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From the Stands: Event Finals, Day 1
(19 votes, average 4.32 out of 5)

1996 Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu and her husband, former-gymnast-turned-surgeon Michael Canales, blog on the hits and misses of the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships, taking place this week in London.

Canales and Moceanu at the O2

In an attempt to do some sightseeing in England, we made typical tourist errors on London's Underground (The Tube) which forced us to sprint (in dress shoes to the O2). We drew stares from the locals during our dash through the streets of Greenwich. Oh well!

We took our seats after working up a lather during our blister-forming gallop.

The FIG Technical Committee table is filled to the gills with both men's and women's committees. Bruno Grandi is almost certainly still ill, and holds his head up with his hand in a slump.

Men's Floor

Zou Kai (CHN): Performed his characteristic supple -landing routine. He tip-toes through the tulips and looks like he's "playing" his routine. Love his style or not, one can't dispute his unruffled demeanor on FX. Well done for the Olympic triple gold medalist.

Steven Legendre (USA): We really wish he could've put his start-value stacking double front punch front double twist on display. Not his best effort, but most certainly secured the interest of the international community.

Marian Dragulescu (ROM): Put his familiarity with the World FX Event Final on exhibit. More green competitors would've made their mistakes more detectable. We're in high spirits for the Romanian tumbling expert.

Alexander Shatilov (ISR): LIGHT AND TIGHT DESPITE HIS HEIGHT! Israel is sensing something grand.

Tomas Gonzalez Sepulveda (CHI): The Chilean caught our eye in the qualification round. Strong work! He could certainly be the ember that sparks success in 2016 when the Olympic Games make their way to South America.

Kohei Uchimura (JPN): The best triple twister of the competition.

Makoto Okiguchi (JPN): Matchless and rare passes, but form boo-boos in the air and flawed landings will prevent him from breaking the into the medals. Nevertheless a commanding tumbler.

Matthias Fahrig (GER) lofty tumbling. Went out of bounds, line judge ignored it. Great tumbling simply not in the same class as the medalists. Nice jig after his routine.

Marian Dragulescu (ROM) is back in his comfort zone as champion of FX. He mounts the podium with a Romanian flag on his back flashing the "No. 1" with his fingers. He poses for the adoring and zealous Romanian fans. Eight years since his first world championship! To say his achievement is extraordinary would be an understatement. He was our sentimental favorite heading into the final.

Colossal moment for Shalitov and Israel. A frequent finalist on FX earns a world medal for his nation!

Women's Vault

Four of the eight competitors are sleeveless.

Ariella Käslin (SUI) our "Madame Butterfly" is rocking her trademark in the finals. This time with no sleeves for the Swiss Miss.

Anna Myzdrikova (RUS): Khorkina is coaching from the stands, "Davai! Davai! Davai!"

The Jumbo Tron is showing high-quality replays from several angles and less-than-flattering headshots of some of the athletes.

Kayla Williams (USA) and her coach, Bozhidar Russev, seem right at home in the event final.

The Japanese women are a small army of Team Japan trench coats (in the building) supporting their brilliant star Koko Tsurumi (JPN).

Hong Un Jong (PRK) is doing wind sprints alongside the podium runway.

Ariella Käslin (SUI): Great vaults, but we need more cowbell! Does her vault with a Sacramone style, but a bit more distance than Alicia. Large step to the side. We'd love to see her stick it. The O2 is watching the sand in the hour glass run out as we await a score for one of Switzerland's national treasures.

WHILE WE ENJOY SEEING ONE ATHLETE PERFORMING PER EVENT, THE MEN AND WOMEN COULD'VE BEEN COMPETING CONCURRENTLY. Why are we waiting so long? We suppose it does take time to create deductions.

If the rest of the VT final runs with this pace, the athletes might consider wearing long sleeved leos to avoid frostbite. At last a second vault from Käslin, Yuchenko 1.5. Piked in the air with a significant knee bend.

We've spotted Deng Linlin (CHN) in the stands with the Chinese delegation. She is yawning. Undoubtedly, heavy-eyed from last night's effort.

Hong Un Jong (PRK): Her passport photo has her in a black sport coat and white shirt. Very business-like with a Mona Lisa grin. Performed both of her Olympic vaults but expensive errors on both. Her start values are so high in comparison to the other competitors. It makes the VT final unbalanced.

Kayla Williams (USA) Rudi with the most distance we've seen. Better than in the qualification round. WELL DONE KAYLA!

