Men’s Podium Training Update

Men’s podium training is super boring, so you obviously weren’t paying feverish attention at all the updates. Understood. Here’s a quick rundown of the developments you missed.


Kohei Uchimura is NOT competing the all-around. He suffered an ankle ouchie last month, and after a rings dismount that left him limping in podium training, he did not perform on vault or floor and will not be competing those events in qualification. In addition to the shock waves this sends through the all-around field, it sours Japan’s chances in the team competition just that little bit more, where China was already coming in as a tentative favorite to regain its title. Japan has won the last two major men’s team competitions.


In further all-around favorite developments, Oleg Verniaiev did not perform on rings in podium training and watered down his difficulty on a couple other events. I’m not necessarily reading a ton into that because of #MensPodiumTrainingThings and how it’s basically a competition to see who can look the most unaffected and casual (compared, for example, to the Hermione Granger Cosplay Contest that is US women’s podium training), but Oleg is still newly back from his 1500 surgeries and expectations should be tempered.

I’m totally digging the look, though.


What I’m trying to say is, China went 1-2 in the all-around final last year, and it might happen again.


Everyone hates the floor because it’s made of granite, apparently.


The US men were fairly #MensPodiumTrainingThings in their session as well, not looking particularly crisp but also not displaying too many red flag developments. Don’t read anything into how nearly everyone fell on horse, for instance, because they weren’t really trying to save those routines or pretend these were competition sets. Continue reading Men’s Podium Training Update

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World Championships Viewing Guide

Let this be your one-stop post for life planning.
(Streaming information is for people in the US.)

I’ll keep this linked on the top menu for easy reference once this post starts getting bumped down by all the live blogs and daily reviews.


October 21
2:00am ET/11:00pm PT – Men’s Podium Training, Subdivision 1
Russia, France, Romania, Uzbekistan, Peru, Singapore


4:30am ET/1:30am PT – Men’s Podium Training, Subdivision 2
Netherlands, Belgium, Belarus, Croatia, Finland, Austria


7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Men’s Podium Training, Subdivision 3
Switzerland, Israel, North Korea, Norway, Lithuania, Jordan, Dominican Republic, Slovakia


10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Men’s Podium Training, Subdivision 4
Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Jamaica, Iceland, Bulgaria, Philippines


1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Men’s Podium Training, Subdivision 5
Ukraine, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Qatar


October 22
2:00am ET/11:00pm PT – Men’s Podium Training, Subdivision 6
Japan, United States, Colombia, Armenia, Serbia, Malaysia, Thailand

Streaming: USA Gymnastics YouTube


4:30am ET/1:30am PT – Men’s Podium Training, Subdivision 7
Turkey, Taiwan, Mexico, Australia, Ireland, Cuba, Guatemala, Chile


7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Men’s Podium Training, Subdivision 8
Germany, South Korea, Greece, Georgia, Iraq, Slovenia, Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago


10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Men’s Podium Training, Subdivision 9
Great Britain, Italy, Vietnam, Cyprus, Denmark


1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Men’s Podium Training, Subdivision 10
China, Brazil, Hungary, Argentina, Hong Kong, Portugal, Syria


October 23
2:00am ET/11:00pm PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 1
Belgium, Argentina, Poland, Latvia, Algeria, Philippines, Guatemala, Jordan


4:00am ET/1:00am PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 2
Japan, Australia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan


6:30am ET/3:30am PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 3
Germany, Hungary, Ukraine, North Korea, Portugal


8:30am ET/5:30am PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 4
Netherlands, Colombia, Austria, Belarus, Sweden Israel, Qatar


11:00am ET/8:00am PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 5
United States, Slovakia, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Chile, Ireland, Cyprus, Peru

Streaming: USA Gymnastics Youtube


1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 6
Italy, Norway, Iceland, Jamaica, Vietnam, Bolivia, Cayman Islands


October 24
2:30am ET/11:30pm PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 7
China, Romania, Finland, South Africa


4:30am ET/1:30am PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 8
France, Canada, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore


7:00am ET/4:00am PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 9
Russia, Great Britain, Brazil, Turkey, Denmark


