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Written by dwight normile    Saturday, 30 June 2012 15:40    PDF Print
Leyva Wins Olympic Trials; Orozco Also Earns Berth
(8 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

On a strange afternoon of slips and surges, Danell Leyva lost his first-day lead and came from behind in the final event to win the U.S. Olympic Trials in San Jose. He defeated national champion John Orozco, 368.35-367.40, and both earned automatic berths to the Olympic team. The remaining three members and three alternates will be named Sunday at 10 a.m. PT.

Errors defined both Leyva and Orozco on the final day of trials, the fourth and final round of the trials process that began at the Visa Championships in St. Louis three weeks ago. In the second rotation, Leyva made an odd mistake when he fell onto his back on his Manna.

"I just pressed it up too quick," he said. "I tried to play it off."

The collapse hurt his score, and Orozco eventually took a commanding lead after vault, where he stuck his double-twisting front. Leyva played it safe with a Kasamatsu-full. But the Olympic trials demons cropped up again in the final rotation, which had both Orozco and Leyva on parallel bars. First man up, Orozco missed a peach-half and had to improvise, and then his left arm began to cramp and he couldn't control his left hand. Somehow he managed to finish the set, but not without a break after his Healy.

"I really don't know how I did it, but I did," Orozco said of finishing the routine. "And now I can say I'm an Olympian." Orozco said he couldn't wait to see his parents to give them a hug and say "we all did it together."

Said Leyva of his Olympian status: "I didn't think we were gonna know today. But it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders."

With Sam Mikulak scratching five events with a sprained ankle he sustained Thursday on vault, Jonathan Horton moved up to third all-around. But he was not happy afterward, having made errors on high bar and floor, his last two events today.

"It was dumb," Horton said of his mistakes. "I've never done that. I'm frustrated with myself right now."

Chris Brooks, on the other hand, tied for fourth with Jake Dalton, though Brooks fell off pommel horse in the first rotation.

"I'm relieved, I'm happy with myself," Brooks said, admitting that he's in a weird position with the selection still to come. "The consistency hasn't been there."

Dalton fell off pommels too, but overall he had another solid day. And even though most believe he's a lock for the team, he's not as sure.

"I'm not gonna be able to sleep tonight, I know that," he said.

Mikulak, who hit his one event today, pommel horse, sounded confident that he had shown enough throughout the process, and was pleased he had hit pommels four times in a row.

"My performance the past three meets has been more than I could have asked for," he said.

Alex Naddour admitted he won't sleep well tonight, wondering if a pommel horse specialist will be added to the team. But he believes his rings proved that he's more than a one-event contributor.

"I felt like I did my job," he told IG.

The selection committee will crunch the numbers and try to put together the strongest five-man team for the U.S. And Leyva's stepfather/coach Yin Alvarez revealed to reporters what he thought of Team USA's chances in London.

"It's no secret this team can win the gold medal," he said.


Rotation 1

Chris Brooks, first up on PH, began well but fell on a single-pommel combo. Must be hard to be the first routine of the Olympic trials final day. John Orozco led off on high bar with a very clean set and stuck layout full-out. Crowd goes nuts. Alexander Naddour saved a couple of near falls, landed his dismount and wiped his brow in relief. Not the routine he was hoping for. Paul Ruggeri hit a strong RO half-on to handspring-double twisting front vault but stepped sideways.

Brandon Wynn hit high bar with some form issues, and Jake Dalton fell off pommels. The guys look a little tight in this first rotation, which is not surprising. David Sender landed his Yurchenko-double pike with one big step. A good vault. Josh Dixon caught a Winkler from elgrip on HB and stuck his layout full-out.

Jonathan Horton swung a great PH set under a lot of pressure. A strong start for him. Danell Leyva nailed his HB set, including the jam-hop to Endo-full, and stuck his dismount. Crowd absulutely erupted. Steven Legendre also got through pommels well for a good start. He might be competing for an alternate spot at best.

Sam Mikulak sprained his left ankle on vault on Thursday and has opted to compete only on pommels today. He can still be selected to the team. Glen Ishino did two Yamawakis (one to mixed grip) and stuck his layout double-double to complete an electric first rotation.

Rotation 2

Wynn was solid on floor and stuck his 2.5 dismount, which isn't easy. Naddour showed level Malteses to show the committee he can contribute on more than just pommels. Ruggeri hit p-bars well to make the committee take a closer look at him, even though his pommels and rings are relatively weak. Dixon was clean on floor until he needed a large step on his tucked Arabian double dismount.

