In 1996 Amy Chow tied for the silver, in 2004 Terrin Humphrey did the same and Courtney Kupets won the bronze. Many thought that Nastia deserved to win the gold in 2008, but won another US silver medal instead. In 2012 the US didn’t win a medal on bars. The United States has yet to win the uneven bars title in the Olympics. This Olympics Madison Kocian, one of the four women that won gold at Worlds last year, will try to be the first. She could have some very hard competition! China will be fighting to keep their fist place streak going, but Russia, Germany, and Great Britain all have gymnasts who could make it with their high start values. The Olympic Champion on this event is going to have a big number of multiple connections and big releases in their routine. It seems that single skills are just not rewarded like they previously were. Here’s a look at who I think could make the top 5 uneven bars event finals. Remember, I will be looking at the 2015 worlds, past Olympics, and a few other meets to gather my scores.
- Fan Yilin from China
Fan Yilan was the first in the four way tie at the World Championships last year scoring a 15.366. She has a start value of 7.0 which is the highest start value on my list. If she nailed her routine with top execution she would win because of the difficulty alone. When she mounts the bars she does seven consecutive skills in a row. The Chinese gymnasts are known for their pirouetting skills, and she does of a series of them on the high bar before dismounting into a double layout. She does get killed on her execution, probably because of her in bar geinger. With little height, I wonder why they are still doing this skill instead of the layout yager done by others. She still scored a a huge 15.734 at the Chinese Championships this year. The Chinese team won gold in 1992 and 2008. They will look to Fan Yilan to win again. Here is her bar routine from the Chinese Nationals.
2. Madison Kocian from The United States
Madison Kocian has the highest score on my list. It was on American soil and I think that the US judges tends to over score. This makes me wonder if she can receive the same high score with international judging. Her 15.9 (diff. 6.7) was the top finish on bars at our Olympic Trials. She was another gymnast that put up the same score (15.366) as Fan Yilin at the 2015 Worlds. She has won nine gold medals on the uneven bars since 2012 and can average a 15.6/15.7. She trains at WOGA and like her previous team mate, Nastia, her long lines, big releases, and the ability to stick a dismount makes her my #2 pick for the finals. If anyone can beat the re-occurring silver medal on bars it can be Madison. (P.S.–I think she and Ashton could have gone 1-2. You can watch her opening sequence of 5 connecting skills from her 2016 Olympic Trials.
3. Daria Spiridonova from Russia
I am seriously hoping the IOC does not make the decision to omit the Russian gymnasts and allow them to compete. This blanket ban has me so nervous I am worried I could jinx the gymnasts by putting them in here. Thinking positive, I am putting Daria Spiridonova in my third spot in the line up. She is part of that four person gold medal scoring of 15.366 at the 2015 World Championships. With the same difficulty as Madsion (6.7) she scored a strong 15.466 at the European Championship this year. However, she has also scored a 15.65 this year. She is coming with a win on the bars from nationals and could join the 2012 Olympian Alyia Mustifina in the winners circle. She also does 5 skills consecutively as she mounts the bars. Here is her 2016 European uneven bars routine.
4. Elisabeth Seitz from Germany
With a start value of 6.6, Elisabeth Seitz is my fourth pick for the uneven bars event finals in the Olympics. It’s been since 1980 that anyone from Germany has won the Olympic title, and that was considered “East Germany” at the time. Elisabeth has an unique and exciting bar set. At the 2012 Olympic Uneven bar final she finished in sixth place with a 15.266. This year at the German nationals she put up a 15.566 (diff. 6.8) for a first place trophy. She has the start value but consistency seems to be her downfall. I wish she would bring back the “def” on the high bar for the Olympics. (one can hope) Here is her performance from nationals.
5. Gabby Douglas from United States
Gabby Douglas rounds out the top 5 finalist on the uneven bars. At the 2015 World Championships she scored a 15.133 which put her in fourth place. She is the 2012 all around champion, and made the team this year because of this one event. She has the difficulty of a 6.5. She did score a 15.65 at this years Secret Classic, but its hard to measure against an international field when the scores are so highly inflated. She hasn’t scored above a 15.3 in any other meet. She lost a release move she used in 2012, but she can consistently deliver a stuck double layout dismount. Here is her routine from the secret classic.
I only went over the top 5 gymnasts who I think will make a splash in the uneven bars final. I know the final consist of eight gymnasts, so here are a few who could sneak into that line up.
Rebecca Downie from Great Britain scored a 15.1 at this years nationals! Just like her predecessor, Beth Tweddle, she has a few high flying release moves. Her routine at the British nationals gave her a difficulty score of 6.7. But, at the 2016 European Championships she put up a 6.9. One of her release moves, a backward stalder to reverse hect in a pike position, is named after her. She competed in the 2008 Olympics and has the experience to come in and medal.
Aliya Mustafina always has the possibility of upgrading her routine when it counts. She is the reigning 2012 uneven bars champion and she will be hungry for a repeat. She scored a 15.333 on the first night of the Russian Nationals. I am hoping she throws in her signature dismount, a 2 1/2 twisting double tuck.
Last not least Shang Chunsong from China. She has a strong difficulty of 6.7 on the bars, but lacks in execution. She gets picked apart while doing her in bar geinger release and doesn’t always get the height and distance on her dismount. Her pirouetting elements are gorgeous and if she can get some height in those releases she could make a dent in the podium!
The uneven bars final is going to narrow down by who can connect the most skills, while achieving maximum height in their release moves. I am hoping to see some variety in the pirouetting and bar change elements. The routines are starting to all look like from the full twisting pirouette straight in to a shaposh 1/2 back down to a pak salto. I think we should start rewarding the “Ruby Harolds” of the world, and giving those crazy, unique bar routines higher start values. Stay tuned for the top 5 beam routines I am hoping to see in the event finals in Rio!