My thoughts on the American Cup…Part 1

  • Chris Brooks and Aly Raisman were the stories of this American Cup for me.  Both did an incredible job under a tremendous amount of pressure in their first major international meets (on live television no less!), and both established themselves as new stars in USA Gymnastics.
  • Although Horton had a couple of fluke mistakes on p-bars that cost him the title, I felt that both he and Rebecca Bross successfully redeemed themselves from their world championship mishaps.  This was a huge step for both of them…Horton reaffirming himself as one of the top gymnasts in the world and Bross winning a major all-around title to put on her resume.
  • It was really cool getting to see the first half of the meet online, because we usually don’t get to see it.  Having the webcast and live scoring on USA Gymnastics was great too.  Things are definitely looking up for gymnastics coverage with this whole Universal Sports thing.
  • Chris Brooks won HALF of the men’s events…floor, p-bars, and high bar.  That is quite an impressive feat in such a talented field!
  • Brooks’ floor was unbelievable.  He had the highest D-Score AND the highest E-Score of the meet on that event, and they were well-deserved.  He nailed almost every landing, including an awesome and super cool full-out dismount.
  • That was the best pommel horse set I’ve seen Horton do in a competition.  Just as at Winter Cup, hitting that event alone makes the entire meet a success for him in my opinion.  If he can put all six back together again, I think he’ll be right up there challenging for a world all-around medal.
  • The similarities between Horton and Brooks are so fascinating, and the whole rivalry that is developing between them is the coolest thing in USA men’s gymnastics in a long time.  Their start values are pretty much IDENTICAL on every event but rings, where Horton has a big advantage.  Overall they are so evenly matched…each of them had one fall (Brooks on pommels and Horton on p-bars) and one near-fall (Brooks came up short on a front giant on rings and probably lost credit, while Horton messed up that front uprise on p-bars).  They ended up just 0.25 apart in the all-around.
  • Maxim Deviatovsky was a really nice surprise.  I completely agreed with Tim about him never looking that good before.  He did an awesome job and deserved the win.  I love his completely locked out (hyper-extended) arms on everything he does.  I don’t love the rat tail!
  • Al Trautwig was right…Daniel Keatings’ Honma (“whippit”) to support was NOT the most bizarre thing Tim has ever seen.  It IS in the code – either to an L-sit OR simply a support – as a B skill.  What WAS truly bizarre was Keatings’ first tumbling pass on floor, which he did from the side rather than the corner. Why in the world did he do that???
  • Speaking of Keatings…he is a beautiful gymnast with a gorgeous handstand line (notice the one he does on pommel horse after the scissor at the beginning and also on p-bars).  Interestingly, he didn’t do a SINGLE D-level strength skill in his rings routine.
  • Hambuechen didn’t fall, but I think all of us expected him to be much more in contention for the win than he was.  He just didn’t quite have the spark that the top 3 had, or that he has had in the past.  It was still great to see him back out there though.
  • I absolutely loved Brooks’ high bar…the releases were all extended out on his fingertips and the Takamotos were topped off completely in handstand.  That first Takamoto was absolutely perfect!  I hope he’ll start connecting those Tcatchevs.  I love the way he waits before twisting on the double-double too…and all that under extreme pressure on the last event!  What an awesome competitor!
  • I haven’t seen that many guys miss p-bars in a long time.  How about Koji Yamamuro having FIVE major breaks, including sitting on the bars three times???  That may have been a record for the most major errors in one routine from an elite gymnast!

Stay tuned for more comments in Part 2!