National Semifinals Live Blog

Friday, April 16
Scores Stream
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Semifinal I
[1] Florida
[4] Michigan
[5] Cal
[8] Minnesota
LINK ESPN2
4-event
VT
UB
BB
FX
Spanish
6:00pm ET/3:00pm PT – Semifinal II
[1] Oklahoma
[3] LSU
[6] Utah
[7] Alabama
LINK ESPN2
4-event
VT
UB
BB
FX
Spanish

Drama upon dramas to start the day. Word from the arena is that Cal left the warmup area a few minutes before the end of warmup, and then all the parents and supporters left the stands. But then they all just ran back in and ran to different events, and they have been given some extra touch time. College gymnastics. This was the exact same time other teams were posting about their COVID results.

Anyway, the national semifinals?!? It’s a thing. Remember that we now have six judges, with the middle four scores counting, so the decimal places are about to get ugggoo.

Rotation order

Stream and broadcast have started. Bart didn’t tell us anything about Cal. Darkness in the arena. Lights and such. Anthem.

Bart reports Cal team was pulled from floor for COVID-related reasons and missed 42 minutes of warmup, then all gymnasts were cleared to return to competition. ???????

Continue reading National Semifinals Live Blog

What Even Was This Season?

So…it went…better than it might have? All things considered, this COVID season has been effectively muddled through. Well, at least, it happened. And we’re now just two days away from it having finished happening.

No one will pretend it was ideal. We had Michigan State stopping its season, Stanford training under a bridge on a lily pad made of smoke, Auburn and Temple withdrawing from the postseason, and a number of teams not able to start at all. But it’s a win insofar as…no one died yet despite most team’s best efforts in mask usage, and it looks like a champion will be crowned?

Before that happens, some reflections on how things ended up playing out this season. (This was supposed to be a team final preview, and I still say Florida is the favorite if Thomas is able to do all four, with Oklahoma very close, and Michigan a legitimate, believable spoiler, but that’s about the extent of it. We don’t really know anything until after the semifinals, anyway. End of preview.)

My primary reflection on the COVID season: the quality of gymnastics wasn’t worse. This year was supposed to be worse, with abbreviated preseasons and various COVID delays and protocols and health measures and distancing, but you would not have known that based on the routines we saw, which were on par with a normal season. There’s probably a lesson to be learned there about over-training and over-scheduling and the importance of breaks, but when has gymnastics ever been interested in learning that lesson?

Continue reading What Even Was This Season?

National Semifinal Preview

Two days until the semifinals. In an effort to concoct a preview that isn’t just, “These are the top-ranked teams, but hey if someone falls…” I’m going to break down the semifinals by rotation and look at each team’s event NQSs from the season for that rotation—as well as the scores on each of those events from regional finals—to see what they tell us about who needs to be where at which point in the competition.

Starting with Semifinal I – Florida, Michigan, Cal, Minnesota

Rotation 1

Minnesota VT, Florida UB, Michigan BB, Cal FX
NQS Standings
Michigan – 49.488
Florida – 49.475
Cal – 49.475
Minnesota – 49.381

The first semifinal presents a slightly weird start in that NQS predicts Michigan to have a lead after its beam rotation. Obviously, Michigan would love to be leading and already done with beam, but I don’t think that’s a requirement to have a successful day. In fact, if we use Michigan’s 49.300 on beam from the regional final, Michigan would be trailing at this point. And that regional final ended up going pretty well.

Regional Final Standings
Cal – 49.500
Florida – 49.475
Minnesota – 49.450
Michigan – 49.300

I’d say it’s most important for Cal to start big on floor and at least be right with Florida and Michigan, if not slightly ahead. Floor is Cal’s 2nd-best score, and I’d say Cal is the only team starting on a top-2 event for them, so any kind of deficit after 1 would not be helpful in the upset quest. Because vault tends to score a little lower, Minnesota would be quite pleased if things were shaping up similarly to the regional final standings after the first rotation.

