Prelims and more
So, if the women's
field was considered wide open, the men's field was considered
a little less so...After all, we have the number one diver
of this Olympiad competing...But there were lotsa guys here
hungry and ready to make a name (or even more of a name) for
Probably the most impressive list of the prelims (6 optionals
by 17 competitors) came from Kevin McMahon. He's had near-great
performances in the past, but his new training regimen with
Alik Sarkisyan is definitely paying off -- he was absolutely
spectacular. His entry lines have cleaned up, he's using his
board better, and he's getting his dives into more compact
positions so he looks better and finishes higher. Especially
notable were his 5154B (I'm not a fan of his early-out style
into the twist, but wow, was it dynamic and powerful!), his
407C, which held the entry line better than I've ever seen
him do before, and his 307C, which showed great balance and
poise on his takeoff, that new compact position he's getting
into, and a great
explosion out of the dive to his line for the entry (and he
garnered two 9s for his effort).
David Pichler, veteran Olympian and national team member for
the last twelve years (spanning three decades <g>),
was in control of his diving from dive one. He followed up
PJ Bogart's awe-inspiring 107B (8.5-9s) with an even better
one (all 9s that counted -- maybe 10s if he'd pointed those
feet!). He maintained 7.5s on his next three dives before
getting the crowd's attention with his 307C. Kevin McMahon
had just nailed this dive earlier in the round to take the
lead, and some diving fans who are very familiar with Pichler's
recent diving weren't sure that he could do this dive well
enough to wrest back that number one position. He did it just
about as well (only one judge's score differed, 1/2 point
lower than Kevin's) and ended the prelims at the front of
Redoubtable Arizonan-turned-Minnesotan PJ Bogart put on quite
a show as well, doing that aforementioned 107B and earning
a slew of 9s on his 305B. The only dive that wasn't at his
caliber was his 205B, which stood up a little to straight
and didn't;t get enough somersaulting action for PJ to find
his way out to a clean line for the entry -- still, don't
we all wish we missed for 6.5s??
Chris Mantilla came out of the competitive fog he;s been in
for the last few years and TURNED IT ON. He looked not only
like he was enjoying himself (doesn't he always?) but that
he was focused on doing something at these trials. Proving
himself a risk-taker, he opened with a 205B, instead of the
usual 405B or 107B. His unusual strategy paid off handsomely,
as he garnered 8-9s on the dive (which ended up as the best
back optional of the meet) and maintained the pace the rest
of the prelims, earning mostly 8s or better on his 5152B and
305B, and garnering at least one more 8 on two of his next
three dives to put him in a serious challenger position.
Troy Dumais opened up with a sub-par 107B for 6.5s and 7s,
but put to bed any ideas that he hadn't come to play when
he nailed his 5154B for 8-8.5s and his 305B for 9-9.5s. He
maintained the lead until the final round, when he (along
with two Mark Ruiz and Travis Niemeyer) made an odd miscalculation
and ended up hitting the board on his 405B. That dive, which
kept a few 4.5s, dropped him to fifth, 20 points out of second.
It was odd for me to see Troy, the master of pulling much-needed
scores on dives when he doesn't even know how to do those
dives properly, to make such an error, but it also set the
stage for another dynamic under which Troy thrives -- drama
Mark Ruiz started the contest tentatively, which is something
I've never seen from him before. His dives first four were
all there, but the entries weren't as crisp and well-defined
as usual, and there wasn't quite that Mark Ruiz zippiness.
Then, the unexpected -- he hit the board on his 405B, setting
an awful trend. YIKES! But then it spurred him on, letting
him show the Mark Ruiz we know to come out as he nailed his
5371C for 8.5s and took the seventh place spot going into
Other notables -- Chris Devine, finishing 6th, was solid to
the core on the front entries -- his 107B, 405B, 5136D and
5337D were all about 8s. Oftentimes, though, it comes down
to Bs and Gs for the finish...rising "star" and
Kentucky/Indiana boy Phil Jones placed eighth and was in the
7-7.5 range throughout. Great job for a first time Trials
competitor who just qualified this Spring with a 9th place
finish at Seniors. Cuban-born Rio Ramirez nailed his inward,
front, and back, but missed just a bit on his 5154B and 307C...Justin
Dumais, who's made more of a name for himself on platform
in recent years, showed he can dive springboard as well, hitting
his 107B and 5154B for 8+.
By the end of the prelims, we knew we were in for a treat
for the semis, since the old truism about the Trials "Anything
Can Happen" was certainly holding in this event!
the top man, steady as a rock, hitting for 8s and 9s throughout,
and pointing his feet better than ever :) Surprisingly to
me, who hasn't seen him dive in a year, McMahon again showed
off incredibly improved lines and grace, earning mostly snowmen
on all of his vols as well. PJ did his usual standout job,
going 8s on the first three and 9s on the last two, including
his signature 5131C (you have GOT to put that dive on the
air, NBC!!!). I hope lotsa you kids start doing that, like
y'all did with Hempel's 5331D after the '96 Olympics.
But the real story
in the semis was the consistent moving up of Dumais and Ruiz.
Troy hit his 103B for 8-8.5s, but then seized every one of
his additional vols for 9s and better. His 5132D went 9s,
his 301B earned 9.5s and 10s, he saved a too-open on the start
201B and nailed the entry for 9s, and had a beautiful 403B
for 9-9.5s. He made up 29 points on MacMahon, and was about
one point from the lead. It was a 260 voluntary list, the
likes of which I have never seen before! Ruiz also worked
his way up during the vols, albeit his rise was not as dramatic
as Troy's. His 103 went for 9s, his back for 8.5s, his gainer
dive for 8.5s-9s, his inward for 8-8.5s and his gainer twister
for 9s. He chipped his way up to 5th place, and finished the
semis ten points behind McMahon.
Remember, "Anything Can Happen!"
OK, so we went
into the finals with Pichler one point ahead of Dumais, with
McMahon 9 points behind Dumais, and McMahon, Bogart, Ruiz,
and Mantilla all well within striking distance. To add to
the drama, Troy was rushed to the hospital at 2 AM this morning
to have treatment for an acute flare-up of kidneystones, an
ailment which had also hit him at the World University Games.
--Mantilla opened with his risky gambit, the 205B, and hit
for 8-8.5s. Ruiz started out with 7.5s and eights on his 107B,
while Bogart did a so-so 405B for 7s (back and short). McMahon
stayed on course with 7.5-8s on his 405B, while Troy NAILED
his 107B for 9-9.5s, gunning for alpha male status. Pichler
responded with a 405B for 7.5s and 8s. At the end of the round,
Troy led and Mark was making a move.
-- Mantilla looked back on the board a bit and forced his
full out. Ruiz does an unfocused 205B, an I heard a child
yell during the dive. Mark apparently heard it as well, 'cuz
when he came up, he pointed to his ear, but he didn't talk
to the ref for a re-dive...PJ did a nice 3 and a half for
7.5-8s, followed by Kevin's 107B for 7.5s. Troy missed his
hands on a 5154B but it was still nice for 8s, while Pichler
was 9+ on his three and a half. This left Dumais with a diminished
lead, Pichler way out ahead of McMahon, and Ruiz catching
up with Bogart and Mantilla, about 50 points behind second.
Notable -- Justin Dumais hit his 107B, pretty, tight, and
clean for 8s, following Mike Colliers nearly identical dive.
-- Mantilla Did a solid 305B for 7.5-8s. Ruiz hit his 5351B
for 8+ and furthered his move. Bogart NAILED his 205B for
8.5s...it was gorgeous and five steps ahead of his prelims
one...Kevin was again solid on his 5154D for 7.5-8s, while
Troy made a big mis-step on his 305B, lifting his head as
he came into the pike and not getting a sense of the speed
of his rotation and the line on the bottom -- OUCH for 4.5-5s.
David did another solid dive, his double out, for 7.5s. At
the end of Round 3, Troy had slipped to third, with McMahon
8 points ahead of him and Pichler maintaining the lead by
20 points. Interesting was the virtual tie for 4th among Ruiz,
Bogart, and Mantilla all within half a point.
Mike's 205B was the best dive he's done this contest. What
-- Mantilla missed his 405B badly, and looked to be out of
the picture. Mark did a much better 307C in the finals than
the prelims, but still missed his entry a bit. 7.5-8s was
OK, though <g> Peej did another wonderful gainer (gosh,
he's a pretty diver to watch!) for 8.5s, while Kevin slipped
a bit with a 205B that washed by. Troy responded with his
bread and butter dive, his triple twister, which garnered
three 10s. Pichler seemed to buckle a little with a 205B for
mostly 7s, that just didn't look , confident. At the end of
round 4, Pichler maintained a 10 point lead, but now Troy
was in second . Kevin's back dropped him to third, and Mark's
gainer brought him to a strong fourth, 22 points out of second,
although PJ was just behind him by 3 points.
Notable -- Rio's double out was AWESOME for 8-8.5s and he
-- Mark took OFF with a gorgeous 405B for 8-8.5s (I thought
it was better, but I suppose he coulda jumped higher). PJ
did a 5136D that almost rivaled Troy's, except for the entry.
He took the 9-9.5s, though. Kevin came up with a nicely done,
but splashy 407C for 6.5-8s (odd judging there..), while Troy
did an odd looking (from my angle) 205B that got 7.5s-8s.
He seemed a bit short and unextended on the entry, but it
was a great top and got down clean...David took his gainer
twister out too far and looked like he had a slight twist
on the bottom for 7-7.5s. So, going into the last round we
had 5 serious contenders -- Pichler with a 13 point leas over
Dumais and a 307C to do. Dumais with an 8 point lead over
McMahon with a 405B. McMahon with 4 point lead over Ruiz,
with a 307C. Ruiz with a 2 point lead over Bogart, with a
5371C left. And Bogart, making his run with a 5337D.
-- Speculation was high. Could McMahon and Pichler do their
great 307Cs again? What was Troy gonna do, with his mere 3.0
optional. Could Ruiz pull a miracle run on his last dive,
the highest degree of difficulty dive done AND a front entry?
and PJ, diving better than anyone (judge's scores alone, not
including DD)...could grace and solid dives do it? Ruiz opened
up with a crowd stopper, deafening rip, a teaspoon of water.
He got 8.5-10s, mostly 9.5s, for a 98.70 dive that vaulted
him to 1130.67. Bogart got up for his 5337D, and did another
solid PJ dive for 8.5-9s, ending up with 1115.60. Kevin had
a beautiful hurdle for his gainer, rode the board perfectly,
spun like a muthah, and pulled the entry by for 5.5-6s, ending
up with a total of 1097.90. Troy came up next with his 405B.
However, Mark's gainer twister added some excitement to the
mix. Troy needed 87 points to beat Mark, and all 10s on the
405B is worth 90. WOW. Troy hit the board on this dive in
the prelims. And Pichler still had a 3.5 dive left, a 13 point
lead over Troy, and had nailed his last 307C for 8.5s. Is
this dramatic enough? Troy got up over the board and got into
a great pike. He didn't stretch through the entry and left
it a litle heavy and slightly by for 8.5s. 1120.30. Pichler's
307C was the last dive of the contest. He left the board with
a nice ride, but his arms hadn't gotten through quite quickly
enough to give him the perfect top. He ended up kicking out
a little early and then softened slightly as he entered the
water short. The awards ranged from 4.5-6.5, but it wasn't
enough. He dropped to fourth place, 1113.66, and we had the
Olympic team many predicted in 1994, but that few would have
predicted any time over the last two...
Notable -- Tyce Routson hit the twister he missed in prelims,
getting 9s on his 5337D. Phil Jones hit three 70-point dives
in the finals -- 107B, 5154B, and 5337D. Mike did the prettiest
5351B so far. Chris Devine ended his career with a 10 on his
5337D! What a way to go...