9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 10
Spain, Mexico, Switzerland, Egypt, Serbia, Syria


11:30am ET/8:30am PT – Women’s Podium Training, Subdivision 11
Czech Republic, Greece, Taiwan, Slovenia, Croatia, Georgia


October 25
2:00am ET/11:00pm PT – Men’s Qualification, Subdivision 1
Russia, France, Romania, Uzbekistan, Peru, Singapore

Streaming: NBC Sports


4:30am ET/1:30am PT – Men’s Qualification, Subdivision 2
Netherlands, Belgium, Belarus, Croatia, Finland, Austria


7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Men’s Qualification, Subdivision 3
Switzerland, Israel, North Korea, Norway, Lithuania, Jordan, Dominican Republic, Slovakia


10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Men’s Qualification, Subdivision 4
Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Jamaica, Iceland, Bulgaria, Philippines


1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Men’s Qualification, Subdivision 5
Ukraine, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Qatar


October 26
2:00am ET/11:00pm PT – Men’s Qualification, Subdivision 6
Japan, United States, Colombia, Armenia, Serbia, Malaysia, Thailand

Streaming: NBC Sports


4:30am ET/1:30am PT – Men’s Qualification, Subdivision 7
Turkey, Taiwan, Mexico, Australia, Ireland, Cuba, Guatemala, Chile


7:30am ET/4:30am PT – Men’s Qualification, Subdivision 8
Germany, South Korea, Greece, Georgia, Iraq, Slovenia, Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago


10:00am ET/7:00am PT – Men’s Qualification, Subdivision 9
Great Britain, Italy, Vietnam, Cyprus, Denmark

Streaming: NBC Sports


1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Men’s Qualification, Subdivision 10
China, Brazil, Hungary, Argentina, Hong Kong, Portugal, Syria

Streaming: NBC Sports


October 27
2:00am ET/11:00pm PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 1
Belgium, Argentina, Poland, Latvia, Algeria, Philippines, Guatemala, Jordan


4:00am ET/1:00am PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 2
Japan, Australia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan

Streaming: NBC Sports


6:30am ET/3:30am PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 3
Germany, Hungary, Ukraine, North Korea, Portugal


8:30am ET/5:30am PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 4
Netherlands, Colombia, Austria, Belarus, Sweden, Israel, Qatar


11:00am ET/8:00am PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 5
United States, Slovakia, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Chile, Ireland, Cyprus, Peru

Streaming: NBC Sports


1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 6
Italy, Norway, Iceland, Jamaica, Vietnam, Bolivia, Cayman Islands


October 28
2:30am ET/11:30pm PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 7
China, Romania, Finland, South Africa

Streaming: NBC Sports


4:30am ET/1:30am PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 8
France, Canada, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore

Streaming: NBC Sports


7:00am ET/4:00am PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 9
Russia, Great Britain, Brazil, Turkey, Denmark

Streaming: NBC Sports


9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 10
Spain, Mexico, Switzerland, Egypt, Serbia, Syria


11:30am ET/8:30am PT – Women’s Qualification, Subdivision 11
Czech Republic, Greece, Taiwan, Slovenia, Croatia, Georgia


October 29
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Men’s Team Final

Streaming: Olympic Channel


October 30
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Women’s Team Final

Streaming: Olympic Channel


October 31
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Men’s All-Around Final

Streaming: Olympic Channel


November 1
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Women’s All-Around Final

Streaming: Olympic Channel


November 2
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Event Finals Day 1

Streaming: Olympic Channel


November 3
9:00am ET/6:00am PT – Event Finals Day 2

Streaming: Olympic Channel


 

Things Are Happening – October 16, 2018

A. What a Bono

How’s a person supposed to preview worlds sufficiently when things keep happening?

Anyway, to the surprise of no one, USAG’s interim disaster Mary Bono resigned today as CEO, not quite four days after being hired. Although, the announcement came late Friday, and the next two days were weekend days, so we’re looking more at 1.33 business days at best (no credit as a wolf double). That means there’s still some discrepancy over whether this counts as defeating MLT’s short-tenure record or not. Thoughts and math welcome.

