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Visa Championships Kick Off In Hartford

[Visa Championships Gallery]

by David F.P.

The Senior Men’s Preliminary Session was set to begin at 7pm formally kicking off the more recognized portions of the Visa Championships but before the men could take the floor, USA Gymnastics presented the 2000 Sydney olympic team with their Bronze medals. The International Olympic Committee had determined that China had used an ineligible gymnasts and thus awarded the Bronze to the USA years after the fact. The team was on hand for the formal presentation and received the adoration of the crowd for their efforts.

With that it was time for action and the senior men moved to the floor. This will not be a comprehensive report of the goings on as that is handled quite well but the numerous gymnastics specific sites out there, but I will say that the action was fast and furious. This report is more meant for those who might be new to gymnastics or know a little so it won’t get technical with the jargon (many of which I don’t know myself.) Essentially though there are six apparatus used when the men compete.  In my opinion the most exciting of them are the Floor Exercise, Vault, and High Bar. This does not in anyway mean to critique the still rings, parallel bars, or pommel horse, but each event has it’s own nuances, but I find the first three to be more accessible at first glance and filled with more exciting elements overall. Needless to say it takes skill and strength to master any of the six.

This premise of vault is simple, run down a mat spring off a table shaped device, and flip, landing perfectly on a mat.  Easy right? No, but amazing all the same.  There was a great variety of vaults done in the early rotations, including ones involving a hand spring onto the springboard.  The gymnasts often would flip off forward or twist off while flipping. Very few “stuck the landing” as it is called when the gymnast lands without hopping or balance checking, but a few did to great support from the fans.

On the floor, there are basically three elements, the tumbling passes, which can involve multiple flips and twists at the end, the balance elements, which involve various feats of strength, and the flares, which are essentially turning splits while holding oneself upright with one’s hands, but there are multiple variations of this. The most noticeable part of the floor is those tumbling passes where the gymnast must not only execute, but also land properly, and not stray out of bounds. It added a great deal of suspense to the event.

On the high bar, the event features both complicated swings around the bar, including letting go of the bar and regripping it, and also numerous release moves over the bar, flips, twists, et cetera and the dismount, truly spectacular feats.

The men will be in action again on Friday for their finals.

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