Things Are Happening – October 21, 2016

A. The Era of House Watanabe

The FIG’s biennial Wearing Suits And Patting Each Other On The Back convention took place in Tokyo this week, and everyone wore a suit and patted each other the back for just being so darn great.

Unlike most years, the 2016 congress was actually worth paying attention to because it featured Bruno Grandi officially turning to ooze and seeping through a grate in the floor to return to his native state, followed by the selection of his successor.

The nominees, Morinari Watanabe and Georges Guelzec, were compelled to face off against each other in three categories: the joust, the compulsory vault, and the Salt-N-Pepa lip sync. Guelzec did well in the joust, but failed to show an appropriate piked shape in both the vault and lip sync portions, giving the competition to Watanabe pretty handily.

We’re all thrilled because Watanabe is the first non-European ever to hold this position (no corrupt nepotism here…) and seems the more likely of the two candidates to avoid being Grandi Part 2. His proposal was also very focused on doing more to help the smaller federations grow, which is a smart way to earn support in an election where everyone’s vote is worth the same. There are a lot more smaller federations than powerful federations. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 21, 2016

2017 Freshman Preview: Auburn

Thus the calendar turns to the first year Post-Atkinson (and Post-Demers, an equally troubling development to all of us acceptable humans).

This 2017 season will be the true test of Auburn’s staying power in the top flight, following the revolutionary seasons of 2015 and 2016, since the most likely outcome this year is a net loss in the number of 9.8+ routines.

Returning Routines – Auburn
Rott – 9.870
Krippner – 9.810
Kopec – 9.794
Engler – 9.770
Garcia – 9.746
Phillips – 9.685
Milliet – 9.880
Krippner – 9.840
Kopec – 9.830
Cerio – 9.825
Engler – 9.819
Milliet – 9.870
Hlawek – 9.820
Cerio – 9.795
Krippner – 9.750
Engler – 9.510
Rott – 9.895
Hlawek – 9.875
Milliet – 9.845
Scaglione – 9.756

There’s not a Next Caitlin Atkinson lurking in this year’s freshman class ready to save the day and get all the 9.9s, but I am excited about the potential of Gracie Day. The main thing to know about her is that her name might also be Stephanie. I’m not really sure and don’t understand. It could also be Clarissa. Or Martinique.

Continue reading 2017 Freshman Preview: Auburn

2017 Freshman Preview: Michigan

Yes, Michigan has not yet released its schedule for the 2017 season even though it’s mid-October. Normally, this would merit the time-honored punishment of refusing to acknowledge the existence of said team until the situation is rectified, but what can I say? I’m a charitable, forgiving, non-judgmental spirit.

So, let’s forge ahead with Michigan’s hearty band of five freshmen who will join junior transfer Paige Zaziski in an effort to fill out the following slate of returning routines.

Returning Routines – Michigan
Karas – 9.940
Chiarelli – 9.890
Artz – 9.815
McLean – 9.790
Brown – 9.775
Artz – 9.900
Brown – 9.890
Karas – 9.850
Artz – 9.910
Karas – 9.875
Chiarelli – 9.870
Marinez – 9.850
Brown – 9.845
Artz – 9.955
Karas – 9.935
Chiarelli – 9.910
Brown – 9.850
McLean – 9.815

What’s most encouraging about Michigan’s freshmen is just how many routines they’ll bring. They’re not all postseason-level sets by any means, but most of these routines are at least somewhat realistic and should provide a net boost to Michigan’s depth. We may even be looking at nine whole vaults to play around with instead of, you know, exactly six.

Let’s begin with the Polina Shchennikova situation because I’m fascinated. Polina started elite life being touted as the second coming of Our Lady of Nastia due to hair color and Russia. Also bars and flexibility. Ultimately, that was unfair and unrealistic, and then injuries popped out of the earth’s crust and went, “Mwahahahaha,” helping nothing. From back problems to, most recently, labrum surgery, Shchennikova ended up competing a 1/4 teaspoon of gymnastics over the last three years.

Polina is in recovery mode now, and just this week, Dave Kuzara shared a video of her doing giants again on bars. That’s where we are in the comeback process, so withhold any real expectations until we see a healthy gymnast who is legitimately back. Fingers crossed.

Still, bars. Bars has always been her event, though despite tremendous line and huge difficulty, Shchennikova’s elite scores were often undermined by all the falling, along with a tendency to pack in so much difficulty that her form turned 50 shades of cray in the middle of combinations. I do think her routine improved as time went on, and if she’s able to get herself actually healthy, this is going to make for a magical NCAA bars set.

