Things Are Happening – July 26, 2017

It’s a special Wednesday edition of Things Are Happening because later this week we’ll have, you know, Classic.

Hopes – July 28, 2:30 p.m. CT – ScoresWatch
Juniors – July 29, 1:00 p.m. CT – ScoresWatch
Seniors – July 29, 6:30 p.m. CT – ScoresWatch

Speaking of…

A. Classic roster changes

The big development of the last few days is that Victoria Nguyen has withdrawn from Classic with a suddenly acute case of Chow’s.

It is a slight breach of etiquette because typically with a Chow’s withdrawal you’re supposed to compete at Classic, be perfect, and then get injured and withdraw from nationals (GOWEYMEMORIES). For the moment, though, it looks like Nguyen is still planning to compete at nationals.

Her spot in the senior start list has been taken by Gabby Perea (because junior national team members are competing with the seniors this year), who originally did not enter the event because of an ankle injury but now has popped up and plans to compete bars.


Here is the set she’s currently working on (with a cut in the video).

Inbar 1/1 (E) + Toe-on Shap (D) + Stalder Tkatchev (E) + Pak (D) + Stalder Shap 1/2 (E) = 0.7 CV
Inbar 1/2 (D) + Jaeger piked (E) = 0.1 CV
Double layout (D)
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.8
D-SCORE = 6.4

If she puts that all together in the same competition routine, it’s pretty much the ideal bars composition for the current code, alternating E and D flight elements to squeeze out as much CV as possible while limiting the number of handstand positions that need hitting to as few as possible.


The women’s European Youth Olympic Festival, or EEEEEYYYYOOOOFFFFF, which rolls right off the tongue, got underway today with a bit of an upset in the team competition. An under-strength Russian team managed to defend its title over the favored Italians because the Italians went all “you get a 12, and YOU get a 12, EVERYBODY GETS A 12” on beam and floor. Vanessa Ferrari’s like, “Welp, looks like another quad for me…” Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 26, 2017


U.S. Classic Preview – The Juniors

Junior elite competitions, especially the Classic with its lower qualifying score, are fundamentally strange. Such a disparity exists among the various tiers of gymnasts that it seems like a grave mistake that all of them have somehow ended up in the same meet. You have gymnasts who could win worlds if age-eligible rotating with gymnasts where it’s like, “Your D score is 3. Did you get lost little girl?” There will be a touch less of that this year with the major players rotating with the seniors, but still enough.

Junior classic is really three different competitions converging, those 9-10 gymnasts actually trying to win or place well to set themselves up for a senior elite run soon, those other 7-8 little water chestnuts who are four years old and might be on the worlds/Olympic track one day but should probably just be spending the evening at Allegra’s sleepover right now, and those other 30 gymnasts who will do elite this year, maybe next year, get noticed by the NCAA coaches, and then drop back to L10.

The focus of this preview will be the first two categories. We’ll have plenty of time to notice the rest once they verbally commit to college while getting their MMR vaccines. WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG. Those who have made NCAA verbals have that noted next to their names.

The favorites

It may have been the case regardless, but with Gabby Perea sidelined for this meet with a (not super, super serious) ankle injury, Maile O’Keefe (Utah) becomes the de facto favorite. O’Keefe won the junior division at Gymnix, finished second to Perea at Jesolo, and won the most recent camp verification.

With a DTY and some extremely difficult combinations on beam that can push her D into the 6s if the judges are feeling credit-y, O’Keefe is starting from a much higher level than nearly all of the other competitors. She’ll be expecting a 56 from a hit meet, while the majority of entrants qualified here with 50s and 51s.

O’Keefe already has the routine composition to dominate at the junior level. Toward next year, we’ll probably see a move to upgrade floor since her routine is mostly D passes right now for 5.2, though with rather well-executed dance elements. As we go on, she’ll be more than capable of pushing through to the mid-5s.

