© Ricardo Bufolin

BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 11, 2022 – U.S. gymnasts collected medals in the men’s pair and women’s group combined divisions Friday at the 2022 Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. American groups also advanced to the men’s and women’s group dynamic and combined exercise finals as qualifications concluded on the second day of competition at the Milli Gimnastika Arenasi.

The California-based duo of Angel Felix and Braiden McDougall (Realis Gymnastics Academy) edged Kazakhstan’s Daniyel Dil and Vadim Shulyar to claim the top spot in the men’s pair combined exercise finals (28.400-28.330). Daniel Abbasov and Murad Rafiyev of host-country Azerbaijan were third with a 28.270. Felix and McDougall, who qualified in the top spot to all eligible finals, will have the chance to add additional hardware this weekend in the men’s pair dynamic and balance finals.

Victoria Blante of Hayward, Calif., Eily Corbett of Danville, Calif., and Cassidy Cu of Castro Valley, Calif., (WestCoast Training Center) also secured a podium finish Friday. The trio took bronze (28.140) in the women’s group combined final, bested only by gold medalists Kim Bergmans, Lise de Meyst and Bo Hollebosch of Belgium (29.820) and runners up Beatriz Carneiro, Barbara da Silva Sequeira and Francisca Maia of Portugal (28.780). Earlier in the day, Blante, Corbett and Cu advanced to Saturday’s women’s group balance final in the third position with a 27.650, just behind the group from Belgium (29.300) and Australia’s Maddison Lacey, Caitlin O’Neil and Holly Raval (27.940). They previously secured a spot in Sunday’s dynamic exercise final. The Maryland-based group of Isabel Chang, Sydney Martin and Maria Wooden (Emilia’s Acro Gymnastics and Cheer) finished 15th in balance exercise qualifications with a 23.470.

After previously punching their tickets to the men’s group balance final, the quartet of Ethan Chang, Sam Lacy and Cade Shields of Columbia, Md., and Dorian White of Castro Valley, Calif., (Emilia’s Acro Gymnastics and Cheer) claimed spots in the combined (51.590) and dynamic (27.240) finals as qualifications concluded Friday, advancing in the fifth position to each. In the combined final later in the day, the group delivered a 27.170, finishing just off the podium in fourth. Great Britain’s Bradley Gold, Archie Goonesekera, Finlay Gray and Andrew Morris-Hunt led the way with a 29.410. Groups from Belgium (29.160) and Israel (28.430) rounded out the top-three.

The women’s pair of Katie Borcherding of Pacific, Mo., and Cierra McKown of Riverside, Calif., (Realis Gymnastics Academy) also placed fourth in the combined final. Portugal’s Rita Ferreira and Ana Teixeira (28.780) notched the gold medal, while Hungary’s Dorina Bernath and Noemi Strattner (26.950) and Kazakhstan’s Alexandra Rudakova and Damira Talgat (26.790) were second and third, respectively. Borcherding and McKown will look to improve on Friday’s fourth-place showing this weekend in the women’s pair balance and dynamic finals.

The U.S. just missed the podium in the team competition, which was based on cumulative points earned throughout qualifications. Great Britain (46) edged the Americans by a point for the bronze. Belgium nabbed the top spot with a 51, while Portugal took silver with a 48.

Balance titles in the women’s pair, women’s group and men’s group divisions will be up for grabs Saturday as will the men’s pair dynamic title. Champions in the men’s pair balance final and men’s group, women’s group and women’s pair dynamic finals will be decided Sunday.