All posts by balancebeamsituation

European Championship – Event Finals Day 1


  • Artem Dolgopyat entered the floor final as the highest qualifier and tentative favorite for gold, but he was not quite able to reproduce the 15.366 performance from qualification. While about 2/3 of his landings we excellent, he got a little too bouncy on a couple, including suffering a critical OOB on his first pass.
  • That was enough to open the door for world champion Artur Dalaloyan, who walked right through it and into your dreams, showing the best combination of difficulty and landing control—save for the moment where he legit almost fell on a man wipe, which was more important to me than I can possibly say. A worthy victor with the best routine on the day.
  • I think Luigi the Mascot Monkey agrees since he basically sexually assaulted Artur when trying to lift him up for a victory hoist after the final.
  • Dolgopyat did manage to hang on for silver, just ahead of one of your triple back princes, Dmitri Lankin, who earned Russia’s 4th MAG medal of the competition with a bronze.
  • Those were the only three who truly had the difficulty to medal as long as they all hit, so while Benjamin Gischard and Alexander Shatilov successfully bearded their way through their routines with solid beard, it was not enough to challenge for the top three spots.
  • The first alternate to this final was Nicola “I think Casimir’s skin mural is a role model” Bartolini (though it turns out Bartolini’s body position and carriage are role models), but he was ultimately able to compete in the final because Dom Cunningham withdrew due to his qualification injury on vault. The injury does not currently sound as serious as it could have been, so you’re going to be OK emotionally.
  • It must be said, however, that the true highlight of this final was the couch politics. Everyone had to sit on the middle couch to get their scores, but then the usher boy kept leading the latest competitors to an already full couch of medalists with no instructions, and they didn’t know what to do next, and it was FRAUGHT.  I wanted them to all just to keep sitting on each other in a pyramid, but alas.


  • I mean, she landed it?
  • Maria Paseka’s Cheng. A vault that happened. Now, if we’re being honest, it was a legendary piece of garbage, but I also want to travel the world with it and have never loved a vault more in my entire life. I hope you can understand.
  • I’m going to years of therapy about it, but it was not a fall. It was just a straddle tuck corkscrew directly connected to Warp World 4 off the mat. 8.500 E score. Somehow.
  • Anyway, Paseka’s Amanar continued to be actually excellent—as it has been all year long—and that was enough to earn her another vault gold medal. Can we talk about how much better that Amanar is than her 2012 Amanar? She’s an entirely different person. (Quite literally, I don’t think any of her spine is original parts at this point. She’s got like seven people in there.)
  • Now, how there was only .5 difference in execution scores between her Amanar and her Cheng, I cannot begin to understand. I’m going to try to type through it but will not succeed.
  • Because of the current execution score hallucination that is women’s vault, Paseka’s victory has proven quite controversial. Coline Devillard finished only .066 behind Paseka, and that was with Paseka being held up with the score for her Cheng-acalifragilisticexpialidocious.
  • Devillard did not have ideal landing control (and could still have won with her very best vaults), but she executed the rudi and DTY both with sufficient power and safe-enough landings. This wasn’t one of her scary DTYs. Devillard has had to deal with injury problems and a dip in quality following her 2017 European gold, but like Ellie Downie, she has used this competition to prove she’s back to that level.
  • Speaking of Ellie Downie, she executed the actual best vaults of the entire final to win bronze (and therefore got the same execution score as all the other hit vaults…not past it), just didn’t have the difficulty to challenge what Paseka and Devillard did.
  • Sara Peter’s DTY was also excellent and earned a Blythe gasp—nearly as coveted as a Kathy gasp—but she too doesn’t quite have the second-vault difficulty to get a medal at this point.
  • Sadly, #2 qualifier Teja Belak fell on her Y1.5 after vaulting so well in qualification. I blame the Heart of the Ocean affixed to the front of her leotard. Would have thrown off her center-of-gravity expectations quite severely. Dear Slovenian leos, never change.