Shchennikova always had those big 6.3+ bars Ds but coming up with elite difficulty on the other events was more of a slog. NCAA should suit her very well in that regard because it will free her of the need to chuck those troublesome acro skills and rough dismounts, allowing her to settle into a more comfortable composition that lets her flexibility and style shine. I’m wary of thinking about vault or floor simply because of her extreme fragility, but I certainly do hold out hope for a glorious beam set. Dear Michigan, Weverseseses are role models. Continue reading 2017 Freshman Preview: Michigan

Things Are Happening – October 14, 2016

A. The Thormanar

Because it’s getting to the point where Eythora Thorsdottir sneezes and it’s the most elegant thing to happen in your entire life, I’ll start this week with the video of Thorsdottir training an Amanar (in case you couldn’t tell we’re in the offseason).

So…it’s actually not horrifically unrealistic.

If you’re like me, when you clicked on “Eythora Thorsdottir Amanar” you kind of expected it to be one of those videos where they complete a full twist after they’re already sideways in the pit and then are like, “I have an Amanar!” You don’t. You don’t have an Amanar. This actually could be a real thing given time.

B. SEC Network Schedule

Following the Pac-12’s lead, the SEC Network has announced its coverage plans for 2017, which feature more meets on TV and fewer online—at least so far—compared to last season. I assume other online meets, especially against non-conference opponents, will be confirmed and added later. For instance, Georgia hosts Utah on March 11th, and we’re going to need to see that somehow, K? K. It should basically be simulcast on every network like the debates. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 14, 2016

2017 Freshman Preview: Stanford

Raise your right leg if you’re not 100% committed to Stanford’s depth this year.

Returning Routines – Stanford
Price – 9.920
N McNair – 9.830
Daum – 9.788
D McNair – 9.780
Fitzgerald – 9.775
Price – 9.940
N McNair – 9.865
Maxwell – 9.795
D McNair – 9.775
Price – 9.850
N McNair – 9.840
Daum – 9.750
Fitzgerald – 9.613
D McNair – 9.400
Spector – 9.375
Price – 9.905
Spector – 9.845
Daum – 9.750
Fitzgerald – 9.690
N Hoffman – 9.425

Or any year. Normal. The Cardinal have lost 10 routines from last year’s postseason lineups, and while they’ll get some of those back from this year’s three freshmen, I don’t expect 10 routines from this group. That means some of the upperclassmen will have to add events for 2017.

But for now, let’s explore how many routines Stanford might actually get from this year’s freshmen.

Obviously, I must begin with Aleeza Yu because of her status as my latest Canasian obsession. Don’t worry about it. Yu boasts the traditional Stanford injury history of all of them. She tore her ACL at 2014 worlds, then returned to competition in early 2016 to directly connect her ACL tear to an exploded ankle. She is still wearing a boot in Stanford’s team pictures, so…temper expectations. Continue reading 2017 Freshman Preview: Stanford

2017 Freshman Preview: Georgia

As we move ever closer to the NCAA season, I’ll be spending the next month-ish looking into the 2017 freshmen on both major and minor teams and proceeding to make wild and unfounded claims about what we should expect to see from them.

We’ll begin with Georgia’s trio of newbies, Rachel Dickson, Sabrina Vega, and Jordyn Pedersen.

Here are the routines and RQS/averages Georgia returns from the 2016 season.

Marino – 9.880
Snead – 9.880
Broussard – 9.830
Johnson – 9.810
Vaculik – 9.755
Snead – 9.870
Schick – 9.855
Vaculik – 9.850
Cherrey – 9.795
Johnson – 9.625
Broussard – 9.875
Vaculik – 9.810
Babalis – 9.805
Schick – 9.604
Cherrey – 9.269
Marino – 9.905
Snead – 9.850
Babalis – 9.850
Reynolds – 9.819

This year, Georgia finds itself with at least three legitimate openings on each event and must unearth at least one or two big new scores on each one. The freshmen have jobs to do. They won’t have the luxury of “oh well, it’s her first year, getting acclimated, blah blah blah.”

Rachel Dickson has the least name recognition of the three freshmen but may end up being the most important to the team….is a thing I love to say. I do it all the time. At the very least, she doesn’t suffer from the extreme level of Question Mark Syndrome that a name-brand like Sabrina Vega does. Continue reading 2017 Freshman Preview: Georgia

Things Are (Barely) Happening – October 7, 2016

A. Szombathely World Cup

The World Cup circuit is back. I can hear your enthusiasm from here. This weekend, twos of gymnasts have traveled to Szombathely, Hungary (and if you haven’t started calling this the Szombie World Cup, then we’re getting a divorce) where they will gather together and BERKI.