In her resignation statement, Mary spares a thought for the real victim in all of this—herself. For how dare she be forced to suffer at the hands of her own thoughts, words, and actions. Charitably, she also spares a thought for the secondary victim—us—for not getting to experience the wonder that is her. I guess.

The second paragraph is probably my favorite. “I had a storyline to roll out, I tell you! A storyline! Look how calculated to garner sympathy and deflect criticism it was!” That storyline, and the lack of understanding that we the public are looking for qualifications not storylines, is probably what accounts for the board making this bizarre selection in the first place. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 16, 2018

Things Are Happening – October 13, 2018

A. Take Out the Trash Day

If you thought your paying-attention duties had ceased after the naming of the women’s worlds team, you neglected the importance of the patented USAG Friday night news dump.

In it, USAG revealed several things it hoped you were already too drunk to pay attention to closely. First, the humble peasants were allowed to see the selection procedures that govern which gymnasts will be allowed to take the Jade Carey Route through apparatus world cups to gain personal qualification to the 2020 Olympics. Basically, it’s Jade Carey and no one.

First, to be eligible, you must meet at least one of these criteria:

You’ll note the words “current national team member” cropping up in all of them. You’ve always had to be a national team member to get international assignments, so there’s nothing new or particularly onerous or unreasonable here, but these requirements do signal a desire to narrowly limit the number of people who can try for this. It tells me they don’t really want people with past elite success like Ashton Locklear or MyKayla Skinner just popping up and yelling, “Send me to Azerbaijan!”

Only three seniors currently meet these standards: Biles, Hurd, and Carey. Because we expect Biles and Hurd to compete at worlds this year with the team, that would leave only Carey able to go this route. But, these rules do not specify junior/senior, so by my reading, Sunisa Lee and Leanne Wong would both also be eligible for those early 2019 apparatus world cups (once they turn senior) through criterion 2, should they want that.

I don’t think that will happen because both will probably still see themselves as AA, team-spot contenders at this point, but it should be possible. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 13, 2018

Things Are Happening – October 9, 2018

A. US worlds selection camp

The US will be streaming a worlds selection competition for the very first time on Thursday at 3:00 ET. It seems like USAG is actually doing something right, so I’m off to sit in a small box and be shocked for 16 hours. I’m sure something will go terribly wrong like there won’t be scores or they forgot to invite the gymnasts, so don’t worry.

No official time has been given for the announcement of the team (there’s our USAG!), but it’s going to be sometime later on Friday.

By way of a preview, here’s what those camp attendees who weren’t named to the nominative team need to do at the select camp to change the default outlook.

Jordan Chiles – Hit an Amanar every damn time she even looks at the vault. If she’s not hitting an Amanar, she won’t disrupt the nominative team. If she is, she has an excellent argument to go to worlds to deliver one event, likely in place of Kara Eaker.

Ragan Smith – Score 14+ on floor and 14.2+ on beam. Smith will need to have magically gotten healthy since nationals, of course, but if we see 2017 Smith show up, you start entertaining the possibility of replacing the McCallum-Eaker duo with Smith and a vaulter.

Shilese Jones – A good all-around competition probably lands her the alternate spot at this point, but she could improve the nominative team’s scoring potential on vault, so outscoring the other DTYs by multiple tenths and going 14.8+ is her best route. It would also help Jones if Smith has a good competition since Jones and Smith complement each other well (Jones could be the vaulter named above, but would need Chiles not to be hitting an Amanar).

Alyona Shchennikova – Her argument is all about bars. She would need to score a 15+ on bars and beat Hurd by multiple tenths there to make a useful one-event argument similar to the one Eaker is trying to make for beam. Basically, Shchennikova needs to beat Hurd on bars by more than Eaker beats Hurd on beam to say she’s the one-eventer of your dreams. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 9, 2018

Strong Opinions About Every Single Nation’s Worlds Team

The FIG has released the nominative rosters every nation submitted for this month’s (!) world championships, so now it’s time for us to tear them to pieces. Not really. But also kind of.

Who’s on these nominative rosters? Who should be on the final team? Who actually is on the final team? What expectations should you have for those teams at worlds? I’ve got you covered.

