Jade Carey

Jade Carey will have her ‘perfect 90’ on vault. Has she qualified for Tokyo 2020? Not yet.

Olympic qualification through the individual apparatus world cup events is a game of threes: if you’re a gymnast aiming for one of the four women’s and six men’s spots up for grabs to Tokyo 2020, your best three performances count toward your ultimate world cup rank.

The surest way to win the Olympic spot? Win your event at least three times over the eight-stop world cup series. That way, you achieve a number of ranking points that can only be tied, not beaten.

On Saturday, world pommel horse bronze medalist Lee Chih-Kai did just that. With victories on horse from the Cottbus, Melbourne and Doha World Cups, Lee has achieved the “perfect 90” — 90 world cup ranking points at 30 per victory. Since only a gymnast’s best three performances are taken into account, Lee simply can’t do any better.

Has Lee sealed his Olympic spot? No. Not yet.

The question follows: what happens if one gymnast wins pommel horse -- or uneven bars, or floor, or beam, or anything -- at three world cups, and another gymnast wins the same event three times at three other world cup events? Who gets the spot? The International Gymnastics Federation has a tiebreaker in place, which is as follows:

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The U.S.’s Jade Carey, for the moment at least, is in a slightly different boat. She has two victories on vault and one second place finish. Her second place came behind Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade, who is highly likely to help Brazil qualify a full team to Tokyo at this fall’s World Championships, thus disqualifying her from earning an individual spot through the world cup series. The FIG has confirmed that points will be redistributed in such a way following the 2019 World Championships that if a gymnast becomes ineligible to win the world cup series, her points are deleted and everyone behind her moves up.

After that disqualification, the points will be redistributed among the eligible competitors -- and Carey will have achieved ninety. After that, the only way she wouldn’t have the spot is if someone else, say a Maria Paseka, also racks up three wins and her total score is higher than the sum of Carey’s scores, she’ll get the spot, but only then.

So Carey can sleep easier for now. Lee too has to hope that the three scores he’s laid down are enough — while Carey has Paseka hot on her heels, Lee may feel pressure from Japan’s Kohei Kameyama, the 2013 World champion on pommel horse, who won in Baku two weeks ago, and could potentially win more. The game is not yet up, and won’t be until next year.

Quick hits: Doha World Cup finals, Day 2

Jade Carey of the United States.

Jade Carey of the United States.

Men’s Vault:

Jorge Vega Lopez (GUA), VT: Excellent handspring Randi, great in the air, great height, just a large step to the left due to underrotation. He compromised the landing rather than give away any execution deductions in the air. 14.266. Second vault Tsuk 2.5, similiar issue with the landing — underrotated, big step. 14.033, 14.149 average.

Loris Frasca (FRA), VT: 1st reserve is in this final due to injury to Chris Remkes. Very good Tsuk triple. Frankly looks like he could add another half twist to that if he wanted. 14.666. Then Dragulescu, some steps back but not bad. The French have produced some excellent vaulters over the years — Thomas Bouhail, Benoit Caranobe, etc, and he’s the latest. 14.6, 14.633 average.

Tseng Wei-Sheng (TPE), VT: Falls backwards on Tsuk double pike, too much backward momentum but very good in the air. 13.833. Handspring double front, again too much rotation, big steps forward. Still, promising. 14.241, 14.037 average.

Giarnni Regini-Moran (GBR), VT: The 2014 Youth Olympic star shows off a Randi, sizable step back, small amount of helicopter legs show up in the slo-mo, but otherwise very good. 14.8. Half on front double full, small hop forward. Nice job. 14.5, 14.65 average.

Yang Hak-seon (KOR), VT: The rejuvenated 2012 Olympic champion shows his vault, the Yang, handspring front triple full, and it's beautiful. Just a step forward. Form, rotation, speed, a wow jump in every respect. 15.466 is a wow score too. Tsuk triple, hop back, excellence again. 15.066, 15.266 average.

Igor Radivilov is going to really have to bring his A-game to top 2012 Olympic vault champion Yang Hak-seon, who just threw down a fabulous Yang and excellent Tsuk triple. Yang.is.back.

Artur Davtyan (ARM), VT: Dragulescu, amazing, stuck. Coach is jumping up and down, as he should be. Well! 15.058. Davtyan takes a seat to the side of the runway, to...rest? Anyway, second vault is Tsuk 2.5, gives it away with a huge step to the side. 14.333, 14.695 average.

Igor Radivilov (UKR), VT: Terrific Dragulescu, delivered as only a man who has trained a handspring triple front can. Just a little hop. 14.9. Second vault is a Tsuk double pike, lands like a dart, just a step forward. 14.933 for 14.916 average, well done.

Marian Dragulescu (ROU), VT: Dragulescu to his hands and knees. Didn’t have the block or the height he needed to do his own vault well. 13.6. Roundoff, half on, Rudi off, makes it look easy. 14.133 for second vault.

GOLD - Yang Hak-seon, KOR, 15.266
SILVER - Igor Radivilov, UKR, 14.916
BRONZE - Artur Davtyan, ARM, 14.695

Balance Beam:

Nina Derwael (BEL), BB: Roundoff, layout stepout mount. Bhs, layout. Solid as anything so far. Front aerial. Side somie. Switch, split. Triple (or 2.5?) wolf turn. Double (or 1.5?) wolf turn, small wobble. Gainer full off the end, just a small hop. She really gave nothing away in that routine. Almost complete mastery in both her exercises here and on bars. 13.633.

Marine Boyer (FRA), BB: Front aerial, split jump, tuck half. Roundoff, layout to two feet, just great. Switch, pause, switch half. Wobble on full turn with leg up. Side aerial. Split leap to side somie to split half, small wobble. Double tuck dismount, stuck! 13.333.

Adela Sajn (SLO), BB: The 2008 Olympian shows scissone, wolf jumps. Double turn. Side aerial to side aerial to side somie, sweet combo. Standing back tuck. Front aerial. Wolf jump full. Illusion. Roundoff, 1.5 twist dismount. Unique routine with unusual skill choice. 12.833.

Ting Hua-Tien (TPE), BB: The eponymous back dive mount causes gasps in the Doha crowd. Front aerial, split jump, straddle. Switch to ring jump. Bhs, back pike (falls). Side aerial. Front layout full dismount, step backward. 12.4.

Yumika Nakamura (JPN), BB: Back dive mount. Switch, split. Bhs, layout, balance check. Nearly comes off on switch ring. Side aerial. Nearly off again on front aerial. Double tuck dismount, lands low, step forward. 11.8.

Li Qi (CHN), BB: Press mount, Switch, sheep, bhs, lovely. Roundoff, layout to two feet to immediate straddle, impeccable. Front aerial, split, Onodi, double stag, awesome! Side aerial, straddle, Korbut. Double full, a tiny hop. Wonderful routine! 14.333 moves her into first.

Soyoka Hanawa (JPN), BB: Middle splits mount. Bhs, tucked full (falls). Nice bhs, layout, layout series later on. Switch ring, small wobble. 2.5 twist dismount, hop to the side. Ambitious routine, would be beautiful if she put it all together. 11.466.

Aneta Holasova (CZE), BB: Roundoff, layout stepout mount, more oohs from the audience. Bhs, layout, layout, nice! Front aerial to split. Very aggressive on this event. Switch, split, straddle. Bhs, bhs, double pike, just a step forward. So impressed with her go-get-it under pressure here. 12.8.

GOLD - Li Qi, CHN, 14.333
SILVER - Nina Derwael, BEL, 13.633
BRONZE - Marine Boyer, FRA, 13.333

Parallel Bars:

Ferhat Arican (TUR), PB: Front flip. English handstand, held with some imbalance, into Diamidov. Falls on peach half attempt (I think). There's not a lot of in-between with Arican -- he's brilliant or he comes off. Today, unfortunately, he came off. Stuck double front half out. 13.9.

Mitchell Morgans (AUS), PB: Front flip. Peach half, small hesitation. Peach. Giant full to English handstand to inside Diamidov, nice. Diamidov. Stutz. Stuck double pike. After Australia's very bad day yesterday, how nice for him to deliver this hit set! 14.566.

