After qualifications and all-around finals, it was time for the event specialists to get the spotlight and show off their skills on their favorite apparatus. Despite this being a post-Olympic year, most of the medalists among the men were familiar faces with a few new names also leaving their mark on the historic records.
On floor, Romanian legend Marian Dragulescu won the title in front of his home crowd with a score of 14.500, after showing a clean and difficult exercise that included a double front half with a hop back, a 2.5 twist to front double full to front layout half and a double double dismount landed a bit low with a step forward. Less than half a tenth behind Dragulescu was Dmitri Lankin, one of the young Russian athletes, with 14.466, opening his routine with a super high triple back with just a small hop on the landing, followed by difficult tumbles like a 3.5 twist to front full and a front layout to double front, though he also had a big stumble forward on his 2.5 twist to front double full, which probably cost him the title. Also scoring very close to the top 2 medalists, was Israeli Alexander Shatilov who took bronze with 14.400 after performing challenging skills, like a piked double front half, a 2.5 twist to front double full and a double double, all landed with only small hops, and finishing with a nearly stuck full-in. Outside the podium were Shatilov’s teammate Artem Dolgopyat in fourth place with 14.333, Dominick Cunningham of Great Britain in fifth with 14.300, Spain’s Rayderley Zapata in sixth with 14.300, all-around champion Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine in seventh with 14.033 and lastly Pavel Bulauski of Belarus in eighth with 13.766.
Next on the pommel horse final, Russian David Belyavskiy managed to outscore 2012 Olympic Champion Krisztian Berki of Hungary, taking the title with 15.100 after a very clean and confident routine. As a result, Berki had to settle for silver after scoring 14.900, despite also having a solid performance, showing beautiful form on his scissors and a very difficult dismount at the end of his exercise. Closely behind him was Armenia’s Harutyun Merdinyah, who received 14.833 for his routine that featured some interesting handstand circles and flairs, though he was a bit over to the side on his handstand dismount. In fourth place was Robert Seligman of Croatia with a total of 14.766, followed by Oliver Hegi of Switzerland in fifth with 14.700 and Saso Bertoncelj of Slovenia in sixth with 13.433, all showing hit routines. Unfortunately, the last two finalists didn’t have clean performances with Verniaiev finishing in seventh with 13.200 after a fall and a somewhat messy dismount, while Ferhat Arican of Turkey was eighth with 12.966 (5.9) due to major leg form issues throughout his exercise and also counting a fall.
The last event final of Saturday, rings, was one of the closest races in recent gymnastics History, with everyone hitting their routines and all eight finalists scoring within less than a full point of each other. As has been a trend in the last few years, Olympic Champion Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece once again took the gold medal with a final score of 15.433 after being super solid on his planches and handstands and showing great cross positions with absolutely no false grips, before finishing with a double double dismount with a tiny step on the landing. In second place was British Courtney Tulloch, performing the highest difficulty among the finalists (6.4 D-score) and finishing with a clean full twisting double layout dismount with a step back, though he had some issues with false grips and his shoulders were a bit high on his inverted cross to post 15.066. Less than half a tenth behind was Igor Radivilov of Ukraine in third, who received a 15.033 for his routine that included very steady positions and a great cross with no false grips, but also some shoulder issues on the inverted cross, similar to Tulloch, and an overarched handstand before his double double dismount with a tiny hop back. The remaining five finalists were all very clean, as well, but were just a bit behind in difficulty and execution, missing the podium by tenths. Vahagn Davtyan of Armenia was fourth with 14.858, followed by Ibrahim Colak of Turkey in fifth with 14.833. Konstantinos Konstantinidis of Greece and Artur Tovmasyan of Armenia both scored 14.666, with the Greek getting the sixth place due to lower difficulty (6.0 for him versus 6.2 for Tovmasyan), and lastly Lankin was eighth with 14.466.
