Category: Meet Recap

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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?

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European Games and Junior Worlds – Day 3

European Games

The all-around finals at the European Games delivered a day of…not surprises? At least not at the very top, where #1 qualifiers Angelina Melnikova and David Belyavskiy both snatched the all-around gold medals that were rightfully theirs.

Melnikova’s victory was, of course, not without the requisite Russian WAG amount of drama. Some hesitations on bars and grabbing the beam on her layout (which counts as enough of a miss that you are freed from having to run naked through the streets) meant that Melnikova did not develop the edge on the rest of the field that she might have otherwise. Why they’ve brought that layout back into her routine, I…sigh. It may be the first ever routine composition decision based purely on spite.

P.S. Vanessa Atler’s Comaneci called and said no it’s not.

Those errors meant that Lorette Charpy ended up leading the competition much of the way as she put together a remarkably solid and unterrifying performance amidst this house of horrors of an all-around final (more on that later). Charpy enjoyed an advantage of about 4 tenths on Melnikova heading to vault, which was the final piece for the leaders (also more on that later). But, since Melnikova has a DTY and Charpy an FTY, that scenario was always going to favor Melnikova, and she came through with a strong enough vault to move ahead of Charpy and win the title by a little over 3 tenths. That Melnikova had a difficulty advantage of 1.3 over Charpy yet gave a point back on execution illuminates what a smoothly executed day it was for Charpy, with her composed beam routine standing out in particular because…she didn’t just plummet to the ground at every moment. Truly remarkable.

Few others had such a strong performance—although one who did was Charpy’s teammate Aline Friess, who took an unexpected 4th place with 52.699, though we didn’t get to see her routines, so I don’t have a lot to say about that. Huge result for her, and a 6-tenth improvement on her 4th-place performance at French nationals.

It looked to all the world like Diana Varinska had taken herself out of medal contention in the first rotation with a fall on her between-the-bars Jaeger, but she…hit her other three events? And on a day like this, that was enough for 52.699 and a comeback bronze medal.

Some of the other potential medalists were not so lucky with their mistakes. Varinska’s teammate Bachynska fell on every possible skill—and then again just sneezing at the hotel—to finish 14th out of 18 gymnasts with a sub-50 total, while Denisa Golgota fulfilled the prophecy on bars in the first rotation and there was no coming back from that. Georgia-Mae Fenton had qualified in 2nd place, but she struggled to get her DTY around today and looks to have had a problem on beam to finish 8th overall.

Another gymnast who withstood being semi-disastrous to claw back to a respectable all-around finish was Aleksandra Schekoldina. She fell on her acro series on beam in the first rotation and it looked like it would be another one of those days, but she hit the remaining pieces, which meant she finished 5th. Have I mentioned that this meet wasn’t cute? But definitely fun.

Except for the psychotic breakdown that is the European Games format. Building on having 18 people in the AA finals, and 6 people in event finals, and a one-per country rule for event finals, the European Games also decided that the lead group in the women’s AA would start on bars instead of vault, and that apparently the new four-event order for the women goes high bar, floor, uneven bars, vault. At least, that’s how I read this graphic.

WHAT IS THIS IMAGERY? Lorette’s score of 13.500 on Sad Mustache just wasn’t quite enough for gold.

European Games did have to run the men’s and women’s all-arounds simultaneously, which is why this weird rotation order happened—otherwise there would have been floor exercise conflicts since they both have to use it. But of course the women were the ones who had to change their procedure, and the women’s competition ended a rotation before the men’s so that the culmination of the meet just had the men on the floor and the women standing around. Organizers of multi-sport events forget that we don’t tolerate your “women are the side show” nonsense in this sport.

European Games and Junior Worlds – Day 1

European Games

A whirlwind day at the European Games saw……well, like a lot of cycling, really……but apparently there was also some gymnastics in there somewhere.

Qualification is complete on both the women’s and men’s sides, with Angelina Melnikova taking the top spot in the women’s all-around. Not much of a surprise, especially because Nina Derwael elected to compete only bars and beam here, eliminating what was probably her biggest competition.

It wasn’t an ideal day for Melnikova—all of her limbs went different directions on her front tuck through to double back on floor, taking her out of the event final there (sweetums…)—but she did enough on the other pieces to place first, advancing to the vault and beam finals as well. She’ll be the favorite in the AA final.

So, yeah, Melnikova brought back the two-foot layout because she hates me and you and arteries, but she also hit it this time. Ring some bells or whatever. If she hits that layout in the all-around final and the event final, you have to run naked through the streets.