Dalton nailed rings and sort of stuck his tucked double-double (lot of body language). Sender got thru PB better than Day 1, but still had a few small errors. Leyva was cooking on floor until his Manna was too high, and he fell onto his back. It's his first major error in the whole trials process, but he can afford it. Horton did well on rings and stuck his tucked double-double. He's feeling it today. Ishino hit floor, ending with a clean triple twist. Legendre looked steady on rings, and is off to a strong start. CJ Maestas was quick and dynamic on PB and almost stuck his double pike.

Orozco got the crowd going after his flairs on floor, and even Leyva's coach Yin Alvarez was clapping for him. Like Wynn, Orozco stuck his 2.5 twist dismount. Brooks made up for his PH with a strong rings set and nodded in approval after he landed his half-in full-out.

Rotation 3

Dixon stayed clean on PH, and Dalton followed with a well-done Lopez vault, that he stuck momentarily before taking a step back. Sender missed his Kolman on HB and you could see the look of disappointment on his face. Leyva rebounded from his floor flub with an excellent PH set, and he gave himself a couple of claps afterward.

Horton stuck with a handspring-double front instead of gambling with a Dragulescu. He didn't stick it, but it looked solid and may be a vault the team uses in London in team finals. High bar master Alex Buscaglia linked a full-twisting Tkatchev to Gienger in one of the best routines of the meet. Glen Ishino ripped through his fast-paced PH routine to make things interesting on that event. Legendre over-rotated his Dragulescu and needed several steps backward to stay on the podium. Maestas hit HB but was a bit rough in places. He's still a raw talent. Orozco was strong on horse and looked under control throughout.

Brooks finally hit his double front pike in a meet the way he wanted, and was really pumped after the clean landing. He tucked the second flip a bit, but it should score well. Buscaglia hit HB, an event he has owned for years. Naddour landed his double-twisting front on vault with one big step.

Rotation 4

Buscaglia hit a solid floor set, and Leyva, on his weak event, rings, but picked up a little pivoting swing during the Yamawaki sequence. Orozco should gain on him in this rotation. Horton hit p-bars with Brooks cheering throughout. Maestas hit a difficult floor routine, with double-double mount and full-in dismount. He should do well in the coming years. Ishino peeled off rings with one hand on a giant and had to drop off. He just laid on the ground for a few seconds in disbelief. Legendre hit PB, and Ruggeri hit floor, another strong event for him.

Orozco flexed his muscles on rings with level Malteses and steady swing. Brooks nailed PB with Horton calling out vocal cues. Sender had some landing issues on floor and you can tell he's running out of gas a bit. Wynn hit strong rings, which is his strong event. Naddour was looking strong until his hand slipped on a Diamidov and he had to jump off. He couldn't believe it happened. Dixon continues to have a good meet on rings, showing a clean front double pike dismount. Dalton hit a great p-bars set.

Orozco has takent a .15 lead over Leyva.

Rotation 5

Sam Mikulak finally got to compete, and he hit pommels with only a slight hitch here and there. But a great set under the circumstances. And more importantly, four hits on PH starting in St. Louis at Visa championships. Legendre hit a lean HB set with high piked and tucked Kovacses, and he almost stuck his triple flyaway. Maestas hit PH, showing a bold set.

Orozco redeemed himself on vault, his only fall on Day one, and landed his double-twisting front without a quiver. OK, maybe a slight one, but his feet never moved. Brooks really let it go on pipe and continues to hit after his PH fall. Ruggeri was psyched to stay on horse, but Wynn had to do a forward roll after his double front vault. Naddour hit HB, which is not his best event. Despite an early fall on PH, Sender remounted and finished some difficult combos very well. Impressive.

Dixon finally broke, on vault, when he fell to his knees on the landing. Dalton looked tentative on HB but got through without a major break. Leyva knows he needs a decent vault and then try to catch Orozco on their last event, PB. He played it safe and did Kasamatsu-full instead of the 1.5, but he did it well. Orozco leads by .55.

Last up on HB, Horton promised he would catch his Cassina after he fell on Thursday, and he did, but his Takemoto finished too soon and he couldn't connect the Yamawaki.

Rotation 6

Brooks, everybody's cheerleader, hit floor and gave himself a scream for a job well done. Maestas, built for rings, showed excellent strength skills and ended with a tucked double-double.

First up on PB, Orozco can put added pressure on Leyva with a hit, but he blew his peach-half and had to do a side glide. Then he almost missed a Healy and had to do a straddle cut. It was a bad routine, and Orozco was checking his left thumb after he got off. Naddour hit floor, waved to the crowd and will have to wait until Sunday morning to learn his Olympic fate, like most everyone else. Ruggeri finished a strong day on rings, and waved to the crowd.

Wynn is an animal on PB and throws a really hard set. Dalton stuck his layout double Arabian and and did his usual clean routine. He did his job here and should make the team. A bittersweet ending to Sender's comeback, he started well but ran out of strength and fell to his knees on his double-double. A classy guy, he smiled, waved farewell and got a hug from coach Ivan Ivankov.

With one routine to go, Horton opened floor well, but lost his balance on his third pass and stepped out of bounds. But he managed to stick his full-in dismount. Overall, he looked good in San Jose.

With Orozco swallowing a low score on PB, Leyva just needs a clean set to win trials. He ad libbed a bit, adding a giant after his peach-Diamidov but he never broke. He waved to the crowd then lifted Alvarez in the air and hugged Mom.

Legendre finished a strong day with his amazing tumbling, and the crowd loved it. Ishino closed the meet with a strong PB routine.

Written by dwight normile    Thursday, 28 June 2012 19:10    PDF Print
Leyva Takes Lead at Trials After Day One
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

Danell Leyva was near flawless today at the U.S. Olympic Trials in San Jose, Calif., just as he had been three weeks earlier at the Visa Championships in St. Louis. Only this time, he regained the edge over national champion John Orozco as each try to make the Olympic team.

Leyva, the 2011 U.S. champion, hit all six events and surged ahead of Orozco, who had one major error when he fell on his vault. With one day remaining in the Olympic trials process, which began at the Visa Championships (scores are cumulative), Leyva leads Orozco, 276.500-275.550. Sam Mikulak maintained his third-place ranking with a six-for-six effort, totaling 274.650.

On the day, Mikulak acutally scored the highest all-around with 91.80, one tenth better than Leyva, with Orozco third at 90.70.

Leyva began the meet on floor with a bounce out of bounds on his layout double-double mount, but that would be his biggest mistake all day. He finished on his two strengths, parallel bars and high bar, where he tallied the highest scores on those events. He said that losing his national title earlier in the month contributed to his performance here.

"It was a huge factor," he said. "It was huge motivation when I went back home, finishing second (in St. Louis) by .05."

Orozco says he isn't as concerned with the rankings at this point, and just wants to make the Olympic team.

"Regardless of what happens, we're all gonna be friends afterward," he said, adding that "the only thing I'd like to do is my best."

Which is what Mikulak did here, starting with an extremely clean routine on parallel bars, where he was the first man up. After sticking his dismount, he smiled and seemed to relax a bit.

"That was a lot of weight off my back," he said. And of his ability to avoid major mistakes, he added, "I definitely was able to zone everything out."

On a day when few errors were made overall, Horton lost a bit of ground on the leaders when he peeled off high bar on his Cassina. But that was his only error, but one that left him a little perplexed.

"I couldn't have done that skill any better than I did," he said, adding that the bar had felt slippery when he first mounted. "I just slipped off."

Jake Dalton had another strong outing to galvanize his spot on the team, but former Oklahoma teammate Chris Brooks had trouble, just as he had in St. Louis. He fell off parallel bars on a peach-full and put his hands down on a high handspring-double front pike on vault. The whole way through, however, he was pulling for his friend and training mate Horton.

"John's like a brother to me -- no, he is a brother to me," Brooks said. "I think he deserves to be on this Olympic team just as much as anybody does."

Horton refuted the notion that he and best friend Brooks were esstentially fighting for the same spot on the team, saying that he could see a scenario in which both make it.

In the subplot for a pommel horse specialist -- if one will even be selected on a five-man team -- Alex Naddour made a strong statement in the final rotation with an impeccable set worth 15.400 and the top score. He said he played it safe with a 6.40 D-score, but actually has trained a 6.8 routine, as well.

The men's trials conclude Saturday, and the top two all-around ranks automatically qualify for the team, as long as the gymnasts also have a top-three ranking on at least three events.


John Orozco: Clean piked Arabian double front mount, to split jump. Very clean throughout with just a slight knee bend on his 2.5 twist dismount. Great PH set until he lost rhythm before the dismount and had to press it up. Steady rings and dismounted with a 1.5-twisting double back. Finally a break from Orozco, who lacked an effective block on vault and sat down his handspring-double-twisting front. Unbelievable rebound routine on PB after falling on vault. Dmitrienko, Tippelt, stuck double pike, feet glued together. Great HB set to finish (Tkatchev-full, Moznik).

Danell Leyva: Bounced O.B. on his double-double floor mount, showing the adrenaline that an Olympic trials will bring. Settled down and stuck his double layout dismount. Steady set with a Tong Fei and no breaks of rhythm on PH. And he took back the lead over Orozco, but by only .05. Picked up some swing after his Yamawakis but settled down and stuck his layout full-out off rings. Orozco passed him on the scoreboard again, but Mikulak soared to first. Leyva Landed his Kasamatsu-1.5 but stepped sideways over the line. Swung through PB with four peach skills to start and needed only a small hop on his double pike. Hit HB but did not connect his jam-hop to Endo. Still good enough to take a lead into the final day.

Sam Mikulak: First up on p-bars and absolutely rocked his original set, stuck the double pike and smiled ear to ear. Another excellent set on HB, with numerous skills teetering in the handstand. Nobody catches his Kolman as early. Stuck his layout double-double. Another rocked routine on floor, with a double-double mount and triple twist dismount. Very long and difficult set. Hit PH and seemed to cover well on his flair handstand pirouette dismount. Looked like he had to add an extra pirouette. Steady on his weak event, rings, and saved his tucked double-double with a cat-like landing. Crooked Lopez vault and stepped sideways over the line, but hit 6-for-6.

Jonathan Horton: Solid back roll to Maltese mount on rings and showed pretty good control elsewhere and needed just a small hop on his tucked double-double. Pumped his fist in relief to have started well. Landed a handspring-double front with one large hop. Powered through a difficult PB set with a Dmitrienko and Morisue. Buddy Chris Brooks screamed "C'mon, baby!" right before the dismount. Very classy, as they both have similar strengths and fighting for the same berth in a way. Horton missed his opening release on HB, a Cassina that just had too much rotation. He caught a layout Kovacs and Kolman and made everything else. He pointed to the high bar afterward, wondering why he didn't hang on. Strong floor but his double front pike was semi-tucked. Missed one of his PH handstands but covered well enough, but he can't give away tenths like that on his weak event.

Jake Dalton: Steady rings set, with large step after tucked double-double. Solid Lopez vault (Kasamatsu-double twist), one step. Great PB with his Dalton and front 1.25. Very clean throughout. Looked VERY tentative on HB but got through. Stuck his layout Arabian double FX mount and was very clean throughout, sticking his triple twist. The best floor set of the meet. Finished a strong meet with one of his best PH routines under the circumstances.

Steven Legendre: Solid on rings with a tucked double-double dismount (hop). Did a stronger Dragulescu than usual, completing the half turn and traveling very far. Solid PB and stuck his double pike. He's got some momentum and kept it up on HB, sticking his triple flyaway. Really got the crowd going on floor with his Hypolito. Overall he showed the most amplitude of any tumbler (piked double Arabian dismount). Fought to stay on PH and did, but a big form break midway through will cost him.

Chris Brooks: Perfect rings set for him to start to get back into the mix. He stuck his half-in full-out dismount. Excellent handspring-piked double front vault in the air but bounced forward to his hands. Looked clean on his PB peaches but fell outside the bars on the peach-full. Great HB, linking a Takemoto-full to Yamawaki-Gienger. Hit floor with tucked and piked double fronts.

Glenn Ishino: Clean floor set to open his meet, ending with a tight triple twist. Rifled through his fast-paced PH routine and looked very pleased with the hit. Like Naddour, he needs this event to be considered for the team. Clean rings but low difficulty. Stuck a Kasamatsu-full vault. Really well-done PB set with excellent form, technique and a stuck double pike. Superb HB, mounting with a Yamawaki to mixed grip.

Alex Naddour: Hit rings and ended with a 1.5 twisting double back, but will have to wait five rotations to show his pommel horse prowess, his real ticket to London if the committee decides to go that route. Vaulted a somewhat sloppy double-twisting layout front. Hit solid PB and really looks focused. Clean but fairly simple HB routine, sticking his layout full-out. Workman-like on FX but dismounted with a solid tucked full-out. Excellent PH, mounting with 2 handstands and following with a full kehre, then spindle on the end. You could tell he was pumped after the flair handstand pirouette dismount.

David Sender: Great peach mount and high Tipplet on PB, but Sender missed his peach-full and had to jump off. Strong HB set but peeled off on the dismount and did a double layout. Lou Yun floor mount but dismounted with only a double twist. A hit PH set brought a smile to his face. Strong rings set with a stuck double-double. Finished with a Yurchenko-double pike, landed a little low, but landed nonetheless.

Paul Ruggeri: Great PB set to start, throwing a Dmitrienko and sticking his double pike. Long routine! Another great routine on HB with lots of variety. He's a real talent. After a strong FX set he hit PH, his weak event.

Brandon Wynn: Clean front-full to double front floor mount, and the crowd loved his maltese, inches off the floor. Great set overall. Great rings set with stuck double-double, but he only scored 12.90 on PH in the previous rotation. Wynn stuck (or covered his imbalance) his handspring-double front. Difficult p-bar set but seemed to clip the bar on his double pike dismount. Strong high bar with a flaired full-twisting double layout, stuck cold.

Alex Buscaglia: Broke after his giant to arabian front roll-out on p-bars. Linked his Tkatchev-full to Gienger and lit up the crowd with an exciting set overall. Sat down on floor and fell off PH. Weak rings, but strong vault to finish (RO half-on to handspring-double-twisting front).

