Malone Takes Sweeping Lead at U.S. Nationals, Bonus or Not

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Brody Malone

Though bonus was a big factor in how the rankings ended up playing out in the first night of senior men’s competition at U.S. Championships last night, it didn’t matter much for Brody Malone, who relied on clean, consistent gymnastics to finish his first night separated by more than three points ahead of the rest of the field, with or without bonus.

Malone leads the field with an 88.942, which is 3.462 points ahead of second-place Asher Hong, competing in his first national competition as a senior. But without the bonus (given to athletes as a way to reward higher-difficulty skills that are inherently riskier and which the athletes would otherwise be less likely to perform), while the rankings below Malone shift pretty drastically, he actually increases his lead to 3.55 points, with an 86.750 to Yul Moldauer’s bonus-free 83.200.

Starting on rings, Malone performed what is a pretty low-difficulty routine for him well enough, he hit a very strong Kaz 1½ on vault, looking just slightly off directionally with a hop to earn a 14.45, and he did beautiful work on p-bars. His work on both high bar and floor was very strong, getting him to first- and second-place finishes on these events, and while some of his floor landings could use some tidying up – which held his execution back a bit – his skills overall look so solid and dependable. To cap off his night, he hit one of his better routines on pommel horse, with no major mistakes or even slight hesitations there, getting him a third-place finish.

Hong ranked second with an 85.480 with bonus, though drops slightly to third with an 83.000 without the additional help. He got off to a massive start on vault, where he scored a 16.630 (1.78 bonus) for his tsuk full-in double tuck. It’s one of the most difficult vaults being done in the world right now, and he followed it up with an equally difficult Kaz 2½, making him the only gymnast who has competed two 6.0-rated vaults this year. The latter came up a bit shy in rotation and is definitely at risk of being downgraded, and he could use a little clean-up on both, but it’s very impressive work, especially given his age.

Vault aside, Hong had pretty great routines, including an impressive combination of high difficulty and mostly brilliant execution on floor to top the field there, and he looked super solid on both rings and p-bars, but his weakest events – pommel horse and high bar – both got to him here. On pommels, he struggled a bit throughout with form breaks in addition to falling, while on high bar, he started his routine with a hard fall very early on the Kolman, though I was glad to see him get back up and finish strong with no other major issues.

Donnell Whittenburg placed third with an 84.774 with bonus, picking up a significant amount thanks to his difficulty on floor, rings, and vault. However, without the bonus, he came in at just an 81.950, falling to ninth place. This is largely because of his lower difficulty on his weaker events – pommels, p-bars, and high bar, though he hit all three relatively well here – but also due to a rough floor routine.

One of his key apparatuses, Whittenburg put his hands down on his opening front double full to double front and then again on his arabian double front half-out, in addition to some otherwise hoppy landings. Thankfully, he got over that quickly enough to come back with the best rings routine in the field by a mile, and he hit a super powerful tsuk full-in on vault with a bounce to the side on the landing, though he looked great in the air.

In fourth, with or without bonus, was Shane Wiskus (84.423 officially, 82.950 with bonus removed). It was an okay meet for Wiskus, who started with clean work on his Kaz 1½ and in a mostly beautiful p-bars set, though he started to lose focus a bit after that, beginning on high bar. He was a bit rushed there, with a couple of his releases barely scraping by and his Tak full finished under the bar, and he also had some weak landings on floor, coming up shy of an execution score we’d usually expect from him. He continued to be plagued by some form issues on pommels making him look a bit off there, but he finished strong on rings and should be happy to have made it through his day without any falls, though I hope he can tighten up a bit to show more of what he’s capable of on day two.

Maybe it was a little surprising to see Moldauer down in fifth place with an 84.276 after he’s spent the past five years as one of the leaders of the national team, but unlike a lot of the guys here who were trying to impress with difficulty here, his focus was on hitting clean, leaving behind some of the harder skills he tried out at classics a few weeks ago. When you remove everyone’s bonus, he jumps up to second place with an 83.200, showing that his “simpler” but cleaner work is still going to add major value to the U.S. team at worlds.

It wasn’t Moldauer’s best day, with little things on almost every routine holding him back slightly, including on all of his best events – floor exercise, pommel horse and parallel bars, with a fall on the latter. I think overall, his gymnastics looks tight and strong, and that’s going to be what keeps him afloat this season, but I do think the lack of consistency this year – especially on his key events where the team will need to rely on him most – is something that needs attention. Again, he’s good enough that he can rank second with a fall, so the situation isn’t dire and he’ll be at worlds pretty much no matter what, but a fall-free competition could be helpful in his preparation.

Rounding out the top eight in the official standings are Fred Richard in sixth with an 83.880, Colt Walker in seventh with an 83.846, Ian Lasic-Ellis in eighth with an 82.950, Taylor Burkhart in ninth with an 82.573, and Khoi Young, who is dealing with an injury and not at a hundred percent, in 10th with an 82.444. But again, when you remove the bonus here, quite a few of these standings shift, with Richard dropping all the way to 11th, while the rest of the guys climbed, including Lasic-Ellis – who had no bonus added to his scores – ending up fifth, Walker in sixth, Young in seventh, and Burkhart in eighth.

