1. Schedule, schedule.
First things first. We have a beautifully bloated and gigantic weekend of gymnastics in front of us (weekends begin on Thursday, right?) so if you’re wondering what your life is, it’s this and nothing else.
4:00am ET/1:00am PT – European WAG Qualification Sub 1
6:10am ET/3:10am PT – European WAG Qualification Sub 2
9:20am ET/6:20am PT – European WAG Qualification Sub 3
11:30am ET/8:30am PT – European WAG Qualification Sub 4 (all the big teams except France)
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – European Junior AA Final
2:30pm ET/11:30am PT – Secret Classic Hopes Championship
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT – Men’s P&G Championship Day 1
11:00am ET/8:00am PT – European Senior Team Final
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Secret Classic Junior Session
7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT – Secret Classic Senior Session
5:00am ET/2:00am PT – European Senior Event Finals
8:30am ET/5:30am PT – European Junior Event Finals
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT – Men’s P&G Championship Day 2
9:30pm ET/6:30pm PT – Secret Classic Senior TV Broadcast (NBCSN)
Will I be live blogging Secret Classic on Saturday? Of course I will. I’m disappointed that you even had to ask.
2. European juniors
The women’s competition, young version, is already underway with Russia stomping through the rest of the field and winning the qualification/team event by a score of everything to goodbye.
The Russians juniors proved much more advanced than juniors from all the other countries, showing senior-level skills and composition, particularly on bars, where many of the other contending countries were dismounting with double pikes. They could never have challenged the D scores in the 6s that Russia brought.
Russia really should have won by more than a 4-point margin, but some of their massive advantage was lost after counting a fall on vault, following a 0 from Perebinosova. (She’s part of a tradition now—do they have a ceremony where Pavlova and Kramarenko give her a gold watch?) What was up with all the zeroes on vault suddenly? James for GB also received one because apparently the judges were particularly F-MINUS TO ALL today.
The race for silver came down to Great Britain and Romania, with Romania showing competition-best vaulting but (surprise, surprise) suffering wildly on bars to drop below Great Britain and into the bronze-medal position. Bronze still feels like an accomplishment for Romania based on the hellish demon desert that 2016 has been so far, but the question remains as to how well these bronze-medal juniors will be able to develop their potential to avoid becoming 15th-place seniors.
Right now, these juniors are performing at the same level we’ve seen from Zarzu, Ocolisan, Holbura, and Vulcan this year. Add Ponor, and this junior performance is Test Event Part 2. Because they’re juniors, that’s good enough for successful results right now, but this group will have to progress past the ceiling that stopped their immediate predecessors. Ghiciuc, for instance, showed potential in her leadoff bars work (until nearly falling on a dire double pike dismount) with better line and leg form than a lot of the Romanians, but will her routine ever become more than “some potential until the dismount”?
Great Britain showed much less difficulty than Romania on every event, except bars, but performed with better execution, consistency, and viable bars dismounts to jump ahead by a hair for the silver.
Italy managed to leapfrog the rest of the challenging pack to claim fourth, primarily because of an exceptionally well-scoring vault rotation that is already performing at nearly the same level as the senior team. In fact, with the injury to Fasana, I would not be that surprised if the Italian juniors end up outscoring the seniors on vault.
There’s still the junior AA final to come, and surprising no one, the top two qualifiers are both Russian. The current leader is Eremina, who is noteworthy because her floor music is actually the screaming from inside Aliya Mustafina’s soul every time Valentina speaks. Very artistic choice.
In entirely inevitable news, Ksenia Afanasyeva has a chronic severe torn scarlet fever sprains and will not be competing floor in qualification but will be trying to muddle through on vault somehow. On floor, as a result, Russia was left deciding whether to put up Spiridonova’s likely 12 or use Aliya “I have been training floor for zero weeks and have one pass” Mustafina. They went with Mustafina. It should be…fascinating.
4. Man Championships
I believe the official hashtag for men’s P&Gs this weekend is #manchampionships. So behave accordingly.
Heading into the big meets for the guys, there is already a presumptive team in place of Mikulak, Whittenburg, Dalton, Naddour, Orozco, Leyva, and oh crap that’s six people. How is one of those people not going to be on the Olympic team? And why are none of those names Eddie Penev or Paul Ruggeri? It’s going to be an emotionally draining summer for us. And them, maybe. But mostly us.
Oh, the permutations! The spreadsheets! I can hardly wait.
I’m most eager to see how Dalton looks. Dalton should really be a lock for the team because of Dalton Reasons (trademark), but we haven’t seen him at full strength since his injury. (Imagine if he had waited to get surgery until after worlds…) His competitiveness will be decisive. For the team selection, Whittenburg has been the team stalwart all quad (and Golden Boy is Golden Boy and can fall as many times as he wants and still make the team because of awww and also having the highest AA scoring potential), but we won’t really know what pieces have to be filled by the other contenders until we see how viable Dalton looks on his key events.
Also, Danell Leyva got a thousand dog bites for some reason. What is your life…?