Vasilii Mikhalitsyn (BLR), PB: Front flip. Peach to English handstand, well done. Peach half, tidy. Inside Diamidov. Diamidov. Stutz. Front layout full twist dismount, something we don't see too often. Beautiful lines throughout. 14.383.

Matteo Levantesi (ITA), PB: Giant, giant full, English handstand, struggles to one handstand...Bhavsar. Gienger. Short on a couple of handstands and just a layout dismount. Hm. 12.866.

Zou Jingyuan (CHN), PB: The sort of routine that makes you feel glad to be alive -- and for him, it wasn't even his best. Overbalanced one handstand just a little, but it doesn't matter. He's going to win by like a point and a half. 15.7.

Vladyslav Polyashov (CHN), PB: Peach half. Giant to English handstand. Insuide Diamidov. Tippelt. Bhavsar. Small overbalance in one handstand. Front flip. Front straddle somie. Double front half out. Nice set from the best Russian gymnast you've never heard of...yet. 15.066.

Andrei Likhovitskiy (BLR), PB: Clear hip half. Giant. Peach. Tippelt. Hesitation on press handstand after back toss 1/4 to the side...Stutz. Double pike dismount, just a tiny step. 14.366.

Phuong Thanh Dinh (VIE), PB: Front flip. Stops briefly after a swing element but does his best to cover. The rest of the routine was solid. Double pike with a small step. Not sure that's going to give him bronze ahead of Mitchell Morgans...13.633.

GOLD - Zou Jingyuan, CHN, 15.7
SILVER - Vladyslav Polyashov, RUS, 15.066
BRONZE - Mitchell Morgans, AUS, 14.566

Women’s Floor Exercise:

Coline Devillard (FRA), FX: Double layout, bounds out of bounds. Front layout walkout to double tuck, stuck that one. Double pike, stepped back and may have put her foot out again, hard to tell. Dismounts with just a layout full. 12.4.

Vanessa Ferrari (ITA), FX: Double layout, small hop back. Music that makes you think of the ballerina in an old fashioned jewelry box. Full in tuck. Switch ring to Tourjete full combo. Kind of stumbles out of double turn with leg at head combo, covers well. Front layout 1/1. 13.3.

Kim Bui (GER), FX: Split 1/1. Great double layout, stuck. Tourjete 1/1. Bounces out of double tuck slightly. Swtch to switch 1/1. A fun, modern piece of music that suits her wonderfully. 2.5 to front pike, stuck. Double pike, step back. Enjoyable to watch. If every pass were like her first one, she’d be a medal contender, but unfortunately there’s not enough torque in this routine to really make her a medal contender. But it’s a well-delivered, enjoyable piece all the same. 13.033.

Varvara Zubova (RUS), FX: Full in, rather labored. Double tuck, hop back. Double turn with leg at head to illusion. 2.5 to punch front. Switch ring. Double pike, stuck. Dramatic symphony music and some cute choreo, but she doesn't make the tumbling lines look easy, frankly. 13.1.

Marta Pihan-Kulesza (POL), FX: Her "Pink Panther," an iconic routine. 2.5 to front layout 1/1, excellent. Arabian double front to rather underdone stag jump. Went for quad turn (I think) but won't get credit for it. Front 2/1 great though. Marta rounding into form before Euros in her hometown Szczecin. 13.233.

Lara Mori (ITA), FX: Whip to full in, almost too much power, steps back. Switch ring to switch side half. 2.5 to front layout with a hop. Triple full. Very entertaining performer, tons of energy and pizzazz. Double pike, a tad short, steps forward. 13.433 puts her first right now.

Jade Carey (USA), FX: Moors, excellent, bounces back but keeps it in bounds. Full twisting double layout, great landing. Double double, small hop back. Improved execution in her dance, though the tumbling is still the highlight. Double tuck, made it look easy. Hit routine! 14.466.