One of the most exciting additions to the senior national field this year, Richard had a few mistakes throughout his day, including several mistakes in addition to a fall on pommels, a few rushed skills on high bar, and some short landings on floor, where he opened with a double double half-out, but thanks to the difficulty bonuses, he still managed to finish second on high bar and third on floor.

Among the specialists finishing in the top three on each event, Ian Skirkey was first on pommels with a 15.743 (a 14.55 without bonus), ahead of world champion Stephen Nedoroscik in second with a 15.693 (a 14.7 without bonus), while Curran Phillips finished first on p-bars with a 16.999 (a 15.35 without bonus) ahead of Blake Sun in second with a 15.992 (also a 15.35 without bonus), and Alex Diab was second on rings with a 15.245 (a 14.35 without bonus).

Day 1 Rankings – With Bonus

1. Brody Malone 88.942
2. Asher Hong 85.480
3. Donnell Whittenburg 84.774
4. Shane Wiskus 84.423
5. Yul Moldauer 84.276
6. Fred Richard 83.880
7. Colt Walker 83.846
8. Ian Lasic-Ellis 82.950
9. Taylor Burkhart 82.573
10. Khoi Young 82.444
11. Dallas Hale 81.850
12. Riley Loos 81.504
13. Garrett Braunton 81.222
14. Landen Blixt 79.650
15. Cameron Bock 79.550
16. Isaiah Drake 79.200
17. Daniel Simmons 78.250
18. Evan Hymanson 78.050
19. Michael Artlip 77.900
20. Kameron Nelson 77.729
21. Jeremy Bischoff 77.100
22. Garrett Schooley 76.950
23. Toby Liang 76.650
24. Matt Cormier 76.569
25. Colin Flores 76.400
26. Taylor Christopulos 75.800
27. Joshua Karnes 75.755
28. Asher Cohen 73.600
29. Anthony Koppie 72.450
30. Landon Simpson 72.000
31. Cole Partridge 70.800
32. Maxim Bereznev 70.050
33. Caleb Melton 68.666

Day 1 Rankings – Without Bonus

1. Brody Malone 86.750
2. Yul Moldauer 83.200
3. Asher Hong 83.000
4. Shane Wiskus 82.950
– Ian Lasic-Ellis 82.950
6. Colt Walker 82.900
7. Khoi Young 82.200
8. Taylor Burkhart 82.100
9. Donnell Whittenburg 81.950
10. Dallas Hale 81.850
11. Fred Richard 81.300
12. Riley Loos 80.800
13. Garrett Braunton 80.700
14. Landen Blixt 79.659
15. Cameron Bock 79.550
16. Isaiah Drake 79.200
17. Daniel Simmons 78.250
18.  Evan Hymanson 78.050
19. Michael Artlip 77.900
20. Kameron Nelson 77.500
21. Jeremy Bischoff 77.100
22. Garrett Schooley 76.950
23. Toby Liang 76.650
24. Colin Flores 76.400
25. Taylor Christopulos 75.800
26. Joshua Karnes 75.650
27. Matt Cormier 75.450
28. Asher Cohen 73.600
29. Anthony Koppie 72.450
30. Landon Simpson 72.000
31. Cole Partridge 70.800
32. Maxim Bereznev 70.050
33. Caleb Melton 68.300

Article by Lauren Hopkins

15 thoughts on “Malone Takes Sweeping Lead at U.S. Nationals, Bonus or Not

  1. Pingback: Malone Takes Sweeping Lead at U.S. Nationals, Bonus or Not – Simplygr3y

  2. I honestly don’t think malone will break 85 at worlds. The US always do this to athletes and they get to a real. Competition and getting hammered. If Joe fraser was competing her he would have broke 90 😂

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    • I think 85 will be hard to break internationally for him but I think it’s more due to lack of consistency in an international competition compared to E scores. I don’t know where the “he’s SO overscored at home” gymternet opinion is coming from last night and today…most of last night’s E scores matched his Tokyo qualifications E scores for similar routines.

      FX – 8.266 in Tokyo, 8.150 last night
      PH – 8.133 in Tokyo, 8.5 last night
      SR – 8.6 in Tokyo, 8.4 last night
      VT – 9.333 in Tokyo, 9.25 last night
      PB – 8.833 in Tokyo, 8.85 last night
      HB – 8.033 in Tokyo, 8.3 last night

      Even with high bar, he was off in nearly every routine in Tokyo. At worlds, he had an 8.433 E for a similarly-executed routine compared to last night’s, and overall, international judges at every meet he’s done tend to really reward his E, so I don’t know where the “he’ll NEVER get these scores internationally!” comments come from? He already has, multiple times, including at the Olympics and worlds last year, and at the DTB Team Challenge, Cottbus, and Pan Ams all this year. He just needs to hit as consistently internationally as he does at home, but if he does hit, he’ll score well.

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      • Just based on what I have seen of him at the big competitions he seems to choke. I was pleasantly surprised he hit in hb final for the Bronze at worlds. Are these e scores the same as the difficulty he performed at champs as opposed to tokyo?

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        • Brody doesn’t “choke” internationally. I think he has little mistakes that he doesn’t usually have at home, but his difficulty isn’t SO high that he can afford small mistakes the way others can. And he’s only really done two major international competitions – the Olympics and worlds – so it’s not like he has a decade of falling at every meet under his belt. Out of 17 routines at the Olympics between QF, TF, AA, and EF, he had one fall, on PB in the AA competition, and he hit both of his HB routines at worlds last year. The issue that he sometimes has with his Tak elements on HB is from trying too hard to make it go perfectly vertical in handstand. When he gets there, it’s great, but if he has a slight arch over, it can ruin things as this causes him to swing over in the opposite direction that the skill is supposed to go. In this sense, it would almost be better if he finished it a little bit late like most others do, but even then, this is a 0.5 mistake and even with that, he still finished fourth in the Olympic final.

          This year, he’s done a few smaller international competitions.

          DTB: Hit 4 out of 5
          Cottbus: Hit 6 out of 8 (had problems with rings, his weakest event, both times)
          Pan Ams: Hit 6 out of 8 (fall on pommels, problems with rings, both in QF, hit both in TF)

          His career over the past year thus includes 40 routines and he’s hit 34 of them. That’s an 85% hit rate, which is hardly choking.

          The routines he’s doing this year have a combined 1 point more than the routines he was doing last year, with almost all of his increase in difficulty coming on floor and pommels. He performed his more difficult pommels set at Cottbus this year and got E scores of 8.333 in both quals and the final, where he won bronze. That’s 0.167 lower than the score of 8.5 he got last night.

          Tbh, I prefer Yul’s gymnastics to Brody’s on five of the six apparatus, so I get why people are bent out of shape about Brody being so good and scoring so well. It sucks when your fave isn’t winning everything outright. But while Yul looks fantastic, he is a full point behind in difficulty compared to Brody, so when he falls, it’s really going to create a gap. He either needs to up his difficulty, not fall, and/or pray that Brody falls. Yul always peaks at worlds, though, so I have no doubt he will be back to his old self in Liverpool.

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    • No problem! I didn’t watch last night (I’m on Euros time haha) but woke up this morning and had a minor heart attack about Yul’s spot in the standings until I remembered the bonus. Watched this morning and thought he looked fantastic, even despite the few little mistakes, and was glad to see him right up there in the rankings without bonus included.

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  3. Why do the USA insist on such inflated bonuses then wonder why their gymnasts rarely medal at worlds etc? (I know Stepehen won at World’s last year)

    It just seems to me that it makes USAG overly confident and then a lot of the time they falter when it gets to international competition. How does it compare to the gymnastics at Pan Ams/Euros etc scorewise?

    Thanks as always, Lauren 😊

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    • This is a new system this year, and it’s in place to give gymnasts a reason to want to upgrade, so I don’t think it’s making them overly confident. It’s giving them a reason to want to add difficulty to their routines, which they were afraid to do before because if they fell trying a new skill, it would take their score down a full point, and lower rankings would cause them to miss out on team spots and most importantly, funding. Now they have a way to show upgrades in competitive routines without taking away from their ranking potential, but aside from the automatic spot(s), both of which will likely go to guys who would have made the team regardless, the team will still be selected based on the realistic scoring potential of the guys, not based on the bonus scores!

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    • My only definite choices are Brody and Yul, and then I think Asher probably also will make it. I REALLY want Donnell to go but I also want Stephen on the team, and I don’t think both will go because high bar could be a problem with Brody the only real high bar guy among these five. I think Colt Walker could make it, he was right up there in the top group until pommels, and without those two falls he would have been right behind Brody. Of course you can also say without Asher’s falls, and without Yul’s fall they’d be higher as well…but they’re already on my team so they’re safe. 🙂 Just don’t know if I’d take Colt over Donnell or over Stephen at this point, but I have a feeling Donnell won’t make it.

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    • I suspect they’ll go for highest team score since Russia is out with a shot at bronze and not consider individual medals as a factor.

      -Brody (AA).
      -Stephen (PH) is massive, but no other events.
      -Donnell (VT/SR) are huge, but unsteady on other events.
      -Asher (VT) is huge, (SR/FX/PB) are great, but no HB/PH.
      -Colt (PB) is huge, (VT/FX) are great, good on SR, but no HB/PH.
      -Yul (PH/SR) are great, good on PB/FX, but no HB.
      -Shane (HB) is great, steady on all events.

      Controversial, but I’d probably choose based on 3up scores:
      Brody (AA)
      Stephen (PH)
      Asher (VT/SR/FX/PB)
      Colt (VT/SR/FX/PB)
      Shane (HB/PH)
      Yul and Donnell as alternates.

      PH/HB are big problems and what people do on those events will be the deciding factor for two of the spots.

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  4. Pingback: 2022 U.S. Championships | Senior MAG Day 2 Live Blog | The Gymternet

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