Category Archives: Meet Recap

Ukraine Defeats Romania: A Postmortem

Well it didn’t go great!

Following a fairly dominant qualification performance in which Romania outscored Ukraine by 4.600, the Romanian team looked to be resting on a cloud of chocolates heading into a European team final that was theirs for the winning.

That favorite status, however, ignored Romania’s virtuosic ability to find new and creative ways to fall apart on bars. Ioana Stanciulescu led off Romania’s bars rotation with a 9.800 that eliminated Romania’s entire potential advantage in one fell swoop. Fell being the operative word. The 9.800 (and 4.600 execution score) looks a bit harsh for what was basically your run-of-the-mill two-fall routine, but the second fall (after a missed Ray) was handstand based, with Stanciulescu repeatedly going over on a handstand and trying to correct before ultimately deciding it was a lost cause and hopping off. It was that avalanche of handstand deductions PLUS the subsequent fall that made the score look even worse than the routine actually was.

Sfiringu also had problems on bars, throwing in a rarely seen accidental tucked Jaeger that ended up torpedoing her execution score and giving her an even lower total than she received in qualification when she actually fell (scoring here was also much tighter on bars and floor than it was on the first day).

Ukraine didn’t try to do a ton on bars—Varinska and Bachynska both dismounted with double tucks and Varinska went for only a 5.1 D score, the lowest for any of the Ukrainian or Romanian athletes despite being Varinska. That not trying to do a lot strategy was quite effective compared to Romania’s light-the-toilet-on-fire strategy and gave Ukraine an advantage of more than 4 points because of bars alone.

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Euros Day 1 Recap

So close. So close that it cuts all the deeper.

I am, of course, speaking of the most important competition at this year’s European Championships—Luxembourg’s quest to advance to the team final.

It started so beautifully, with our valiant queens hitting 3-for-3 on both bars and beam while the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Latvia played a little game of “the beam is COVID.” But as is typical of life, it got bad almost immediately, and a fall on a final-routine Yurchenko full (a vault fall!) was enough to drop our 3-member Luxembourg team a mere 0.6 behind Croatia for the final spot in the team final. You had it. You HAD it. You were one vault away.

Truly, I blame us most of all. I mean, we couldn’t find EVEN ONE family-money American Level 9 whose parents hide their gold bars under a Luxembourg chateau to join this team and give them the luxury of dropping falls? We should have tried harder.

Luxembourg ended up with the #3 team score on beam in the entire competition, behind only Romania and Ukraine, and—to add to our pain—Lola Schleich jussssst missed the beam final on a tiebreak. But seriously, they’re all pretty legit on beam, as is Celeste Mordenti on bars. Buy a ticket for this bandwagon, because I’m driving and will immediately get too scared and stop.

On the bright side, Croatia’s sixth-place qualification finish means that Tina Zelcic will be performing her 1.1 D score bars routine, where she basically just shoots to the high bar and jumps off, in the team final. One must always find a reason to keep going, and Tina Zelcic’s bars routine is my new reason to keep going.

Anyway, up at the “top places” with the “good teams,” the preliminary fight between Romania and Ukraine turned out to be the Romania show. The Romanians looked quite a bit more secure in their routines and better prepared—and didn’t even have to count a score in the 11s on bars! (Let’s be honest, Carol made the trip to Turkey to judge bars and floor, but still…) Only Sfiringu fell during the bars rotation, which counts as a Romanian hit.

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Szombathely Finals Day 1

So, the live blog didn’t go as planned this morning, and I blame the Olympic Channel’s website, mostly because it was the Olympic Channel’s website’s fault. They’re having trouble with the authentication from the cable provider and keep spitting most of us back to the authentication page even after we authenticate.

To the competition itself, most of the coaches seemed to have a bit of a White House understanding of the mask-wearing guidelines published by the FIG, so if this turns out to be a superspreading event, I have 38 culprits in mind.

