Preview: French, Korean Men Lead First Session
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

Both looking for their first world team medal, France and Korea headline the first subdivision as men's qualification begins Monday morning in Rotterdam.

Olympic medalists Benoit Caranobe and Thomas Bouhail lead the French team, which is missing two-time European parallel bars champion Yann Cucherat. Cucherat decided to stay home with his family in France, where his wife gave birth to their second child, Evan, in early October.

Korea, eighth in 2007, is looking for another trip to team finals this year.


Benoit Caranobe (France)

Egypt: Floor Exercise

The Egyptian men finished 37th at the 2006 Worlds, and most likely won't contend for the top 24 this year. The Egyptian men have had their best results on vault, but none of the gymnasts are scheduled to do two attempts this year.

New Zealand: Pommel Horse

New Zealand is fielding a full men's team for the first time in many years. The team came to Rotterdam directly from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, where they took a best-ever fourth place.

The big question mark for New Zealand is how well Misha Koudinov can perform after dislocating his knee on vault last month. The injury limited his performance on floor and vault in Delhi, but he may opt to risk more difficulty in Rotterdam. The 19-year-old Russian born gymnast heads to Ohio State next year to compete.

Korea: Still Rings

Eleventh in 2006 and eighth in 2007, the Korean men are strong contenders to make the team final.

Korea does not typically compete in World Cup meets, making it difficult to forcast the gymnasts' abilities. But the Korean men have a strong tradition of excellence, particularly on vault and parallel bars.

Mixed Group 7: Vault

Mixed Group 7 features two Swedish gymnasts and one gymnast each from the Dominican Republic and Luxembourg.

Sascha Palgen is Luxembourg's best gymnast ever, and his achievements are all the more remarkable considering he suffered a broken neck in 2005. Palgen broke his neck training a rollout pass on floor exercise, but fortunately was not paralyzed and was able to make a full comeback.

France: High Bar

Despite Cucherat's absence, Les Bleus have a good chance of reaching team finals. Caranobe, 2008 Olympic all-around bronze medalist, and Bouhail, the Olympic vault silver medalist, both have a chance of the vault finals. Caranobe vaults a spectacular Tsukahara double pike and a Blanik (piked handspring double front).

Bouhail's silver in Beijing was bittersweet; he actually tied Blanik for first place but a tie-break knocked him down to second, leaving him a sentimental favorite for any vault title. He is making his comeback after shoulder surgery in January.

In addition, Cyril Tommassone is the top Frenchmen on pommel horse and has a shot at the final, and Gael da Silva is excellent on floor.

Next Up: : Colombia, Japan, Spain, Romania, Finland and Denmark.

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