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Don't be too upset that American Hero Gabby Douglas didn't win a medal in gymnastics bars finals Monday night. It really was just an honor to be nominated. Douglas is far better on bars than most of her American teammates, but this is an event other countries have been focusing on to increase their potential scores to counter the American Amanars. Douglas makes her tricks look cooler than most of the competition, but she doesn't do enough to have a really competitive score. We must begrudgingly put aside our U-S-A fist-pumping -- momentarily, we have good chances of owning the world on beam and floor Tuesday night -- and appreciate all the crazy tricks the other ladies did.

China's He Kexin, the 2008 gold medalist, was first up. She's struggled the last four years to maintain her dominance after a huge growth spurt. He, the focus of the Beijing Olympics age controversy, explains why secretly putting 14-year-olds on the team is cheating -- sometimes it's hard to re-learn the hardest tricks after you grow half a foot.

One reason her difficulty score is so high -- 7.0, making her total possible score 17.0 -- is all these fancy spins at the top of the bar. It's the combination He is known for. After the first flip, she crosses her hands to do a little half twist and set herself up for the second one. 


Kexin scored a 15.933.

Next was Russia's Viktoria Komova. Watch how she just kind of floats up to the high bar.

But Komova hit her feet on the low bar right before her dismount, which is a big deduction. It also hurts. She got a 15.666.

Germany's Elizabeth Seitz's coolest trick is this, a Def. Most women let go of the bar and do a half twist to recatch it, but Seitz does one and a half.

You might have heard NBC's commentators note that the dudes perform this skill. That's true, but they didn't mention that men have the benefit of a skinnier, bouncier bar and no low bar to worry about hitting.

Seitz got a 15.266.

Elizabeth Tweddle does the flippiest routine. No other woman competing at the Olympics can do all these release moves in a row.

All of these things have weird names, because if you're the first person to do a particular skill in international competition, you get the skill named after you. It gets complicated. Tweddle's combination above is a Tkatchev with a half twist to a Ezhova to a Khorkina II. A Khorkina II is also a Shaposhnikova half, basically a jump from the low bar to the high bar from your hands. If you want to see how bars has changed, here's the original Natalia Shaposhnikova herself, doing the trick that's named after her in 1978.

Tweddle flies a little higher:

Tweddle got a score of 15.916, a high score, but not the highest, because she doesn't have quite the perfect form in the air that the Chinese and Russians have.

In 2010, Russia's Aliya Mustafina won everything -- all-around at the world championships, plus three silver medals in event finals. The next year, she tore her ACL, and it seemed like she would fade away. But the knee injury gave her a lot of time to work on bars. So hers is a story of an amazing and impressive comeback (if you hate America). Compare Mustafina's movement from high bar to low bar and back again…

To the far more simpler skills of Japan's Koko Tsurumi:

Mustafina does more flipping and twisting, and that's why the Russian's combination is worth so much more.

And Mustafina made all the hard stuff look easy. Here's her dismount. She can't see the ground before she hits it, which is why it's so much more impressive that she stuck her dismount. This is two flips and one and a half twists. She scored a 16.133.

Our little Flying Squirrel did not win Monday, but she made eighth place look cool. Douglas scored 15.7 in all-around finals, a very high score given that her difficulty score is only 6.5, making the highest possible score she can get is 16.5. To get on the medal stand, she would have had to be nearly perfect, and the judges have showed they're not quite ready to call something perfect, as we saw with McKayla Maroney's amazing vault in team finals.

But Douglas wasn't perfect. She got off balance in this pirouette, which made her have to do a half turn and swing the wrong direction. It hurt her score both for the mistake and for the ripple effect of the mistake, because she lost bonus tenths of a point she would get for connecting that skill to others. Her maximim score was lowered to 16.3, and she scored a 14.9.

The mistake excited this little monster Mustafina:

It meant Mustafina won gold for sure. He Kexin won silver, and Tweddle bronze. It's OK guys, we still have a few chances to crush her. Both Douglas and Aly Raisman compete against Mustafina in the beam final Tuesday, and Raisman and Mustafina will compete on floor.

Want more gymnastics? Check out our other GIF guides:


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