For the nominative rosters, nations were able to submit six names (five team members and an alternate). In most cases, the person listed last on the nominative roster of six is the intended alternate, which I have noted in parentheses. But, these are only nominative rosters, so don’t freak. These things will change, and in some cases they really need to.

I have also included a peak scoring chart for each team using the same principles from the National Team Rankings (but occasionally reaching back further in time to get scores if necessary).


United States

Nominative: Simone Biles, Morgan Hurd, Riley McCusker, Grace McCallum, Kara Eaker (Shilese Jones)

Having already dispensed with the Jade Carey drama, let’s move on to what the actual, real-life US team could and should look like in Doha.

The gymnast benefiting the most from Carey’s self-removal is Grace McCallum. Without Carey, the US is left looking for a team final-worthy vault and floor score to supplement the main three. McCallum’s 14.000 on floor from Pan Ams and her perfectly acceptable DTY seem to set her up as the likely choice to fill that role. It’s not a given—others can get bigger vault scores and what happens on floor at the selection camp will be vital, but for right now, McCallum seems like the front runner, as is reflected in the nominative roster.

Kara Eaker’s abilities on beam have also kept her in the forefront of the conversation—this McCallum-Eaker team is probably also what I would select based on what we’ve seen so far. The complication: Biles, McCusker, and Hurd are all quite good on beam, so bringing an extra beam score from Eaker may not be viewed as the most pressing addition to the team, especially because she’s much more likely to go lower-mid-14s than into the 15s the way she did at that one elite qualifier. Eaker needs to be more than a tenth or two ahead of Hurd’s beam score at the selection camp to keep this spot.

Meanwhile, a vault lineup of Hurd, McCallum, Biles would score well, but isn’t a fully OMGWHAAAA vaulting team the way we’ve come to expect from the US. That’s why we’ll still have to keep on eye on whether Jordan Chiles is busting out her Amanar consistently (or even if Shilese Jones’ DTY proves a multi-tenth improvement over the others, that could be significant). If Chiles has that Amanar, I’d take that over a beam routine.

There’s also the Ragan Smith wildcard. If she got foot-replacement surgery since nationals, she’s capable of changing presumed lineups on beam and floor, which could upset both the McCallum and Eaker spots. Still, exactly nothing can be assumed in that regard right now.

UNITED STATES – 176.917
Simone Biles 15.600 14.850 15.200 14.750
Morgan Hurd 14.650 14.700 14.100 13.850
Grace McCallum 14.667 14.533 14.300 14.000
Riley McCusker 14.350 15.000 14.550 13.600
Kara Eaker 13.700 13.550 15.100 13.767

176.917

44.917 44.550 44.850 42.600

China

Semi-official: Du Siyu, Zhang Jin, Chen Yile, Liu Jinru, Liu Tingting (Luo Huan)

If China intends to bring Du Siyu to worlds over Luo Huan (both appear on the nominative, but Luo is listed last), I would count that as a mild surprise because Du hasn’t really been in the main group lately. Both gymnasts are capable of gigantic scores on bars, of course, but Du’s new advantage may be her difficulty. She added a Downie to the beginning of her routine to bring her D up to 6.4 at Chinese Individuals, which now compares quite favorably to Luo’s 6.0 from Asian Games.

Luo, however, has still recorded better overall scores this year than Du because of execution. Luo’s other argument is beam, where she can score quite well even if it’s a little scary. We’ll see if that comes into the decision at all. If China feels really good about Chen Yile, Liu Tingting, and Zhang Jin on beam, the team may not need to bring someone else with a beam score.

So, too many bars workers. #ChinaProblems

The rest of the team seems locked and necessary. China has very limited options for floor and needs all three of Liu Jinru, Chen Yile, and Zhang Jin to compete there as well as on vault. Liu Tingting has been starring on bars and beam for great scores since coming back, and that makes for a clear four team members

Neither Liu Jinru nor Zhang Jin bring a TF bars score, which is why the fifth member the team must guarantee a huge bars score and (perhaps) provide backup options on other events. It’s a risky team because China cannot afford any kind of injury to one of its VT/FX workers, but there isn’t really a safer option for selection. With such limited floor routine numbers, they have to go for risky.

CHINA – 170.733
Chen Yile 13.800 14.400 15.000 13.400
Du Siyu 13.300 14.400 13.400 12.750
Zhang Jin 14.550 12.450 14.500 13.300
Liu Tingting 13.650 14.850 14.600 0.000
Liu Jinru 14.400 12.150 10.350 13.533
170.733 42.750 43.650 44.100 40.233

Russia

Nominative: Irina Alexeeva, Lilia Akhaimova, Angelina Melnikova, Angelina Simakova, Aliya Mustafina (Daria Spiridonova)

I mean, it’s Russia, so we barely ever know what’s going on, but this team seems likely. It’s basically the same squad that performed so successfully in the Euros team final, except with Mustafina in place of Perebinosova. Mustafina, of course, can deliver her big bars score and hopefully will have a beam routine that the team can use—as long as she has decided to deign to succumb to the concept of an acro series.

It tells you everything you need to know about Russian beam that even with Mustafina’s acro series travails, I still trust her more than any other Russian on beam. Mustafina is always an upgrade (for us as a public, if nothing else), so this team seems like a solid call to me. In general.

Russia will miss the bars score from, say, Ilyankova. Or, say, Komova. Irina Alexeeva is good on bars and will keep Russia among the best-scoring teams there, but it’s not the same. Also, Spiridonova is the alternate? Valentina things? I didn’t even know that was still an option. Spiridonova has not been among the top scorers this year and hasn’t hit 14 on bars since 2017.

Like the Euros team, this group is loading up on vault and floor with its best possible roster on those events, bringing a good bars lineup but not the very best the nation has to offer, and then…beam is beam.

This beam team is scary, but no beam team Russia could come up with would be any less scary. I don’t absolutely hate this team, is what I’m trying to tell you, even if I also maintain that Komova was unnecessarily shunned from a squad she could absolutely have helped on bars and beam. Continue reading Strong Opinions About Every Single Nation’s Worlds Team

The Jade Carey Problem

Whew boy. Back at it again. Here we go.

The news we had long feared came yesterday when USAG announced the roster for the women’s worlds selection camp, a roster absent Jade Carey. Jade Carey declined her invitation to the selection camp in order to go to Apparatus World Cups instead and attempt to earn herself a named spot at the 2020 Olympics.

“But why?” you ask. SIGH. Because everything is terrible. Duh.

First, let’s discuss the reasons Jade Carey would make the seemingly insane decision not to go to worlds this year when she definitely would have made the team and could have won three medals.

The Olympic qualification rules state that any gymnast who qualifies a team spot to the Olympics cannot then qualify another Olympic spot specifically for themselves through the Apparatus World Cups. The US women are heavily favored to earn team qualification to the Olympics at World Championships this year, so the athletes on this year’s team can’t then go on to Apparatus World Cups to try to earn a named Olympic spot for themselves.

So what if Jade Carey had decided go to worlds this year?

That wouldn’t have prevented her from making the 2020 Olympic team. But, she would have had to be assigned one of the unnamed spots belonging to the US as a country (either a team spot or an individual spot). It wouldn’t be guaranteed.

That’s why I can see the reasoning behind this call for Jade Carey. If she stays healthy, goes to at least three Apparatus World Cups, and performs successfully in all of them, she really should get a spot at the Olympics. That would be a guaranteed spot for her, one that isn’t subject to the whims of a selection committee or Steve Penny-style backroom dealings like the other Olympic spots would be, one that no one can take away from her. Jade Carey would be going to the Olympics, and she would know that by April 2020 and could sip cocktails on the terrace while everyone else is stressing about Trials. You can see the appeal.

For her.

(And I think some other elites might be looking at this and saying, “Hey, that does sound nice…”)

But I don’t see the appeal for the US women’s team leadership.

That’s why the program needed to put its foot down and say, “We’re not sending anyone to the Apparatus World Cups.” Because this is super stupid strategically for the US women as a program. Continue reading The Jade Carey Problem

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama