July 30, 2012

Men's Team Final

As we attempt to recover from the hoopla of women's qualification and the NBC broadcast of it, which was a ridiculous endeavor all of its own (with Jordyn standing there right behind Aly and Gabby during their Andrea interviews. . . I died of discomfort along with everyone in history). Though it did allow us to discover my new favorite Elfi-ism, "This routine is a piece of work in every sense of the word." I will be using that often. I don't understand why people don't like her. She cracks me up and is the shining star of that harrowing broadcast team.

But now we have a bigger event, the men's Team Final. Our wacky qualifying day saw Japan and China qualify in the fifth and sixth spots, but don't believe that makes them distant contenders in the final. I'm a little less optimistic for China because they seem to have legitimate holes in this lineup, while Japan's struggles were less indicative of a pattern of errors than of a bad day. [Message from the future: look how super smart I am. . . HA]. That being said, there are legitimately six countries in medal contention who could be exchanging the lead all day.

We saw a lot of tight routines and bizarre misses in Qualification, and the nerves will only increase for Team Finals. Even though there are a number of relevant countries, it may just be that going clean enough is the requirement for a Bronze.

The interesting US lineup decision was keeping Horton off vault in favor of Orozco, as we see above. Though Horton did not go in Qualification to allow Orozco and Leyva the opportunity to do the AA, he is usually a stronger vaulter than Orozco. Given his struggles in PT and his poor competition overall so far, this is not such a surprise.

Commentary after the jump from 11:30 ET/8:30 PT

Rotation 1 will see the USA and Russia on floor, Great Britain and Germany on horse, Japan and China on rings, and Ukraine and France on vault. We'll get Shannon and Other Guy on the NBC feed, but I do wish I could watch this competition with Christine, Mitch, and Matt. They're like old friends now, and they'll be losing themselves for Team GB.

We're nearly there now. Introductions happening now. China's success may hing on how many routine Guo has to do today and if it's possible to recover from the kind of day he had in Qualification (and if he can, give those pointed to Yao Jinnan). France is without Cucherat, and they will be mostly making up the numbers today.

Rotation 1:
Leyva floor - double double lay with hop, clean in the Thomas skills, Manna to handstand is good, his front 1.5 is always a little low in the chest position which isn't my favorite, slight short on the DLO with a step. Fine but not amazing.

Verayiev vault - pretty nice Dragulescu, easily stood up. Can you complain about body position on this vault? I don't think you can, even though I want to. Radivilov's is not quite as strong, with a major hop to the side.

Smith horse - good scissor handstands, he swings slowly like through molasses, very clean in the swing throughout, not a lot you can take there. 15.966.

Yamamuro rings - inverted crosses look pretty good, better in the holds than on day 1, completely stuck DLO 1/1. 15.366.

Beny a 14.566 in vault, which is not competitive with the other teams.

US goes 45.266 on floor, GBR goes 45.932 on horse, Japan goes 45.699 on rings, and Ukraine goes 48.065 on vault. The US is significantly lower than in Qualification, so they are in trouble after the fall from Mikulak, apparently.

Germany has our dear Philipp Boy come off on horse. Horse and its little friend vault have gotten together to try to ruin our Olympics, apparently. Second fall in a row for Germany.

Ablyazin floor - a little short on the triple twist dismount with a hop, but a strong routine with difficult tumbling. That should easily break 15.

Chen rings - extremely controlled with obviously a huge level of difficulty. They can rely on that routine for high 15s, but the 14s from the first two competitors will ensure they are below Japan here.

A look back at Dalton's solid floor routine to recover from Mikulak's error. Hop forward on triple full dismount. 15.466.

Ukraine leads after the first rotation because of vault, but Great Britain also finished a strength, and Japan is right there after a successful rings rotation.

Rotation 2:
Zou hits his vault today. They are improving, but is it enough? Definitely underrotated but it doesn't really come up in his score.

Zhang has a large step back on his vault, but who knows with vault scoring? 16.200

Belyavskiy nearly loses it on one pommel spin but gains control, totally botches his dismount trying to come up to handstand. Disaster.

Nguyen on rings, trying to make Germnay recover, some struggles in both of his handstands, but a fine DLO 1/1 with just a hop. 15.133.

Sabot for France on pbars, a little hesitation off the start, lack of rhythm here (is that a deduction? It should be), a very strong double pike dismount. Few notable errors in the routine.

Russians and Germans held back because of horse disasters, so China is our clear leader out of the first group of four, and having done vault, I expect them to lead overall.

