The men’s vault final successfully fulfilled the prophecy, with half the competitors staying upright and half of them, well…we’ll always have Paris.
The two world-final-level vaulters rose to the top here, with Andrei Medvedev taking gold and Courtney Tulloch taking silver, each showing two 5.6 vaults. Medvedev’s landings proved a little stronger, particularly on his handspring front double pike with only a minimal hop back. Tulloch successfully completed a Dragulescu and Tsuk double pike but was pretty deeply crunched in his double pike landing and wasn’t going to get the execution scores to match Medvedev.
Canada’s Felix Dolci came through with a bronze, completing a solid Kas 2/1 for 5.6 D, a vault that will help his quest to emerge as Canada’s new top all-arounder. He did land a bit lock legged on his double front second vault, but it was fine. The only other real hitter in the final was one half of Romania’s only hope for continuing to have a men’s gymnastics program, Gabriel Burtanete, who performed well, but with two 5.2 vaults, didn’t have the difficulty to get into the medals.
Meanwhile, what you’re really here for with the men’s vault final: Ondrej Kalny squirted sideways on an underrotated Kas 2/1 and slid into the gutter, Riley Loos’s attempt to become the Holy Grail—a US men’s team member with an actual 5.6 vault—hit a literal stumbling block on a handspring 2.5, and William Emard directly connected a handspring double front to butt bounce.
My favorite part is how he still tries to show control on the landing after the butt bounce. Gotta minimize those deductions.
Hit for the win! As is our only expectation for beam finals at a world challenge cup, staying on the apparatus was the standard for winning a medal in this final as, unfortunately, the majority of competitors suddenly found themselves performing inside the concept of ennui. These things can happen.
The best asset for Canada’s Cassie Lee in this final was her solidity. Her compact, secure performance minimized the size of her wobbles and she rode that, along with the highest D score, to a gold medal. Croatia’s Ana Derek came in second with a lovely performance but one with some larger wobbles and broken combinations, which put her behind Lee. Zoja Szekely also minimized her wobbles and showed good extension throughout, right into a ready-for-NCAA gainer full off the side of the beam, though her D score of 4.5 kept her total down.
Ireland’s Emma Slevin nearly managed to sneak a medal despite getting a swirly from reality on a side somi but ended up in 4th, right above Lucija Hribar who also had a single fall, followed by Antonia Duta of Romania who also had one fall but added to that a delightful wolf turn mistake where the wolf…well the wolf ran into the den wall. Which basically meant she had one and a half falls.
Canada’s Rachael Riley came in 7th with two falls, and sort of unfairly, the whole gang ended up ahead of Marlies Männersdorfer, who did not actually come off the beam, she just had several hundred near-spider-sightings on every skill and was rewarded by a short Jurassic era of a judging wait to be like, “You get nothing and a 10.”
Honestly a real dark horse for most disastrous final was parallel bars, but then it was like, “Why should beam and men’s vault get the limelight?” The two best parallel bars workers in this field both had disasters, with top qualifier and favorite Ilia Kovtun immediately tossing himself into the briny deep with a major lean on his first skill, followed by a fall on a Peach Nevermind.
With Kovtun’s error, the victory was presented to Switzerland’s Noe Seifert on a silver platter, which he overturned with a slap as he ran out of the arena shouting, “NONE FOR ME THANKS.” He was going so well and even had a really lovely Diamidov finishing position, but then sat his double front dismount.
So the door was open for anyone. Literally anyone. It ended up being Sercan Demir taking a surprise gold with a…one of those hit things? I was also impressed by silver medalist Farukh Nabiyev from Kazakhstan who had a very short routine and a lower D but was super clean and stuck his dismount. I wouldn’t have minded a gold for that. Going for a similar short-and-sweet approach was Italy’s Lorenzo Casali, but the D score monster got him too as he finished in 4th, behind fellow Italian Mario Macchiati, despite having the stronger execution.
The women’s floor final featured the triumphant return of Claudia Fragapane to the top of the podium, earning her first gold medal from an international meet in about 4 years. Fragapane front-loaded her routine, going with a double layout to wolf first pass and immediately a double Arabian, and then after that it was like…dance elements and a layout full! Fragapane was by farrrr the strongest tumbler in this final and used that to take first, paired with an overall charming exercise. Is Fragapane the only gymnast to have done one of those Strictly Come Tackys and actually come out of it a better floor exercise performer?
Ana Derek used her patented opening leap pass (which, once again, is worth way more than opening with, say, a double pike) take a silver medal—and nearly snatched gold though she had a somewhat uncontrolled landing on a front tuck through to double back and went out of bounds. Dorina Böczögo took a bronze medal with one of the strongest execution performances, largely because of the comfort she has always enjoyed with split jumps, but she also maintained that execution score even in one of the very few four-pass routines of the final.
Those three were the clear stars of the final. Cassie Lee in 4th place had some good difficulty here and there but found herself performing enough deduction-trap leaps to keep her execution score lower, while pretty much everyone else in the final wasn’t going to have the difficulty score to contend.
The high bar final was extremely high bar. Favorite Carlo Macchini, whose composition strategy is “sì,” performed an amazing Pegan, then immediately fell on a Cassina, then redid his Cassina with Knees of Wild Abandon, then immediately fell on a Kolman. He did everything, and it was all over the place, and he got an execution score of 5, and I loved it.
Also doing nearly-the-most was Belgium’s Maxime Gentges, who successfully went for a direct Kovacs to Kolman and dismounted with a triple back that, despite finishing in an exact sphere shape, was not a fall and he loved it, happy to be alive, everything’s amazing.
The Tak 1/2s came to bite in this final, with #2 qualifier Matteo Levantesi getting caught by the north winds and pulled off the bar on his, while Switzerland’s Marco Pfyl survived being all over the place for nearly a whole routine until the Tak 1/2 finally did him in.
This opened the door for a medal for David Vecsernyes, who did his usual and would actually have snatched the gold with his normal dismount performance, but he was a little off this time, lower with a hop to the side, which put him a half tenth behind Gentges.
Both Alexander Benda and Joshua Nathan opted to enact the “just don’t do anything stupid, and you might get a medal” strategy—to which Carlo Macchini said, “Art is not supposed to be safe, it’s supposed to be radical”—and it almost worked. But, Felix Dolci swooped in at the last minute with his Kolman and Kovacs and general ability to make perpetually hideous and awful skills look less hideous (i.e. the Tak 1/2 and Yamawaki) and he was given the bronze medal as a reward for this noble fight.
Until next weekend in Mersin!