If O’Keefe has an error (and it doesn’t have to be a big error), then Emma Malabuyo (UCLA) will be ready to slip in. She has been lurking just behind O’Keefe and Perea through the first half of 2017, finishing 4th at Gymnix, 3rd at Jesolo, at 2nd at July camp. Her strengths are her DTY, her pretty beam work, and a floor routine that’s a tad code-ier than O’Keefe’s and can therefore score a couple tenths higher.

Bars has tended to keep Malabuyo farther down the rankings than O’Keefe and Perea, because while her routine is clean and efficient, the D score is quite low—just a 5.0 so far this year. Perhaps look for an upgrade in that bars routine because it’s a tough deficit to make up otherwise, even with a clean set.

The spoilers

One Miss Adeline Kenlin (Iowa) kind of came out of nowhere, didn’t she? She has been around for a while but wasn’t really toward the top of the junior radar even last season. Now, she’s suddenly all national team/international assignments/one of the best-scoring juniors. I mean, until recently my one memory of her was that time a couple years ago during touch warmup at Classic when she landed a beam dismount on top of her head just as “Happy” started to play, which I found inappropriately hilarious. Continue reading U.S. Classic Preview – The Juniors

Things Are Happening – July 21, 2017

A. Get it together, Canada

Breaking a bottle of champagne over the hull of controversial worlds team announcements, Canada went and named Ellie Black, Isabela Onyshko, Shallon Olsen, and Brooklyn Moors to its world team yesterday, leaving out Brittany Rogers.

It’s a bit of a weird one—not in terms of event-final implications since it probably doesn’t change anything—but mostly because it makes for a fairly lopsided squad. For the all-around spots, Black and Onyshko were always going to be the favorites because, well, they’re the two best AAers Canada has right now. Onyshko was not ready yet at the Canadian Championship, but in form, she’s the obvious choice to go along with Black.

As for Shallon Olsen, if she has her Amanar back, she’s the most likely of any of the Canadians to make an event final. (If not, this situation is even more fraught, so let’s just assume she does.) That leaves us with the final spot, which went to Brooklyn Moors, presumably for floor since that’s her most internationally competitive event. By default, that means Olsen can’t compete floor, her second-best event and the one where she typically has the highest D of all the Canadians (form form form, I know, but still).

This is what I mean by lopsided. For your two specialists, you’ve basically taken VT/FX and FX. Beam was never going to be much of a consideration for the specialists because Black and Onyshko are their two most likely event finalists anyway, but then Brittany Rogers seemed like a logical gymnast to pair with Olsen, Olsen doing VT/FX and Rogers doing UB and throwing in BB because whatever.

Instead, they’ll have Olsen to do VT and Moors to do FX. (And presumably throwing in UB and BB because whatever. Moors is a treat on beam, but she’s not going to get a big score there.) Watching Moors on floor is an objectively delightful experience, and we’ll all be better off for having her floor routine in the rotation at worlds instead, though I do wonder if there’s a little Blinded by the Pretty and Blinded by the Pod syndrome going on here. Moors has a fantabulous Podkopayeva on floor but at Canadian Champs was still awarded D scores of 5.2 and 5.1. Making an event final on floor is a lot to ask of someone with a 5.2 D score if she hasn’t upgraded, even in the current score-scape. She’d basically need a Simone-level E score to keep pace.

On Moors’ side, however, is that Rogers isn’t exactly a favorite to make the bars final either, particularly with bars being a deeper event this year than floor is. With Russians, Chinese, Americans, Brits, and Germans, it’s tough to get into a bars final, whereas there aren’t as many relevant countries on floor. Still Rogers does intend a 6.0-6.1 D score on bars, which is in a competitive county with the favorites.