Uchimura vault - 2.5 is pretty good but some squat legs and a hop, excellent in the air of course. Kato follows with a 16.041, but Yamamuro has an ugly far - no where close and he appears to be hurt.

It appears Leyva has fallen on horse for the US, disaster. Two of four routines have mistakes so far. Mikulak now, this is a necessary hit. Who calls him "California Cool," Shannon?

Purvis on rings,one wonky handstand and a very low landing with steps forward, but at least the flipping and holds were strong. Not his best. 14.600

Japan still moves up into second place, but they are significantly behind China now after the fall. China is the only team that has completely delivered so far, actually, well other than Ukraine, but this is getting all kinds of interesting.

Waiting on the Orozco score for horse now. It was apparently another disaster, the US has missed 3 or 6 routines and sits in 7th. They had a shot at a medal here, but that's a terrible start. Time to focus on GBR now. In a fairly solid 5th having not yet done vault.

Rotation 3: 
Whitlock starts with a hit on vault for GBR with some direction.

Huge leg separation for Ukraine from Nakonechnyi, otherwise fine, DLO 1/1 dismount.

Purvis on vault, his run just makes me smile, nice Y2.5 with a hop.

Horton trying to get it together on rights, this is looking a bit better, still he's not super solid in the holds or inverted crosses. There are placed to deduct here, that's for sure, struggle before dismount but hits the double double.

Orozco on rings, minor hesitation in the straddle support and a poor handstand after that. Is it bad that I want to call his dismount "a Mustafina"? Probably is if you're a MAG fan. OK but just OK.

Uchimura pbars - much better than day 1 so far, very little to take until a hop back on the double pike. I do think his issues on day 1 were not symptomatic of larger problems, and we're seeing that so far today.

The US puts up an equivalent score to day 1 on rings, which is a victory by the way things are going. Ukraine maintained on hbar, but they don't have the scores that the other teams do. They fall a bit more behind GBR and Japan.

Boy on vault does just the double front this time with a large step back.

Feng on pbars, good double pike, a notable leg separation in handstand, step back on double pike. 

Sabot high bar, smooth clean routine but not dynamic, relying on pirouette skills for difficulty.

Zhang has a few breaks in his routine today, but the score should be fine. The major question is what we will see from Guo now after the problems of day 1. Guo's routine was just OK but China will certainly take it.

Very fluid routine on rings from Balandin, it doesn't look like a struggle, double pike dismount. Russia had a fall on horse, but they have been clean otherwise and will still contend for a medal.

After 3, China, Japan, and GBR are our leaders, but Russia has yet to vault so look for them to move up. The US is in 8th, but they should probably be 6th after vault. China has a totally unexpected two-point lead over Japan right now. They have fixed the problems it seems.

Rotation 4:
Tsuk double pike from Russia, so they get a score over 16 after Pakhomenko's problems. Ablyazin sticks his version, so that will be over 16 as well, but they needed to gain more ground on the top teams than they will because of the score in the 14s to start.

 One issue on a giant for Zhang and I still question some amplitude on releases, but a hit, and expect a big score from Zou after him. They will move well ahead of Russia by and will be difficult fo Japan to catch right now.

Orozco vault - nowhere close - no block, no lift. Bad fall. Should Horton have been in? Fourth fall for the US. There's always Rio.

Mikulak's vault is nice with a larger side step, but it's largely just to finish out at this point. The US will move ahead of Germany and France after this rotation. Little victories.

Whitlock on pbars, muscling up a little at the beginning, big steps back on the double pike. Got through, but iffy.

Y Tanaka on hbar - strong routine, good height on releases, maintains body position the whole way, obviously a huge improvement from day 1. 16.000. This is the only way they will have a shot at China, though the deficit is large.

Vernaiev has not the best landings on floor, a little sloppy all over the place.

Uchimura on hbar - has to muscled up a little out of his layout Kovacs full and the tuck version, but a huge improvement and just a hop on landing. Thank you, Japan.

After 4: 1. China, 2. Japan, 3. GBR, 4. Ukraine, 5. Russia, 6. USA, 7. Germany, 8. France.
Now that everyone has vaulted, we have some more realistic standings. I expect a fight for bronze, and Ukraine is hanging around a bit more than I thought they would.

Rotation 5:
Tanaka has a handstand mistake on floor and then takes a fall. Congratulations, China. We obviously knew China had the ability, but I didn't think they had the mentality or health to actually do it. Things have come together for them once again. 13.733 for Tanaka.

Kuksenkov hits a very nice 15.100 on horse. Ukraine is not fading right now. Big horse floors, and they got through the bars events and floor, which is where I expected them to have more problems. Ukraine, Russia, and GBR for bronze? This is getting good.

