November 16, 2008

DTB - Champions' Trophy

This year the organizers of the DTB Cup tried something new. In addition to the well-known event finals, they held the so-called Champions' Trophy competition, a men's all-around competition endowed with €50,000 ($62,850) prize money. Of course all-around competitions are hardly a new idea. In fact, until 1993, the DTB Cup was an all-around competition, one of the best around. But in this age of ongoing specialization, all-around competitions are few and far between, and more and more people are beginning to miss them. With Fabian Hambüchen being the AA star he is, the DTB organizers thought they'd give him an extra opportunity to shine by holding an AA competition in his own backyard. So they invited 7 all-arounders to take on "Fabi," and came up with an interesting format in which all athletes would compete on the same event, and competing order would be determined by ranking. After each rotation, scores would be tallied up, and whoever placed last would be the first to compete in the next rotation; the leader would compete last. Then the organizers sat back to see what would happen.

The fall that cost Fabian Hambüchen the gold (photo: AP)

It didn't quite pan out as they probably wished. Hambüchen only came 3rd, having had trouble on both pommels and high bar. But the competition itself, which remained open until the very last routine, was a hit. The crowd loved it, giving the 8 athletes a standing ovation afterwards. So we guess the Champions' Trophy will be back next year. Hopefully there will then be a women's event as well. The organizers did say this was a possibility if the men's competition were a success.

The competition was won by Russia's Maksim Devyatovsky, who was unspectacular on most events (well, he did attempt a handspring double front vault, with a deep landing and a hop) but managed to avoid large mistakes. In the end, being solid earned him the trophy and a very nice and tidy €15,000 ($18,860). The silver went to Japan's Hisashi Mizutori, who was doing very well until he fell, rather clumsily, on his PB mount. He came back spectacularly in the final rotation (full turn to Markelov, layout Kovacs, tucked Kovacs, Kolman, twisting one-arm giant, hop full, double-double dismount for a 16.025) but it wasn't enough to beat Devyatovsky.

AA winner Maksim Devyatovsky (photo: Getty Images)

Despite a fall from pommel horse, Fabian Hambüchen was the leader going into the final rotation. However, he stuffed up on high bar, coming off on a Kolman and barely hanging on after a layout Tkatchev. Nevertheless, the home crowd favorite said he'd relished the experience. "I'm not sad at all. I'm glad I could be here. I had tons of fun and it was a great competition," said the German.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine, Hambüchen claimed he was so exhausted before his last event that he could barely lift his arms. Under the circumstances his fall didn't come as a great surprise. It certainly didn't upset him. "Today I'm not getting annoyed about anything," he said. He left the arena with a huge grin on his face.

We're guessing he had at that point seen the article in the Stuttgarter Zeitung, which on Saturday posted ten photos of Hambüchen under a headline that read, "This is what perfection looks like."

As to the other competitors, Romania's Flavius Koczi was the leader at the halfway stage, thanks mostly to an excellent PH set. However, things went downhill for him in the second half of the competition. He fell out of his double-twisting Kasamatsu vault, took a big step on his parallel bars dismount and heavily piked down his high bar dismount for 4th place.

Silver medalist Hisashi Mizutori (photo: Daniel Maurer/AP Photo)

The other competitors also had their share of trouble. Switzerland's Niki Böschenstein showed a very short pommel horse routine and fell on his hands on his handspring double front vault. Jordan Jovchev was brilliant as always on rings, but had major problems on a transition on pommels, was off center on his full-twisting Kasamatsu vault, and finished his floor routine with a mere double twist. Britain's Kristian Thomas started very well on floor, but had trouble on a Tong Fei on pommels, lacked impressive strength parts on rings and had some trouble getting into a handstand on PB. Finally, Germany's Philipp Boy showed an excellent double Arabian half out on floor, but had problems on all his other events, and ended the competition crashing his high bar dismount into the mat, landing on all fours. He's a promising gymnast though - proof that there's more to German men's gymnastics than Fabian Hambüchen.

1. Maksim Devyatovsky RUS 92.000
2. Hisashi Mizutori JPN 91.700
3. Fabian Hambüchen GER 91.550
4. Flavius Koczi ROM 90.125
5. Niki Böschenstein SUI 88.800
6. Jordan Jovtchev BUL 88.625
7. Kristian Thomas GBR 88.400
8. Philipp Boy GER 87.750

As before, the above notes and scores came courtesy of the DTB site, whose live updates (in German) were a very welcome addition to the competition itself.

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