A more compelling argument in Moors’ favor was likely the exceptionally gorgeous floor routine she did on the first day of Canadian champs, which scored 13.867, setting her apart from the 13.4s and 13.5s we’ll expect from the rest of this worlds team. It was the prettiest, cleanest, and best floor routine we’ve seen from a Canadian this year. It may, however, be a bit of confirmation bias to highlight that particular score over others, since it has been the outlier. Moors’ average on floor this year is 12.958, and for a normal hit, she has more frequently been at 13.500. Consistency is an issue for her, but that doesn’t really factor in this decision because…well…we’ve all lived through Brittany Rogers. One isn’t more likely to hit than the other.

The real issue may be that you have several people on this team who can/will score around where Moors is likely going to score on floor, whereas Rogers provides the potential for something no one else on the team has.

Another factor in selecting Moors was probably the idea of gaining major competition experience for future teams (whereas this would be Rogers’ last competition), which…meh. My position on using “gaining international experience”/”she has international experience” as an argument is that it’s too ambiguous a concept to be considered in making team selections. While having been there before seems like it would make things easier, there isn’t actual evidence to support the idea that people who’ve been to worlds/Olympics before perform any better than people who haven’t. You pick the best team in any given year and just trust the preparation. Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 21, 2017

U.S. Classic Roster Notes

USAG has released the roster for the 2017 U.S. “Don’t Call Me Secret” Classic.

It’s. Happening. Soon.

Get. Ready.

Use. Only. One. Word. Per. Sentence.

The roster doesn’t contain too many surprises, but there are a couple things worth noting.

Let’s break it down, particularly for the characters with whom we might be unfamiliar.

2017 U.S. Classic – seniors
Shania Adams,
Elena Arenas,
Georgia Elite
  • 53.150 at American Classic
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
Luisa Blanco,
  • 53.900 at May national qualifier
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
Jade Carey,
  • 42.800 3-event score at American Classic
  • No one has seen her routines since JO and yet she’s definitely a 20-time Olympic medalist
  • 5.6 D on VT, BB, FX
Jordan Chiles,
  • Senior national team
  • 3rd at July camp verification
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
Leah Clapper,
Gym America
Frida Esparza,
Head Over Heels
  • 51.850 at February national qualifier
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
Marz Frazier,
  • 54.900 at May elite qualifier
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
Emily Gaskins, Cincinnati
  • Back to Cincinnati
  • Last competed in 2016
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
Morgan Hurd,
First State
  • Senior national team
  • 53.900 at Jesolo
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
Sydney Johnson-Scharpf,
Brandy Johnson’s
  • 54.150 in Raykjavik
  • UB, BB, FX
  • Is Ashton Locklear
Laney Madsen,
  • Is that one we always hear about who was a cheerleader first and then sometimes there are training videos
MG Elite
Victoria Nguyen,
  • Senior national team
  • 54.550 at Jesolo
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
  • Joining Georgia for 2018 competition season but still competing elite this summer
Abby Paulson,
Twin City
  • Senior national team
  • 55.800 at Jesolo
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
  • Senior national team
  • 54.500 at Jesolo
  • 2nd at July camp verification
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
Ragan Smith,
Texas Dreams
  • Is Ragan Smith
Deanne Soza,
Texas Dreams
  • 39.050 3-event score at July national qualifier
  • VT, UB, BB, FX
Kalyany Steele,
Colorado Aerials
Trinity Thomas,
Abi Walker,
Texas Dreams
  • 51.700 at American Classic
  • Previous comp was 2015
  • VT, UB, BB, FX

None of the major players are skipping Classic this year (they don’t do that much these days, anyway). Typically, however, most of the cools kids only show up to do bars and beam because, like, they don’t need your broke-ass Classic in their lives. But this year is such a wide-open season that we may not see one- and two-event performances from as many people as usual. Very few worlds/national team positions look guaranteed or inevitable. Continue reading U.S. Classic Roster Notes

All the Produnovas, Ranked


Herein I have ranked all 33 extant Produnova vaults, with points awarded for originally, virtuosity, artistic interpretation, hilarity, and whether or not you’re dead afterward.

1. Elena Produnova, 1999 Universiade

Obviously. The only good one ever done. She really only loses points for the hop forward and the lack of shaved stripes in her eyebrow that she would develop by 2000, but those are both quite minor deductions.

