And this is why I love the event finals. They're a roll-of-the-dice kind of occasion, because you've got people trying some crazy ass shit and seeing if they can get it to their feet. The theme tonight, unfortunately, was falling.
And it started with the men on floor. Both Marian Dragalescu (who is looking really hot these days) and Diego Hypolito, who had the most exciting floor routines, had falls. Upsetting because this was the first we've seen of Dragalescu all Olympcis long and because Hypolito's routine was just insane! I'm going to go back and ogle some of those passes later because I couldn't quite wrap my head around them the first time through. Disappointing that we didn't get to see Kohei Uchimura's routine, even if it wasn't medal-worthy; I just like him. And really, in an eight per event kind of format, would it have killed NBC to devote a five more minutes to show us both his and Alexandr Shatilov's routines so that we the viewers get a complete picture of the finals? It was the trend for the evening and I should just shut up and be grateful we saw five or six in each event.
When we moved onto the women's vault, I knew Alicia Sacramone was going to be the story. I also knew that she was going to have to be more than perfect in order to medal, and while she did a good job, no amount of grumbling by the Karolyis is going to reverse the score. Was Cheng Fei overscored for the vault she sat down? Probably. But it is what it is, and while it might have been nice to assuage Sacramone's feelings of guilt for her performance in the team final, the US team silver really wasn't her "fault." The Chinese were better, plain and simple. While Un Jong Hong of Korea had a great performance, I was really rooting for Chusovitina. Nothing thrilled me more than seeing her during prelims at her fifth Olympics and she did a beautiful job, but I guess it wasn't enough. This was another rotation of falls and the curious zero that Anna Pavlova got for going without the green light, of all things.
Pommels was actually an exciting final. The almost-falls are part of what made it so exciting, because it's very difficult to save yourself once things start going wrong on that event. Xiao Qin's routine was absolutely beautiful and even his error did little to mar it. His extension is to die for. I felt Filip Ude's routine was more exciting, if not as well performed. That dismount was ridiculous. And a surprise bronze for Great Britain's Louis Smith! It's a shame and yet typical that Sasha Artemev had the fall he did. I saw Hiroyuki Tomita's surly face in the background but we didn't get to see his routine. Oh well.
Strangely, we went from pommels to women's floor. Now, Olympic order for the women is vault, uneven bars, beam and then floor. The men were going in Olympic order, but the women were not, for some reason. They're also apparently dividing event finals into three days, rather than the usual two. I'm liking this because I think it'll give us a little more coverage than we got in Athens or Sydney, but it's a little weird, especially with the women not going in Olympic order.
Anyway, floor was kind of weird. Shawn Johnson drew the short straw and went first and did...basically the same floor routine we've been seeing from her all year. She threw the Rudi back into her third pass and had a pretty big step after the triple twist, but there were no surprises. Jiang Yuyuan has probably my favorite floor routine from these games. It's just a joy to watch and she did a beautiful job. Cheng Fei had an uncharacteristic fall and Pavlova, probably still smarting from the vault booboo, also fell. Dianne Dos Santos of Brazil had some crazy sick tumbling in her routine. Hello, layout Arabian double front! Even crazier, she was bouncing all over the place after each pass, meaning she had so much energy she could probably have rebounded into another skill after them. Crazy! Nastia's routine was another textbook example of the artistry of gymnastics. She's filling the gap that Khorkina left behind, to be sure. It's a shame that Sandra Izbasa of Romania went last. Her routine, while great (perfect stuck landings on every single pass), lacked the explosive power of Johnson's or the elegance and grace of Liukin's. And her music was like a remixed version of music that Gogean or Amanar used back in the day. Typical Romanian gymnastics: solid, but not exciting. Oh well.
Still, a great night, and I'm happy that I was able to watch it "live" for the first time during these Games.
P.S. I have not yet expressed how wonderful it's been watching the Olympics in HD this year. Oh baby. It's glorious.