Returning to competition on Sunday, the men started on vault where Russian National Champion Artur Dalaloyan took the title after scoring 14.933 for his fantastic TTY completed with a stuck landing and a somewhat messy Blanik with bent knees and cowboyed legs throughout and capped off with a hop. After taking the floor title, home gymnastics star Dragulescu managed to add another medal to his collection, taking silver here with 14.733 after performing his eponymous skill with a big step back and a Yurchenko half-on 2.5 twists off with a tiny step forward, while all-around champion Verniaiev got his first event medal of this meet with a bronze here after receiving an average of 14.649 for his Dragulescu vault with a small step back and his triple twisting Tsukahara with a step to the side and out-of-bounds. Aside from these top finishers, Zachari Hrimeche of France was fourth with 14.616, followed by Artur Davtyan of Armenia in fifth with 14.583 and Cunningham in sixth with 14.133, all hitting their vaults, while Radivilov was seventh with 14.033 after falling on his first vault, a piked Dragulescu and Andrey Medvedev of Israel was eighth with just 6.733 after receiving a zero for his first vault, where he balked mid-air and landed on his side, and also brushing the hands on the mat after his second, a Tsukahara double tuck.
Going into the bar events, parallel bars was also a tight competition among the top players, with all top 4 finishers showing 6.4 in difficulty and letting execution decide the final standings. With his pet event, Verniaiev took the parallel bars title with 15.466 after being very clean in general, having just a small overarch on his single rail handstand and some of the other handstands, but sticking his double front half-out dismount to make up for it. Germany’s Lukas Dauser was second just a tenth behind with 15.366, showing solid work and also finishing with a double front half-out dismount with a tiny hop, while Nikita Nagornyy of Russia was third with 15.266 after also hitting his routine cleanly and keeping the trend of the double front half-out dismounts, this one landed with a hop back. In fourth place was Nagornyy’s teammate Belyavskiy with 15.233, followed by Swiss Eddy Yusof in fifth with 15.000. Despite boosting the highest difficulty of the final (6.5 D-score), Marcel Nguyen of Germany had some issues and finished sixth with 14.800, while Arican was seventh with 14.633. Unfortunately, Hegi had another problematic performance after his disastrous all-around final, and counted two falls here to finish last with just 11.866.
Contrary to the parallel bars final, high bar was pretty much decided on difficulty with the gold and silver medalists, both representing Switzerland, posting the two highest D-scores among the finalists. Miles ahead of everyone else in difficulty with 6.8, Pablo Braegger easily took the title with 14.933, performing interesting releases like a Cassina, a Kolman, a layout Tkachev to Tkachev half and a layout Tkachev half, before finishing with a stuck double twisting double layout knowing he just had the title. After many disappointing moments at this meet, his teammate Hegi was finally able to finish on a high note, winning the silver medal with 14.500 after also showing a difficult routine, that featured a Yamawaki and a Yamawaki half, a full twisting Gienger, a Kolman and was capped off with a full twisting double layout with a step back on the landing. Somewhat surprisingly, in third place was Belyavskiy despite having “only” 5.7 in difficulty, the lowest of the final together with James Hall of Great Britain. Belyavskiy scored a total of 14.366 for his simple but clean exercise featuring a Yamawaki, a layout Tkachev and a Tkachev half, as well as some interesting German giants, before finishing with a full twisting double layout with a hop back. Hall, performing the same level of difficulty as Belyavskiy, was fourth by just 0.033, finishing with 14.333, a score shared with Edgar Bouler of France who was fifth due to a higher level of difficulty (5.8 D-score). The last three finalists all had mistakes with Dutch Bart Deurloo finishing sixth with 13.133 due to a fall, while Anton Kovacevic of Croatia was seventh with 13.066 after having an ugly fall on his full twisting double layout dismount that forced him to leave the arena wearing a brace on his knee and accompanied by medical staff. Competing on his least favorite event, Verniaiev had two falls in his routine and ended up last with 11.700, probably revealing some fatigue after competing on every single event final aside from rings.
As a post-Olympic year, this is the perfect time for individual athletes to stand out on their best events without caring whether they can fit into a team dynamics or qualify for the next Olympic Games. With this first big competition under their belts, the European gymnasts are off to a great start of this new quad and should continue to improve as they get more comfortable with their routines and the new demands of the code of points. For the time being, we will be able to see many of these athletes in the upcoming World Challenge Cups and hopefully witness their progress at they prepare for the World Championships in October.