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Vernyayev Takes Stuttgart World Cup Title
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Ukrainian star Oleg Vernyayev claimed the men's all-around crown Sunday at the 2017 DTB World Cup in Stuttgart, the second of three FIG all-around World Cup events this year. Pictured: Runner-up Kazuya Kaya (Japan) and bronze medalist Sun Wei (China) pose for a podium selfie with Vernyayev.

Ukrainian star Oleg Vernyayev claimed the men's all-around crown Sunday at the 2017 DTB World Cup in Stuttgart, the second of three FIG all-around World Cup events this year.

The double-decker competition in Stuttgart featured the FIG World Cups, with nine male gymnasts and nine female gymnasts each, held in conjunction with the DTB Team Challenge, which featured a full host of men's and women's teams competing in qualification on Friday before team finals this weekend.

Vernyayev finished a close second at the first FIG World Cup, the AT&T American Cup, held March 5 in Newark, USA, and he headlines the final event next month in London. Vernyayev scored 84.899 to take the men's title Sunday afternoon at the Porsche Arena, topping Japan's Kazuma Kaya (84.398) by just over half a point. China's Sun Wei won the bronze on Sunday (82.898), rebounding from his seventh-place finish at the American Cup.

Vernyayev was the defending champion from the 2016 DTB Cup, as well as the overall winner in the 2015-16 FIG World Cup all-around series. Vernyayev pocketed the 12,000 Swiss Francs awarded to the winner in Stuttgart (approximately $12,000/€11,200), with 10,000 going to Kaya and 8,000 to Sun. Vernyayev and Germany's Lukas Dauser (sixth in Stuttgart and ninth at the American Cup) are the only gymnasts scheduled to compete at all three World Cup events. Unlike previous World Cup series, however, the FIG announced it is awarding the overall prize purse to the national federation that amasses the most points, as opposed to individual gymnasts. Federations were invited based on their team finishes in 2015-16 and were required to send one gymnast to each event.

Vernyayev, the all-around silver medalist and parallel bars champion at the Olympics in Rio, proved that even with mistakes he will be rarely beatable. After the first rotation, he sat in sixth place thanks to problems on his tumbling: 3 1/2 layout front full; 2 1/2 double-twisting front (stumble); double-double; double front (nearly put knee down); Randi (incomplete); triple twist dismount for 13.533. While his rivals stumbled, Vernyayev built up his lead with increasing scores on pommel horse (14.200), still rings (14.400), vault (14.700) and parallel bars (15.600), and he held nearly a 2-point lead over Kaya after five events, 72.433-70.698. He took an awkward fall on high bar, jumping off after missing a handstand only to go spinning off the mat and nearly crashing into a sign. He earned his lowest score of the night, 12.466, but his lead was enough to keep him in first.

Kaya did not show any hugely dynamic skills but did display the cat-like landings the Japanese men are known for en route to second. The Tokyo resident managed to hit well enough to keep pressure on Vernyayev, with top scores of 14.400 on pommel horse and 14.900 on parallel bars. Kaya, who turned 20 in November, won team gold and pommel horse bronze at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, where he also placed 10th all-around.

Sun was eighth after the first rotation with just 12.366 on floor exercise (layout full-in; double layout; tucked double-double; stumbled out after a Rudi; 2 1/2; overrotated triple twist), but he shot up thanks to his 14.733 on pommel horse, where many of the competitors stumbled.

Russian veteran Nikita Ignatyev, who led after the first rotation with 14.300 on floor, lost the bronze by .1 after falls on pommel horse (12.300) and vault (sat down handspring double front; 13.100). Bumped out of Russia's Olympic lineup last summer in favor of Ivan Stretovich, Ignatyev seems to be running out of opportunities to prove to his coaches that he can hit under pressure, especially with the talented group of newcomers who won the DTB Team Challenge on Saturday coming up.

Great Britain's James Hall placed fifth, his best World Cup showing after finishing ninth last year in Stuttgart and sixth all-around at the 2014 Glasgow World Cup. Sixth-place Dauser, a member of Germany's seventh-place team in Rio, lacked difficulty overall except for parallel bars, where his routine with his own skill (giant with Makuts to upper arm hang) brought 14.966.

