Thursday, April 11, 2013

2013 European Championships Preview: The All-Around

Next week is going to be a gift from the gymnastics gods!

The best male collegiate gymnasts will be traveling to University Park, Pennsylvania to compete at the NCAA Nationals, while the best female collegiate gymnasts will be traveling to Los Angeles, California. (Clearly, the women won in terms of geographic location.) And across the Atlantic, the crème de la crème of Europe will be battling it out in Moscow at the European Championships.

Though I'll be in LA, I'll be keeping an eye on the results in Moscow--mostly to see whether my dear, dear Oleg wins the all-around competition. That's right, I'm picking Mr. Verniaiev to win the all-around at the 2013 European Championships. Here are my rankings:

1. Oleg Verniaiev, Ukraine

Yes, this is a completely irrational choice for the gold medal. Oleg has been inconsistent in 2013, but love is blind. And I'm in love with Oleg's toe point.
It's like he was taking dance classes with Lilia Podkopayeva or something.

Of course, beautiful feet only count for so much in men's gymnastics. Did you watch the men's high bar final in London? If Epke Zonderland's gold medal routine and Zou Kai's bronze medal routine taught us anything, it is that form is an afterthought. If you want to impress the judges, you must have big ballsy tricks, which Oleg does. On every event, he has a 6.0+ difficulty score--something that Max Whitlock and Daniel Purvis cannot say, by the way.

But as they say, with great difficulty comes great risk, and Oleg's parallel bar routine is no exception. Some weeks, he is amazing, and I'm shouting in absolute ecstasy. Other weeks, he botches his routine, and I'm pounding my head against my desk while sobbing and yelling, "Стій!" at my computer. In either case, my boyfriend is reaching for my secret stash of elephant tranquilizers. (You can decide whether they're for me or for him.) You see, Oleg has one skill that makes or breaks his p-bar routine. It's his peach basket to single-rail handstand. It can be lovely, as it was at the French International, or it can be a total disaster, as it was at the Tokyo Cup.

If Oleg wants to win the all-around title, he has to nail that skill. Period. And if he doesn't, you will hear my cries around the world.

High Score: 90.375 (Tokyo Cup)
Low Score: 87.298 (American Cup)

2. Max Whitlock, Great Britain

Of my top three gymnasts, Max has posted the highest all-around score in 2013, and if I were a logical man, I would place him on the top of my list. But as you know by now, I like toe point, and well, to put it bluntly, Max and Aly Raisman have the same toe point. (To be sure, by men's gymnastics standards, Aly's toe point is quite average.)

On top of that, I'm suspicious of national scores. As we saw with Jordyn Wieber's beam connections and with Louis Smith's execution score on pommel horse at the 2012 British Championships, national judges--it seems--tend to be more lenient, and Max has yet to compete all-around outside of England. So, his 90.650 could very well be knocked down a few tenths.

That said, when we last saw him at the British Championships, he had a spectacular meet, scoring 15+ on floor, pommel horse, and vault. The place where Max really has an advantage is pommel horse. His routine is hard. His execution is rather flawless. And he's about as consistent as they come on this event. He's everything you'd expect from an Olympic bronze medalist on this event, and this routine should give him about a 5-tenth lead on Oleg.

The only way I could love his horse routine more is if he found a way to do his air flairs on the pommel horse. Pretty please, Max? (Floor air flairs featured below)

High Score: 90.650 (British Championships)
Low score: 89.400 (English Championships)

3. Daniel Purvis, Great Britain

Well, we all remember what happened to Danny last year at the European Championships...

He received special treatment from the judges, which came in the form of a great, big thigh hug.

I'm hoping that Mr. Purvis does not have a repeat performance in 2013. Danny had a rather slow start to the 2013 competition season. At the English Championships, he scored a low 13.367 on floor, and at the British Championships, he did a handstand forward roll on parallel bars, which isn't really a skill and which resulted in a 13.250 on that event. 

 As one of my GymCastic hosts said, Danny is one of the top 5 all-arounders in any given meets. It's just a question of whether he will hit, and there always seems to be one little boo boo. I'm not sure if it is a mental issue or what. But I'm tired of it! He needs to stop being a 1994 Dominique Dawes and start channeling his inner 1996 Dominique Dawes and earn himself that individual bronze medal!

