1. Some European gentlemen are here
Qualification has concluded at Boy European Championships, and as expected, Russia and Great Britain qualified well ahead of the rest of the field and will be fighting it out on Saturday to see who can take the moodiest team selfie. I mean…win a gold medal? Or something?
The title probably should have been Great Britain’s to lose, but following the withdrawal of Max Whitlock, the Fightin’ Faded Empires have had to put up a few D scores in the 5.8-6.0 range that they wouldn’t normally have expected to use. So, in spite of a qualification performance much cleaner and less Russiay than Russia’s, Great Britain trails by seven tenths and, in the team final, will need to rely on Russia to be very Russiay in several of the most Russian places in order to come away with the title.
Team Oleg and Team Pablo Braegger’s Earring also emerged from qualification within a reasonable range of each other and should duel for bronze. Meanwhile, Romania got a 1 on high bar and will be using Ponor from here on out.
In event news, there will be no Hungarians in the pommel horse final, no Germans in the HBar final, and Stepko didn’t make PBars, so…what is this world? Verniaiev made four events finals, just missing rings and pommel horse because they’re the stupidest. Denis Abliazin also missed out on the floor final after going OOB, because of course he did. If gymnasts could get deductions named after themselves, a 0.3 neutral deduction for going out of bounds on floor would be the Abliazin.
Also, we really need to start naming deductions. “She hits the Jaeger, but will get a Raisman.” “The judges will deduct for Chelle Stack on those back handsprings.”
In the junior event, One-Direction-haired little cherub Giarnni Regini-Moran continued being New Tom Daley and is really forcing us to have to try to remember how to spell his first name by nearly Bilesing the field to win the all-around.
2. The Classic roster of secrets
Fitting its name, the announcement of the Secret Classic roster was shrouded in mystery yesterday when shortly after its release, both Bailie Key and Norah Flatley were quietly removed from the list. Conspiracy. Government denies knowledge. The truth is out there.
Neither will compete at Classic, though Kim Z did mention on the tweety machine that Key will be there…which means what? Perhaps she’ll appear in a “showing progress/readiness at podium training” capacity, or just a “sitting on Kim’s shoulder like a parrot” capacity.
Maggie Nichols is also absent from the roster because phew. There was no reason for her to try to come back for the least important event of the summer. The bigger question is what we’ll get from her at nationals.
We’ll have to see if she’s following Plan Bridget Sloan. Sloan competed bars and beam at nationals in 2008 following her own March meniscus injury, and I would expect something similar from Nichols. Although, Sloan did have the selection camp after trials, so she was able to save herself for the ranch and compete just three events at trials that year. Nichols would have to compete the AA at trials, which may force her to add more events sooner.
Meanwhile, Olympic-year Classic is one week away. I know.
3. Women’s European musical chairs
More roster changes! Romania has announced its final envelope of sadness for the European Championship, which features Ponor, Ocolisan, Holbura, Zarzu, and Butuc, with Zarzu and Butuc coming in for Bulimar and Vulcan.
I was a bit surprised to see Zarzu missing from the original list simply because that DTY can give them some manner of advantage over most of the other teams, even if everything else is a mess. As for Butuc, she’s mostly there for bars. I guess. Once upon a time, she showed a lot of promise on bars because she has toe point and can pirouette, but her releases are a little…Diana Chelaru under the gravitational force of Jupiter. Also, does she have a dismount? Unfortunately, the answer is maybe.
For Russia, Valentina has officially taken off her “I hate Seda Tutkhalyan” furs and done the right thing by naming Seda to the Euros team. Vault loses significant oomph without Paseka, but on the plus side, now Afanasyeva doesn’t have to go on beam, so it probably works out evenly.
Gabby Jupp will replace Rebecca Tunney for GB for implied Tunney reasons, and Erika Fasana is also out for Italy. These three nations should still be the medal favorites, but there are enough very depleted and uninspiring teams heading to Euros that we could see some craziness. France should like its chances, although Vanhille is also out. Because everyone is.
One of the teams that might have perpetrated some of the craziness was Hungary, though the Hungarians haven’t been immune from the roster devastation, with DTY and “my name is Boglarka” queen Boglarka Devai pulling out as well.
4. Head coaches!
The University of Washington finally followed instructions and named Elise Ray the new head coach, succeeding Joanne Bowers. Get excited. Elise already has really good Beam Coach Regal Chin Lift, so she’s 99% of the way to being a successful head coach.
In news that wasn’t merely a formality, Arizona State announced that it has managed to steal Jay and Jess Santos from Eastern Michigan. The Santosi (Santeese?) are coming off a remarkable season that saw Eastern Michigan not only burst into regionals but also come seriously close to making nationals from the group of death, falling just 0.275 behind Stanford and Auburn. Let’s see what they can do.
The Arizona State athletic director also managed to announce the hire while sub-tweeting the crap out of Rene.
“We have certain expectations when looking for a head coach and Jay, along with his wife Jessica, really fits into the culture we promote within Sun Devil Athletics,” Anderson said. “They will create an environment in which our student-athletes will thrive, not only competitively but as young adults. There is a shared expectation that the welfare of our student-athletes is top priority and I look forward to watching them shape the future of the program and the young adults they’ve been entrusted to lead.”
5. Australian Nationals
Australia is holding Depressing Little Fight For That One Olympic Spot 2016 this week, and Rianna Mizzen pulled off a bit of an upset by taking the all-around title over Emily Little and Georgia #7, Georgia-Rose Brown. Lauren Mitchell is also competing beam and floor here, but she hasn’t yet shown the results of someone ready to go to the Olympics and looks unlikely to slide into that spot.
The real question for Australia is whether it’s more important to send someone like Mizzen who can do the all-around and would finish 15th-20th in the AA, or whether it’s better to send someone who could make an event final. Larrissa Miller does just two events, but she would be at least in contention for the EF on both bars and floor. A presence in an event final would make a greater impact than an also-ran in the AA final, which is why Miller has the most compelling argument for the spot and really should be the one to go for Australia.
6. Suzanne defends Rachelle
Sigh. Suzanne has decided to leap to the defense of Rachelle Thompson, saying that Rachelle’s behavior and comments to her gymnasts are just the nature of coaching, which is a half-truth. Based on what we’ve heard, the Thompsons’ behavior clearly crossed a line beyond strict, tough-love coaching moments.
Suzanne says, “That’s not abuse, that’s coaching,” but you know what else is coaching? Knowing your athletes well enough to realize/care how your words and actions are going to affect them. If your words have pushed gymnast after gymnast—whole classes and nearly half the roster—to the point of quitting the sport and/or hating life, you may say that’s coaching, but that’s obviously not very good coaching.
7. A night of Shawnesty
This is the best of the Made in America series so far, in which Shawn expresses her frustrations about the 2008 Olympics.
Obviously, every one of my posts about Classic, Nationals, Trials, and the Olympics will be called “Why are you being a prima donna, you spoiled brat?” It will be the “You guys, I think we broke…” of 2016.
I did wonder about the veracity of this quote, but mostly because it isn’t written as “Whhhhyyyyyyyy you be they uh…preeeeeema donnnnnnnna, you spoil brahhhhhhht? International lyooook. Mahntul toughnahss.” Then I would have believed it a lot more. Otherwise, it’s just not Martha’s syntax.