remaining, so if you leave Melbourne without at least one excellent result (i.e., a win) on your record, you’re not going to the Olympics.
Can Jade Carey clinch an Olympic spot in Melbourne this weekend?
Almost. With a victory in the vault competition in Melbourne, Carey would achieve the maximum of 90 ranking points in the Olympic qualification race for vault.
Even if Carey wins Melbourne and gets to 90, however, she could still eventually be tied by Yu Linmin of China, who would then be the only other vaulter with a chance to get to 90 points herself. (Besides Rebeca Andrade, who is not slated to compete vault at upcoming events.)
If both Carey and Yu were to get to 90 points by the end of the series, they would go to a tiebreak—superior total vault score over the three competitions used to achieve those 90 ranking points. Carey currently leads that race as well with higher scores than Yu, but that could theoretically still change in the remaining events.
That’s why I say it would be almost certain. Basically certain, if Carey wins. But not officially clinched yet. That’s also why, even if Carey wins in Melbourne and achieves the maximum point total, she should continue competing at remaining world cup events—specifically to keep Yu from getting wins.
Why are you focusing on Carey’s vault chances and not her floor chances?
All gymnasts, regardless of country or team status or qualification route, are able to compete the all-around in qualification at the Olympics this year. So, an athlete qualifying via apparatus world cups like Melbourne needs only qualify on one event. If Carey, for instance, were to win both the vault and floor titles in the apparatus series, she would get the Olympic spot for vault (as things stand now) because her finishes have been stronger there than on floor, while the floor spot would go to the next in line. So at this point, it’s about vault and not really about floor.
What about the other women’s events?
Bars – Fan Yilin nearly has this one locked up despite not being able to compete in Melbourne. Once Nina Derwael’s points are redistributed (because Nina qualified with a team at worlds), Fan will have the maximum of 90 points. No one actually competing in Melbourne has any wins so far, so whoever wins here would not only have to win Melbourne, but also win Baku and Doha to challenge Fan. (That also means anyone who doesn’t win the bars title here is out of Olympic contention.) Rebeca Andrade does have a 30-point result already, and while she’s not entered in Melbourne, she’ll be looking win Baku and Doha to try to get to 90 points.
Beam – Beam is the most wide-open of the women’s events. No one has more than one title so far, with Andrade, Zhao Shiting, Li Qi, Urara Ashikawa, and Emma Nedov all sitting on one win. With the best secondary results, Nedov currently leads the standings and could solidify that position with a win here. Nedov originally wasn’t on the roster but that was due to an FIG license issue, one that was ultimately resolved. Ashikawa is also competing here to try to get that second win, but because this one is so open, athletes without victories so far will feel like they’re still in it if they win Melbourne. So watch out for someone like Anastasia Bachynska, who has a few solid results so far and could get right up into the mix with a win.
Beam is also the event where it’s most devastating to the Chinese gymnasts that they are not able to attend because Ou Yushan and Guan Chenchen could have made last-ditch runs.
Floor – Jade Carey is expected to lead these standings as well and would get to 90 points with a win in Melbourne. But as discussed above, the current state of the tiebreaks would give her the vault spot and not the floor spot, opening up floor for someone else. Right now, the most likely someone elses are Lara Mori and Vanessa Ferrari, who are running neck-and-neck with Mori ever so slightly slightly ahead. So if Ferrari outscores Mori here, that would be a big deal.
Although, the quest to be the best non-Carey on floor should not be treated as just a two-person race. Bachynska has a win so far and could jump right up with Mori and Ferrari with another good result. Claudia Fragapane is also trying to get a floor spot, but it’s pretty urgent for her that she get a ton of points here because she doesn’t have any 1st- or 2nd-place results so far.
Floor – Ray Zapata is currently in a very comfortable position and competing in Melbourne. Other delights like Hayden Skinner, Tomas Gonzales, Jorge Vega Lopez, and Bram Verhofstad are trying to make late runs, but they’re all currently well back. Treat this as Zapata’s spot until we see if any of the others can get a win here to start building points.
Horse – Because Lee Chih-Kai qualified to the Olympics with a team, his points will be redistributed to give Weng Hao the maximum of 90. The problem for Weng is that despite leading the horse rankings, he’s currently in position to lose the intra-China tiebreak to Liu Yang (rings). That means finishing in 2nd place on horse could be extremely significant. Japan’s Kohei Kameyama can get himself to 90 points as well with a victory here, and all other vaguely close competitors like Saeedreza Keikha, Robert Seligman, Filip Ude, Saso Bertoncelj, and Stephen Nedoroscik will be eager to keep Kameyama from winning because if he does win, they’re all out of it.
Rings – Liu Yang already has three wins and 90 points. It’s going to be very difficult to catch him, but Courtney Tulloch does have a win and will be looking to take a second win in this Yang-less field to keep himself in contention. Anyone else would have to win here and run the table at the remaining world cup events to keep himself alive, and that includes Eleftherios Petrounias.
Vault – Vault for the men is like beam for the women in that no one knows what the hell is going on yet. All previous titles have gone to Radivilov and Yang Hakseon, both of whom are ineligible for this route and will have their points redistributed. That will give single 30-point results to Hidenobu Yonekura, Audrys Nin Reyes, and Jorge Vega Lopez, all of whom are in the field here and hoping to consolidate their positions with a win. Shin Jaehwan, Artur Sharamkou, and Andrey Medvedev also have some solid results, if not any 30-pointers, and could get themselves right back up in there with a win here, but their situations are more urgent. Like I said, this one is still open.
PBars – Vladislav Poliashov is driving the chariot on PBars and could get himself to nearly unassailable 90-point status with a victory in Melbourne. Helping him is that You Hao can’t compete here—and also would be troubled by that same intra-China boondoggle as Weng were he to win the series anyway. Most other competitors are farrrrr back and would need immediate wins, but keep an eye on home favorite Mitchell Morgans, who could get himself right in the race if he defeats Poliashov here.
High Bar – We could talk about the other people who are hanging around the edges, but this is basically the Epke Zonderland/Hidetaka Miyachi race. They’ve been going back-and-forth with wins—whichever one wins here will go back into the driver’s seat—and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if they both end up on 90 points at the end of things. Because they both have so many points already, it’s only about winning here. Second-place points do nothing for either.
Though it’s also worth keeping in mind the ripple effects of those potential intra-country tiebreaks. If Kameyama becomes the winner on horse (either outright or because Weng loses his own tiebreak), Kameyama is currently in a better position to win an intra-Japan tiebreak than Miyachi is—because Miyachi has lost to Zonderland a couple times. Tiebreaks on tiebreaks on tiebreaks.
No one knows. But let’s blame Nellie.