Melnikova would have advanced to the bars final in addition to beam and vault, but she got one-per-country-ed out of the final because that’s a thing we have to deal with. One-per-country for event finals. Also only 6 people in each event final. And 18 people in the all-around final. NONE OF THESE ARE THE RULES.

Second position in all-around qualification went to Georgia-Mae Fenton, coming up only about a half point short of Melnikova. So I think that qualifies as the complete all-around performance we needed to see from her here. Despite getting one-per-ed out of the bars final by Becky Downie (grumble grumble), Fenton did manage to sneak into the beam final in a bit of a surprise and will be looking to have her Kinsella moment there, I suppose.

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Koper World Challenge Cup

The spring Challenge Cup series wrapped up over the weekend in Koper, featuring enough vault-related insanity to keep us satiated until the series picks up again in September. Or, like, until the real meets of the summer and whatnot. Here’s what happened.

Men’s Floor

Someone finally got all my memos. While I spent last week’s recap of Osijek’s floor final lamenting that Tomas Gonzalez’s execution should be compelling enough to outweigh landing errors and keep him ahead of most mushy-kneed mortals and yet SOMEHOW WASN’T, this week the judges fell into line and awarded Gonzalez an 8.8 execution score. That allowed him to take floor gold on the execution tiebreak over the superior difficulty of Milad Karimi.

Karimi was great, but…

So…

Last week in Osijek, brand new teenage child Aurel Benovic was among several competitors who missed out on medals but impressed with execution and potential, and those qualities came through for him this weekend with more controlled landings and a serious upgrade in difficulty (now at 6.1) in a bronze medal performance. Watch out for this one in coming years.

Meanwhile, special commendation goes to the Norway federation for getting its male gymnasts shorts that fit. Note to the Japanese federation and those muumuus the whole team wears on floor.

Also everyone got their party favor bags from Kyle R’s birthday.

If there’s not an iPad in there…

Women’s Vault

Though the vault final was supposed to be the domain of home-nation hope and last week’s champion Teja Belak, it proved instead to be the Marina Nekrasova party. Nekrasova stormed in with an exceptional landing on a handspring layout full and a nearly-as-comfortable Tsuk 1.5 to take the gold medal.

Nekrasova’s vaulting was the highlight of the final, and while Teja Belak did well to land her vaults in a similar fashion to last weekend—and honestly had a bit stronger in-air execution than Nekrasova—she fell just short in the difficulty department to sit in second place.

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Osijek World Challenge Cup

The series of spring World Challenge Cups continued this weekend with our annual whirlwind two-stop tour of the mid-level agricultural centers of eastern Europe, starting with Osijek, Croatia. Here’s what went down.

Men’s Floor

The Artem Show turned out to be the Artem Show, to the surprise of zero.

With a massive difficulty advantage over the rest of the competitors and among the field’s most comfortable landings (aside from a near bout of vomiting-off-starboard while trying to hold the stick on his side pass, but never mind) Dolgopyat distanced himself from everyone else and took gold my nearly 6 tenths.

Primarily on the basis of extra difficulty, Kirill Prokopev of Russia took the second position, while also continuing to take first position in the “he would be an offensive stereotype of a Russian man if he weren’t an actual person” contest. This is what Americans think all Russian people look like. Just to be clear, in our heads he’s saying, “Vodka Vodka Mother Russia Nesting Doll Babushka” over and over again on a loop. Don’t worry about it.

Our Chilean prince Tomas Gonzalez did win the bronze, but in unacceptable news, he was given an execution score lower than both of the top two, largely the result of a couple short landings early on with small hops forward. But, his E score did not appropriately reward his superior execution of skills in the air or the way he moves choreographically into his cartwheel before the wide-arm handstand, and you need to break down the gates of the FIG about it.

Elsewhere, we saw extremely stylish work from Luka Terbovsek of Slovenia in fourth, with lovely twisting and tucked positions and some very secure landings on his early passes. Also a small infant child named Krisztofer Mezaros of Hungary sneaked into the final somehow and had a learning experience.

Women’s Vault

The women’s vault final proved deeper than in Zhaoqing…in that we had the full complement of eight contenders for the final.

Still, as the only contender with two vaults of 5+ in D score, world cup veteran Teja Belak entered as the comfortable favorite. Despite being saddled with the burden of wearing her Heart of the Ocean leotard again, she successfully hit both vaults on both days of competition to win the title. We’ve seen meets lately where Belak will qualify well then struggle with the handspring front full in the final, but this time there was little issue aside from some lunges on landing.

