One more day of qualification action still to come, when the US men will be taking us to pretty-boy rehab to try to teach us that we don't need Sam Mikulak to have a good time. I'm not convinced yet.
-The men opened qualification today, and I must begin with a confession. I did not watch Great Britain's session, even though USAGym is lovely and made it available to us. I freely admit that I bit that hand that feeds me. I don't feel good about it, but I needs my sleeps. Spending two whole days watching people pirouette themselves right off the uneven bars like a cow in a tornado takes a lot out of a person. As the NCAA coaches have taught me, time spent not watching gymnastics is just as significant as time spent watching gymnastics. You've got to take care of your body.
-But, that doesn't mean I don't still want to marry all of them simultaneously and keep them for myself on a secret polyandrous pleasure island. (Or, I mean, something legal...) I absolutely do. Trust me. Really, all relationships go through these rough patches, but we can get through it if we're strong enough. I believe in us. The question is, do you Louis?
-In major news, the AA tiebreak rules remain as dumb as a box of children.
-The city of Dramatown Springs was founded during this session mostly as a result of Max Whitlock coming down with a another nasty case of the chronic high bar nopes, which upset the AA qualification balance. Thankfully, my special Purv managed to purv out all over this competition and find himself in second, but the Great Whitlock Affair of 2015 resulted in Whitlock tying Nile Wilson for the second GB spot in the all-around. Whitlock won the tiebreak because of the special "And none for Nile Wilson, bye" rule that states there will be none for Nile Wilson, bye.
-Making event finals for GB is going to be a borderline affair mostly, but Smith and Whitlock will be in on pommel horse, which is the important one for them. Ah, the pommel horse final, it's like regular pommel horse, but without making you feel like you want so much more than this provincial life.
-In the team competition, Germany went full Romania and in the process made some history by recording the very first negative score on pommel horse. Nguyen and Hambuechen scored so low that they're getting held back a year. They have to come back to Scotland next summer to do pommel horse again. Hambuechen currently sits in 19th (but 14th after two-per-country is invoked), so making the AA is not guaranteed at this point, which would be devastating to the world of biceps and the world of not-lame high bar routine composition. The big two. Let's all get together and physically will his little "Hansel and Gretel before things went south" face to the final. We need him. Emotionally.
-Much like the Brazilian women, the Brazilian men currently find themselves in a somewhat precarious position in 6th. But, with a majority of the good teams having already competed, it's not the end of the world right now like it is for Germany. But I was thinking, it's better for both the Brazilian teams to have full groups at the test event since it will make for a better crowd experience. Both will be likely to get through from there anyway, so......
-The main event was subdivision three, where China and Japan presented themselves for another meeting of the BEST FRIENDS CLUB. Wait, the opposite of that. (But what have their two countries ever had to argue about???) The usual scenario with China and Japan goes like this: China gets sloppy drunk in prelims and goes, "Bllllrrr..I don't need to land sssssshit. You're not the boss of this mat [vomit]," making Japan look like the clear favorites. But then China comes back in the team final to perform consistent and clean—but largely uninspired and unmemorable—gymnastics to win the title, much to the confusion and chagrin of WAG fans. At this point, MAG experts go, "Well, actually, if you know the code, China was the better team, and you should probably educate yourself before hitting all those cars with baseball bats." Leading the rest of us to open the trap door to the piranha tank. Or so I've heard. Every year.
-This year was sort of the same in that we definitely had to hold China's hair back during those fugly vaults. But, we also saw Japan decide that halfway through the meet they needed to adopt more of a China strategy and head to the liquor store before doing floor. A couple mistakes there (Kohei fell!), and a pommel yuck or two, brought Japan back to the field a little bit, though not enough to keep them from finishing in a comfortable first place and giving us hopes that they will later dash in a blaze of flaming armpit hair.
-Beyond Uchimura's obvious and well-documented performance in the role of himself, I also enjoyed Kaya's pommel horse work, which showed a respectable willingness to open his legs for us. Ryohei Kato was also gorgeous on high bar, especially after recovering from a truly disastrous PB routine the likes of which we don't expect to see from the not-bad teams. Speaking of high bar, Zhang Chenlong isn't going to make it to the final this year, which means things just got interesting. And by interesting, I mean Epke. Sadly, Epke's hair is a little shorter this year, making him look less like a truffula tree, which starts to undermine the point of him.
-China did decide to turn it on in places, particularly with some casually impossible rings dismounts and some "I win the handstands!" action on parallel bars, just enough so that their cunning liquor-based strategy was not immediately detectable. They've planned this very well. Individually, Deng Shudi didn't have the best possible day, finding himself at the mercy of that slippery horse temptress and her doom handles, but he's still third in the AA and will be hoping for a medal from this.
-But mostly, I want to talk about that judging delay. It was magical. Let's break it down. Japan was on floor, and Hayasaka decided to enter the surrealist portion of the competition by performing a front 2 1/8 (nailed it) directly connected to a half-twisting I'm-the-littlest-bunny-rabbit-of-all hop (no CV) in order to pretend it was a triple. TEH ACTING! All the Oscars. Performance of the year. He's a new Hepburn. It looked exactly like that time Queen Tatty Nabz, the one true religion, tried to pretend she did a TTY and taught us all what laughter is.
-Apparently, no one has ever underrotated a twisting element, so the very idea gave the judges so many vapors that they physically died and had to be resurrected by a gentle witch before the rotation could continue. That's what accounted for a delay lasting the Pleistocene epoch before they came up with a score. The delay was actually kind of nice because it finally gave me time to build the entire Taj Mahal, which I've been meaning to do. China actually finished an entire high bar rotation during the judging delay. Kohei had to put on a jacket and wrap his feet in pants. Pants! Understandable. It is the ice age after all.
-In other things-that-aren't-supposed-to-happen news, Ablyazin didn't make the floor final after scoring a trash bag full of sticks for his problematic routine. Also missing that final will be Alex Shatilov, as has become normal, but that doesn't make it less upsetting. This is what happens when people grow unauthorized beards. He didn't run that beard by me, and is suffering the consequences. Instead, the floor final will just be little Kenzo, whirling around 88 times and then asking where babies come from. Well Kenzo, when two men find a lesbian friend they tolerate very much, they ask her to be a surrogate...
-Ri Se Gwang once again managed to refrain from turning his legs into a gourmet spice rub on vault. Somehow. He leads that event.
-Oleg StepToThis also competed today, sadly stepping to very little at all. He fell all the times, but he did manage to hit PB and should make that final. So, the nation of Azerbaijan can't quite be canceled yet inspite of the disastrous lack of Pavs this year.