  • Max Whitlock beat all y’all by 40 billion tenths to take another European title. He has such a difficulty advantage on the rest of the field here that it didn’t even matter than his opening handstand position was basically at horizontal and if this were uneven bars, the judges would have shot him through the leg with a tranquilizer dart and given him an automatic execution score of 1.DIE.
  • Only two people fell in the final! That’s a pretty solid result, but also kind of disappointing because I’m obviously only here for the crazy falls when you spin yourself into oblivion little a little top.
  • One of those falls belonged to Oleg. He had exceeded expectations in qualifications by advancing to two event finals, but I’m concerned that he’s been out too long and his horse-drawn carriage is turning back into a hospital bed as we speak.
  • Despite qualifying in 8th, Cyril Tommasone delivered an exceptionally strong performance in the final to take the silver medal, 8 years removed from his last European Champs pommel horse medal. It was the best routine I’ve seen from him in a final for at least a quad, if not more.
  • Also performing quite cleanly was Vladislav Poliashov for bronze, which brought Russia’s MAG medal total up to 5. He only barely did outscore teammate Nikita Nagornyy for that third spot, but I think that was the right call execution-wise. Given my, you know, extensive work studying the pommel horse code. My favorite pommel horse skill is a One Spinny.
  • (It’s actually a Kehr, which I do know, so eat that.)
  • Brinn Bevan advanced to this final and did not come off the horse, but the crushing weight of his back tattoo did throw him off kilter a little bit for a low execution score, while Marios Georgiou placed last with an “I’m the European bronze medalist, bitches! Deal! Marios OUT!” of a performance.


  • Item #1, the highest execution score in this entire final was in the 8.5s, the same thing Paseka received for that vault. There is a mission in the FIG to standardize deduction size across events, which means vault has the highest E scores because there’s the least gymnastics going on and the least chance to make errors, but that’s dumb. Don’t do that.
  • That highest execution score of the final (8.566) deservedly belonged to Anastasia Alistratava of Belarus who performed a clean, toe-point-ified routine to prove that Belarus has live women’s elites, some of whom can even do gymnastics routines—this one just missing out on a medal because of lower D.
  • Pre-meet favorite Anastasia Iliankova had qualified down in a somewhat surprising 4th place but rediscovered her favored status with her performance in the final, performing the most difficult routine we saw with no significant breaks to take an unquestioned gold medal.
  • Finishing in the silver position was her teammate Angelina Melnikova, who went all, “Christ, where was this routine in the all-around final” for 14.533 (which would have almost entirely closed the gap with Ellie Downie if it had happened yesterday), while Alice D’Amato earned the first of many senior European medals for this group of 2003 Italians with a 14.400 for bronze.
  • With that score, she outpaced potential medalist Jonna Adlerteg, who ended up 5th. While she got through her routine without any major issues, she missed a critical Shang + Pak connection to lose two tenths, which was enough to bump her down to 5th. She would have won bronze with her D score from qualification.
  • De Jesus Dos Santos did have a fairly large break in her routine with an arch on a handstand and didn’t control the dismount quite as well as in the previous days of competition—so you understand why her execution score was among the lower in the final—but I still feel like she doesn’t get the execution reward that her form on bars should warrant.


  • I don’t know…it occurred?
  • As we’ve come to expect in major rings finals, the seven who hit their routines all finished within 3 tenths of each other, so there was very little to differentiate. We get it. You’re all strong. Go eat a tire or something.
  • The only one who missed his routine was top qualifier and likely medalist Igor Radivilov, because of course he did, taking a one-way ticket to crazy-town on his dismount and putting a hand down.
  • With Radivilov out of contention and Petrounias not attending this year, those rings workers who typically are all “great work, almost there, 6th place” at every single meet were suddenly in contention for medals, with Vahagn Davtyan sneaking in for bronze and Marco Lodadio taking the silver.
  • But it was the triumphant comeback performance of Denis Abliazin that earned the gold medal on an execution score tiebreak with Lodadio—Russia’s 6th MAG medal of the meet. Abliazin has been the hard-luck story of the last 6 months because he elected not to compete at worlds in order to pursue an individual apparatus Olympic spot instead, but he was too injured to compete at the first four events. If he stays healthy and scores like this at the final four events, he’ll have a shot for rings, though it’s going to be very difficult to beat Liu Yang.
  • Nikita Nagornyy just missed out on a medal by a third of a tenth, recording the highest execution score of the entire final. It was his second consecutive 4th-place finish of the day, but judging by his “Chuck E Cheese is staying open an hour later than normal” reaction to his rings score and the fact that he’s, you know, the European all-around champion, I think he’ll be fine.



European Championship – All-Around Finals

  • It’s official. The WILD TEAM SOBBING cup has a new owner. Following the events of the 2015 world championships, the British women took control of the cup, bringing it home to Lilleshall where it has lived comfortably for the last three and a half years. Until now. The French finally wrested the cup out of British grasp today with their performance in the women’s all-around final of the European Championship. Using clean execution and the savvy difficulty bonus awarded for vicarious crying from the stands and trans-row weep-hugging, there was really nothing any other nation could do to match the astronomical score from the French.

  • Allowing the French the opportunity to take the Weepie Cup was the performance of Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos. De Jesus Dos Santos went from a questionable entrant in the all-around competition approximately 16 seconds ago to official European champion with her complete four-event performance, showing the cleanest execution of the entire meet on bars and beam to allow her to establish the slimmest margin over Ellie Downie, the silver medalist.

  • Less than a tenth of a point ultimately separated De Jesus Dos Santos and Downie, which heaped added significance upon the sorcery powers that DJDS demonstrated to not put her heel down out of bounds on her FTDLO landing on floor. That proved the difference between gold and silver. An OOB tenth would have switched it.

  • Ellie Downie will also be exceptionally pleased with her performance. Especially considering she has not been back to full-strength AA competition for very long at all, she put up a complete and confident meet that came only that one heel away from winning gold—just a couple tenths lower than her gold-medal score in 2017. This is the best gymnastics she has done in two years.

  • Ultimately, the result was fair despite its extreme closeness. Downie got the better of DJDS on vault, putting up the most powerful and controlled DTY of the competition that probably should have outscored the others by more than it did, but DJDS was a bit more precise on the remaining pieces overall, with consistent legs-together, extended positions on bars and more sureness in her beam landings. That said, Downie got through a whole beam routine with only minor checks, which was like a personal victory at Waterloo.

Continue reading European Championship – All-Around Finals

European Championship – Women’s Qualification

Qualification is complete. Finals are set, with the women’s AA final coming up Friday at 11:30am ET/8:30am PT. Here’s what happened:

  • Lord and savior Angelina Melnikova hit all four events to qualify 1st into the AA final, also advancing to the event finals on VT, UB, and FX. On beam…you know, she stayed on. That makes it a full four-pronged victory. I mean, she’s still using Despacito for some reason like a science teacher who has to DJ the middle school dance this weekend, so the word victory might be a stretch, but we never said we wanted perfect. It was a good day.

  • Melnikova’s biggest challenger for the all-around gold medal will be Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos, who triumphantly popped out of the cake at the very last minute to compete the all-around and delivered four solid events of her own. Because sure: Bars was the event she considered skipping this week, and it ended up being her strongest performance by far as she delivered an exceptionally clean set with a well-controlled FTDLO dismount while beam and floor had some iffier moments (though she did make the final on all three).

  • Neither Melnikova nor MDJDS are far enough clear of the rest of the field to be considered locks for 1-2 like Dalaloyan and Nagornyy are on the men’s side—it only takes one thing to go wrong, and of course it will, because you’ve seen gymnastics before—but right now they’re your most likely winners of the top 2 medals.

Continue reading European Championship – Women’s Qualification

European Championships – Men’s Qualification

Not interested enough to actually follow men’s qualification from Euros? Still vaguely want to keep up with the names and the news and how the hot ones are doing and whatnot? I hear you. Here’s a quick overview of what went down at men’s qualification today.

  • Russians Artur Dalaloyan and Nikita Nagornyy qualified first and second into the Best Little Muscle Gorilla-Man final by a US WAG kind of margin, confirming their statuses as the heavy favorites to go 1-2. World champ Dalaloyan is the default pick for gold, but it wouldn’t take much of a missed day from him for Nagornyy to move ahead.

  • Qualifying in 3rd place into the all-around final with a solid margin over the rest was Ahmet Onder from Turkey, very capable of winning that medal if he’s hitting during the final, but also very capable of suddenly being all “oops, my arms are a jelly” and allowing an opportunity for…like anyone? Perhaps 2017 bronze medalist James Hall or form favorite Marios Georgiou, who qualified in 4th.

  • Russia advanced two competitors into every event final, also suffering a whole heap of 2per along the way with Nagornyy missing out on vault and floor despite finishing 3rd and 8th on those events, Dalaloyan getting pushed out of horse, and Poliashov getting pushed out of the PBars final. The punishment for finishing third among the Russians on any event is a one-week stint scraping Valentina’s bunions.

  • Floor proved the deepest event and most difficult final to make in this year’s European class, but Artem Dolgopyat of Israel nonetheless qualified with a substantial lead. If he hits well in the final, Dalaloyan is likely the only one who can beat him, especially since Nagornyy went all OOB-festival to miss out. Shatilov also advanced to the final, so you’re going to be fine.

  • Dom Cunningham did qualify among the top 8 on floor, but sadly a knee injury suffered on vault has cast doubt over the rest of his competition as we await news on its severity.

Continue reading European Championships – Men’s Qualification

Things Are Happening – April 9, 2019

A. European Championships

Thought you had a moment of peace? Wrong. Euros.

Podium training is already complete, and competition begins tomorrow with men’s qualification. The big news so far on the women’s side is all the absences. Aliya was originally not named to the Russian team, but then she was named to the Russian team because of Russia things, and then she was like, “actually pass…”

Nina Derwael and Axelle Klinckaert are not there either, nor are Zsofia Kovacs, Elisabeth Seitz, or Kim Bui. And Steingruber and Becky Downie and Sanne Wevers are all still out. So it will be difficult to find the point.

On the fun side, we do have Eythora, Melanie DJDS, Ellie Downie, Angelina Melnikova and the Russian gang, Pauline Schäfer, all of the new Italian seniors, and Diana Varinska.

Last year, De Jesus Dos Santos won the unofficial AA title (there was no actual all-around competition in 2018, just like there’s no team competition this year), and if she elects to compete all events, she’ll be a major contender again, along with Melnikova. Though you wouldn’t really be surprised if Giorgia Villa is just like, “I LIVE NOW” and gets a huge AA score. And if you’re a fan of investing in sugarplum dreams and then getting your heart broken, a good day from Ellie Downie and Diana Varinska and Eythora Thorsdottir could put them up there.

Maria Paseka enters as the comfortable favorite for the vault title, with Coline Devillard likely her best challenger. In the absence of Derwael on bars, we’re looking at Anastasia Iliankova with the best chance at a high score, with Jonna Adlerteg there for a good shot at a medal. It’s not a super deep bars field with so many major contenders missing, so people like Melnikova, Varinska, Villa, and Ellie Downie may also fancy their chances at a medal. Continue reading Things Are Happening – April 9, 2019

Onward to Fort Worth!

After that whirlwind weekend (as long as you consider Thursday part of the weekend, which you don’t, because it’s not), we now know which teams have advanced to the national championship and which teams think this new postseason format is a terrible idea.


Now, to set the scene.

SEMIFINAL #1 – April 19, 12:00 CT

[2] UCLA – Vault
[3] LSU – Beam
[6] Utah – Floor
[7] Michigan – Bars

Congratulations, you got the bad one. The hard one. All of the top-seeded teams advanced from this side of the draw—including what is now 4 of the top 6 teams at nationals overall—and we have just 2 spots remaining for them in the team final.

UCLA is the only team that will be comfortable with this draw because UCLA was going to be a major favorite to advance to the final regardless of the draw. UCLA hit 198 in the regional final, and used a B+ squad to go 197.675 in the semifinal, which still outpaced the scores for any of these others teams over either day of regional competition. The other three are in the danger zone.

LSU is your seeded favorite for the second spot, but Utah will look at Saturday’s result—finishing just .250 behind LSU at LSU—and feel it is in with at least a shot at advancing. By scoring 197.275 for what was still not an ideal performance either, Michigan proved it is not going to be an also-ran in this semifinal. No filler rotations here.

SEMIFINAL #2 – April 19, 6:00 CT

[1] Oklahoma – Vault
[5] Denver – Beam
[8] Georgia – Bars
[16] Oregon St – Floor

Congratulations, you got the good one. The elimination of Florida has blown up this half of the bracket, providing what should be a cleaner route to the team final for Oklahoma, as well as a true opportunity for someone unexpected to make it. Denver, Georgia, and Oregon State are not “supposed” to make the team final, and yet one of them will.

Denver is your ranking favorite, and the question we’ll have to tackle as we march toward this semifinal is how much being at home for regionals buoyed Georgia and Oregon State (both in scores and actual performances) versus how truly competitive they might be at a neutral site. Georgia’s regional final score was more than a fall better than Denver’s, but like…those scores.