Josh Dixon: Shaky on floor to start, going OB on his mount, but stayed on his feet the rest of the way. Great PH set with flaired spindle around pommel. Home crowd (for Dixon) loved it. Winkler from elgrip on HB, but tucked his half-in half-out dismount.

C.J. Maestas: Started on PB and reminiscent of Raj Bhavsar, overpowering the event with his strength. Hit well. Exciting HB set with a Kolman. A bit wild on floor, but this is good experience for him for 2016. Hit pommels (multiple handstands) and rings (tucked double-double). Yurchenko-double twist with two small hops.

Written by dwight normile    Wednesday, 27 June 2012 19:19    PDF Print
U.S. Olympic Trials: Women's Podium Training
(15 votes, average 3.93 out of 5)

The women trained on the podium in the late afternoon Wednesday. All were dressed in official Olympic trials warm-up suits and tank leotards. Following are notes from the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

Nastia Liukin: The 2008 Olympic champion looked much stronger on bars in podium training than at the Visa championships in St. Louis. She did one full routine with a tucked barani-out dismount. Coach/Dad Valeri Liukin was giving some fairly vigorous pushes at the bottom of each giant, so it's hard to tell how much of the routine was really hers. A few minutes later she remounted and did a second half by herself, but Valeri stepped in at the end to give her a bump on the dismount, which was landed quite well.

Beam shouldn't be an issue for Nastia, but we'll see if she can show a little more confidence than she did in St. Louis. "Once we get to trials, it's showtime," Nastia said. "I think the performances you compete will speak for themselves."

Alicia Sacramone: Sacramone did vault and beam here, just as she had at Visa championships. She said she can do all of her floor tumbling but just didn't have enough time to put together a full routine. Asked if her veteran leadership from the Beijing Olympics would help her get selected to the team, she said, "I think leadership is important. Is it enough to get someone on the team? I don't think so."

She's rooming with Bridget Sloan in San Jose, and was asked who was sloppier. Sacramone said she likes to keep things organized, so she knows where everything is. She said Sloan just throws everything down in a heap: "It just looks like a bomb hit it."

Alexandra Raisman: Her muscular legs help her to complete the most difficult tumbling pass being done today (1.5 twist through to Arabian double tuck, punch front layout -- why not a front-full?), but they also contribute to her loose form on uneven bars. When she tightens her legs for bars, her feet have a way of missing each other. Her Amanar continues to improve, with more vertical landings.

Gabrielle Douglas: Douglas did more reps than most but seems to be able to handle it. She struggled on bars a bit, when her Stalder-full kept finishing too early and failing to go over the top. Also, her inside Stalders barely pass the bar; it would be nice to see her rotate in deeper.

Douglas's only big mistake at Visas was a fall on beam, and she said "I was so mad" after, and just got back up and hit all of the remaining skills. Since then, she says her beam coach, Liwen Zhuang "has whipped me into shape."

Liang Chow never used to let Shawn Johnson know her scores and he's using that same strategy with Douglas. "I think I've improved so much in the mential situation," Douglas said, adding that her coaches have really helped her in that area. "We all make mistakes. We're human."

Jordyn Wieber: All business, just like her coach John Geddert. Wieber looked machine-like but still has her own unique appeal. Her gymnastics just looks bigger and more explosive than most of her competitors. Though she still lacks a bit of amplitude on bars, she keeps form throughout. And as Geddert hinted in St. Louis, she threw a nice full-twisting double layout off bars instead of her usual double layout. It adds 0.1 to her D-score, which can be lost with one small step on the landing. Geddert told me Wieber is just as consistent landing the double layout as she is the full-twisting version. I think that's a smart gamble.

McKayla Maroney: Maroney's injury seems to be history. She tumbled well on floor, and her Amanar is still the best in the world. She has a hard time controlling her long legs on bars, however, but that's not where the team needs her.

Rebecca Bross: She has so much to prove here after St. Louis, where she did fairly well on bars but wasn't even close on her Arabian double beam dismount. She landed a solid one here, however, and looks like a more focused gymnast than three weeks ago. She told me she did "a lot" of double Arabian dismounts since Visas.

She also told me she tried to come back on floor exercise after injuring her right knee at the 2011 Visas, but "it was decided" she should focus on bars and beam. Sounds like it wasn't her decision.

Kyla Ross: She looked solid, as usual. There is just something effortless about her work everywhere, except perhaps vault, where she played it safe in St. Louis by doing a double-twisting Yurchenko. She plans to do the Amanar here to improve her all-around score -- and her chances of an Olympic team berth.

Read complete coverage of the U.S. Olympic Trials in the July/August issue of International Gymnast Magazine.

Written by dwight normile    Wednesday, 06 June 2012 09:00    PDF Print
Visa Championships Preview
(7 votes, average 3.29 out of 5)

As in every Olympic year, the U.S. national (Visa) championship, which begins today in St. Louis, is reduced to a warm-up act for the Olympic trials. The national champions are really only halfway to their ultimate goal of making it to the Olympics.

Still, defending champions Danell Leyva and Jordyn Wieber (shown here), both of whom earned individual world titles in Tokyo last fall (he on parallel bars, she in the all-around), hardly want to slip in their own national rankings. But that may happen when you consider the depth of both fields in 2012.

Here are a few subplots to follow this weekend in St. Louis.

Jonathan Horton's health: Surgery on his left ankle after the Tokyo worlds was not the best way to prepare for an Olympic Games, but Horton had little choice. We'll see if his ankle, and other body parts, can hold up this month over four stress-building rounds of competition at Visas and trials.

Can Leyva repeat? With most gymnasts upgrading their routines for London, mistakes are likely to affect many in the field. 2011 bronze medalist John Orozco could be the new champion, as long as he avoids the collapse that crushed his American Cup dream earlier this year. And if Leyva, Horton and Orozco stumble at all, Chris Brooks or even Jake Dalton could rise to the top.

Can Wieber repeat? Like Leyva, Wieber has a few capable challengers to steal her title. Her two routines on uneven bars will be critical, particularly the back uprise-free hip-full pirouette sequence that follows her Maloney. Look for Alexandra Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas or Kyla Ross to challenge if they avoid big mistakes and Wieber falters.

The Battle for Bars: Competition for one of the three team-final spots on uneven bars is almost as intriguing as the all-around clash. Assuming Douglas, Wieber and Raisman are shoo-ins for the five-member team, U.S. National Team Coordinator Marta Karolyi has several in the mix for the third berth: Kyla Ross, Anna Li, Rebecca Bross, Nastia Liukin and Bridget Sloan. I am very interested to see how Sloan fares after such a lengthy break, because she fits the bars-beam void that Karolyi needs to fill.

What to do with McKayla Maroney? The world vault champion's biggest enemy in 2012 is the five-member Olympic team. Oh wait, the 2011 U.S. women's world team had only five gymnasts, so everyone did all-around in prelims. Maroney's scores on bars, beam and floor were dropped. Hmmm. In team finals, she did vault and floor. That she can win the Olympic gold on vault is a nice advantage when the Selection Committee deliberates.

Miscellaneous: While it has often been said that Oklahoma's Jake Dalton and Steven Legendre are competing for the same berth, the same could be said for Liukin and WOGA teammate Bross. If Bross can go clean both days, she'll have an edge over Liukin, who still must prove she's capable of contributing a high score on uneven bars. That Liukin competed only on beam at the U.S. Classic suggests her bars were not ready. What she showed on bars in podium training in St. Louis was a watered-down version of her 2008 routine (no straight-body cast handstands, inside-Stalders or elgrip-Endo). She may be planning to upgrade for trials at the end of the month.

Here's the meet schedule (note that the Senior Men will compete early Saturday):

Thursday, June 7

1 p.m. - Junior Men's Competition

6:30 p.m. - Senior Men's Competition

Friday, June 8

1 p.m. - Junior Women's Competition

6:30 p.m. - Senior Women's Competition

Saturday, June 9

11:30 a.m. - Senior Men's Competition

6 p.m. - Junior Men's Competition

Sunday, June 10

10 a.m. - Junior Women's Competition

2:30 p.m. - Senior Women's Competition

Written by Dwight Normile    Sunday, 18 October 2009 09:43    PDF Print
China Takes 3 More Golds as Worlds Conclude
(15 votes, average 4.67 out of 5)

IG Editor Dwight Normile is blogging from the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships at the O2 Arena in London.

Men's Vault

Isaac Botella (ESP): High Kasamatsu-1.5 (6.6) with some form issues and big crossover step; handspring-double-twisting front (6.6), stepped to the side and over the boundary line. 15.650 two-vault average.

Anton Golotsutskov (RUS): Dragulescu, super high, legs apart, hop back (7.0); Tsukahara-double pike (7.0), fairly clean, slightly short, hop forward. 16.287 average.

Thomas Bouhail (FRA): Tsukahara-double pike, off axis, landed and spun around and put a hand down. He's lucky he didn't hurt himself since he landed at such a sideward angle. High Dragulescu, small hop. He looked pleased, despite the first vault fault. 15.775 average.

Matthias Fahrig (GER): Sort of trotted at first before gaining full speed for a Dragulescu, which landed low, in a deep squat and a step to the side over the boundary. Clean Kasamatsu-1.5 that landed a little short. 15.850 average.

Marian Dragulescu (ROM): High, far Dragulescu. He stood up straight quickly to try to stick, but took a step back. Li Xiaopeng (roundoff, half-on, layout randi, 7.2), landed well with just a step. Huge applause and Dragulesu returne the applause in appreciation. Should be tough to beat. 16.575.

Jeffrey Wammes (NED): Yurchenko-2.5 twist (6.6); handspring-double-twisting front, never had enough height and sat down. 15.425 average.

Flavius Koczi (ROM): Lopez (Kasamatsu-double twist, 7.0), one step; Handspring-randi (2.5 twists, 7.0), landed short of the twist, but just needed a hop. 16.337.

Vault finals require different entry and post-flight, and these two vaults abuse that rule on both sides of the table. Meanwhile, you cannot do a Yurchenko-double pike and Yurchenko-2.5 twist, which are completely different. Sometimes you just have to shake your head at the decisions the Men's Technical Committee makes--or in this case, chooses not to make.

Ri Se Gwang (PRK): Piked Dragulescu (7.2), landed on all fours; Tsukahara-double pike stepped to the side. 15.650.

1. Dragulescu; 2. Koczi; 3. Golotsutskov. After Ri finished, Dragulescu and Koczi stood atop the vault table draped in a Romanian flag. Gymnastics' version of an end zone celebration?

Balance Beam

Yang Yilin (CHN) began well but wobbled after an Onodi and slipped sideways after a Rulfova. No connection between front and side aerials, then her foot missed on a switch-ring leap, and she fell. Clean roundoff, 2.5 twist dismount (13.225).

Elisabetta Preziosa (ITA) did an interesting side aerial that landed on one leg while she raised the other leg high in front. Used her flexibility to good effect and ended with a roundoff, double tuck, slightly under (14.20, 5.8).

Ana Porgras (ROM) began confidently with excellent form and flexibility, but fell on her first tumbling combination of front aerial, flip-flop, layout, then later had to grab the beam to prevent another fall (13.425, 6.4).

Deng Linlin (CHN) was aggressive but slightly off balance on nearly every landing. Trick, trick, trick (15.000, 6.4).

Koko Tsurumi (JPN) had a near fall after a layout but she turned halfway and put her hand down on the beam with her leg up in a needle. Stuck a roundoff, 2.5 twist right as the final warning buzzer sounded (14.10, 5.7).

Kim Un Hyang (PRK) landed well on her roundoff, layout-full, slip wobble on a front tuck and two leaps, roundoff, double pike dismount (14.450, 6.0).

Ivana Hong (USA) looked fairly smooth but had to pause between her Onodi and sheep jump, and she had a few other balance checks. Two flip-flops to double pike, slightly short on rotation (14.550, 6.0). A medal secured, Hong received a hug from coach Valeri Liukin.

Lauren Mitchell (AUS) mounted with a chest spin on the end to swing down. Double turn in side lunge, interesting front aerial, standing front tuck, bit step back on her double pike, but overall a solid routine in comparison with the others (14.875, 6.3).

1. Deng; 2. Mitchell; 3. Hong.

Parallel Bars

Yann Cucherat (FRA) tore a ligament in his middle finger during the pre-meet warm-up in the 02 Arena (there are no one-touch warm-ups in the event finals), and was replaced by Pham Phuoc Hung (VIE).

Wang Guanyin (CHN) Excellent set with front uprise-Diamidov, Dmitrienko, piked Morisue, piked Belle, struggled slightly on a swing hand, stuck his double pike. This routine could win, but being first up might hurt him (15.975, 7.0).

Yoo Won Chul (KOR) matched Wang, skill for skill, and stuck his double pike too. Pumped his fists in relief. Now that you can only do one type of each release, the top guys are doing piked Morisues and piked Belles and a Dmitrienko (front uprise immediate double back). 15.300, 6.7.

Adam Kierzkowski (POL) His low peach-half will hurt him, clean front-1.25 to support, reverse cut to handstand, but later sat down a double pike in his first world final. 4.325, 6.3.

Feng Zhe (CHN) took steps on his peach-half and later did a peach full, great, stretched Healym had to jump sideward after his double pike. 15.775, 6.9.

Epke Zonderland (NED) did a really cool Diamidov-1.25 with an extra full pirouette to a glid on the side, and he stuck his double pike. He's been paying his dues on high bar in recent years, and now he showed up well in the p-bars final. 15.125, 6.1, received loud boos and whistles.

Pham Phuoc Hung (VIE) struggled on a peach and broke form in a few places. Very short routine. 14.475, 5.9.

Vasileios Tsolakidis (GRE) has great front-uprise skills (Diamidov, Makuts) and a super high front piked-1.75 to upper arms. He stuck his double pike. I think he should have medaled on p-bars at the 2006 worlds. We'll see if he does here. 15.35, 6.3.

