Women's team finals at the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland have officially concluded.
It was a huge day for Team USA, who successfully defended their team title and for Great Britain, who had a historic finish in the team finals, taking home the bronze medal after some uncharacteristic falls and mistakes from Russia landed them just off the medal podium for the first time since 2007.
This was also the first time since 1970 that Romania wasn't in the team final. Not to get sad and bummed out. There's a lot to cover, so I'll get to it.
Team USA won with a grand total of 181.338, over a 5 point lead over China. They could do this in their sleep. While Aly Raisman is the oldest at 21, the leader of this team is no doubt in my mind, Simone "Sea-money" Biles, who stayed cool as a cucumer and hit every one of her routines like it was just another day. They were the only team on the floor today that didn't make a major mistake. With the pressure in this arena being at Jupiter levels, that's a good thing.
Starting off on vault, Gabby the current Olympic champion led the team off with a clean DTY that scored a nice 15.233 right off the bat. Next, Maggie Nichols, who amped her "Swag-O-Meter" up to 11, did a huge amanar, maybe some bent legs in the air and a deep landing, but hit nontheless. Simone is the anchor of the damn line up and she goes out and hits an absolutely ridiculous Amanar, with great height and great form, boom, 15.966.
Next, they go to bars. Techinically, it's their weakest event, scoring wise. But they're still strong on that event. Maggie leads of this event. She starts her routine with a toe full to Maloney to Pak to Van Leeuwen and finishing with a huge, stuck cold double layout. Bam. Gabby goes up next. She hits a beautiful, clean routine. Her piked Tkachev is huge and she shows beautiful endo work on the low bar. Madison Kocian anchors the only event she'll compete in during this final. She's got that beautiful WOGA style, with beautiful Komova and Komova II, beautiful floating Jaeger, and finished with a stuck full in.
Beam is where everything can go very wrong very fast. Nope, not here, not tonight. Just another string of hit routintes. Aly Raisman had issues in qualifications on beam, but not today. She goes up, hits a clean routine, hitting her back handspring to two foot layout and nailing her Patterson dismount. Maggie Nichols lead off, she showed a little nerves and had some small balance checks here and there, a bend in the waist on her side somi. Simone is the anchor for this event and she is once again unflappable. She's what Rob Thomas was singing about in his 1999 collaboration with Carlos Santana. Every connection is fluid, she throws her tricks, like her Barani and hits an Aerial + leap combination, flawlessly hitting her back handspring to two layout step out series and ending with her full twisting double back dismount.
By the time they got to the last rotation, team USA really could have taken a nap on the floor for each of their three routines and still won. Simone, Maggie and Aly finished out team USA with huge tumbling, massive energy and pulled out the win so easily, by over 5 points. Where the competition faltered, Team USA kept their cool and their business like approach to competition basically handed them that gold medal.
The Chinese Team came in 2nd with a 176.164. They struggled in qualifcations on bars and beam, two of their strongest events. They still had some issues tonight, but they managed to hit when they were needed. The bars judges were a lot more generous with them tonight than they were on Saturday. They hit all three routines. Shang Chunsong was the lead off, showing off her own eponymous skill, a piked Hindorff and an in bar Gienger, beautiful piorouette skills, the usual.
Beam didn't go off without a hitch. Fan Yilin lead and hit a beautiful composed routine with a lovely two foot layout, and a beautiful forward aerial walkover to sheep jump, ending with a 2 1/2 twist. Wang Yan, the anchor of beam wasn't able to overcome black hole sized pressure. She starts out with a unique forward roll mount. But she was visibly nervous and missed a connection of a switch ring to sheep jump and had a big wobble on her round of to two foot layout, and ultimately fell off on her front tuck.
Floor is an issue for China, mostly because they don't have the powerful gymnasts needed to produce huge floor routines. There was Cheng Fei, but China hasn't produced anyone like her in the 7 years since she helped Team China to an Olympic Gold in Beijing. It's not that they're not powerful, but they're powerful on beam and bars. However, Wang Yan and Shang Chunsong seem to defy the beam and bars only stereotype. Shang, who is a very tiny little thing and can only pull off an FTY on vault, but can pull of Kenzo Shirai level twisting on floor. Her first pass is a 3 1/2 twist to a punch front and then does a 1 1/2 to triple full. She's obviously a lot more powerful than she looks, because she went out of bounds on her double pike.
On vault, Wang Yan pulls out a double twisting Tsuk. After all is said and done, they are left with a total of 176.174.
In third, earning a bronze medal for the first time, Great Britain with a 172.380. A huge moment for them and very well deserved. They've worked so hard for so long and they've made immense progress since 2012. Beth Tweddle really paved the way for these girls, well really, it was Lisa Mason and co way back in the year 2000, while everyone else was preparing for Y2K, Lisa Mason was being a bad ass, but that's another story.
They've earned every victory along the way and we've watched them, rooting for them, being awed by their talents. This team is oozing with talent from every molecule that composes their being.
Their best events are bars and floor, but they are capable of producing powerful routines on every event. They started on bars in the team final, with Ruby Harrold leading the way. She had a big leg separation on her Bhardwaj and it looked a little bit crazier than it did in qualifications, but still hit her routine and set the standard for the rest of the rotation. Unfortunately, Ellie Downie had another fall on bars, on her piked Tkatchev. She managed to hit the rest of the routine okay, but at the end, she just looked like she either wanted to cry or punch someone. Luckily, it seemed to be the only huge mistake they had all day, Beckie Downie, the sister, hit her huge bar routine.
Both sisters were fantastic on beam, Ellie had huge skills, a two foot layout and a standing Arabian that rivals Rheagan Courville's. Beckie is smooth and creamy like butter on beam, a different pace from her packed bar routine.
From huge skills on bars, to huge skills on floor. Little Amy Tinkler sticks out. She's a tiny little redheaded thing (which is perhaps why I love her so much), but she as huge tumbling on floor, a double double, a double layout and a double pike are amoung her passes. Of course, one can't mention British floor without talking about Claudia Fragapane. Frags' floor is akin to Beth Tweddle's bars. Powerful, innovative, crazy skills like her double back spin and her huge full twisting double layout. This is someone who's learned to play up her strengths in dance and movement to create an artistic routine that is all hers. I much prefer routines with funky choreo to slow, languid choreography. Maybe it's my short attention span, maybe it's because I was terrible at ballet as a kid and I still don't prefer it as an adult.
Russia came in a disappointing fourth after a great qualifications day. Sigh. From band and choir dress rehearsals in school, I always remember my conductor saying a bad practice before a concert means a good concert, a good practice before a concert means a great concert. Russia had a solid dress rehearsal in their qualification round, but just lost it all on beam.
They started on vault and Vika Komova and Ksenia Afanasyeva put up clean DTYs and Maria Paseka put up an Amanar that wasn't nearly as scary as it has been.
Bars, Daria Spiridonova showed off beautiful form and lines on her piked everything bar routine. Then Vika went up. It started off ok, she flew up on her eponymous Komova and Komova II transitions, but melted down on a toe on full, which is probably an easy skill for her.
Beam wasn't much better, Maria Kharenkova pulled off a beautiful routine in prelims only to f-in fall in finals on her round off to two foot layout. Viktoria Komova didn't fare much better either. She started off wobbly, wobbling on her back handspring to layout step out, her L-turn and finally fell on her standing Arabian.
Floor wasn't much better, but at least Seda Tutkhalyan and Ksenia Afanasyeva looked like they were ready to shank someone and did angry floor. (Seda's bitch face says "Do not f*** with me or I will cut you!") Afan was the last performer on floor for Russia. Her face says, "Ugh I will show these childdren how it's done, kidney stones or no kidney stones," she does her usual floaty double layout, her double turn in attitude, ends with a double pike but takes a step back and scores a 14.500, 0.166 less than qualifications.
The last time Russia failed to make the podium was the blob of 2007 and 2008, when in Stuttgart, Ekaterina Kramarenko balked on her vault and got a zero, causing Elena Zamolodchikova to vault while bawling. The only person who came out unscathed was Ksenia Semonova, who won the title on bars, but then no one managed to medal or anything in 2008.
In the spirit of funky floor routines, Erika Fasana of Italy is my new favorite with her weird, vampire movie floor routine and her huge tumbling. She's so powerful, and she's clean too. Beautiful double layout and massive amplitude on her leaps, her switch ring is huge, her Popa is massive and she's just adorable.
Ellie Black has been a stalwart on the Canadian team and not only did she lead the team to a fifth place finish and an automatic berth to Rio,
Eythora Thorsdottir of the Netherlands manages to work the code to her advantage in her floor, doing a floor routine of two tumbling passes and 18 million spins. Basically the equivalent of Sanne Wevers beam routine.
Huge tumbling on floor from Japan's Sae Miakawa, starting with a full twisting double layout, then into a front layout to double front, to a double and her last pass of a double layout.