Rio Olympics: Vault and Uneven Bars Finals

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Today was Day 1 of Event Finals, with the women performing on vault and bars.

In the Vault Final, Simone Biles won the much-anticipated title and made history yet again, becoming the first U.S. woman to win Olympic gold on the event. She did so with a beautiful, if slightly-underrotated Amanar (can you believe it?!) and a gorgeous Cheng. It almost looked as though she stopped mid-air, floating.

The rest of the competition mostly came down to who hit and who didn’t. Oksana Chusovitna, Dipa Karmakar, and Hong Un Jong all performed big, gutsy (and some would say dangerous) vaults–the former two completing Produnova’s and the latter a TTY that was only credited as an Amanar. The difficulty is commendable but the execution errors added up, knocking all off the podium.

Shallon Olsen and Yan Wang took the middle route, each performing vaults they knew they could hit. Olsen performed an Amanar, though her knee skidded the ground as she stopped forward, and for her second vault she performed a Khorkina, which she almost stuck. Wang performed a quite clean Tsukuhara double-full and a Rudi, both of which were admittedly refreshing after holding one’s breath during the Produnova and TTY attempts.

Rounding out the podium were Switzerland’s Giulia Steingruber, who won Switzerland’s first-ever Olympic medal in women’s gymnastics, and Russia’s Maria Paseka, who improved on her third place finish in the Vault Final four years ago. Steingruber won bronze with a dynamic Rudi and a clean DTY, nabbing that Olympic medal we knew the European Champ could manage; and Paseka won bronze with a big and clean though slightly underrated Amanar, and a Cheng that pretty much defied reason. It was pretty messy in the air but she managed to stick it!

All in all, this was a Vault Final showed just how much AND how little difficulty counts, if that makes any sense. Those who threw the enormous vaults came away without the hardware (though it must be mentioned, Dipa Karmakar still has a lot to be proud of, coming in fourth), and those who threw big but manageable vaults came out on top. When it comes to the ever-evolving nature of this event but the desire to keep gymnast’s safe, I think this podium is a “win.” What are your thoughts?

In the Bar Final, the only major mistakes came from two of the most decorated women in it: Gabrielle Douglas had to muscle through the pirouette on her very first element–an in-bar stalder full– and Daria Spiridonova completely missed her Van Leeuwen transition. Their routines were otherwise reminiscent of the gymnast’s we know them to be.

Beautiful performances were given by Jessica Lopez, (including a Tkatchev to Geinger, double front dismount) Shang Chunsong (front support piked Tkatchev to Pak, Shaposhnikova to Geinger, full-twisting double back dismount with a little hop), and Elisabeth Seitz (Maloney to Ricna, Downie to Pak, full-twising double back dismount).

Sophie Scheder, Madison Kocian, and Aliya Mustafina won bronze, silver, and gold, respectively.

Scheder’s lovely execution gave her the edge over the other bronze-chasers as she performed a cool, calculated routined: in-bar full to Komova II to bail to toe-on full; in-bar to blind; in-bar piked Tkatchev, and a full-twisting double back dismount with a tiny hop. Such a fantastic result for her, and for the German program.

Kocian went up right after Mustafina, knowing she’d have to be close to perfect with a start value that was one-tenth less. That she almost was with a in-bar stalder to Komova II to Pak to Chow-half; in-bar half to Jaeger; stalder to stalder-full to full-twisting double back dismount, stuck. She seemed disappointed the moment the score flashed, but I believe it was the right one, and I hope she’ll wake up tomorrow extremely proud of her well-deserved silver.

And Mustafina, who went in with the highest difficulty by just a tenth, pulled out just one more amazing bar routine at these Olympics to defend her Olympic title. With an in-bar full to Komova II to Pak to Van Leeuwen, In-bar-half to piked Jaeger, and Toe-on full (just a bit rushed) to signature (“Mustafina”) dismount, she nabbed the gold, something that was far from guaranteed these last few years. It was a splendid routine, equal in difficulty and execution, the best of the Mustafina so many have come to admire, and at just the right moment.

What a Final. It’s sad to think these were the last competitive, or elite, routines we’ll probably see from some of these athletes, but what a way to finish a career.

Vault Results:

Simone Biles: 6.3/6.4/15.966

Maria Paseka: 6.4/6.3/15.253

Giulia Steingruber: 6.2/5.8/15.216

Dipa Karmakar: 6.0/7.0/15.066

Yan Wang: 6.0/6.2/14.999

Un Jong Hong: 6.4/6.3/14.900

Oksana Chusovitna: 7.0/6.0/14.833

Shallon Olsen: 6.3/5.9/14.816


Uneven Bars Results

Aliya Mustafina: 15.900/6.8

Madison Kocian: 15.833/6.7

Sophie Scheder: 15.566/6.6

Elisabeth Seitx: 15.533/6.6

Shang Chunsong: 15.433/6.7

Jessica Lopez: 15.333/6.7

Gabrielle Douglas: 15.066/6.5

Daria Spiridonova: 13.966/6.1


Article: Sara Dorrien-Christians

Photo Source (International Gymnast on Facebook)

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