Uchimura hits a strong floor routine, a few more hops than I would like to see, but that first score will be the death of them.

GBR has a fall on high bar, which puts them down. Advantage gone there. Ukraine moves ahead of GBR by .3 going into the final event. The US apparently completely hit pbars, which will be important for confidence. Two points behind GBR and Ukraine now.

Big slip for Russia on pbars but stays on. That will be a low score.

Zhang on floor should be safety maintaining China's lead. I know they have the deadly horse still to come, but no other team is looking on enough for that to even matter. Do we trust Japan to hit 3 horse routines in the final rotation right now?

Zou on floor, sticks double double lay, one or two minor hops, but he will probably get like a 28 or something. China has been unbeatably clean today while everyone else has been blech.

Hambuchen on bar - great amplitude on his releases without breaking the swing, rooting for him in the AA, hop on double double. Good routine.

China will maintain the massive 2.5 lead on Japan going to pommel horse, Ukraine has a minor lead in the bronze position, but it could still be them, GBR, or Russia for that bronze medal. Let's focus on that bronze matter more than gold in this rotation, or is that a ridiculous request? Keep in mind that the US can gain significant ground on high bar. The problem is that they HAVE to be completely clean and they HAVE to get some help from ALL of the teams above them. It's time to try to salvage something on what could be their best event. It's going to be a bit too far for them, but the score might end up respectable. Great Britain still has a great shot at this bronze though. I would be so thrilled for them.

Rotation 6:
Oh, I'm so glad my browser crashed at the beginning of the sixth rotation. Thanks.

Chen gets a 14.733 on horse. No surprises there. Guo manages through his horse routine somehow. I thought he would be the disaster for them today, but they've been able to avoid their weaknesses.

Zhang to finish things for China, and he does. It will be gold for China again. I would not have called China hitting every routine today, that's for sure.

Russia improves on day 1 with a 45.033 on hbar, so GBR and Ukraine (and maybe the US) should feel good about passing them up.

Japan takes a fall on pommel horse in the replacement routine for Yamamuro, so I'm switching over to high bar momentarily for the final US performances. Orozco gets a solid 15.333.

Horton hits the layout Kovacs full and Kovacs and Kovacs full all very good. Good for him. One bit of sloppiness in a piroutette. Sticks DLO full dismount. Good for him for getting it back together fir the team finals.

This really is going to be routine for routine for GBR and Ukraine. They're within tenths after the first routine of the rotation. Exciting! Big score for Purvis, 15.533. That's exactly what they needed.

 Leyva finishes with a great routine. Should feel good for the US to finish out with two good rotations. 1 fall on floor, 2 on horse, 1 on vault. You can't come back from that.

GBR moves ahead of Ukraine by less than .2! And the world feed didn't even show it to us. THey showed us Leyva. Love Leyva, but come on! Awareness! This is for bronze.

Disaster for Uchimura on horse. Will Japan completely throw this away? They just had to be clean or suffer one fall on horse to get silver easily.

The US will move ahead of Russia for fifth. Maybe they can take something from that. . . or not.

Japan out of the medals entirely after Uchimura's fall! GBR gets surprise second and Ukraine gets surprise bronze! Love it. So incredibly excited for GBR. I'm totally shocked about Japan's complete  collapse there. Uchimura. . . how does the AA go now?

Japan is protesting! Awesome. This is getting even better. Don't go away, we need to have a stick around about this. Addressing Uchimura's dismount now. This cadre of judges. . .

It's bad enough that we have to wait, we also have to listen to the Black Eyed Peas? Come on, arena!

Inquiry accepted, and Japan moves up to silver! Crazy! Great Britain still at least gets a medal, but Ukraine needs 10 times the hugs of Jordyn Wieber right now. I feel so horrid for them after they already celebrated. A world of boos from the crowd. Imagine if that had knocked GBR out. Judges get a massive boo as they leave. Awesome. Prince Harry loves it.

Say it with me now, counterprotest! Counterprotest! Counterprotest!


  1. I love a good gym scandal but this just sucks. You have to feel horrible for Ukraine. Not Japan's fault but this sucks. Let's hope for a clean, less controversial competition from the women tomorrow.


  3. Rules controversy yesterday, judging controversy today! The right result was achieved, but at the expense of giving Ukraine the bronze and then snatching it away. That bronze may have made a big difference in helping their country's gymnastics program.

    I have enjoyed reading your live updates! I find myself nodding along with your points. Looking forward to tomorrow!