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Trending in gymnastics: The 21st century release combination on high bar

Olympic high bar champion Epke Zonderland in the middle of his famous release combination.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If Kohei Uchimura, Epke Zonderland, Bart Deurloo, Alexander Batinkov, Koji Uematsu and now Alexander Shatilov are doing it, you can bet that it'll be the hip new trend in men's gymnastics soon enough.

What we're talking about is the habit of connecting release skills on high bar -- and not in the '90s way, where the thing to do was to string a bunch of Tkatchev-style tricks together (and, if you were really good, add a Gienger at the end for good measure.)

These days, gymnastics is on another level, and all of a sudden the skills being hooked together are Kovacs-style, those that involve more than one flip between releasing the bar and (we can hope) catching it again. Zonderland kicked off the trend back in 2010, when his audacity of throwing a Cassina to Kovacs to Kolman nearly won the World title on high bar (in his home country and with in the presence of the Crown Prince of the realm sitting in the audience, no less).

Deurloo has been working an even harder combination (watch here), while Batinkov, a Bulgarian veteran known for his unusual choice of release skills (he does a Pegan, a double front half out over the bar, among other things), showed off a combination Pegan to immediate Kolman late last year (watch here).

In Japan, four-time World champion Uchimura let himself be filmed training the cleanest series of the bunch. Whether he'll ever get around to competing it is, like almost everything else that surrounds Uchimura, something of an enigma -- the man has also been known to train a quadruple twisting double layout dismount in addition to the daring release series. It's too much to hope that we'll ever see both in the same routine.

Uematsu, the 2010 World team member who has come back from a torn ACL sustained in 2011, was recently filmed doing Kolman-Kovacs-Gaylord II as well (that's here). Like Uchimura, he does it with far better form than almost anyone else.

Shatilov, the tall, history-writing, record-smashing Israeli, recently got in on the fun, posting a video of himself doing a Kolman to Kovacs to tucked Gaylord II on Instagram (video here.) "I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky," he captioned the video. Indeed.

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