For Kayla's second vault, Marta Karolyi (USA) rises from her seat in the stands to "notify" Bozhidar Russev (Kayla's longtime coach) that Kayla requires a 10 cm mat in front of the board for her second vault. Coach Russev honors Coach Karolyi's "helpful hint."

Kayla drills a rock-solid Yurchenko double full!

Marta and Kathy Kelly (USA) rise from their seats to embrace one another other and relocate within the O2. Do you think they have B.F.F. necklaces? Without a doubt, they've been through a lot together.

The in-house announcer reminds us that Kayla's move to snior elite status occurred this year. Kayla and coach have so much to be proud of.

Elsa Garcia (MEX): her headshot looks like it's taken from a modeling shoot . So stunning in all white with red stripes down the arms.

Hong's mistakes and Kayla's hits make the final solely a battle for the silver and bronze.

Garcia lands her first vault only to face plant on her round off entry to piked Cuervo. She chuckles at the blunder and her coach adds to the moment by comically dusting off her forehead. In effect a refreshing glimpse into the Longines Elegance Award winner's persona.

Ariella Käslin (SUI ) is watching the scoreboard closely in her leo with warm up pants.

Brittany Rogers (CAN) The ID photos give us a peek into another dimension of these young women. Brittany's photo has her hair down bearing a smile. Solid vaults including round off entry to hollow Cuervo. In contrast to her ID photo, she appears to be a stoic competitor. Firm "high-five" to her coach.

Deng Linlin (CHN) is still drowsy. Should we offer her a pillow and blanket?

Yekaterina Kurbatova (RUS) The Russians are pulling for her, and she puts both vaults on her feet.

Youna Dufournet (FRA) Tight body positions, feet are together, but he feet are hooked. The French fans are cheerful. Her brawny coach is crying tears of joy as the scoreboard indicates a bronze medal for his athlete. Just charming.

Not as weak a vault final as we'd expected. We still wish the VT final was NOT determined by solely start value or who lands on their feet. As we mentioned earlier, the weight start values carry makes scoring so lopsided. We are not happy to see the athletes perform their vaults cold. Not only does it increase the probability for injury (new equipment, new-fangled lighting, fresh ceiling height, chilly mats), but it doesn't draw the best performances out of the athletes. In addition, the judges are not warmed up either.

Medal Ceremony.

Fist pumps from Ariella Käslin (SUI).

Alexander Shatilov (ISR): throws his bouquet of flowers like a starting quarterback. The flowers make their way into the 10th row. Amazing!

Canales and Moceanu meet up with legends Dmitry Karbanenko, Andreea Raducan and Maria Olaru

Men's Pommel Horse

In the judges line-up, SellathuraiI Prashanth (AUS) is a whole head shorter than everyone in the final. The only compact gymnast of the group. He and the Hongtao Zhang (CHN) leave the arena after presenting to the judges. No doubt they are heading to the warm-up gym for finish touches.

Louis Smith (GBR) is a cool customer, but can't possibly deny the whopping expectations of his home crowd. He's been a huge focus of the media attention since Beijing. Got off to a rough start on his scissors, and tightens up resulting in a fall shortly after. This goes to show that a hometown crowd can be an advantage, but also a huge burden. Smith courteously thanks the crowd for their support in a positive display of good character. We know how disappointed he must be.

Overall, there are good spirits between the athletes in the PH final as they demonstrate reciprocated respect.

Robert Seligman (CRO): Slicing through his exercise. Excellent extension in the front in a tight arch. Regrettably, an anticlimactic ending with a wendeswing dismount.

Krisztian Berki (HUN): The calm Hungarian brings his country's PH tradition back. The Hungarian gymnasts have always emphasized the PH as an vital piece of apparatus. Huge 9.175 execution score.

Timothy McNeill (USA): Minor form breaks for the American. A huge achievement to compete alongside the world's best. Excellent velocity to handstand dismount.

Flavius Koczi (ROM): We're pulling for the Romanian. He stays on the horse, but wrinkled pants and minor form breaks "tenth him to death". Brilliant difficulty.

Zhang Hongtao (CHN): The new gold standard on PH. Quite simply the best scissors to a handstand. In the categories of tempo and continuity, he was unparalleled "Jia You", (come on, go for it) is heard for various locations across the arena. Deng Linlin is alert NOW! She was probably saving her energy for her countryman.

Prashanth SellathuraiI (AUS): The Aussie is a sharp contrast to the physique of the Chinese PH genius, but no shortage in excitement or velocity. The Aussie delivers and brings smile and applause from Team India's women's' team who are beaming with pride.