Marine Boyer (FRA), FX: A new routine for Marine for 2019 I believe! 2.5 to punch front. Switch half. Double turn with leg at head. Double tuck, perfect stick. Wolf turn double. Double tuck, too much power, stumbles back a little. 13.2.

GOLD - Jade Carey, USA, 14.466
SILVER - Lara Mori, ITA, 13.433
BRONZE - Vanessa Ferrari, ITA, 13.3

High Bar:

Alexei Rostov (RUS), HB: Cassina, legs a tad bent. Kolman, nothing wrong with that. Layout Tkatchev. Tkatchev half. Flexes feet on Tak full. Tak half. Hands down on dismount, double double layout. 13.291.

Randy Leru (CUB), HB: One arm giant. Liukin, stylish! Layout Tkatchev to Tkatchev to Tkatch half. Layout Tkatchev half. Stalders etc. Good high full twisting double layout with a tiny hop. 14.0.

Hidetaka Miyachi (JPN), HB: One of the recent greats on this event due to his mastery of Kovacs-style skills shows wonderful double twisting layout Kovacs, his own skill, followed by Cassina, Kolman, Kovacs, the kitchen sink. Wonderful set -- the audience adores it! Terrific speed too. Flares out his full twisting double layout dismount and allows himself some celebration. 14.3.

Milad Karimi (KAZ), HB: Yama. Cassina, nice. Kovacs, beautiful! Kolman too. Hop 1.5. Endo. And loses it on an inverts skill, has to swing the other way. Too bad! No medal for him here today...12.566.

Epke Zonderland (NED), HB: Cassina to Kovacs and comes off! Oops. He and Tin Srbic are really the two who stand in the way of Miyachi winning this event here, and he's just taken himself out of contention, which is a chance for Srbic. Epke sticks his double double layout dismount for good measure and shrugs in the kiss and cry. 12.966.

Deng Shudi (CHN), HB: Layout Tkatchev to layout Tkatchev half. Tkatchev. Off on Tkatchev half, just couldn't get his hands around the bar. In the stands, Li Qi is completely unmoved. Yama. Stuck double double layout.

Carlo Macchini (ITA). HB: Kolman. Hop 1.5. Swings the other way on a Tak full, oops. Tak half, nice. Stuck full twisting double layout. So everyone’s sticking the dismount, but the interior has been a bit dodgy for some. 13.3.

Tin Srbic (CRO), HB: Ricna, powerful and unusual for a man to perform. Tkatchev, layout Tkatchev, Tkatchev half. Layout Tkatchev half. Steps on his full twisting double layout dismount. Great all the way through but wondering if he gave the gold away on that dismount..nope! 14.4.

GOLD - Tin Srbic, CRO, 14.4
SILVER - Hidetaka Miyachi, JPN, 14.3
BRONZE - Randy Leru, CUB, 14.0

Doha World Cup: Derwael leads two after qualification

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Belgium’s Nina Derwael was the top scorer on uneven bars and balance beam in the qualification rounds at the Doha World Cup Wednesday and Thursday in the Qatari capital.

Back in the Aspire Dome where she won her world title on uneven bars last October, Derwael used her standby 6.5 difficulty value routine (Nabieva, Ricna half to Ezhova to stalder Shaposh, Bhardwaj, toe Shaposh half, toe 1/1 to full twisting double tuck) to top qualifications ahead of two-time world bars champion Fan Yilin of China, 15.033-14.9. Russia’s Anastasia Ilyankova, who like fan is hoping to qualify for the Olympic Games through the world cup series, was third with 14.633 for her 6.3 D value routine.

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Derwael was equally efficient on beam, where she scored 13.566 for a clean 5.3 set. France’s Marine Boyer, the silver medalist on beam from last week’s Baku World Cup, and China’s Li Qi each showed routines with a 5.7 start value, though neither could match Derwael in execution. Newcomer Soyoka Hanawa of Japan, seventh, had the highest difficulty of any finalist with 5.9.