By showing somewhat more landing control, Angelina Radivilova gave Belak a run with a comfortable full and something in between a Podkopayeva and a Lopez (credited as Lopez), though with a disadvantage of 6 tenths in D, she wasn’t able to make up enough ground.

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Zhaoqing World Challenge Cup

Missed Zhaoqing (I can’t imagine why…)?

Well, here’s what went down in case you callously skipped out on your weekly date with Olly and the Olympic Channel.

Men’s Floor

In the floor final, Deng Shudi’s cheek scar took a starring role again as he continued to look like the experienced spy who’s been around a few times and doesn’t have time for this young buck’s foolhardy rule shirking. He used passes like a double front pike, 1/2 out to express the sentiment, “I’m me, meanwhile your side pass is a back layout, thus concludes the third presidential debate.”

Some OOBishness on a couple passes made things closer than they probably should have been, but Deng’s victory here was never truly in doubt.

While Deng more or less cruised, we did have some issues in this final. Poor Lim Kaeson took a combination rudi attempt to his fibula and, both Genta Tsuyuki and Ri Kwang Bom had moments where they attempted to stand up only to realize they were much drunker than they thought they were.

Still, it wasn’t solely a Deng show. Deng’s closest challenge came somewhat as a surprise (I mean not really because Japan, but still…) as Takuya Sakakibara used an exceptional tucked double double and overall superior landing control compared to the contenders to snatch a last-minute silver medal as the final competitor.

The race for bronze came down to cleanliness and landing control among a group of very similar routines. Ultimately Lee Seungmin used his superior twisting form—his toes and legs really stood out in this final—to place just ahead of his countryman Shin Jeahwan, who probably has more raw acrobatic ability but was also somewhat less controlled—and struggled on a Japanese handstand that will have been “tsk, tsk, tsk”-ed right to a lower execution score. In 5th place, Loo Phay Xing also performed a clean, pleasant, and composed routine, but with a 5.2 D, whatcha gonna do.

Women’s Vault

Only five people showed for the women’s vault event in Zhaoqing, and two of those five competed handspring repulsions as their second vaults, so that was that. The dichotomy of watching someone perform a Cheng (the #3 most difficult vault) followed by someone performing the simplest vault in the entire code of points had its own novelty, but this final isn’t going down in history, is what I’m saying.

Still, we were treated to that Cheng Moment from Yu Linmin, who showed some improvement over her performance at Chinese Nationals, landing short with some ragged shape but also displaying more realistic security in the landing. With that and a very sound DTY, she took the vault title here by a few tenths and will to keep herself in the mix for China. There’s a solid argument to be made that Yu has now at least earned a chance on the Asian Championships team. 

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2006 Worlds All-Around: Gymnastics Is Over

Thank you for joining me on this solemn occasion.

Before we begin, please don your ceremonial black shroud and dramatically lengthy weeping veil—lace handkerchiefs out, ladies!—as we commemorate the 12th anniversary of the death of gymnastics.

Goodbye, old friend.

The year was 2006, and an open-ended scoring system had broken out across the continent, engulfing community after community in death, famine, devastation, and a war that pitted brother against brother. Whole cities were ravaged by the idea of having to manage a difficulty score and an execution score (TWO NUMBERS MY BRAIN COULD NEVER), and orphan children wailed at the lack of perfect 10.000s, which had definitely been attainable right up until that moment.

Doomsday predictions that the elimination of the 10 would result in hyenas picking apart the desiccated remains of a once-regal sport proved—of course—entirely correct. Having been continuously perfect from 1950-2005, gymnastics was instantly ruined and the sport promptly canceled following the installation of known non-blonde Vanessa Ferrari as world champion, even after falling on beam and having kneecaps. That gentle doe gymnastics could never survive such a hellscape, and nothing good ever occurred again.

But how could such a thing have come to pass? Let us travel back to the year 2006 to find out.

Matt, Christine, and Mitch greet us with the news that meet-favorite Chellsie Memmel has withdrawn from the all-around final with a shoulder injury, so everything is already just terrible. Enjoy your podium of moldy leftovers. This is the worst year.

No one knows how Memmel’s shoulder got injured. Do 50 more jams.

Memmel’s absence means the status of favorite defaults to Vanessa Ferrari even though she excels at…[whispers, vomits]…tumbling. But this cannot be! The open code of points will be the death of us all! How is she not Khorkina!