Rotation 2

Cal VT, Minnesota UB, Florida BB, Michigan FX
NQS Standings
Florida – 99.131
Michigan – 98.894
Cal – 98.781
Minnesota – 98.781

These first two rotations will be decisive for Michigan’s chances because when things have gone wrong this season, it’s happened on floor. Big Tens, Big Fives, that bonkers dual meet with Minnesota. It’s always floor. Even so, NQS says Michigan should be top 2 right now, and regional finals scores say Michigan should be close to that status.

Because vault and bars are typically tremendous for Michigan, if Michigan is actually done with beam and floor in a top-2 position, I’d expect that to be maintained through the end of the meet. It would be a very strong scenario for them.

Continue reading National Semifinal Preview

National Championship – Schedule and Links

And so we arrive at nationals. Three more competitions to decide the 2021 champion. Friday will bring us both of the national semifinals, from which the top 2 teams at each advance to Saturday’s team final, which will be live on free TV in the US for the very first time. So take that, hockey and golf.

Let’s get to the schedule. In addition to TV broadcasts, each competition will have the four-event view and specific event streams on ESPN3. I always use the four-event stream because it’s best for live blogging, but I know that’s too much stimulation for a lot of people.

Friday, April 16
Scores Stream
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Semifinal I
[1] Florida
[4] Michigan
[5] Cal
[8] Minnesota
LINK ESPN2
4-event
VT
UB
BB
FX
Spanish
6:00pm ET/3:00pm PT – Semifinal II
[1] Oklahoma
[3] LSU
[6] Utah
[7] Alabama
LINK ESPN2
4-event
VT
UB
BB
FX
Spanish
Saturday, April 17
Scores Stream
3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT – Team Final

LINK ABC
ESPN3
4-event
VT
UB
BB
FX
Spanish

The team final on ABC will be broadcast live on TV for anyone in the US. There will also be access on ESPN3 for those who have been able to watch ESPN3 competitions in the past.

The semifinals on ESPN2 will be broadcast live on TV and can also be streamed online at the link provided for those who have a log-in from a TV provider subscription that gets ESPN2, which is all of them.

All remaining streams will be on ESPN3 and may be streamed on WatchESPN for those who have a log-in from an internet service provider.


Here is the rotation order for the semifinals and individual athlete assignments. All the individual titles are awarded on Friday based on scores at the semifinals only.

Things Are Happening – April 9, 2021

A. European Championships

Against all odds, the European Championships appear to be happening. And kind of soon!

This is the final opportunity for European athletes to secure Olympic spots, and in keeping with the theme, something strange is happening! Those Olympic spots (2 each for MAG and WAG) will be awarded based on the AA standings from qualification, rather than from the all-around final. OK great?

The FIG lovvvessss basing very important things on qualification, and it’s so counterintuitive. Isn’t the final supposed to be…like…the final?

I was against this at first because it’s just so weird, but I do kind of get it. Kind of. The idea here is to make sure everyone has a chance to get the spot. So, for example, Italy has a nominative team of Villa, Alice D’Amato, Maggio, and Ferrari. Villa and D’Amato competed as part of the Italian squad that qualified a team to the Olympics and are therefore ineligible to earn an additional Olympic spot for Italy at this competition. If Villa and D’Amato were to make the all-around final, then Italy wouldn’t have anyone eligible to get an Olympic spot. By basing things on qualification, Maggio could theoretically get in there and get a spot for Italy even if she places behind ineligible countrywomen like Villa and D’Amato. (With no temptation to fake-injury-scratch someone from the AA final.)

On the other hand, this does bring the eternal conundrum of score-rising through the qualification day into effect. At this meet, athletes from a single country don’t all compete in the same subdivision, and with different countries being assigned different subdivisions through the draw (Russia and Romania WAG have spots in the final subdivision, Great Britain and Italy do not), you haven’t necessarily created the most even playing field possible.

Regardless, the favorites to get the two spots on the women’s side at this point would be one of the Russians (limit one per country, and Listunova, Urazova, and Gerasimova are all in the hunt) and Larisa Iordache. But it’s going to take a hit meet. So it should be an exciting lengthy-qualification-day.

Continue reading Things Are Happening – April 9, 2021