Sorry, I got distracted because that’s really the only thing happening at this event. Krisztian “The Legs” Berki has returned to competition following his reign as Mr. Exemplification of the Flaws of the Olympic Qualification System 2016. He and Larisa Iordache wore their tiaras quite well. And…he’s still good at pommel horse. Great. Check.

Other competitors include Emily Little (performing a DTY), Xie Yufen (China’s second-tier bars queen who can do a 6.5 D but got 6.3 here), and apparently not Bai Yawen, who was on the entry list but did not compete in today’s qualification because she hates you. Continue reading Things Are (Barely) Happening – October 7, 2016

Returning Routine Rankings 2017

Yes, that is a picture of D-D Breaux in a pink hardhat. Because there doesn’t need to be a reason.

Now that the NCAA schedules are finally coming together-ish, it’s probably important for us to start remembering who the people are and what the things do. It’s a really tough job. We need three months.

Before beginning to evaluate this year’s incoming freshmen, I decided to check out where the teams stand without them, how they rank using only scores from 2016’s returning gymnasts. It’s a totally scientific and unimpeachable way of quantifying just how much work the freshmen and new transfers will need to do for teams to return to (or improve on) last year’s level.

When available, I used RQS for each gymnast, but when not, I used full season average.

Most teams do return at least five people who competed on each apparatus last year, but when they don’t, I filled out the remaining scores with punishment 9.700s (I told you, totally scientific). It’s a way of making sure each team has a comparable total, operating under the belief that for these top 15 teams, the backup gymnast who wasn’t good enough to compete probably would have scored a replacement-level 9.700. That is, unless the returning scores were already lower than that (*cough* Utah’s beam *cough*).

1. LSU – 197.726
Gnat – 9.965
Ewing – 9.905
Hambrick – 9.880
Finnegan – 9.835
Cannamela – 9.835
Macadaeg – 9.790
Priessman – 9.750
Finnegan 9.915
Hambrick – 9.905
Zamardi – 9.875
Priessman – 9.869
Gnat – 9.727
Cannamela – 9.663
Finnegan – 9.915
Gnat – 9.895
Macadaeg – 9.890
Hambrick – 9.885
Ewing – 9.870
Priessman – 9.725
Cannamela – 9.603
Gnat – 9.980
Macadaeg – 9.950
Kelley – 9.885
Hambrick – 9.880
Ewing – 9.865
Finnegan – 9.692
Zamardi – 9.517
Cannamela – 9.050

Losing only Savona and a not-100% Wyrick from last year’s Super Six team, LSU is sailing smoothly on most events. Continue reading Returning Routine Rankings 2017

2017 NCAA Schedule

It’s here sort of but not entirely! Ah, the NCAA special! Hurrah and hurrah!

Now that a whopping 65% of next season’s NCAA schedules have been released, we have at least some semblance of an idea of how our 2017 lives will look. Enough to put together a composite schedule that isn’t just a wasteland made of tumbleweeds.

As always, the winner of Being Good at Schedules is the University of Wisconsin system, while the loser remains the Ivy League (brought to you by A Random Times New Roman Page of Fictional Maybe-Meets).

The new fun trend, and by fun I mean terrible, is for teams to put up a schedule that includes only home meets. Oh, thank you so much for this helpful and complete information…

As with last season, the full schedule with all 82 teams will sit in the bar at the top throughout the season and will be updated as the remaining schools get their lives together. And also it’s right here.


But because that thing is a behemoth, here is a summary schedule featuring only the meets I think might be mildly interesting and whatnot. Meets between two (or more) of last year’s Super Six teams are in bold.  Continue reading 2017 NCAA Schedule

Things Are Happening – September 30, 2016

A. The Valeri Era

The Valera?

I was really hoping the ranch would suddenly be plastered with wall-to-wall posters of Nastia. Or that Valeri had gone all “I’m not like a regular Martha, I’m a cool Martha” and they were sitting in a drum circle now.

Also, I think Valeri is shorter than Morgan Hurd.

Anyway, the first national team camp of the new dynasty is underway, with most of the usual-suspect juniors and non-specials invited to the ranch to gossip about what they think is happening on the tour. Or maybe for gymnastics. Kind of. It’s only September, and it’s Valeri’s first day. This camp is just about calling roll, handing out the syllabus, and going over the semester’s major assignments and general expectations.

You know Martha’s there in the back hiding in a scarf like

Ugh, you again? Continue reading Things Are Happening – September 30, 2016

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama