Things Are Happening – August 16, 2019

A. Retirement news

In surprising elite retirement news, Juliette Bossu has decided to call it quits. I still had Bossu on my prospective French worlds team to contribute her fantabulous bars right up until…she announced her retirement, so this is quite the significant development.

France still has a convincing core four in MDJDS, Boyer, Charpy, and Devillard, so they may try to replace the bars number that Bossu would have contributed with someone like Carolann Heduit, but this could also open up a spot for Aline Friess and her rudi to pump up the vaults since Friess also has a somewhat viable bars routine. The fifth person on the team must bring a bars routine now because neither Boyer nor Devillard will bring much of a countable score there.

Our favorite cat Celine Van Gerner also announced that she will be leaving gymnastics behind, so there’s no point anymore. We’ll always have the time the FIG felt it had to make a rule just for her. Van Gerner has been an essential contributor on bars, beam, and floor for the Netherlands for so long that it will be difficult to replace those routines, but now is the time that newer athletes like Naomi Visser and Sanna Veerman must rise to fill that role.

Agnes Suto-Tuuha has retired from elite competition as well, having spent a good chunk of the last three quadrennia as one of the top all-around gymnasts in Iceland. She won the all-around title at nationals just this year as well as being Iceland’s top finisher at worlds in 2018, and since it has been a few years since we’ve seen Irina Sazonova, Suto-Tuuha has filled that position as the scoring leader of Iceland’s team. She was also the most likely gymnast to be able to qualify a WAG Olympian for Iceland, so that’s going to be quite the tough ask now.

Oh, also, Valentina is trying to retire Aliya but neither Aliya nor we are having it. I’m sorry your application has been denied. Come back 1 year. Mustafina has, however, withdrawn from Russian Cup.

B. NCAA developments

Because LSU looked at the concept of losing Sarah Finnegan, Lexie Priessman, McKenna Kelley, and Julianna Cannamela next season and went, “Well crappit,” they went out and added Alyona Shchennikova to the roster for the 2020 competitive season.

Shchennikova had previously verbally committed to Michigan like her sister, but then switched to LSU, and it seems as though this year’s Achilles tear clinched the decision to head to LSU this fall rather than try for the 2020 Olympic process.

Coming off that injury, I would treat anything you get from Shchennikova in the 2020 season on vault and floor as a bonus, but there should be enough recovery time for them to get a bars routine and potentially some beam from her. That would provide a solid complement to Kai Rivers (who can compete all four, but her main things will be vault and floor) and Kiya Johnson who’s expected to compete all four pieces. Continue reading Things Are Happening – August 16, 2019


The Scores: Post-Nationals Edition

Now that the US national championship has provided a lovely, juicy, delicious (can you tell I’m hungry) chunk of new numbers to bolster and clarify Spreadsheet Nation, let’s take a new look at the updated scoring hierarchy and what it could mean for potential worlds team selection.

First, the athletes are ranked by peak score recorded on each event so far in 2019, with the top 3 on each apparatus highlighted.

Using those numbers, the highest-scoring team in a 3-count scenario would be as follows:

That team would be “burn down the world” good on bars and beam, though I do think the peak scores somewhat misrepresent vault because this group of 5 is far from the strongest vault team the US could come up with. It would be perfectly reasonable for the US to object to heading into worlds with McCusker, Lee, and Eaker on the same team knowing that one of them would have to vault in the team final.

Now, you could counter that argument with “but the other events are so good they make up for it” or “they’re going to win the team final anyway, so why not maximize event medal possibilities” in support of this team of five. Your choice.

Basically, counting the McCusker vault is the only non-amazing part of that team (should everyone hit), and there’s no other permutation of gymnasts that comes very close at all to matching this peak team score.

What the peak team doesn’t take into account, of course, is consistency, so it doesn’t mind if you fall 80 times as long as you hit once and that hit was an amazing score. Continue reading The Scores: Post-Nationals Edition

US Nationals – Men’s Day 2

Men’s action on day 2 starts with the juniors at 1:00pm CT (Stream, Scores). After the first day, Winter Cup champion Colt Walker leads the 17-18 age group by recording an 80.100 and placing in the top 5 on every event. He has nearly 2 points on anyone else, so he looks to be in control there given a relative hit today.