Cyril Tommasone (FRA): great pirouetting from the Frenchman. In the replay we realized he clipped his foot on his scissors. We did not notice this during the set. Did the judges notice?

Women's Uneven Bars

Marvin Sharp (USA) is standing next to He Kexin (CHN) prior to the competition. What a noteworthy difference in height!

He Kexin (CHN): "JIA YOU" is heard all over the arena (not just the delegation). He Kexin starting off the final just as she did in Beijing. Her bars were being prepared during entire introduction of the athletes. Hope she likes them.

He Kexin is watching the rest of the pack intensely in a crouch.

Koko Tsurumi (JPN): Kills her set! Small hop on her double layout!

Serena Licchetta (ITA): Wets the bars to her preference. Extra long routine due to mistakes. Misses a Comaneci due to fatigue. Too bad.

Larrissa Miller (AUS): Solid set. Great feet! Precise and confident. Peggy Liddick places a formal inquiry regarding the score. From our vantage point, the FIG technical committee is completely caught off guard. "We need Longines!" spouts one member of the Technical Committee.

Bridget Sloan (USA): Solid routine. Marta Karolyi hollers, "Vwork eet! Vwork eet!" Bridget stutters on her dismount, but has to be pleased with her meet. Lots of ups and downs. Happily the ups came at the right moments.

The FIG Technical Committee reviews the Aussie's routine. Nothing comes of the inquiry despite all of the racket.

Ana Porgras (ROM): "HAIDE! HAIDE! HAIDE!" comes from the Romanian delegation. Well done. Is it enough for a medal?

He Kexin and Koko Tsurumi pose for a photograph while embracing. REALLY CUTE!

Rebecca Bross (USA): attacks the UB. Solid set with an intermediate swing with bent knees. Nevertheless well done Rebecca! Probably good for a medal.

No applause from Marta Karolyi. Marta slaps her thighs from the stands while Kathy Kelly does her best Paula Abdul applause impression.

Men's Rings

Danny Pinheiro-Rodrigues (FRA): His Victorian was better in the Qualification rounds. Arthur Nabarrete Zanetti (BRA): Stuck full-twisting double layout

Yan Mingyong (CHN) : the new gold standard on rings. Huge hop on his dismount.

Jordan Jovtchev (BUL): The Godfather of the R final does a great routine with some salt and pepper in the hair. His obligations outside of competitive gymnastics make this accomplishment more extraordinary.

Robert Stanescu (ROM): Good set, but how did he get into the ring final?

Alexander Vorobyov (UKR): We're on the fence about this gymnast. Great start value, but flexed arms on several strength moves. His score could go either way.

The meet was fun, but TOO LONG. Having the gals competing along with the blokes would be helpful for efficiency.

One more meet to go. Send feedback!


Domi & Mike

Comments (8)add comment

Jody said:

Thanks for the really intelligent and entertaining commentary.
October 17, 2009
Votes: +1

Maria R said:

Good comments! That was entertaining
October 17, 2009
Votes: +2

Karen Inskip-Hayward said:

Really enjoying your blogs & agree with 99% of what you have been saying! After meeting you both on Weds in London, I can also say you were wonderfully warm, friendly & we couldn't have asked for a sweeter couple.
October 18, 2009
Votes: +2

MD said:

I'm not sure the international gymnastics community is eager to read constantly about the fight between Moceanu and the current USAG management. Such a bad taste.
October 18, 2009
Votes: +0

Fan4Life said:

Love the colorful commentary, hopefully this will lead to more assignments for you! Understand your fustration with USAG, really don't want to hear about it during your blog about the competition. Focus on the great things happening for USAG. The coaches and athletes are doing the work, not the governing body that seems to take credit for it all. We all know this!! Keep up the great work your doing in London, don't let this spoil an otherwise fantastic job!
October 18, 2009
Votes: +3

Grace said:

I love your blogs!!!!!!! Please, please, please do them more often!!! They are so entertaining and unique. I love how its not like the others, just simply naming the skills in the routine, and the score. You include fun little facts that the fans love to hear!! Thank you again!! I really enjoyed it!
October 18, 2009
Votes: +3

Rachie said:

Couldn't be bothered with rings?

And they haven't done alternating routines since the mid ninties, stop acting like it's a shock. Also more commentary on what the routines were actually like would've been nice.
October 19, 2009
Votes: -3

sj1231 said:

Great Blog!
Thanks Domi and Mike for the truthful and entertaining blogging! I enjoyed it very much and felt like I was right there watching the whole time. smilies/smiley.gif
October 21, 2009
Votes: +2

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