2. Elena Produnova, 1999 Worlds Event Final

A less heralded showing but one worthy of recognition since Produnova basically invented the Butt-a-Prod with this performance. The Butt-a-Prod is an extremely important vault in its own right, as we’ll see.

Produnova, however, has the gall not even to booty-scrape here because of her extreme lower-body power, so it cannot be credited as a true Butt-a-Prod.

3. Dipa Karmakar, 2016 Rio Test Event Qualification

The perfection of the Butt-a-Prod medium is shown in this vault, expertly maintaining the paradox of somehow both falling and sticking at the same time.

Magic. And by magic, I mean immediate knee replacement surgery.

4. Dipa Karmakar, 2015 Worlds Event Finals

Not quite the same perfection of Butt-a-Prod reached here since both the fall phase and the ripping-femur-out-of-socket phase of the vault are slightly more prolonged. She does still manage to attain the “Did I fall? Did I stick? It’s a SECRETTTTTT,” so it nonetheless ranks quite well.

5. Dipa Karmakar, 2015 Asian Championships

In this instance, Karmakar eschewed the Butt-a-Prod for a traditional Produnova, so I guess we’ll allow it. Barely…

Quite significantly, there is no booty-scrape and she did not break any limbs or open a rip in the spacetime continuum with a projectile patella. Continue reading All the Produnovas, Ranked

Things Are Happening – July 14, 2017

A. The Cimpian affair

Romania, I can’t even begin. At least you’re spicing up the slow-news season. That’s something.

Because of internet and Nicolae Forminte being on Faceplace, we’ve recently learned that Romania’s Olivia Cimpian—of “she’s one of their gymnasts now” fame—has left Deva for Hungary with the intention of competing for Hungary in the future. I’m sure that will go fine and there won’t be any drama. Everyone just wants what’s best for the gymnasts, he said choking.

For now, Cimpian is in limbo, not competing for Romania but not yet eligible to represent Hungary.

In terms of future team prospects, Cimpian was not necessarily lined up to be the big, big star for Romania this quad, but she does have a useful DTY and her departure is another blow to Romania’s already extra-limited depth. Theoretically, if Romania has Ponor, Iordache, Jurca, Crisan, Golgota, and…uh….Ocolisan? Angela Lansbury? going this quad, they can put together a reasonable team on three events, but not having Cimpian puts them one step closer to a 2015-2016 situation where everyone has to be healthy at the right moment otherwise the tower tumbles. And quickly.

If Cimpian’s nationality change actually works out at some point, she’d certainly be in line to make teams for a Hungary squad that has Kovacs, Devai on vault, and Makra (we hope) but gets into the lower 12s pretty quickly on most events. Cimpian would provide a more competitive core of routines. In fact, if you go into the national team rankings and take Cimpian away from Romania and give her to Hungary, Hungary would be less than a point behind Romania.

B. MAG national qualifier

The US men are gathering at the training center tomorrow to compete in a national qualifier (much like the US women did last weekend), the last chance to qualify to nationals for those who did not make the national team after Winter Cup or qualify to nationals based on NCAA finishes. So, people like Whittenburg, Penev, and (of note) Mikulak are competing but don’t actually need the results because they’re already qualified to nationals. It is a much more important competition for someone like Marvin Kimble, who didn’t so much with the good at Winter Cup, isn’t on the current national team, and might just be living in the woods now? Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 14, 2017

US National Team Camp – July Update

We have finally emerged from the cave. Now that we are graced with rosters from the monthly national camps—like the one that concluded today—this has given birth to a new phenomenon wherein one looks at the roster, recognizes 90% of the people, but then also says, “……Her? What is a…that?”

