By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
EVERETT — It was a night of hits and misses for the American gymnasts, but in the end there was more of the former as the United States made a big haul of medals — including six of 10 golds — during Sunday night’s event finals at the Pacific Rim Championships in Comcast Arena.
Led by Chris Brooks, Saturday night’s all-around champion who returned Sunday night to win two golds and a silver, the U.S. finished with 13 medals in artistic gymnastics, easily the top total for the three-day event. The runner-up nation in total medals was China with six.
Brooks finished first in rings and high bar. America’s other individual champions were Gabrielle Douglas in uneven bars, Kyla Ross in balance beam, Jordyn Wieber in women’s floor exercise, and Jake Dalton in men’s floor exercise.
“This team is really good,” said Brooks, whose weekend total of medals included four golds and a silver. With the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on the horizon, “we’re deep enough that anybody the selection committee picks (for the five-member U.S. men’s team) is not only going to be contending for medals, but I think they’re going to be contending for gold medals,” he said.
Several teams in Everett were missing top gymnasts, but the U.S. also had some notable absentees, Brooks pointed out. Among them, 2008 Olympian Jonathan Horton, who is recovering from a foot injury.
“But we still showed up and got the job done, which just shows how deep we are as a team,” Brooks said. And by his individual showing, he said, “I think I made a statement that hopefully puts me in a good position going into the Olympics.”
It was by no means a flawless night for the Americans. Wieber, the defending world all-around champion, had dominated the beam during Friday night’s all-around and team competition — she finished first by a whopping .450 — but she suffered a rare fall during an otherwise mediocre routine and finished sixth.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Wieber said. “I guess I was a little shaky. I wasn’t as confident as I was a couple of days ago. It’s definitely something I’m going to work on.”
But Wieber, who was clearly a crowd favorite during the weekend event, bounced back minutes later with a winning effort in floor exercise. “I definitely wanted to redeem myself after beam,” she said with a smile.
“It was a great weekend and a really good competition for our whole team,” added Wieber who is probably a lock for the U.S. Olympic team based on her 2011 world championship and strong showings this year, including Everett. “This was a real important stepping stone for us leading up to some of the bigger competitions of the summer. It was important for us to do well here and I think we did.”
One of the breakthrough performances for the U.S. was Ross, who won the beam in her first international senior event. Moments after Wieber’s fall, Ross managed a winning effort with a 9.175 execution score, the highest of the evening among the women.
Another American highlight was the showing of Douglas on the uneven bars. Douglas struggled for much of the team and all-around competition on Friday night and qualified for just one of Sunday’s event finals. But she made the most of that opportunity, edging Ross for the gold medal in a 1-2 U.S. finish.
“It feels really great just to perform and go home with gold after having a rough competition (Saturday),” Douglas said. “I feel proud. This feels like a lot of redemption.”
Dalton got the evening off to a strong start for the Americans by winning the opening event, floor exercise. He had the same execution score as runner-up Tatsuki Nakashima of Japan, 8.775, but won with a higher difficulty score, 6.600-6.300.
Earlier Sunday, 14-year-old Katelyn Ohashi of nearby Newcastle completed a stellar weekend in the junior division, winning gold medals in balance beam, floor exercise and uneven bars. Combined with her all-around and team triumphs on Friday night, it gave her a weekend haul of five gold medals in six events. Only in vault did she not win, having failed to qualify for finals.
Ohashi cannot represent the U.S. at this summer’s Olympic Games — gymnasts must turn 16 in an Olympic year to be eligible, and her 16th birthday is April of 2013 — but she seems bound for stardom with the U.S. senior team in the coming years.
Also on Sunday, finals were held in senior and junior trampoline, both single and synchronized. American Steven Gluckstein placed second to Canadian Jason Burnett in senior men, the U.S. team of Gluckstein and Neil Gulati placed third in senior men’s synchro, and the American team of Savannah Vinsant and Alaina Williams finished second in senior women’s synchro
In the junior division, the U.S. team of Cody Gesuelli and Colin Duda finished first in men’s synchro, American Shaylee Dunavin placed second in women’s singles, Dunavin and Maggie Gallagher were second in women’s synchro.
Looking on during Sunday’s final session was Australian gymnast Georgia Simpson, who suffered an open dislocation of her left ankle (the bone broke the flesh) during a floor exercise routine in Friday’s all-around and team competition.
Simpson, who is from Perth, was taken off the floor on a gurney and spent two nights in an Everett hospital, where she had surgery on her ankle.
She watched Sunday’s session from the press table with her injured foot wrapped and elevated, and surrounded by teammates, get-well cards and stuffed animals. She is expected to be sidelined for several weeks, but hopes to return this summer.
Sunday’s attendance for the afternoon and evening sessions was 7,830, pushing the weekend total to 20,343. USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny, a Seattle-area native, said the attendance helped make the event a great success.