I know that the 1996 Dominique Dawes is inside of him. I've seen it. Recently, at the Tokyo Cup, he was quite lovely on floor, vault, and parallel bars, and he did his best on the other three apparatus.

Personally, I think that you, my readers, should pay special attention to his floor routine at the European Championships. Artistic and fluid like Tong Fei, he will never be. But I have to admit that I admire anyone who dares to be a little bit different. So many gymnasts are doing a triple twist dismount on floor, but Mr. Purvis is throwing a handspring double front.

Personally, I'm sending good vibes his way.

Gym gods, 

Watch over Mr. Purvis. He deserves a break after what you put him through last year!


High score: 89.250 (Tokyo Cup)
Low score: 87.250 (British Championships)


 Quick Takes: Out of the Medals


4. Fabián González, Spain

Place at the 2012 Olympics: 9th
Event to watch him on:  High bar. His Kolman and Kovacs are divine.
High Score: 88.700 (Tokyo Cup)

5. David Belyavskiy, Russia

Place at the 2012 Olympics: 5th
Event to watch him on: Pommel horse. (He's usually delicious on parallel bars, as well, but not so much at  the French International)
High Score: 87.950 (Russian Championships)

6. Marcel Nguyen, Germany

Place at the 2012 Olympics: 2nd
Events to watch him on: Rings and Parallel Bars. (Even though he is on the struggle bus, according to his coach, he still can throw his Kato dismount on parallel bars. Kudos to him!)
High Score: 87.275 (Tokyo Cup)
Low Score: 87.031 (American Cup)
Unlike my Oleg, he's at least consistent with those all-around scores.


7. Nikita Ignatyev, Russia

Place at the 2012 Olympics: N/A
Event to watch him on: Rings and Parallel Bars
High Score: 87.800 (Russian Championships)

Your Take


Who will be seeing on top of the podium in Moscow?


  1. The women won in location??

    LA is the biggest shithole in the world. You can't see anything through the smog!

  2. I agree, LA is terrible. I went there once. Never again. Even the beaches in LA are ugly and depressing. Sucks for the women having to go there.

  3. Ngyuen won't compete AA in Moscow, he's only doing P-Bars and Rings.

  4. Isn't Daniel Keatings going to battle Whitlock and Purvis for a place in the all-around final? He'd definitely have a shot. Anyway, I bet on a Britain being on the podium.
    As for Verniaiev, I also really like his gymnastics, but I don't want him (or anyone else) to win with a fall, as it happened in Tokyo. His floor routine in that competition was so bad that even a 7.800 E-score seemed a bit generous, considering how other (fall-free and good) routines were scored.

    1. Keatings is taking a year off from doing the AA. He'll be doing pommels, p-bars and (potentially) high bar.

      If GBR enter a third AAer it'll be Oldham. The composition of the team makes me think they won't - Ash Watson's a PB/HB sorta guy whereas Reiss Beckford excels on the leg events - but if everything goes right Sam could score in the low 89s, which won't be too far away from the medals.

  5. That are old data ,now I am waiting for new title holder hope it will be changed after this competition.and what about the list of women gymnasts,where are the list ?
    Wilson Jordan recentaly visited:-Parallel Bars

    1. Well this is a men's gym blog. There are literally dozens of other women's gym news-type blogs like The Couch Gymnast if you're interested in the women only.

  6. Mr Jordan, did you not read the title of the blog?
    Anyway, what I came to ask is what is a Busnari? I read in the Guardian that Max Whitlock is adding one to his routine, and I watched Busnari but I'm not sure what part is his skill ... the bit where he kind of walks along the horse in handstand maybe?

    1. Your intuition is right: a Busnari is the part where he does a skill on one pommel, goes up to handstand, and travels while pirouetting in handstand before lowering back down to circles. (It is officially described as a "Reverse Stockli or [Direct Stockli A] straddled through handstand [with] 3/3 travel (fwd-bwd) [and] 360 degree turn [down] to flairs." 2013 Code v.2, p. 66, Element Group II, #54.) A Busnari is currently valued as a G (the highest difficulty value), worth 0.7.

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