As she did in Tuesday night's team final, Douglas set the tone with the very first event, vault.
Once again doing the difficult Amanar — a roundoff onto the takeoff board, back handspring onto the table and 2.5 twisting somersaults before landing — Douglas took a small hop to the left and then another, putting her dangerously close to the out-of-bounds line. She never looked down, but it was clear she knew how close she was, twisting her upper body to the left to absorb the momentum and keep her legs from moving. She stayed in place — and in bounds — and her 15.966 gave her a lead she never relinquished.
Komova made it close on uneven bars, where she looks more like a little hummingbird as she flies between the bars. Her routine is incredibly difficult, yet she does it with such lightness and style. She took a small hop on her dismount, but camouflaged it by immediately thrusting her hands into the air and turning to salute the judges. When her score of 15.966 was announced, she nodded slightly as she zipped her Russian team warm-up all the way to her chin.
Next came balance beam, where both Komova and Douglas have struggled. Komova's fall during the team competition at last year's worlds hurt Russia's chance of catching the Americans, while Douglas might have won the U.S. title if not for a fall on the second day of competition.
With the stakes higher than ever, however, both were clutch. Most of Komova's tricks were landed with confidence, and her sheep jump — where she thrusts her head and arms back while kicking her feet behind her — was exquisite, the soles of her feet brushing her ponytail.
But Douglas did her one better. She brimmed with confidence as she whipped off a series of back handsprings, landing as easily and confidently as she had when she performed on the arena floor. She did a front somersault with such power the thud of her landing echoed inside the arena.
She took a small hop forward on her dismount, but it hardly mattered. The look on her face said it all: Yeah, I got this. Her score of 15.5 extended her lead over Komova to more than three-tenths of a point going into the final rotation, floor exercise.
And though Chow told her not to look at the scoreboard, Douglas admitted she peaked. A few times.
"After vault," she said. "And bars. And beam. And floor."
"She's not a good listener," Chow chimed in, smiling.
But knowing where she was didn't hurt her performance.
While Douglas' skills on floor are impressive — she gets more air than the NBA's Carmelo Anthony, whom she and her teammates met the other day — it's her personality that makes it a show-stopper. The crowd was clapping almost from the opening notes of her techno music, and she got downright sassy with her dance moves, directing playful grins at the judges.
"I love this routine," she said. "I can express myself."
Her score of 15.033 meant Komova needed a 15.36 or better to win. She didn't come close, and Douglas grabbed herself another gold.
"I was like, 'All the hard work has paid off,'" she said.
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