After a thrilling and controversial x 1000 men's final yesterday, we had a not-that on the women's side today. I don't have a specific-enough understanding of the men's code to make any kind of argument about scoring, at least with any confidence in myself (I'd start giving Kohei hair bonuses, and it would be all over the place). But, Uncle Tim has an excellent write-up of some of the issues involved in Zhang's final gargantuan score. I defer.
I will say though, at first viewing, the Chinese high bar score that stood out to me as the stranger one was Lin's preceding Zhang's, with that completely horizontal turn at one point. Is this a situation like we often see in NCAA where a questionable 10 is awarded, and gets all the attention, but the real culprit is the super-random 9.950 beforehand that pushes the following score up?
But now some thoughts on the women's team final.
1) The USA. Obviously. As much as I enjoy watching the US step all over everyone else's faces while wearing Rene Lyst heels, it does make things super boring. A few more years of this, and I could see a serious change coming to start increasing the p-word. (Which is parity, if you don't read here a lot.)
2) Alyssa Baumann's lovely, non-broadcast leadoff beam routine. If I had to pick one place where I thought the US would fall in TF, it would have been here, but she got it down with just a couple wobbles. Martha's little project scored big points (both real and figurative) for this.
3) Baumann had the smallest issues of the three US gymnasts on beam considering Ross did a third-base coach on her side somi and Simone had a larger-than-usual break on the layouts series. Of course, it didn't matter, which was the problem with this final. That was such an uncharacteristic break for Kyla, but it was like, "Eh, whatever, go ahead and fall if you want. Have a blast. Do some jazz hands. Take a nap. It will change nothing."
4) While we still have a chance to be excited before everyone gets injured over the next 12 months, the fight for the 2015 US team looks fuu-uun.
5) Overall, this competition was terrible. We're allowed to say that. Splatty bombatty. I'm looking at you, Russia and China.
6) Credit to Romania for pulling it together a little bit more in TF, or at least for letting Iordache be the star and not getting in her way too much. With that bars situation, fourth was as much as they could have hoped for, yet they almost got a Happy October gift of much more.
7) The Craig Heap and Christine Still pronunciation debacle is hysterical. Seriously, it's not that hard. It takes two seconds of research to figure it out (the magic of youtube videos of domestic competitions—put your listening ears on!), and yet that definitely would have decreased my enjoyment of the meet tenfold. Craig stopped trying after a while. By the time we got to floor, he just introduced "Tan Jrrrrrr."
8) Gah, Russia. You should be doing so much better. It's not exactly an "I never expected the Russians to put up an athlete with so little talent" situation, but they're seriously lacking in the non-Mustafina category.
9) It's sort of offensive to me when people don't even have the common decency to be Aliya Mustafina. There were so many people walking around today not being Aliya Mustafina. Unacceptable behavior.
10) I can finally (FINALLY) remember the difference between Alla Sosnitskaya and Daria Spiridonova after this competition. And I don't like it.
11) I love how Grishina is seen as the fragile, headcase one in the eyes of the Rodionenkos and cronies because of the Olympics, but . . . as opposed to . . .? You have no less-headcasesque options. You better get on hands and knees to get that girl back when she's healthy. You would be lucky to have her.
12A) China's lineups. A side-eye experience. Why on earth was Shang Chunsong going on bars over Tan Jrrrrrr? Shang had been doing consistently worse than Tan at Asian Games and in prelims. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. No sense. A fall is appropriate punishment for that decision. Though a 7.666 is not appropriate punishment for that routine quality.
12B) Also, Bai Yawen, who qualified second on the team into beam finals, was not selected to do beam. It didn't end up being a problem for the team, but it does reflect that she's probably not in the highest standing with the team coaches if they didn't even want to use her on her good event.
13) There's no excuse for Hannah Whelan's 4.5 D score on beam. She missed her acro series and lost 0.5 in CR, but when you do such a risky combination as your only acro series, there has to be a plan B in mind (and trained) just in case. This is like in 2010 when Mattie lost that decisive CR after not doing her combo pass or a simple forward element. That cannot happen. It's too avoidable.
Let's play "Who can actually find 1.2 in deductions in Kyla's bars routine?" Remember after the first night of US championships when SHE CAN'T DO BARS ANYMORE?
15) It was nice to see Australia show up with three events worth of routines that are very well-executed, though somewhat low in difficulty. An important change from the "you must have a 7.9 D score on beam, otherwise get back in the cage" attitude from last year.
16) Italy managed to finish 5th at both Worlds and Euros this year. One of those is a good result, and one is a bad result. Today, Italy scored 7.5 points better than Euro team finals, Russia scored 2 points better, and Romania and GB did around 2 points worse.
17) Japan is also a team, and I'll just say this about the leotards: at least they're going for something different. In true Project Runway fashion, I give more credit to that than to the fourth-rate versions of SPARKLY GIRL TIME SPARKLES that we usually see.