In the 15-16 group, Nicolas Kuebler stuck the crap out of everything I saw on day 1 to place first with 79.600, but he’s only a couple tenths ahead of Taylor Burkhart in 2nd. Other possible favorite and professional Rami Malek impersonator Isaiah Drake had a nasty on PH on the first day to fall to 6th but could make some ground back up today.

The senior men get underway at 6:30pm CT (Stream, International Stream, Scores). With a lead of nearly 3 points after the first day, Sam Mikulak is going to win. Yul Moldauer is currently in 2nd, only a hair’s breadth ahead of Akash Modi and Shane Wiskus. You like Moldauer as the favorite there for 2nd, but they could end up in any order. Wiskus and Trevor Howard were the big winners of day 1 in terms of improving their prospective cases for the worlds team—also Riley Loos who placed 6th AA but is more under the radar simply because we didn’t see any of his routines on the broadcast. As the less-expected members of the top group, however, they’re going to have to reconfirm that status on day 2. If they falter while people like Yoder and Bower move back up, then we could have a reassertion of the status quo when it comes to the selection camp group.

Just 8 were invited to the selection camp last year, and I have a tough time winnowing down this year’s potential group smaller than 10 or 11 people, so it’s going to get interesting today.

The Oklahoma group will be depleted today as both Colin Van Wicklan and Matt Wenske have been forced to withdraw from the competition. Van Wicklen’s concussion took him out of the first day as well, and Wenske suffered an ankle injury on vault on day 1. Van Wicklen is petitioning to the selection camp, and I have to imagine that will be accepted since he’s a major contender for the worlds team and the selection isn’t for another month.

We’ll be doing the live chat watch party again on GymCastic for night 2 of the men, so get in loser.


US Nationals – Senior Women Day 1 Live Blog

7:00pm CT
NBCSN stream
International feed

If you’re looking at that start list and already getting heart palpitations about the routines you know won’t be shown on the broadcast even though they should be, then yes.

In the first rotation, of course we’ll have Simone Andromedon Biles likely unveiling the triple double opening pass. “And that right there. If she does that…what we call a skill…if she does that skill…just like that…at the world championships…that will become the Biles.”

But, we’ll also have some critical beam routines opening up that rotation as Wong and Lee try to make world championships cases. It’s tough to get into a beam picture with Biles, Eaker, McCusker, but you’ve got to start somewhere. We’ve also got a big moment for Skinner showing this floor routine. If it’s not vaguely close to 14ish, it will be a tough argument. The US has lots of high 13s on floor. Continue reading US Nationals – Senior Women Day 1 Live Blog

US Nationals – Junior Women Day 1 Live Blog

Here’s your start list for the junior women’s competition:

No taking it easy to begin the meet as we open with a couple significant routines. Barros is up first on floor—so it will just be downhill after that—and Greaves opens on vault with her new DTY, the landing of which will be fairly determinative for her AA hopes.

We’ll also have Konnor McClain third up on floor in the first group and a couple key beam sets from Pilgrim and Witte.

OK, the dude said it like “Kayla Di Sello.” Normally I would ignore, but after the Kara Eaker bombshell…

Anyway, if you weren’t on twitter this morning, apparently it’s pronounced like “Kara Acre” now. My world is shattered.

Looks like we have some more tying the warmup jacket around your neck like a cape action, and the mid-90s realness of this is making me very happy.

Yes, the stream is cutting in and out for everyone.

Anna Li is here judging.

Kittia Carpenter is also judging floor. In case you wanted more coaches here judging current/former athletes, which no one sees anything wrong with apparently because we live in a cyclone. Continue reading US Nationals – Junior Women Day 1 Live Blog

US Nationals – Men’s Day 1 in Review

Now that we’re done with the action, I’m updating this post with reflections on day 1 of senior men’s competition at US Nationals

  • Sam Mikulak hit (or “hit”) six events to go 86.750 and lead the competition by a dramatic margin of nearly three points. It was a good one, with serious highs like PB…and also whatever that vault was. He’s doing fine.
  • Yul Moldauer didn’t stick as many landings as we’ve come to expect, much to the chagrin of Tim Daggett, and his rings E score was obscenely low for reasons I’m not quite sure I understand yet. Still, he did just enough to place 2nd with 84.000. He did the job and remains essential on some key events, even while doing a KOHEI 2012 on his pommel horse dismount. In contrast to rings, that pommel horse score seemed obscenely high for reasons I’m not quite sure I understand yet.
  • After that, it’s tumbleweed time
  • It got exactly 0% easier to round out a world championships team with three final members because Colin van Wicklen withdrew from the day with a concussion (which would potentially bode well for his being able to return in time for selection camp), and we also had people like Alec Yoder falling on pommel horse and finishing 15th AA, which is not ideal, and Allan Bower falling on HB and finishing 10th AA.
  • I actually think Yoder’s potential worlds-team position didn’t take too much of a hit despite the fall because the upside of his pommel horse routine is still so appealing. If you try to put together the highest-scoring five-member team based on today’s results, it includes Steven Nedoroscik for his 14.950 on horse. Yoder can scores 15s while bringing other potential events, so as long as he hits…at least sometimes…his PH strength is still a major asset. He can afford a fall on the first day of nationals. Not sure he can afford a ton of falls throughout the process though.
  • Bower still did break 14 on PH and PB, which are useful events for him. Meanwhile, his all-around total took a hit mostly because of HB, which is not an event you’d expect from him.
  • There were some high profile falls today, but for the most part it was a day of “your hair looks…fine.” It was…OK. Which is to be expected. And I have to say there were as many under-the-radar impressive days as there were rough moments.
  • Those big, impressive days belonged to Shane Wiskus and Trevor Howard, who placed 3rd and 5th respectively. Wiskus recorded the highest vault score of the day (vault didn’t go great as a family, so a mid-14 counted as high), scored a massive 14.500 on PB, and went 14.250 on floor. He changed his narrative from being one of the rabble to a legitimate contender with that meet. But he’ll have to do it again on Saturday.
  • We know Trevor Howard has the rings routine—which he hit for 14.550 to place 2nd on the event—but he also delivered scores over 14 on both vault and PB to elevate his chances to make a true “team contribution” style argument. PBars looked really good today across the field. A lot of believable routines from a lot of people there. It was the highlight event.
  • Not to be overlooked in the “having a great day” conversation was Akash Modi, though it’s a little more expected that he’d be toward the top of the standings because he’s been there before. He’s level with Wiskus for 3rd place in the all-around, with a 14.500 on PB and right around a 14 on FX, PH, and SR. If he continues competing like this, he can fulfill the “gives you something on a bunch of events” role he played last year on the world’s team. (Though it looks like he has a rival for that role in Wiskus now.) None of the scores today were exceptionally high except for PB, but a lot of them are close enough, and that can make a difference.
  • Donnell Whittenburg took 7th all-around, which isn’t a shockingly high placement (HB had a lot to do with that) but did reflect a better day than I expected based on his comments coming into the competition. He’s not there yet, but he recorded a strong rings score of 14.500 and got to 14 on PB on the strength of his difficulty. If he continues doing this, he’ll at least be back in the national team mix, even if Trevor Howard is basically supplanting him in this year’s worlds team conversation. Or at least challenging him.
  • So where are we with respect to that worlds team? No different than we were to start the day. I’m not making any conclusions based on this. Why?
  • Well, your highest scoring team worlds team based only on today’s scores would be Mikulak, Moldauer, Whittenburg, Wiskus, and Nedoroscik…so that doesn’t help because it doesn’t seem too realistic to me.
  • Honestly, the Pan Am Games team has got to feel better about their chances than they were when they woke up this morning because even though they didn’t have an immensely solid meet themselves, they boast some routines that can be influential compared to the scores the guys put up today. I think Neff and Malone can look at what they’re capable of on HB (with a couple other supporting events) compared to the gymnasts today and think…I can add something to a team.