Kazuhito Tanaka (JPN) mounted with peach-half, peach-full, muscled one swing handstand and stuck his double pike perhaps the best of all the finals. 15.50, 6.4.

1.Wang; 2. Feng; 3. Tanaka.

Women's Floor Exercise

Beth Tweddle (GBR) drew a huge reception as first up and it got really loud when she landed her opening pass (from just a hurdle, roundoff, flip-flop, 1.5 twist through to Arabian double front), again on her second, piked Arabian double front, the whole crowd began clapping in rhythm during the middle of the routine. Tweddle uses only three tumbling passes and she stuck the final pass (2.5 twist, front-full) and sent the crowd into a frenzy. As she walked off she applauded the home crowd. 14.65, 6.1.

Jessica Gil (COL): In a matter of seconds, the crowd went from its loudest to its quietest when Gil landed on her head on her second pass, handspring-double front. She was obviously disoriented, sitting in a slouch, hand on head. Trainers came up right away and, after several minutes, positioned her on a stretcher and carried off. A stunning turn of events. Only low whispers could be heard in the massive arena. She was moving her arms while they were tending to her on the stretcher. The crowd applauded as they wheeled her out of the arena. Gil was taken to the hospital and the initial prognosis is that it is not too serious, according the meet announcer.

Rebecca Bross (USA) stuck her opening handspring, front layout, double front as well as her 1.5 twist to double-twisting front. (The women are no longer allowed to take a step backward after a tumbling landing.) She made the dismount that backfired during all-around (2.5 twist to barani). 14.125, 5.7.

Sui Lu (CHN) wore white socks and mounted with a whip-triple twist but had some slight hops on three of her tumbling pass landings, but she stuck her double pike dismount. 14.30, 5.7.

Ana Porgras (ROM) hopped on her tucked full-in, which had form issues, and appeared to step out on her second pass, but no flag went up. Her dance and expression are exemplary at a time when that phase of the sport has suffered. She ended with a double tuck, but none of her passes were stuck. Long pause before the score: provisional score of 14.325 lowered to 14.125, 5.5.

Anna Myzdrikova (RUS) stuck her whip-Arabian double front, then did a triple twist, punch back tuck, small step, then stumbled forward on 2.5 twist, punch barani. Ended with a clean double pike. A pity originality doesn't get you anything in this Code of Points. 14.275, 5.9.

Lauren Mitchell (AUS) mounted with an Arabian double tuck to stag jump, then hopped slightly forward after a piked full-in. Third pass of 2.5 twist, front layout, and a double pike finish with small hop. 14.55, 5.8.

Deng Linlin (CHN) stuck her Arabian double front but landed low on her tucked full-in. Completely stopped dancing to step back into the corner for her third pass. Slightly low on her double pike. 13.875, 5.4. The crowd gave Tweddle a standing ovation.

1. Tweddle; 2. Mitchell; 3. Sui.

Horizontal Bar

Igor Cassina (ITA) barely caught his Cassina and Kolman. Poor foot form in this routine but very dynamic style. Ended with a full-twisting double layout with a hop forward. 15.625, 6.7.

Alexander Tsarevich (BLR) showed great form and beautiful Kolman with knees together, pointed toes and an opening. He went the wrong way on one element and landed his triple flyaway with a slight stagger. 14.375, 6.0.

Danell Leyva (USA) was really aggressive and caught his layout Kovacs, tucked Kovacs and had to bend his arms a bit on his jam, dislocate hop to undergrips. When he stuck his layout double-double, his coach really put on show. The crowd loved it. 15.60, 7.0.

Zou Kai (CHN) did a hop-full to Winkler, lots of pirouettes, half Takemoto to layout Tkatchev. A marathon routine from the Olympic champion. He took a hop on his layout double-double. 16.150, 7.5.

Kohei Uchimura (JPN) did his usual gorgeous Kovacs saltos and a clean Kolman, but his difficult might keep him out of the medals. 15.175, 6.4 (brought boos and whistles).

Epke Zonderland (NED) mounted with a Cassina and then did a Kolman, half Takemoto to Gaylord 2. Wild routine with several form breaks. We'll see how the judges handle this. 15.825, 7.3.

Jonathan Horton (USA) mounted with a Takemoto-full to Yamawaki, caught a Cassina, a layout Kovacs, but missed the Kolman. He went for his triple-twisting double but landing well short. He got up and waved to the crowd. 13.25, 6.7.

Aljaz Pegan (SLO) did his Pegan and connected to a Rybalko and and did a Tkatchev to cross grip catch. Bounced forward after his triple flyaway. 15.50, 7.0.

1. Zou; 2. Zonderland; 3. Cassina.

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