After sitting on horse near the end of a marathon pommels routine in the second rotation, American Allan Bower pulled himself up to a solid third behind Vernyayev and Kaya going into the final event. But Bower peeled off high bar on his Kovacs, and the lowest high bar score of the night (12.300) was enough to drop him down to seventh place. Bower, coached in Stuttgart by Oklahoma assistant coach Steven Legendre, still managed to impress in his first senior international event.

Switzerland's Oliver Hegi (81.165) and Germany's Sebastian Krimmer (76.964) rounded out the World Cup results.


Yelena Yeryomina (Russia) on floor on Sunday in Stuttgart

The women's DTB Team Challenge finals followed the men's World Cup, with the Russian women pulling out a win in the three-up, three-count final. New national champion Natalia Kapitonova led Russia to a surprise victory. Russia totaled 159.550 after swallowing low scores from Daria Spiridonova on uneven bars (short on inside Stalder and fell; 12.550) and Yelena Yeryomina on floor exercise (who landed on her side on a triple twist gone very wrong; 11.800), but it was well ahead of Germany's 154.100. Yeryomina, the 2016 Junior European champion, showed tremendous potential on uneven bars and balance beam, recovering well after mistakes showing she is still adjusting to the senior stage. Ultimately, Kapitonova's total of 54.750 would have easily given her the World Cup women's title on Saturday, which was won by Germany's Tabea Alt won with 54.199.

First in Friday's qualification, the host German women led slightly after two rotations before imploding on beam and floor exercise. The team boasted two Olympians in Kim Bui and Elisabeth Seitz, but Carina Kröll, Helene Schäfer (younger sister of Pauline Schäfer, fourth in the FIG World Cup on Saturday) and Michelle Timm struggled mightily, combining for two scores in the 12s and three in the 11s.

Olympian Ana Pérez competed four events to help Spain win the team bronze with 147.400, nearly 2 points ahead of Germany's young B team (145.600).

The 2017 FIG World Cup all-around series concludes April 8 at London's O2 Arena, site of the gymnastics competition at the 2012 Olympic Games.

2017 DTB Pokal/FIG World Cup
March 19, Stuttgart, Germany

Men's All-AroundFXPHSRVTPBHBTotal
1.Oleg Vernyayev13.53314.20014.40014.70015.60012.46684.899
2.Kazuma Kaya13.96614.40013.66613.76614.90013.70084.398
3.Sun Wei12.36614.73313.43313.86614.50014.00082.898
4.Nikita Ignatyev14.30012.30014.53313.10014.10014.46682.799
5.James Hall13.63312.70013.60014.40014.26614.06682.665
6.Lukas Dauser13.76613.06613.30013.23314.96613.46681.797
7.Allan Bower13.90013.33313.83314.33314.00012.30081.699
8.Oliver Hegi12.06613.83313.30014.06614.60013.30081.165
9.Sebastian Krimmer13.43312.43312.66612.40013.66612.36676.964

Team Challenge: Women's FinalVTUBBBFXTotal
1.  Russia40.75040.15040.05038.600159.550
Lilia Akhaimova13.300
Natalia Kapitonova13.55014.25013.45013.500
Yevgenia Shelgunova13.500
Daria Spiridonova12.55013.000
Yelena Yeryomina13.70013.35013.60011.800
2.  Germany 141.00040.20036.20036.700154.100
Kim Bui13.75014.20013.050
Carina Kröll13.00012.400
Helene Schäfer13.80011.550
Elisabeth Seitz13.600
Michelle Timm13.45012.40011.65011.250
3.  Spain40.10034.05035.10038.150147.400
Nora Fernández13.55010.55012.550
Ana Pérez13.65010.60011.35012.550
Paula Raya12.90012.600
Cintia Rodríguez10.85013.20013.050
4.  Germany 240.85033.90034.65036.200145.600
Amélie Föllinger13.50012.10013.150
Emma Höfele13.75012.00012.15010.900
Julia Plattenhardt11.60012.150
Isabelle Stingl10.300
Sarah Voss13.60010.400

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