1. Alicia Sacramone Wins Gold! It was difficult for many fans to take Alicia’s alleged comeback seriously at first, considering every single one of her Olympic teammates was in the process of publicly tossing around the idea as well. But as soon as Alicia took to the competition floor at the Covergirl Classic this summer – one year after announcing her plans – we all quickly realized that Alicia’s comeback was something much, much different than the rumors that had been circulating about several other American stars – this one was for real.
I believe Alicia may have just earned the distinction of becoming the first female gymnast to ever win a world title after taking a two-year layoff from the sport. Although her win today was somewhat controversial because of the downgraded start value of Mustafina’s second vault, there’s no question her vaults were the cleanest of the final. Lest you think Mustafina was robbed; be sure to note that Mustafina’s first vault – crossed legs and all – actually received a higher execution score than Sacramone’s impeccable Yurchenko double full (9.233 vs. 9.20). Alicia Sacramone now finally has a world vault gold to add to her two bronzes and silver, and she’ll have another shot at a medal tomorrow as she competes in her first ever world balance beam final. I couldn’t help but think as she stood atop the medal podium today that the memories of Beijing might finally be fading into the past.
2. Exciting and Diverse Pommel Horse Final. Did you notice that EIGHT different countries were represented in the men’s pommel horse final, and NONE of them were China or Japan? In fact, none of the top four teams from the team final were represented in the pommel horse final, and this created a very unique and diversified field that included Hungary, Great Britain, Australia, France, Croatia, Armenia, Belgium, and Slovenia! All non-powerhouse countries, and what’s even better…it was one of the best pommel horse finals ever! Six guys scored above a 15, and we’re seeing some of the coolest and most stylish pommel horse routines ever done. I actually like Sellathurai’s routine the best (exciting quick style and incredible work between the pommels) and thought that Filip Ude had the best extension in his circle, but overall the field was tremendous. Smith’s circle is a bit slow for my taste and his toepoint leaves a lot to be desired, but he and Berki did have the highest D-scores, and this helped put them atop the standings.
3. American Girls Nail Bars. The door was wide open when both prelim leaders He Kexin and Huang Qiushuang fell, and what clutch routines by Bridget Sloan and Rebecca Bross! Sloan has really come through on bars at these world championships after having mistakes on the event at several competitions this year, and I doubt anyone would have expected her to finish 4th in the world on the event after the year she has had. And Bross did one of the best bar routines she’s ever done – rocked out handstands, nailed dismount, and even a little better form than normal. I think she should work on submitting a new skill – stalder to HOP FULL turn (from either toe-on, straddle, or in-bar), because that’s essentially what she has started doing. No woman has actually competed that to my knowledge, and it could probably give her tons of difficulty points because of the connection potential – possibly a brand new direction for women’s bars!