American Men’s Videos from Moscow!

Awesome showing for the USA men at the Moscow World Cup.  Usually we struggle to place any guys in the finals in competitions like this, but here we had SEVEN finalists and THREE medalists, and that was without our very top guys like Horton, Brooks, and Leyva.  Paul Ruggeri of Illinois, Brandon Wynn of Ohio State, and Alex Naddour of Oklahoma joined world team member Tim McNeill and showed the world that the USA men’s program may be deeper than it has ever been before.  All four of these guys will be vying for spots on this year’s USA world team, but they’ll have to get past about eight or ten other legitimate contenders to make the six-member squad.  I don’t think I can remember a time when the USA had that many serious contenders, especially all of whom are world class on their own specialties.

Paul Ruggeri Floor 2010 Moscow World Cup Event Finals

Paul Ruggeri Vault 2010 Moscow World Cup Event Finals

Paul Ruggeri High Bar 2010 Moscow World Cup Event Finals

Paul finished 5th on floor here (6.3, 14.775), despite being 2nd in prelims (14.925). Obviously the huge lunge forward on the dismount probably cost him at least 0.5.  Is he the only gymnast to TRULY ever do a laid out double Arabian?  I’m sure there are a couple I haven’t seen, but the ones I have never quite seemed legitimate to me.  Daiane dos Santos’s was not truly laid out, and Todd Thornton did the half turn a bit late.  That skill looks pretty darn awesome, and the rest of his set is pretty packed as well.  On vault he finished 7th (6.6, 6.2, 15.375), but how often do we see an American man in a vault final?  High bar is definitely his best event, and I absolutely love watching him here.  He was actually FIRST in qualifications (6.4, 15.375) AHEAD of Aljaz Pegan, but unfortunately coming out on the wrong side on the Takamoto full cost him in the finals, where he STILL placed 3rd (6.6, 15.075).  His release skills are some of the best in the world – incredible height and rotation on all of them.  He could easily connect another Tcatchev out of the first one, and I love the extension on that laid out Tcatchev half turn.  He tops out the Takamoto skills very well too.  Could we see him on the world team?  It’s possible, but the main thing hurting him is the fact that on high bar we already have Horton, Brooks, and Leyva, and on floor and vault he’ll have to convince the selection committee he’s better than Steven Legendre, which I don’t think is likely.  Unfortunately Ruggeri isn’t strong on pommel horse or rings, which are two events the team needs.  But I have a feeling he’ll throw an interesting wrench into the whole selection process this year.

Tim McNeill Pommel Horse 2010 Moscow World Cup Event Finals

Tim McNeill Parallel Bars 2010 Moscow World Cup Event Finals

Great to see McNeill back out in international competition after he dropped out of the American Cup…he really needed some strong results to prove to everyone he’s still in competitive form.  Here he finished 4th on pommel horse (6.4, 14.775) and 3rd on p-bars (6.3, 15.15)…interestingly he was beaten on pommels by American Alex Naddour, who finished a very impressive 2nd.  I was more impressed by McNeill’s p-bars than his pommel horse here, since it was much cleaner and just has a nicer look to me.  Will we still see McNeill on this year’s world team?  I think we will, considering he is continuing to show great international results on our team’s weakest event (pommel horse), he is great on p-bars, he is pretty strong on rings, and he now has both international experience and an international reputation.  I think we’ll see him on there.

Brandon Wynn Rings 2010 Moscow World Cup Event Finals

HOLY COW…what a beast!  I just rewatched his routine from this year’s Winter Cup because I didn’t remember him being quite THAT strong, and sure enough, this routine was MUCH improved.  He finished 8th because of the fall (6.7, 14.125), but he placed 4th in the qualifications with a fantastic 15.425 – just 0.075 from the lead.  It will be VERY interesting to see if he ends up on the world team this year.  He’s been touted as the “Kevin Tan” of this quadrennial, but I think that analogy probably started before Kevin Tan actually returned to competition at this year’s Winter Cup.  If Tan is still shooting for worlds, this could be a really neat rivalry.  Or could there be room for both?  That could potentially be two huge scores for the USA on rings, and we could really use them.  An advantage Kevin Tan has is that he’s probably better on pommel horse than Wynn is, so it may come down to that.  Kevin also had decent showings on p-bars and high bar at the Winter Cup, while Wynn is a great vaulter (great Tsuk 2 ½).

Alex Naddour Pommel Horse 2010 Moscow World Cup Event Finals

How interesting…this year’s Winter Cup pommel horse champion now shows he can handle international pressure on the event the USA needs the most!  He won the SILVER here with a 6.2, 15.075 score.  I think he looks much better than McNeill here.  Although I don’t think Naddour could really contribute to the team on any other event right now, this routine is so good I think he’s worth considering for the world team.  It’s not everyday we find an American who can not only swing pommel horse so cleanly, but do so under international event finals-pressure.

Next post will have more videos and comments from some of the international guys from Moscow…some more awesome stuff!