ed the ship with a stellar 15.600 (Maloney-half;
inside-Stalder-full, Tkatchev, Pak immediate Stal-der; tucked half-in full-out dismount). But the
Russian coaches had to know they were rolling the
dice with Nabiyeva, whose immense talent can be
compromised by her unpredictability. The demonstrative St. Petersburg native promptly peeled off
on her signature flight element, a piked sole circle
to layout Tkatchev. After re-chalking, she caught it
the second time, only to later come up short on an
inside-Stalder, which led to an ill-fated improvisation and another fall. To her credit, Nabiyeva took
her time before remounting again, as she still had a
lot of routine left. She finished well, but her 12.933
did little to lift her team further above the challengers. In the end, however, her determination
would pay off.
Perhaps the only thing more surprising than
Russia’s bars debacle was that it was still in the top
three after two events: 1. China 88.982; 2. U.S.
87.864; 3. Russia 87.665.
That’s because the U.S. and Romania had performed on balance beam, which yields scores considerably lower than vault. Still, both teams hit well,
with Ana Porgras leading Romania with a clutch
15.066 after veteran Sandra Izbasa posted a lead-off 14.333. Gabriela Dragoi closed with a 14.133.
Alexandra Raisman, also in her first worlds for
the U.S., opened with a 14.333, and Alicia Sacramone buried some Beijing demons with a gritty
14.600, which featured a saved piked front when
“The girls have adopted
the mindset that they
don’t give up,…”
one foot slipped off the beam. Bross, who closed
with a 14.866, had a few wobbles, including a
major one after her standing Arabian ( 43.799),
which meant that Russia and China weren’t the
only teams feeling the crunch.
With Russia allowing the U.S. and China back in
the gold-medal hunt, the pressure only intensified
for the top teams. The Americans, a bit skittish up
to this point, finally cracked.
As the 2010 U.S. floor champion, Mattie Larson
had anchored floor in prelims, but she fell on her
double layout mount. Knowing it lacked the overall
difficulty of Russia, the U.S., which had little depth
in Rotterdam, went with Larson again because of
her immense scoring potential.
This time she competed first in the lineup, but
the score was lower (12.533). She made her mount
but didn’t do the front salto after her 21⁄2 twist, and
she fell on her double pike dismount. Bross and
Raisman contributed 14.633 and 14.500, respec-
tively, but the team had failed to capitalize on
Russia’s previous collapse.