So, let this be a place to keep track of which characters made a cameo in which of the monthly episodes; what international assignments resulted from those camps; applicable placements in senior (S), junior (J), and physical abilities (PA) standings; national team status; Classic/nationals qualification status; recent results; expected D-scores; and anything else important to know about these friends both familiar and foreign. Continue reading US National Team Camp – July Update

American Classic and Elite Qualifier

You may now rest easy. I have returned from the wilderness. (Metaphorical wilderness, obviously. Like I would do a wilderness.) While I was sans gymnastics, everyone decided to gather at the ranch for the worst-timed competition of each season, the American Classic.

The American Classic is basically a poor woman’s U.S. Classic, which is a poor women’s national championship. It’s the smallest nesting doll. It’s the complementary appetizer. Still interesting, though. Especially this year. Certain people made some certain grand entrances.

Gymnasts competing at the American Classic have already achieved the qualifying score to the U.S. Classic (51 AA for seniors, 50 AA for juniors) but can use this meet to achieve the nationals qualification score (52 AA for seniors, 50.5 AA for juniors). All elite qualifying scores for this season have been lowered two points from last year to account for the reduction in D scores.

Detour: Can we please stop naming everything Classic? It’s so unnecessarily confusing. You hold 1.3 competitions per year, and yet all of them are “the Classic.” Other words exist.

Also note that Secret doesn’t have title sponsorship of the U.S. Classic anymore, so it’s not the Secret Classic. It’s the U.S. Classic because we’re partying like it’s 2007.

Anyway, here’s what we learned from the Flag Pants Classic last week. Continue reading American Classic and Elite Qualifier

National Team Rankings — July 2017

How It Works
Using all scores recorded at competitions in the last six months, each nation is given a team total based on what its best-scoring group of five senior gymnasts would score in a hypothetical 3-up, 3-count team final.

Individual’s scores may come from any official competition (they need not all be from the same meet), and whichever group of five gymnasts would produce the highest score is the one selected.

Countries that have not shown enough senior routines so far this year to fill a 3-up, 3-count team on each event (i.e., Slovenia, New Zealand, South Korea) are not included.

Rankings will be updated on the 1st of each month, and scores will expire after six months in order to provide the most up-to-date snapshot of where nations are at the current moment.

Last month’s ranking is in parentheses. The full rankings from June 1st may be found here. Continue reading National Team Rankings — July 2017

Things Are Happening – June 30, 2017

A. The week’s coaching news

We’ve now received confirmation that the Eastern Michigan head coaching position is just the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, with Josh Nilson setting a record by resigning 19 days after he was hired, citing family reasons. (Side note: it’s a shame asshole politicians have ruined “family reasons” for people who actually have family reasons.)

Just as a reminder, 13 months ago, Jay Santos was still the head coach at Eastern Michigan. So that will be Jay Santos, Sarah Brown, Josh Nilson, and New Coach all in a little over a year.

This week, Michigan State also happened to remember that gymnastics is about more than just ignoring sexual assault complaints. It’s also a sport, and Michigan State’s is a program that kind of needs to try to move on from the “make a card for Larry Nassar” era. So, last year’s interim head coach Mike Rowe has officially been named the permanent head coach, resolving one of still-open positions.

Team Outgoing coach Reason Incoming coach
Penn State Jeff Thompson Everything Sarah Brown
Michigan State Kathie Klages Larry Nassar Mike Rowe
NC State Mark Stevenson Retired Kim Landrus
Georgia Danna Durante Fired Courtney Kupets
EMU Sarah Brown To Penn State Josh Nilson
Illinois Kim Landrus To NC State Nadalie Walsh
Pittsburgh Debbie Yohman Retired Samantha Snider
Ohio State Carey Fagan Promoted Meredith Paulicivic
Alaska Paul Stoklos Retired
Utah State Nadalie Walsh To Illinois
EMU Josh Nilson Family reasons

B. NCAA postseason changes

A couple follow-up notes to yesterday’s committee announcement.

One of the complaints about the new and improved format is that it will lead to fewer opportunities (this is the same argument that formed the foundation of SEC resistance and stalled the move for years and years…and years and years). Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 30, 2017


Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama