After winning a team gold and another all-around championship title, US gymnast Simone Biles continued her dominance at the World Championships in Nanning, China winning gold medals on the beam and the floor exercise.
The event finals went as expected if not better for Simone, but for some, the results were definitely a surprise, and there were some upsets.
The vault -
First up is MyKayla "I Only Need One Hand" Skinner. She does her standard Cheng and double twisting Yurchenko vaults.
Vault one is her Cheng, she's still doing it one handed, but whatever, I suppose I can try to get over that because her form has improved greatly. She's putting more emphasis on straightening her legs and keeping straight in the air and she's getting great height on that vault. She improved her execution score by 0.10 over her qualifications score.15.700 (6.4 start value, 9.300 execution), average 15.366
Vault two the DTY - very nice vault. Pretty clean in the air, gets good distance and height, but has a small hop on the landing. 15.033 (5.8 SV, 9.233 execution)
Thi Ha Phan of Vietnam is next. First vault a DTY, nice and high, but has a big step to the side. 14.108 (5.8, 8.308).
Vault two is a Rudi (handspring laid out one and a half). She's piked slightly in the air and has another big step out of bounds. 14.633 (6.2, 8.433), average 14.370
Next, the pocket rocket of Great Britain, Claudia Fragapane in her first of two event finals.
First vault, DTY, she's so powerful she has to hop back on her landing. 14.833 (5.8, 9.033)
Second vault, round-off half on half off. Another good vault. 14.6 (5.6, 9.0) Average 14.716
Alexa Moreno of Mexico is next. Nice to see Mexico in the finals, well, nice to see some diversity period.
Vault one, a Rudi, very powerful and fast, she lands and has to take a small step on the side line. 15.033 (6.2, 8.833)
Vault two is a Tsukahara double full (handspring half on laid out double full). She clearly doesn't practice this vault as much as the first one. She blocks really low on the table and she lands with her chest down. 14.066 (6, 8.066) average 14.549
Hong Un Jung of North Korea is next up.
First vault is an Amanar. Which two years ago, everyone and their dog was doing this vault, now, it seems like no one is. She's submitted the triple twisting Yurchenko which the dudes are now doing with some frequency. She didn't do it this worlds, and she didn't do it last year. Anyways, she does this vault better than I have seen her do (or can remember her doing), good clean form in the air, but takes a small step on landing. 15.766 (6.3, 9.466).
Second vault, a Cheng! The third one in this competition. It's a very nice vault, pretty clean form. But lands off to the side and has to take a neutral deduction. 15.433 (6.4, 9.033)
Young Alla Sosnitskaya is in her first worlds event finals.
Vault one, what else, a Cheng! She has a slight leg bend in the air and lands out of bounds. 14.966 (6.4, 8.566).
Vault two, another DTY. This vault is as clean as she can usually perform it. She lands and bounces out of bounds when she salutes. 14.966 (5.8, 9.166).
Simone Biles is the second to last athlete up. Her first vault, the Amanar. She is so powerful and she takes that vault so far, it's a wonder she still has enough mat left. She could throw in an extra twist in that easily. 15.900 (6.3, 9.6)
Vault two, round off half on half off. Not the most difficult vault in the world and Simone is probably capable of a much more difficult vault. Logic tells me she does this one for the sake of consistency, so ok. This is an easy vault for her, she sticks the landing and gets a 15.206. Impressive since the vault only has a 5.6 start value. 15.206 (5.6, 9.606).
Last but not least is Switzerland's Giulia Steingruber.
First vault is her standard Rudi. She's very high, but has some piking going on in the air. 15.233 (6.2, 9.033)
Second is a Yurchenko full. Very NCAA of her. It's a clean vault, but it's start value isn't going to catapult her into medal contention. 14.200 (5.0, 9.2)
1. Hong Un Jong
2. Simone Biles
3. MyKayla Skinner
What a great final. This final like last year's had a lot of really great bar workers and some very innovative skills.
First up - Queen Aliya Mustafina wearing her X-Men leotard from last year's Universiade Games in Kazan where she won the all-around title. She's trying to get some Hugh Jackman, Wolverine strength behind her.
Aliya is beautiful as always on the bars. She starts off with an in bar piked stalder full with her pirouette exactly on top of the bar. Clearly, she works on that every day and it shows. She floats on the bars and has lovely height on her piked jaeger. She dismounts with a full in. It's a gorgeous routine and certainly not easy by any means, but it's not difficult as she is capable of. 15.100 (6.300, 8.8)
Aliya's teammate, Daria Spiridonova is another beautiful Russian bar worker in the tradition of Viktoria Komova, Svetlana Khorkina and even Aliya herself. She's much more reminiscent of Viktoria Komova in 2011. Her routine is filled with lots of piked skills, pike inbar stalder work, Komova transitions (clear pike Shaposhnikova, also can be done with a half turn), the only skill that is not piked in this routine is her dismount, a full in. Daria's routine is still beautiful and skillfully executed. 15.283 (6.4, 8.883).
Ashton Locklear of the United States, going up for her first individual title of the Worlds. She has a very pretty Russian style bars routine with lots of pretty pirouettes and lots of connections. Very clean. 15.266 (6.5, 8.766)
Beckie Downie, the current European Champion on bars followed Ashton. Beckie's bars are very British. I mean british in they are very original with lots of difficult release skills. She connects a Chow (stalder shaposh) to a Hindorff(clear hip circle to reserve hecht) to a pirouette, and a Ricna (Stalder to reverse hecht and connects her own original skill (Ricna in the pike position). Very original and dynamic. 15.166 (6.6, 8.566)
Beckie's teammate and LSU recruit, Ruby Harrold is another very innovative bar worker. Her Zuchold transition is freakin bad ass as is her Bhardwaj transition (full twisting Pak Salto). Unfortunately, she lost it on a pirouette on the low bar. Blame it on being tired I suppose. The routine wasn't flawless until then. She had some crazy legs going on during her Bhardwaj and some other legs separations before that. 13.666 (6.1, 7.566).
Lisa Hill of Germany also put a Bhardwaj in her routine. 14.333 (6.3, 8.033).
Last but not least, the home team finalists, Yao Jinnan and Huang Huidan. Huang was the current world champion going into the final and last year, Yao had a Mo Salto with a super scary fall. They both have super packed routines full of a good variety of skills. Lots of complex stalder work and a Chow transition and those beautiful E turns which I can't for the life of me remember the name of. Huang connects a Chow to a Pak to a Chow half and does a pike stalder half out and does those turns. She dismounts with a double front half. She scored a 15.566 (6.8, 8.766)
Yao has a packed routine as well. She starts off with a Komova half to a Pak to a Chow. After that, she connects three of those E rated turns in a row to a jaeger that is Gabby Douglas high and dismounts with a stuck double layout. Packed routine and no scary Mo Saltos this year. She won the final with a 15.633 (6.9, 8.733)
The Balance Beam -
The beam final never seems to be without controversy. Last year, it was inquiry gate, this year it was "She-shouldn't-have-gotten-a-medal-without-having-all-the-requirements" gate.
Queen Aliya was the reigning beam world champion from last year and a favorite was young Bai Yawen who has a glorious Yang Bo jump and sometimes adds an awesome Yurchenko loop.
She is first up and this is the first time she has competed since prelims so she's had some time to rest and get freshened up. Pretty big pressure to be first up, but she seems to thrive. Bai's routine starts off with an amazing wolf jump to split jump to a YANG BO. I don't think Yang Bo herself could do that better. She dismounts with a double pike and does a cute bow to the judges afterwards. This is a Broadway show and Bai is the star, dammit! 15.033 (6.2, 8.833)
Simone is after young Bai. She scored herself a bronze medal in the midst of inquiry gate last year. She's been on fire nearly the whole worlds. Her confidence definitely shows. She mounts with her standard two and a half wolf turn. She doesn't have really difficult leaps or dance elements, but she connects them with her difficult tumbling skills, like she connects a forward Aerial to a split jump and she has a back handspring to two layout step outs series. I would love it if she pulled out an old school three layout step out series ala Dominque Dawes in the 90s, but I digress. Shc scored a 15.100 ( 6.4, 8.7)
Side note- love the day two team USA event final leo. The hot pink with the contrasting black is fierce!
Next up, the current beam champ, Aliya Mustafina. She's upgraded her routine since last year, but she can't seem to always do it consistently. She has a double turn and then does a standing Arabian to a split jump to a wolf jump. She connected her switch half to an Onodi, but she didn't do it this year. It would be awesome if she were to connect it to a pretty switch leap ala Deanne Souza. Here's where it drew controversy. Aliya added this beautiful front walk over front walk over to backhand spring connection that gives her 0.3 in connection bonus. She must have felt like she'd fall or was off, so she did a Front aerial to a front walk over to a pause, then a back handspring. Thus, missing her requirement of an acrobatic series and losing 0.5 off her start value. She scored a 14.166 (5.5, 8.666).
The standings at this point for the medals are:
At this point, the medals have actually all been determined.
Yao Jinnan was up after winning her gold in the bar final. She starts a chain reaction of falling when she falls on her back handspring to two foot layout series. Why? 13.366 ( 5.7, 7.666)
Larisa Iordache coming in as the current being the European silver medalist was certainly a favorite to win since she often throws two fulls in her routine. She didn't throw the two fulls, she only threw the tucked full. Sadly, she came off the beam on her tucked full, thus prompting me to shout "Why, WHY?" very loudly at my computer, in my living room. I'm still upset about this unfortunate incident. 14.066 (6.2, 7.866)
Kyla Ross, who is usually Miss Consistent just wasn't as solid as she usually is. During the team final, she had a huge wobble on her side somi. She didn't have any errors like that today, however, she wasn't very crisp. She missed most of her connections, probably taking pauses to avoid falls. No major errors, but not Kyla's usual standard of excellence. 13.866 (5.6, 8.233)
Asuka Teramoto of Japan took fourth just outside of the medals. Her routine was beautiful. She mounts with a beautiful front walk over on the end of the beam and connects an Onodi to a split jump and a straddle jump. She then connects two back handsprings to a layout step out for her acro series and finishes with a triple twist. It would have been great to see her in the medals. She lost a couple of tenths in start value and the coaches filed an inquiry, but it was rejected. Last year, everyone and their dog was inquiring about their beam score all over the place. This year, the judges put the kibosh on that crap pretty quickly. I don't think many inquiries were actually accepted. Sigh... 14.100, (5.6, 8.500).
The last event for the ladies of the Nanning World Championships.
My heart was broken thirty seconds into the final. My spirit animal, Claudia Fragapane, of Great Britain fell on her full twisting double layout, her first tumbling pass. In the midst of me screaming at my computer and begging the gym gods for that to have not happened, Claudia picks herself up and keeps going. She still smiles through her routine and kills her dance, but it's all over. NOOOOOO! 13.100
After the disaster that was the beam final, Larisa Iordache was just saying "Screw this" and going for broke on floor. She threw her double double as her first pass and then went for a full in. While she went for the quad turn in the all-around final, she only did the triple in the floor finals. Instead of just dismounting with a standard double pike, she finished the routine with a piked full in. 14.800 (6.3, 8.5)
Simone Biles was the woman to beat with her infectious smile and ridiculous tumbling. Like Larisa, she opens with a double double and then does a double layout half out for her second pass and finishes with a full in. So much difficulty, she's practically unbeatable. 15.333 ( 6.4, 8.933)
MyKayla Skinner, who was a favorite to medal in this final with her double double layout wound up finishing a disappointing fourth. Her routine was stellar despite her fourth place finish, she just faced some stiff competition. She's improved her tumbling quite a bit on her form. Her double double layout is straighter than it was before and she's cleaned up her landings. I think where she's getting penalized is her leaps. While she's improved her dance and has clearly been working on her artistry, her leaps do not reach a full 180 degree split. If it weren't for that, she probably would have wound up on that podium. When she found out she was fourth, she tried so hard to keep her chin up and not cry (especially with a camera stuck in her face). She was such a good sport. That broke my heart in the same way that watching Claudia Fragapane smile even after falling broke my heart. 14.7, 6.5, 8.2)
The woman who edged MyKayla out of her third place spot was the grande-damme of the Russian Federation, the Queen Aliya Mustafina. Much like Larisa Iordache, she was going for broke. She opened with two whips to double arabian instead of linking it to a stag jump. She pulled out the triple Memmel turn and did a triple turn. She scored a 14.733 (6.2, 8.533). After they flashed her score, she became ecstatic, getting a huge smile on her face and hugging her coach, Evgeny Greboynkin. It was a lot like the little squeal of joy Svetlana Khorkina let out after winning the silver in the all-around in 1995.
A standout performer was Larrissa Miller of Australia. She didn't have the most difficult routine of the championships, but she is certainly beautiful to watch, mainly because of her dance. She has beautiful leaps and turns and her form is beautiful. She placed seventh with Australia in the team finals and she had a snafu whens he rebounded a double pike dismount on to her hands and just covered it up as best she could with a handstand. She didn't have any problems today and she placed sixth overall.
Vanessa Ferrari, the current European Champion and last year's silver medalist gave a strong performance. She like MyKayla and Simone and Larisa has some super tumbling skills. She opens with a double double tuck, then has a full in and a double layout. Super tumbling. She scored a 14.666(6.3, 8.366) and placed 5th behind MyKayla Skinner.
Final standings -
7. Erika Fasana