Women’s Vault

The women’s vault competition proved a triumphant return for Boglarka Devai, who cemented her first-place performance from qualification by doing exactly the same in the final, hitting a DTY with just a bit of soup-legs on landing to provoke a lunge and following that up with a Lopez that showed nice initial flare before piking down to find the landing.

It was not a waltz for Devai, however, as she was nearly caught by Anastasia Motak, competing in the final position. Motak brought the stronger DTY to the duel, but ultimately lost out to Devai on second-vault difficulty, performing a Podkopayeva to Devai’s Lopez. The difference in difficulty between those two vaults accounted for the entire margin of victory.

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Szombathely World Cup Day 1

What happened here? Well, let’s see. [That is meant to be read in the exact tone of Victoria Clark doing “Statues and Stories” in The Light in the Piazza, in case you’re looking for the full experience.]

Honestly, the fields were deeper than I thought they were going to be. This is far from the sparsest challenge cup we’ve seen. Doha and Zhaoqing are v jealous.

The big news from qualification surrounds Marta Pihan-Kulesza—because when doesn’t it—who has debuted a new “Vogue” floor routine that is destined to become iconic and…also just has full talking in her music?

We know she was not deducted for having floor music with words because it would 1.00 off, which was not taken from her score.

Basically, there are two issues at play here. On the one hand: go off. This routine is ten times more enjoyable than any Pose-A-Tron 3000. It’s a thematically appropriate and delightful use of words in floor music, and if all potential uses of words in floor music were like this one, we would all be clamoring for a rule change. I’m not clutching my pearls in horror. (I mean, I am because that’s my resting state, but not about this.)

On the other hand: …isn’t this very specifically against the rules? Why is an exception allowed here, but the rules still ostensibly prohibit MyKayleighlegra from doing that Shawn Mendes routine she wants to. Clarity, clarity, clarity.

“But, like, this one works and is good” is a sentiment I agree with, but is not sufficient as a rule.

Anyway, what else?

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Chinese Nationals – All-Around Final

A saga, to be sure.

Liu Tingting entered today’s all-around final as the leader from qualification (final standings are based on the two-day total), and it was largely that impressive day 1 performance that allowed her to hang on for a repeat all-around title—and to weather the national beam nightmare that was today’s competition.

Like a number of her countrywomen, Liu had a rough beam routine, coming off on her front handspring front tuck series (she also found her Yurchenko full a struggle), which meant that despite excellent routines on bars and floor, Liu placed 3rd among the athletes on day 2, just a smidgen behind Wei Xiaoyuan and Qi Qi. That 56.000 she scored on day 1, however, allowed her more than a smidgen of wiggle room (Smidgen of Wiggle Room is also the name of every floor routine Adi Pop ever choreographed for China). The title wasn’t really in doubt heading to Liu’s final routine on floor, where she just needed to be undisastrous in order to win. She was far better than undisastrous.

Despite being the defending champion, Liu Tingting was not the favorite heading into this competition. The last time we had seen her was worlds, when she had that disastrous time on bars and beam in the team final, and she definitely did not seem like she’d be the winner in the lead-up training. But while it wasn’t a perfect competition for Liu, her 8-routine performance was far more composed than most of her greener compatriots, which made the difference.

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What Went Down at Japanese Nationals

Gymnastics is back. In a charitable effort to save us all from the ongoing apocalypse, Japan contested the All-Japan senior championships yesterday—the first live gymnastics competition I’ve watched in over six months. And not a moment too soon.

Perhaps you, like me, decided to pretend that this was worlds and live-tweet quick hits of the competition from bed in the middle of the night, but if you’re not an extremely rad, cool person like me and my friend Nobody…here’s what happened.

In the women’s competition, Mai Murakami was like, “Remember that time you didn’t take me to worlds because of a technicality in the selection procedures even though I’m the best, and then you ended up barely qualifying a team to your home Olympics as a result, and honestly you would have deserved to miss out because you actively didn’t take your best team? Because I do remember that.”

Or something to that effect. That’s the Google Translate version of her performance.

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