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2017 U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Championships Day 1 – The Math and Possible Logic

Posted on 18 August 2017 by admin

By Shelli Koszdin


Yul Moldauer put some daylight (1.95 points to be exact) between himself and his main rival, Akash Modi. The probability of Moldauer making enough mistakes to find himself an equivalent distance behind Modi (or someone else) is very low. However, Modi can make up almost all the ground he lost from his low score on PH (12.75) if he hits that event (and makes no other major errors), as he is capable of scoring in the mid 14s on horse. The gap may also close if Moldauer makes some errors on day 2. Moldauer got a similar score in Winter Cup prelims (84.85) to what Modi scored on day 1 of P&Gs (84.7).

Allan Bower could also make up about a point on PH if he maintains everywhere else, possibly putting him in the 85 range.

Whittenburg has the difficulty to make up enough ground to finish first (especially if the others have errors), but based on his past troubles with execution, the odds of him doing so are long.

To earn an AA medal in Montreal going up against the likes of Uchimura and friends, Verniaiev, the Brits, and Larduet, a man should go in with a good chance to score at the very least in the 85s. My guess is the winner will probably need to be in the 87s.  Based on just P&Gs day 1, Moldauer is that man for the U.S., and if day 2 follows the same script, sending out one AA gymnast and five specialists would be the way to go. To make that an easy decision, all Moldauer has to do is repeat day 1. If he does not, and Modi improves by 2 points, then the decision will get a little bit harder.


One of the bigger surprises of the night was Colin Van Wicklen (14.6) outscoring Eddie Penev (14.55). Eddie could easily make up that ground on day 2 by managing to compete and hit his higher difficulty (6.3 or even 6.4) routine. If Penev makes a major error on day 2 and Van Wicklen hits again, things will get very interesting, as Penev has the international past performances and the D score, but Van Wicklen will have the total scores. Whittenburg is also in that mix, but hasn’t scored more than 14.4 this year, putting him slightly behind the other two on this event.


Alex Naddour could win a gold medal on PH at Worlds and finally kill the “US men stink at PH” meme.

He just has to come close to repeating his night one performance. He probably will.

If he does not repeat, Marvin Kimble (with the identical D score to Naddour – 6.4) could slip in. Donothan Bailey would be another possibility, or Alex Yoder if he went lights out day 2 and all of the others had big problems.

Mikulak may end up on the team for HB, and he can step up here. If Sam hit PH and shows a HB routine that looks like it has potential to be usable in Montreal, he’s probably on the team


It’s all about Whittenburg, with his 15.00. He’s made a world SR final before, and he could do it again.

Marvin Kimble only scored 0.05 behind Whittenburg, with Naddour not too far behind at 14.7

Whittenburg’s fate will depend partly on how well he does on FX, VT, and PB. He’s had some weirdly subpar performances in the past, so he could potentially open the door from someone like Kimble (who has had his own troubles with consistency).  It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the U.S. could show up in Montreal with a SR line up of Kimble, Naddour, and Moldauer.  What helps Whittenburg is not just his SR score, but that he has the potential to step up on at least four events.


To my knowledge, the only men who did two vaults were Whittenburg and Penev. Men have to show two vaults on both days of competition to be considered specifically for a vault spot. Because of his difficulty, Whittenburg definitely has the edge over Penev.  Penev has more pressure to make his case on FX, while Whittenburg has other options.

If both Penev and Whittenburg are not both on the world team, the USA will only have two men on vault in qualifications if it chooses to compete only 1 all around gymnast. This might help Penev if he doesn’t hit FX out of the park on day 2.


If Modi somehow finds himself shut out of the AA spot, this event will be his ticket to Montreal. With Modi and Moldauer at full power, there is one spot left to fill here. Donnell Whittenburg is the most likely man to do that. Aside from Modi and Moldauer, the only other men to break 14 on PB were Bower, Melton, Powarzynski, and Valdez. Of those, only Bower is much of a factor for the world team.


Colin Van Wicklen again surprised with the second highest score of day 1 (although Mikulak would have had the highest score if not for the 0.5 neutral deduction he incurred for using extra matting).

There were only four HB scores over 14 in the entire field (Modi, Van Wicklen, Mikulak, and Kimble)

Despite his much lower difficulty, because of his execution, Van Wicklen may be capable of coming close to what Mikulak would have scored without the neutral deduction. This is another one that could get interesting. Colin Van Wicklen has thrown himself directly at two of the giants of U.S. (and world) men’s gymnastics in Penev and Mikulak and gave as good as he got.

Van Wicklen’s lower difficulty may put him at a disadvantage, as the D score is the D score, but E scores tend to be lower internationally than at internal competitions.

If Marvin Kimble can put together good performances on PH, SR, and HB he may put himself in the world team picture.

The Big Picture

There is a lot of gymnastics left to go, but so far, the most probable team is (in my opinion)…

AA – Moldauer

FX – Penev, Whittenburg, Moldauer

PH – Naddour, Mikulak, Moldauer

VT – Penev, Whittenburg, Moldauer

SR – Whittenburg, Naddour, Moldauer

PB – Modi, Moldauer, Whittenburg

HB – Mikulak, Modi, Moldauer


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