After Simone Biles’ historic gold medals in the team and AA finals, what will be next for her? She made all four event finals – how many more gold medals will she bring home? And which other gymnasts will shine during these two days? Certainly the biggest question mark is uneven bars. Biles has never won a UB gold, and there are several other gymnasts with big routines who could win it. Nina Derwael is the reigning world champ, and she placed first in qualifying. Daria Spirodonova and Sunisa Lee also scored over 15.0 in qualifying for their difficult routines. Biles was essentially tied with Jade Carey for first place on vault after qualifying. Carey has already made a name for herself on vault and floor on the World Cup circuit, competing for an individual qualifying spot to the Olympics. She’ll only be in the vault final, though, after a tiebreaker shut her out of floor finals due to the two-per-country rule. Can either of the Chinese gymnasts (Li Shijia and Liu Tingting) overtake Biles for the beam gold? Will Sunisa Lee and Melanie de Jesus dos Santos be able to redeem themselves with a medal or two after their falls in the AA final? Let’s find out.
In vault finals, unlike the other competitions, gymnasts perform two vaults from two different “families” (different entrances to the table) and the final score is determined by the average of the two vaults.
Ellie Downie did a clean DTY with a good landing (14.6), followed by a Cheng (Yurchenko ½ on-Rudi) which was also well performed (15.033), for a 14.816 average. Simone Biles did her Cheng first, and it was clearly more dynamic than Black’s, with excellent form throughout (15.333). Her second vault was the Amanar (Yurckenko 2 ½ twist), and her air time is just incredible. She took just a tiny hop on her landing for a 15.466, and a 15.399 average. Qi Qi (CHN) started with a DTY that was clean and nicely done, but lacked height and distance compared to some of the other vaults we have seen (14.6). Her second vault was a Rudi, but she was piked throughout and landed with her chest forward due to lack of rotation (14.7), and her two-vault average was 14.65. Yeo Seojeong (CHN) started with a difficult handspring-double full but landed a bit short and fell (13.933), and she hit her DTY second vault for a 14.433 and a 14.183 average.
Shallon Olsen (CAN) did a DTY first vault with a slight pike and loose knees for 14.6. Her second vault was a Cheng with an incomplete ½ twist, resulting in a poor block, lack of amplitude, and she had to pike and bend her knees to make it around, but she still scored a 14.866. Her average was a 14.733. Alexa Moreno (MEX), who qualified 3rd, vaulted a Rudi with a pike and two large steps back (14.466) and a beautiful stuck Tsuk-double full (14.8) for a 14.633 average. You don’t see a Tsuk-double full every day, because it is SO hard to do! However, Lilia Akhaimova also did it just one gymnast later! First she vaulted a Rudi, somewhat piked with a large step on the landing (14.7), but she had trouble making the double twist all the way around on the Tsuk and landed short, in a deep squat, and also had to take a couple steps back (14.033). She finished with a 14.366 average. Jade Carey started with a good landing on her Cheng. She does have some body position errors as she leaves the table, but it’s still a very nice vault (15.166). Unfortunately, she took a huge step clear off the mat on her Amanar, dropping her score to 14.6 and a 14.883 average.
Vault Final Standings:
- Simone Biles 15.399
- Jade Carey 14.833
- Ellie Downie 14.816
- Shallon Olsen 14.733
- Qi Qi 14.65
- Alexa Moreno 14.633
- Lilia Akhaimova 14.366
- Yeo Seojeong 14.183
Thoughts after vault finals:
It’s always fun to see the variety of vaults in finals. When the gymnasts are forced to do vaults from two different families, we see a lot of different vaults instead of only the “compulsory” DTY. Biles definitely earned the win, as she did the most difficult vaults with the best execution. Second through sixth places were very close in scores, although Jade Carey’s score could have been much higher had she hit her Amanar. I have been wondering if the robot judges were utilized to analyze the height and distance of the vaults. Sometimes there appeared to be a large discrepancy in height and dynamics between vaulters, but the scores were still close together. Even so, the final placement made sense based on how the vaults were performed today.
Uneven Bars Finals:
Simone Biles competed first, and she did a clean routine including a piked Tkatchev-Pak salto combination and a stuck double-double dismount. She has improved greatly on this event since her comeback, but does lack some of the amplitude of the other competitors (14.7). Becky Downie (GBR) does some incredible release combinations with great rhythm: Stalder Shaposhnikova-uprise-Hindorff and Tkatchev ½ to mixed grip-Ezhova-van Leeuwen(15.0). Sunisa Lee hit her routine in EF after falling during AA finals. Her big release combo is Nabieva-Pak-Maloney-Pak 1/1 (14.8). Elisabeth Seitz performed a Maloney-Ricna (stalder Tkatchev) ????? WATCH AGAIN Stalder pike Tkatchev, but then fell on her Pak salto (13.566). Angelina Melnikova performed lots of in-bar work but had a few form errors and short handstands for a 14.733.
Liu Tingting did a stalder Shaposh-Pak and a Maloney-Gienger between the bars. She also had beautiful pirouetting skills finishing right in the handstand. She took a small hop on her double layout and scored a 14.4. Her difficulty score was only 5.9 compared to the other competitors whose D-scores were all well over 6.0, which can explain the lower overall score. Daria Spirodonova also performed some great combinations including an in-bar full pirouette to Komova II (in-bar Shaposhnikova). However, she had several leg separations and a large step back on her full-in dismount (14.633). Nina Derwael did a great routine which starts with a Nabieva, then moves into the release series that just seems to keep going — stalder Tkatchev ½, Ezhova, Maloney, Pak, van Leeuwen. She stuck her dismount and scored a 15.233 for the gold medal.
Uneven Bars Final Standings:
- Nina Derwael 15.233
- Becky Downie 15.0
- Sunisa Lee 14.8
- Angelina Melnikova 14.733
- Simone Biles 14.7
- Daria Spirodonova 14.633
- Liu Tingting 14.4
- Elisabeth Seitz 13.566
Side note to the bars EF: there are so many variations of the Shaposhnikova and the Khorkina low-high bar transitions, that I wanted to clarify for myself what the “official” names are for all of these skills. I found a really handy reference article by Flo Gymnastics which explains it all with videos!
There’s also a comprehensive list of Shaposh and Tkatchev skills with their names on the Balance Beam Situation’s site. Many thanks for putting it together for those of us who can’t remember which skills are named after which gymnasts!
Balance Beam Final:
The balance beam final had some drama before the competition even began. Kara Eaker (USA) initially made the final, but the US coaches felt her score was too low and submitted an inquiry. After the inquiry, the judges decided to lower Eaker’s score. The score change dropped her out of the beam final, and she became the first alternate. Then, during the AA competition, Ellie Black injured herself on her vault and had to withdraw from event finals. Eaker was the first alternate, so she was bumped back into the final to replace Black. Eaker has a lovely routine and I felt she deserved to be in the final, but the way it happened was unfortunate all the way around.
Now on to the competition. Li Shijia received a 14.3 for a routine with two big wobbles on her switch leap and ring jump, and as a result she lost the connections between the leaps and the back handspring. She was really dead-on during the rest of her routine, hitting her handspring-front tuck series and front aerial, but did receive a 0.10 deduction for going overtime (routine longer than 1:30). Ana Padurariu fell on a triple wolf turn right at the beginning of her routine. She appeared to recover nicely with a good switch-ring, but then fell again on an aerial-layout-layout combination, which looked off center right from the beginning (11.933). Sarah Voss had a couple of wobbles after her tour jete ½ and a front aerial-split jump-backhandspring combination. She hit a back handspring to two layout stepouts, a switch leap-switch ½, a nice side somi, and finished with a good 2 ½ twist dismount. Her footwork and dynamics are lacking in comparison to the other competitors, and she scored a 13.266. Melanie de Jesus dos Santos mounted with a front pike, then also performed a front pike on the beam. Awesome! She had a strong BHS 2 foot layout, just a small balance break after her front aerial, and finished with a nice double tuck for a 13.966.
Liu Tingting wobbled on the same handspring front tuck series she fell on in the team final, and the routine looked a bit tentative in several places. She hit a beautiful front aerial, ring jump, Korbut combo, and my overall impression of the routine was that she was dynamic but unsure of herself. Despite the balance errors, she still scored a 14.433 on the strength of a 6.2 D-score. Kara Eaker hit an aerial to 2 layouts, had a large wobble after the side somi, and finished with a great RO, BHS, 2 ½ twist. Her rhythm is among the best in the world, as she really keeps her routine flowing from one element to the next. After her score change in prelims, she adjusted her routine to maximize her difficulty, and received a 14.0 (D-score 5.9). Simone Biles hit her triple wolf turn, BHS 2 layouts, back pike combo, aerial, and 2 back handsprings to a full-in (no double-double today). She had no balance breaks and displayed her characteristic power and sureness for a 15.066. Flavia Saraiva unfortunately fell on her BHS, 2 foot layout but then went on to hit the rest of her routine including a BHS, 2 layouts, front aerial ring jump, side somi, and double pike dismount (13.4). Too bad for that fall, because the rest of the routine was wonderful!
