Category Archives: Meet Recap

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…


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. Continue reading Koper World Challenge Cup

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. Continue reading Osijek World Challenge Cup

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.  Continue reading Zhaoqing World Challenge Cup

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! Continue reading 2006 Worlds All-Around: Gymnastics Is Over

American Classic – What Even Was This Meet?

Fear not, I have finally returned to the land of the living and have fully watched…whatever the American Classic was supposed to be. So let’s get into it.

First, a few brief lengthy notes about the inevitable gymternet controversy that cropped up surrounding the stream of this meet (WHO COULD HAVE SEEN A CONTROVERSY COMING), sparked once again by USAG’s inability to plan anything or answer a simple question. In this case the question was, “What even is this meet?”

USAG clearly had no idea. On one hand, it tried to make American Classic into a real public meet this year and sell tickets (exactly 11 of them, I think), yet on the other hand, it still gave coaches/athletes the option (as exercised by Grace McCallum and Riley McCusker) not to be shown on the live stream—an inherent contradiction.

Which is it? A public meet or a secret meet? Pick one.

My expectation is that if the American Classic is a public meet where the organization sells tickets that anyone can buy, streams the meet live, uses the meet for selection purposes, and promotes the meet using specific athletes, then opting out of a live stream should not be presented as an option. Just as no one would allow Simone to opt out of being shown on TV at nationals even if she wanted that, or no one would allow an NCAA athlete to opt out of being shown on the SEC Network. This isn’t training. It’s THE SHOW. The paying customers are going to see your routines anyway.

If, however, you’ve decided the American Classic is a rinky-dink little nothing competition held at Nancy’s guest shack or whatever in order to allow athletes to play around and get experience—more like the other elite qualifiers—then who even cares. (Exactly no one cared that we didn’t see McCusker’s routines from the last elite qualifier.) Either way is acceptable, but USAG has to decide one way or the other and communicate to everyone what it wants this meet to be.

Communicate that this is another US Classic and if you’re not ready to show routines to the world, that’s fine, but then this completely optional public meet is not for you.

Or, conversely, communicate that this is not a real competition and shouldn’t be treated as such—and then don’t hold it in a big arena and don’t sell tickets.

Once again, USAG creates an entirely avoidable mess through poor communication (and not attempting to reconcile its own aims with what the national team/coaches prefer), and then walks away and lets everyone else get upset about it.

Ultimately, USAG did tweet McCusker’s beam routine, so you might live, with her name misspelled and never corrected. (USAG is becoming a full satire at this point, and I’m in the front row.)

Continue reading American Classic – What Even Was This Meet?

Guimarães World Cup – Finals Day 2

The second day of finals from Guimarães brought more Nightmare Cat, more rambling Olympic Channel insanity, and much more YORG, along with medals in the remaining five events or whatever. Let’s go.

Men’s Vault

8th place – Rene Cournoyer (CAN) – Rene sat his opening double front vault, then went all hoppy on a Kas 1/1 landing to drop him to 8th.

7th place – Robert Tvorogal (LTU) – Tvorogal performed the same vaults as Cournoyer with the same result, also sitting his double front. He did land his Kas 1/1 with more control, though, to take 7th.

6th place – Simon Lopez (MEX) – Lopez struggled a bit landing his handspring 2/1, squatting deep and lunging to the side, which took him out of contention.

5th place – Marco Rizzo (SUI) – Rizzo had the only hit double front in the final (1 for 4!) and did so for a competitive score, but he just didn’t have the second-vault difficulty, performing only a Kas.

4th place – Fabian De Luna (MEX) – De Luna started very well with a cleanly twisted Kas 1/1—just a medium bound forward—but he too sat down his double front to miss the medals.

3rd place – Takumi Sato (JPN) – A sideward lunge nearly off the mat on a handspring 2.5 took Sato down to third, but he followed that with a stuck Kas 1/1, if a little deep, to keep himself in the medals.

2nd place – Jorge Vega Lopez (GUA) – Don’t worry, his name is still very much YORG, apparently. Vega controlled his landings quite well on both the handspring 2.5 and the Kas 1.5, with just small steps, though his knees and ankles may have died after coming in short on the handspring. Unclear. A couple form things, but a good showing.

1st place – Manrique Larduet (CUB) – It was an absolutely fantastic Dragulescu, insanely high and comfortably completed, that earned Manrique the gold here. He needed to be that good for gold, since his opening Kas 1.5 was landed deeper than the others with a significant lunge back. Continue reading Guimarães World Cup – Finals Day 2