The rotation draws are fairly…normal here? They don’t look like they’re provide a significant advantage or disadvantage to any team or change what the scenario would be in any other context. Oregon State and Utah probably won’t love starting on floor because they both need that event to be a big score, but it worked out for them at regionals.

I actually think that the worst draw to get these days is starting on bars—because it means you have to finish on vault. Vault is the lowest-scoring event in NCAA and the one where the potential Carol-ness of end-of-meet scoring when everyone is drunk at getting 10s is dampened by start values. We saw that play out at regional finals for the teams with that rotation order. Minnesota ending on vault while Utah was on beam was ultimately a disadvantage for Minnesota, not Utah, even though beam. Michigan’s final vault rotation of 9.825s almost let Alabama back into the meet, and Kentucky finishing on vault meant it just couldn’t quite keep up with the 49.5-a-thon that was the Athens regional. Half the rotation scores at that regional were 49.550 or greater (not over it), but none of those 49.550+ scores came on vault.

FOUR ON THE FLOOR DRAW – April 20, 6:00 CT

For future reference.

Vault – 2nd place, Semifinal 1
Bars – 1st place, Semifinal 2
Beam – 1st place, Semifinal 1
Floor – 2nd place, Semifinal 2

The random draw typically causes ire because it doesn’t necessarily reward performance in the semifinals with a good event order, but this year I feel like Olympic order is an appropriate reward for whichever team manages to advance from that mire of the first semifinal in 2nd place. They’ll have had to fight for it.


National individual titles are awarded based on the scores in the semifinals, and we now use six judges with four scores counting throughout nationals, which is ostensibly to separate the scores a little more and avoid having ties for those event championships. Meanwhile, we had a three-way tie for the vault title last year and a two-way tie for the bars and floor titles.

The new individual qualification system gives us more eventers and fewer all-arounders advancing with just four AAers qualifying—Alex Hyland, Kentucky; Sienna Crouse, Nebraska; Lexy Ramler, Minnesota; Alicia Boren, Florida. Alex Hyland is the only one of those four who received Olympic order, drawn to rotate with UCLA in the first semifinal. All four individuals are capable of exceptionally strong scores, but everything so far this season has pointed to Kyla Ross as the all-around favorite with Maggie Nichols as the last-minute spoiler when she comes back on floor for nationals. With people like Finnegan and Skinner as the second tier of contenders.

Historically, discussion of scores rising in the second semifinal at nationals has been overblown (and teams tend to prefer being placed in the first semifinal because it allows for more rest before the final), but it’s worth noting that Nichols is the only one of those top four contenders who competes in the second semifinal.

The individual qualifiers are as follows:
Vault – Milan Clausi, Cal; Taylor Houchin, Nebraska; Derrian Gobourne, Auburn; Savannah Schoenherr, Florida
Bars – Sabrina Garcia, Penn St; Cally Nixon, Kentucky; Trinity Thomas, Florida; Cairo Leonard-Baker, Arizona St
Beam – Brooke Kelly, Missouri; Jessie Bastardi, Penn St; Alyssa Baumann, Florida; Hailey Garner, Arkansas
Floor – Sidney Dukes, Kentucky; Abby Armbrecht, Alabama; Trinity Thomas, Florida; Sophia Carter

Alyssa Baumann was drawn to rotate with Georgia, and will compete in the same beam rotation as her sister. Look how that worked out.

The most likely outcome has Ohashi, Ross, and Nichols dominating the individual titles, with Finnegan and Skinner right there on their best events (and then Wojcik, maybe Trautman for floor) because it’s going to take 10s to win most of these events if this season’s everything is any indication. But of the individual qualifiers, the Florida’s will put up a good fight. You can see Trinity Thomas winning events, and there is historical precedent for extremely high scores for the individuals coming from the famous team that got upset at regionals.

Regionals Live Blog – Regional Finals

Saturday, April 6
Scores Stream
7:00 ET/4:00 PT
Georgia Regional Final
7:00 ET/4:00 PT
Michigan Regional Final
8:00 ET/5:00 PT
LSU Regional Final
10:00 ET/7:00 PT
Oregon St Regional Final

Enough playing. This is the real one. Life is starting.

If you haven’t, check out the preview of today’s competition considering what we saw yesterday. Because there’s a lot. Continue reading Regionals Live Blog – Regional Finals