Balance Beam Final Results:
- Simone Biles 15.066
- Liu Tingting 14.433
- Li Shijia 14.3
- Kara Eaker 14.0
- Melanie de Jesus dos Santos 13.966
- Flavia Saraiva 13.4
- Sarah Voss 13.266
- Ana Padurariu 11.933
Floor Exercise Finals:
The floor final is always fun to watch, since the gymnasts can really showcase their individual styles through their music and choreography. Prior to the floor final, Nina Derwael withdrew, allowing Brooklyn Moors to compete. Moors, like Kara Eaker on beam, had originally qualified for the floor final, but an inquiry lowered her score and dropped her out of the final.
Melanie de Jesus dos Santos tumbled a full twisting double layout, full-in, front layout through to double back with a step out of bounds, and finished with a double pike. She has an entertaining routine and delivered good landings with the exception of the one OOB step, and scored a 13.833. Lilia Akhaimova is a powerful gymnast on floor, also starting with a full twisting double layout with a big landing error and went out of bounds. She also did a double layout, Arabian double front, and finished with a full-in (13.5). Roxana Popa (ESP) did a nice routine that included a double layout, two whips to a full-in, triple Y turn, front full, and a double pike. Her D-score was a bit lower than some of the other gymnasts’ at 5.4, and she scored a 13.8.
Suni Lee did a double-double, stuck, a double layout, 1 ½-front full, and a double tuck. Everything was performed very cleanly and she had good control on her landings for a 14.133. Angelina Melnikova had a full twisting double layout although she landed with her chest down, double layout, front tuck through to double full, and a double pike. She also displayed beautiful artistry and difficult turns (triple wolf turn, Memmel turn, and attempted a leg-up double turn into outward double turn). Her lovely dance and turns really made the routine feel complete. She did have some errors in posture and turn completion though, and she scored a 14.066. Flavia Saraiva’s floor routine is always energetic and entertaining, and she did not disappoint! She did a whip-double layout, full-in, 1 ½-front full, double pike, but her D-score was only 5.5 which was a bit lower than some of her competitors (13.966). Her coach submitted an inquiry after the routine, but the score remained the same after the inquiry.
Brooklyn Moors has the most expressive floor routine of all, and every position and facial expression is choreographed to the max. If you haven’t seen her routine, make sure you check it out – it’s gorgeous. She tumbles a double front ½-stag jump, front double full-front full, and 2 ½ twist punch front (on which she stepped out of bounds) and scored a 13.6. Simone Biles was last to compete, which was fitting, as she was the top qualifier and expected to win. She did her triple-double (the Biles II), double-layout ½ (Biles) into a stag jump, front full through to full-in, and double-double stuck. She had a couple landing errors including stepping out of bounds on her Biles, but with a 6.7 D-score, she has room to make a few mistakes. Her 15.133 earned her the gold medal by a full point!
Floor Exercise Final Results:
- Simone Biles 15.133
- Suni Lee 14.133
- Angelina Melnikova 14.066
- Flavia Saraiva 13.966
- Melanie de Jesus dos Santos 13.833
- Roxana Popa 13.8
- Brooklyn Moors 13.6
- Lilia Akhaimova 13.5
Thoughts after floor finals:
I’ll be the first to say that when judging floor, it can be hard to rank the athletes. Especially in NCAA meets, when they make very few mistakes, and many of the scores are 9.8 and above. In this competition, I noticed that unless there was a major mistake, D-score on floor seemed to equal ranking. Five of the eight gymnasts in the final got an 8.4something E-score. Sometimes scores can be close like this even when the routines look very different. For example, Simone Biles has amazing height on her tumbling passes, but sometimes her power results in a large step out of bounds. In this example, let’s say it’s a 0.2 large step and a 0.1 out of bounds deduction. Another gymnast might perform a similar tumbling pass, but without as much height, and as a result she might land with her chest forward on the landing. The judges could take 0.1 for lack of height and 0.2 for posture on landing. Same tumbling pass, performed differently, but ending up with the same amount of deductions. This surprises me sometimes when I’m judging, and it can appear that judges aren’t differentiating between routines. This is where general deductions can come in handy, so if the judges wanted to reward the gymnast who excels in power and dynamics, we might take an overall deduction on a routine that doesn’t have the same level of dynamics.
World Championships was a great meet to watch, and it’s got me really excited for the upcoming Olympic year. What are you looking forward to the most about the 2020 Olympics?