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A recharged Maria Paseka of Russia showed her Olympic-level vaults -- a much-improved Cheng and Amanar -- to lead qualifications on vault (14.85), just ahead of American Jade Carey, who is searching for her second win on the world cup circuit after winning both vault and floor in Baku. Carey was first on floor for a difficulty-packed routine valued at 5.9, more than half a point higher than any other finalist on the event.

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Preview: Big talents in Baku for Gymnastics World Cup

The National Gymnastics Arena in Baku. Photo: Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation.

The National Gymnastics Arena in Baku. Photo: Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation.

Buckle up, Baku -- things are about to get interesting.

The Azerbaijani capital has hosted world cups in artistic gymnastics for the past several years, but it’s never seen one like this. As the individual apparatus Olympic qualification race heats up, an enormously talented group of specialists (and a few solid all-arounders) are descending en masse for the AGF Trophy (otherwise known as the Baku World Cup), which begins tomorrow and promises to be the most competitive meet Azerbaijan has ever seen. The level is so high that there’s a delicious unpredictability in it all, which is not always the case at world cup meets. That said, here’s a breakdown some of the likeliest possible scenarios for gold and those all-important World Cup ranking points.

Women’s Vault: A colossus of talent

Vault is normally the most neglected event at individual apparatus World Cups, but not this time. Here you get the reigning Olympic silver medalist Maria Paseka, fresh off winning vault at the Russian Championships last week in Penza, where her Amanar second vault was the biggest “ta-da!” moment of the meet. There’s also reigning World bronze medalist Alexa Moreno and her ever trusty Rudi, 2017 European vault champion Coline Devillard and her ever trusty Rudi, Oksana Chusovitina and her arsenal of power, and Jade Carey, who may be the only finalist to actually throw a double twisting Yurchenko. Carey is in some circles regarded as a shoo-in for the World Cup title on vault, but in this field she’ll need to be near her best to win. Barring falls, all should make finals.

Indian sensation Dipa Karmarkar will be making her 2019 “no pressure” debut at this meet after a less-than-spectacular return last year following an ACL tear in 2017. Karmakar has abandoned her Produnova and now relies on a less risky Tsuk double full to get her into finals. She’s a wildcard category because her form often hinders her, and without the D-score power of the Produnova she’s less likely to challenge for the podium. On the home front, Azerbaijan’s best hope of a final lies with Marina Nekrasova, a former World Cup medalist on this event.

Uneven Bars: A mini-Euros, with China too

Bars is never an event you can count on a gymnast to hit, especially at a World Cup, but this field is too stacked not to produce some memorable routines. Between 2013 European bars medalist Jonna Adlerteg, Ukraine’s Diana Varinska, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Sophie Scheder and Russian specialist Anastasiya Ilyankova, we’re really spoiled for style. Lyu Jiaqi, whom China has been sending to do bars at world cups likely in the hope of getting her an Olympic spot, should be a medal contender here as well.

Balance Beam: Narrow margins

China has sent two extremely talented competitors in Li Qi and 2018 World team member Chen Yile, but both could have stiff competition from Russia’s Varvara Zubova and Youth Olympian Anastasiya Bachynska, who will be making her senior international debut in Baku. As a junior, Bachynaska proved to be a quintessential Ukrainian competitor -- elegant, poised and completely unpredictable. She does have a wonderful front handspring, front tuck combination at the top of her routine, however.

After a successful comeback on floor at the Melbourne World Cup at the end of February, Vanessa Ferrari is back on the beam here too. France’s Marine Boyer, a solid all-arounder who is quite good on beam, might have an opportunity here too.

Floor Exercise: It’s anyone’s game

Ferrari won floor in Melbourne in an extremely shallow field, and Baku is likely to be a little (but just a little) more indicative of where she stands internationally. Floor still feels like the most up-for-grabs title in the women’s competition. Carey will have far and away the hardest tumbling of the bunch, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee her anything. She had the hardest tumbling in Cottbus last November as well, but multiple passes landed out of bounds and some form mistakes left her in fifth place.

Bachynska, meanwhile, has wonderful form, excellent precision, and was quite overlooked in 2018 as a potential floor contender. Boyer could make noise here too, as might Australian floor specialist Alex Eade.