Friday, February 8, 2008

Men's Winter Cup

Paul Hamm began his comeback effort with a strong performance at the Winter Cup last night. Hamm displayed readiness to compete with the best in the world and may be able to challenge for the Olympic All-Around title if he continues to improve over the next few months. The American Cup will be his first international competition since the 2004 Olympic Games. This is a welcome development for the USAG men's program who desperately needs Hamm if they hope to challenge for a spot on the podium. With a few more months of training and the opportunity to fine tune his sets at Nationals and the Olympic Trials, Hamm could challenge for several individual medals in Beijing.

Paul Hamm's scores:

Floor Exercise: 16.000
(1st Place)
Pommel Horse: 14.350 (Tied for 6th Place)Paul made a few errors, but is capable of contending for a spot in the event finals.
Rings: 15.550 (3rd Place) This event is where Paul has made the most improvement. Rings have never been his best event, but his extra strength training is paying off. Hamm could add considerable tenths to the USA's team total.
Vault: 16.300 (2nd Place) This is another event where's Hamm's score could boost the team total.
Parallel Bars: 15.250 (2nd Place)
High Bar: 15.350 (2nd Place) This is another event where Paul will really make a difference.
AA: 92.800 (1st Place)

The biggest surprise of the meet was the strong performance of Raj Bhavsar. If Bhavsar can hit again in the finals, the selection committee will have to consider naming him to the Olympic Team. Bhavsar's scores could help the USA be much more competitive in Beijing.

FX: 13.500 (33rd-Tie)
PH: 14.550 (3rd Place)
Rings: 15.800 (2nd Place)
Vault: 16.250 (3rd Place)
Parallel Bars: 15.200 (3rd Place)
High Bar: 13.700 (28th Place)
AA: 89.000 (2nd Place)

Sasha Artemev was 3rd overall with an 88.900. His best performances came on pommel horse - 15.150 (Tied for 1st Place) and on parallel bars with a 15.150 (4th).

David Durante failed to finish in the top five on any apparatus, while Guillero Alvarez was only able to muster a fourth place finish on pommel horse with a 14.450.

Blaine Wilson's return to competition was successful. Wilson competed on four events and recorded a sixth place finish on rings (15.150) and a fourth place finish on vault (16.200). The five-time national champion also tied for seventh on high bar with a 14.600 and tied for fourteenth on floor (14.350) after stepping out of bounds.

Other notable performances:

Kevin Tan: (4 events only)
PH: 13.650 (Tied for 14th)
RG: 16.350 (1st)
PB: 14.950 (Tied for 7th)
HB: 15.000 (3rd)

Jonathon Horton: (4 events only)
PH: 11.450 (Tied for 60th)
RG: 15.400 (4th)
PB: 14.750 (9th)
HB: 14.850 (4th)

Complete results available:

Although the scores are likely inflated, the 2008 Winter Cup scores present interesting new lineup possibilities for the Olympic Games. With Morgan Hamm, Sean Golden and Justin Spring added to the mix, the Olympic Trials will be infinitely more competitive.

The USA Men's scores from the 2007 World Championships.

Team Finals:
G. Alvarez: 15.600 FX, 15.600 VT
A. Artemev: 14.775 PH, 15.600 VT, 15.500 PB, 13.750 HB
D. Durante: 14.225 PH, 13.575 HB
S. Golden: 15.575 FX, 15.375 RG, 16.100 VT
J. Horton: 15.625 FX, 15.150 RG, 15.400 PB, 14.875 HB
K. Tan: 14.525 PH, 15.825 RG, 15.200 PB

Scores By Gymnast:
Jonathon Horton
Team Prelims: 15.475 FX, 14.150 PH, 15.325 RG, 15.375 VT, 15.500 PB, 15.075 HB
Team Finals: 15.625 FX, 15.150 RG, 15.400 PB, 14.875 HB
All-Around: 15.625 FX, 13.975 PH, 15.250 RG, 16.075 VT, 15.450 PB, 14.825 HB

Alexander Artemev
Team Prelims: 14.750 FX, 15.375 PH, 15.950 VT, 15.400 PB, 14.825 HB
Team Finals: 14.775 PH, 15.600 VT, 15.500 PB, 14.875 HB
Event Finals: 15.175 PH (6th)

Kevin Tan
Team Prelims: 14.575 PH, 16.050 RG, 15.300 PB, 12.825 HB
Team Finals: 14.525 PH, 15.825 RG, 15.200 PB
Event Finals: 16.325 RG (4th)

Guillermo Alvarez
Team Prelims: 15.700 FX, 13.500 PH, 14.650 RG, 15.650 VT, 14.675 PB, 14.000 HB
Team Finals: 15.600 FX, 15.600 VT
Event Finals: 15.600 FX (4th)

Sean Golden
Team Prelims: 15.200 FX, 15.225 RG, 16.000 VT
Team Finals: 15.575 FX, 15.375 RG, 16.100 VT

Dave Durante
Team Prelims: 14.225 FX, 14.500 PH, 14.625 RG, 16.625 VT, 15.075 PB, 14.625 HB
Team Finals: 14.225 PH, 13.575 HB
All-Around: 13.700 FX, 14.750 PH, 14.875 RG, 15.725 VT, 15.300 PB, 14.475 HB

With Paul Hamm, Raj Bhavsar, Blaine Wilson, Justin Spring and Morgan Hamm back in the picture, it is likely that many members of the 2007 World Team will not be named to the Olympic Squad. Most at risk are Dave Durante and Sean Golden. Durante does not offer any usable scores for team finals and Golden's scores are easily replaceable by Morgan Hamm and/or Justin Spring.

The Germans finished in third place at worlds with a team total of 273.525, while the USA was fourth with a 272.275. Replacing Durante with Paul Hamm could make up most of the gap between the two teams.

This is how the Americans would've done with Paul Hamm competing in place of Dave Durante and Raj Bhavsar competing in place of Sean Golden.

Note: One tenth has been subtracted from each score earned at the Winter Cup in order to account for inflation. The World Championships scores are used for the gymnasts who competed at both the Winter Cup and the World Championships.

For this scenario, Horton has been pulled from rings and Artemev has been pulled from vault.

P. Hamm: 15.900 FX, 14.250 PH, 15.450 RG, 16.200 VT, 15.150 PB, 15.250 HB
J. Horton: 15.625 FX, 15.400 PB, 14.875 HB
S. Artemev: 14.775 PH, 15.500 PB, 14.875 HB
K. Tan: 15.825 RG
R. Bhavsar: 14.450 PH, 15.700 RG, 16.150 VT
G. Alvarez: 15.600 FX 15.600 VT
Team Totals: 47.125 FX, 43.475 PH, 46.975 RG, 47.950 VT, 46.050 PB, 45.000 HB
Difference: + 0.325 FX, -0.050 PH, +0.625 RG, +0.650 VT, -0.050 PB, +2.800 HB

Conclusion: The USA is in good shape to challenge for a medal. These scores would have the USA competitive with Japan, which is probably overly-optimistic. This could prove to be legitimate in sixth months if Morgan Hamm and/or Justin Spring are up to full speed. In that case, Kevin Tan's comparative advantage on rings may not be enough to name him to the team. Guillermo Alvarez's prowess on floor could also be jeopardized with both Hamm's competing. It is too bad that Paul and Morgan took time off; both had the goods to earn fistfuls of gold, silver and bronze at the last three world championships.

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