Competitors big on points, high on style

January 24, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

Did the Baltimore Arena play host yesterday to a gymnastics exhibition, where style had the upper hand over substance, or was the Reese's World Gymnastics Cup a full-fledged competition?

The answer, on both counts, was yes.

Well, sort of.

For Oksana Chusovitina, who claimed the women's all-around title, there was no question that the Reese's Cup was a combination of serious competition and exhibition.

And because she approached the exhibition in that fashion, Chusovitina walked away with the gold medal, besting Gaithersburg's Dominique Dawes by one point, and winning $6,550 in prize money.

Chusovitina was tied with Dawes and Shannon Miller, the current all-around world champion, going into the final event, the floor exercise. She won the meet there by consistently landing her jumps without flaws, while posing and primping for the crowd of 7,150.

"I knew that [there was a tie], and I did that purposefully, so it would be more interesting for the audience," Chusovitina said through an interpreter. Chusovitina, 18, hadn't finished above third in an international competition in three years.

Germany's Andreas Wecker, ranked third in the world, won the men's competition. He beat Russia's Dmitri Bilozerchev by six points under the event's scoring format and won $7,475.

The event was billed as a premier competition among some of the world's elite gymnasts, and on most levels, it lived up to its billing.

But a casual observer might have thought the event -- with its ever-present music and often gaudy costumes, usually absent from gymnastics meets -- had more in common with one of the Arena's regular competitions, an indoor soccer game.

In a departure from the usual format, the three-judge panel awarded up to 90 points in three categories --difficulty of routine, execution and presentation -- and 10 bonus points for exceptional performances for a maximum of 100 points.

The Eastern European women seemed to play to the audience, topping each other with showier costumes and flashier music.

Chusovitina, for instance, came out for the first event, the uneven bars, in a black and purple full-length leotard and cape that brought to mind the comic book character Spider Woman.

Later, Chusovitina performed on the balance beam clad in a Western look, with a hat and shorts with frills.

Tatiana Gutsu, who edged Miller for the all-around gold at the 1992 Olympic Games and finished third yesterday, approached the balance beam with a yellow rose in her hand and a boa around her neck.

PTC In addition, the Eastern Europeans did mini-floor exercises before and after attacking the balance beam and uneven bars.

"It really wasn't a competition, but a demonstration for the audience. It was more a show," said Gutsu, who won $3,625.

Dawes and Miller played the event more conservatively. Each wore leotards that were flashier than usual, but nothing on the scale of their European competitors.

"I really thought it was going to be more of a competition," said Dawes, who is ranked fourth in the world. "I guess we didn't do enough toward the crowd. Hopefully, next time we will."

Dawes, who tied for second with Miller in the balance beam and uneven bars, was awarded $4,400, but declined it to retain her collegiate eligibility.

Miller has a back ailment that flares up from time to time. She passed on the floor exercise, saying she was working on incorporating more difficult elements into that routine.

She received $2,000 for her second-place finishes, but did not get bonus money in the all-around finish.

The most notable development on the men's side was the return to competition of American Trent Dimas, who stunned the gymnastics world with a victory on the horizontal bars in the 1992 Olympics.

Dimas took the past year off from competition and looked rusty. His third-place tie on the horizontal bar with Wecker, whom he narrowly beat in Barcelona for the gold medal, was his best finish of the day.

"I was a little lost on the high bar," said Dimas, who won $875. "My timing was a little off, but with a little hard training, it should come around really well."

MEN

Floor: Vladimir Novikov, Kazakhstan, 97; Vladimir Gogoladze, Georgia, 94; Andreas Wecker, Germany, 91; Valentin Moguilni, Russia, 90; Dmitri Bilozerchev, Russia, 84, Trent Dimas, Albuquerque, N.M., 0; Sylvio Kroll, Germany, 0.

Pommel horse: Moguilni, 99; Gogoladze 97; Bilozerchev 92; Wecker 91; Novikov 84; Kroll 83; Dimas 82.

Still ring: Wecker 98; Bilozerchev 95; Moguilni 89; Gogoladze 88; Kroll 88; Novikov, 84; Dimas 0.

Parallel bars: Bilozerchev 96; Wecker 94; Novikov 93; Moguilni 91; Gogoladze 88; Kroll 88; Dimas 85.

Horizontal bar: Kroll 96; Bilozerchev 95; Dimas 94; Wecker 94; Moguilni 92; Novikov 91; Gogoladze 89.

Totals: Wecker 468; Bilozerchev 462; Moguilni 461; Novikov 449; Gogoladze 441; Kroll 355; Dimas 261.

Prize money: Wecker $7,475; Bilozerchev, $7,100; Moguilni, $5,000; Novikov, $4,200; Kroll, $3,275; Gogoladze, $2,325; Dimas, $875.

WOMEN

Uneven bars: Oksana Chusovitina, Uzbekistan, 97; Dominque Dawes, Silver Spring, Md., 96; Shannon Miller, Edmond, Okla., 96; Henrietta Onodi, Hungary, 92; Roza Galieva, Uzbekistan, 91; Tatiana Gutsu, Ukraine, 85; Tatiana Lisenko, Ukraine, 84.

Balance beam: Gutsu, 98; Dawes 97; Miller 97; Chusovitina, 96; Lisenko 95; Galieva 94; Onodi 90.

Floor exercise: Chusovitina 95; Dawes 94; Gutsu 93; Onodi 93; Lisenko 92; Galieva 88; Miller 0.

Totals: Chusovitina 288; Dawes 287; Gutsu 276; Onodi 275; Galieva 273; Lisenko 271; Miller 193.

Prize money: Chusovitina, $6,550; Dawes, $4,400; Gutsu, $3,625; Miller $2,000; Onodi, $1,875; Galieva $900; Lisenko $850.

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