The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Women’s Day 1 – Live Blog

Buckle up.

First things first, I’m not watching The Ranch yet. I know. I will. The west coast, you guys. Expect a hearty recap sometime before trials.

For the moment, we must focus instead on the second-most important thing about gymnastics, the gymnastics. After the men had an out-of-body nervous breakdown last night, it’s now the women’s turn to do the same.

The junior women made a good start earlier today in a competition that was as wide open as it was preposterous. Even before the meet started, Jordan Chiles pulled out with a bone bruise and Irina Alexeeva was out with RUSSIAN DNA. Then, during the meet, other possible favorite Emma Malabuyo landed blasphemously on her DTY attempt and scratched the final two events. So everything went great.

It actually did for Maile O’Keefe who REMEMBER ME-ed all over beam in a fantastic routine that took her to the top AA spot, just ahead of NuLaurie, Riley McCusker, whom you’re going to be obsessed with for a while. Gabby Perea had some floppity moments on both beam and floor to go into third, and Morgan Hurd had to hold on for fourth after opening with a bars fall.

Now to the seniors! A.k.a., Maggie’s moment of truth. Are there other people in this meet? Jury’s still out.

Should we play Count How Many Non-Simone/Gabby/Aly Routines We See?

dun-un-dun, dun-un-dun, doddle-oddle, dun-un-dun, dun-un-dun.
(That’s the NBC sports music, in case that was unclear.)

Gabby is resplendent in rainbow sherbet. BUT DID JOY DRAW IT???
Aly Aly DWTS Aly.

“And then there’s…….Laurie Hernandez…and she’s got….something.” Oh, it’s a great start already. Winners all around.

Our featured gymnasts are Simone, Gabby, Aly, Maggie, Laurie, and Ragan, in case you thought there were others. There aren’t. What bars specialists?

We start with Brenna Dowell on floor – OH WAIT YOU THOUGHT WE WERE SEEING THAT? Hah no. Silly silly silly.

Nastia is telling us her best memories of the ranch. SO MANY GOOD MEMORIES.

Tim: Size up.
Nastia: Be more interesting.
Al: Continue looking like an old racist turtle.

Meanwhile, Tim is entering the “looking like a middle-aged lesbian” portion of his life with admirable gusto.


Dowell time. Her Pebbles and Bam-bam hair is already in trials form.

Dowell – FX – double front – Tim thought she was opening with the pike, like hse has done never. Fien on double L turn – front double pike to wolf, just stays in – quite short on switch 1/2 – 1.5 to front full with a bound forward, close to OOB again – front 2/1 with crossover step – too bouncy and steppy on her landings. Needs a KJ routine stat.

Biles – BB – In the graphic of US champs, they listed Shawn above Nastia. HEADS WILL ROLL. Simone is gdoing some “very unique things” like a wolf turn. Solid 2.5 – chest down barani, small check but better overall – strong two loso series, no isssue – front tuck to sissone, pretty well connected – switch to switch half to back pike also will get connection credit – walkover + wolf – small check on barani is all so far – hops back further than usual on tuck full, but excellent start.

Tim has already awarded Simone 5 gold medals, so anything else will be a disappointment.

TIM! Stop telling people to do more wolf turns!

14.150 for Brenna on floor. 6.0 D.

Kim Z looks cold. Someone get her a jacket!

Hernandez – FX – “She’s so bubbly!” – couple hops back on DLO, some leg separation – she looks tense, the routine is obviously great but a little more facially contained than usual – double arabian is good, looked to come in a little tad short but hung on – front 2/1 to tuck is fine, pops up and bounces somewhat – bounce back on double tuck – final leaps look good – finishes after music? – “That music is made for Rio” SHUT UPPA YOUR FACE.

15.700 for Simone. Simone things. Laurie should score well, needs more landing control, but she has set the pace for Dougie.

What exactly was Martha wowing about? Really, though?

Kocian – VT – Yfull, clean body position, hop in place, NCAA 9.850.

14.700 for Laurie. Tim doesn’t quite understand. Well, Tim, there are some things called landings. This is why people think gymnastics is such a joke, because the commentators act like they don’t even know what’s going on.

Locklear – BB – Thank you Tim. This routine doesn’t matter – some wolf slop – minor check on loso series – front tuck to split, pretty – L turn to full turn – hits side somi – side aerial to split is slow in connection, I wouldnt give it – good extension on switch and switch half, bigger wobble on back tuck – double tuck step back. “She definitely won’t be used.” That’s our Nastia!

Douglas – VT – strong DTY, good form, large bounce back. Christian is matching Gabby’s leo. She’ll need to control that a bit more.

Locklear 14.450. Douglas 14.800.

I hear Ragan Smith’s abomination starting. We’re not seeing it. COMMERCIAL TIME.

Hernandez up to 14.800 now. It was totally Al’s doing. He’s in charge of gymnastics you guys.

Skinner goes 14.200 on beam. Smith 13.100 on floor with a 7.700 E. Texas Dreams is having a bad old week…

Raisman – BB – front pike to wolf, legs a bit apart but connected – good on the layout, small shuffle back – switch to back tuck, good position and rhythm – sissone to pike jump, separation on pike jump – solid side aerial – that damn switch 1/2 – good front tuck to split – L turn to full turn, a little floppy in L – sticks Patterson. Well now. That will do again. Very strong.

OK. Here we go. Nichols time. Bars.

Nichols – UB – toe fulla bit late – into chap connection _ pak _ shap 1/2 – well connected – one short hs in there – close on jaeger but fine – sticks DLO. Great return. Not a huge huge D, but serviceable certainly.

14.600 for Nichols, behind Hundley’s 14.700 which won’t make her argument for bars.

Raisman 15.150.

Gowey just 13.250 on floor. Le sigh.

Simone is only leading by .550 after one. Raisman in 2nd, Hernandez and Douglas third.

Tim, explain how this new-fangled weird Olympic team thing can be put together. Tim is putting Gabby on only bars. This is so much simpler than the boys.

Tim is telling us not to forget about MyKayla Skinner. But can’t we?

I like how they had all these different comparisons for the men, and for the women it’s just like Simone, Gabby, Aly, bars specialist, and just like this whole pile of whatevers. Interesting that they included Baumann in Pile Of Whatever.

“Very low score for Laurie Hernandez.” Stop lying. You don’t know.

Hernandez – VT – not much distance on DTY, but very controlled landing, small hop in place. 15.050. She’s ahead of Gabby in the AA race on vault.

Baumann – FX – No, Al, she’s not contributing on floor. stalkder shap to pak, great amplitude – toe full late connected to shap back to bail – leg break on bail – falls on a SHOOT TO HIGH BAR. “Such a simple skill.” Thanks, Nast.

Continues with jaeger – DLO, short with a step forward. NO LAURENT HUGS FOR YOU.

Biles – FX – Biles things, just the smallest bounce back out of a DLO 1/1 – Biles to sissone is excellent – great amplitude on leaps – sticks double double – sticks tuck full. Well, that was sufficiently ridiculous.

“I forgot my dance.”
“Most people wouldn’t know.”

We do now.

Smith – VT – fine DTY – doesn’t have the amplitude of the others, flat, good distance, small hop. When Tim’s commentary starts with “But…” you know it’s not great.

16.100 on floor for Simone. Al thinks it’s TOO LOW. Yeah, that super low 16.

Nastia and Tim have to improv about Kocian on bars. Proud of Tim for not “little kid on a playground”ing it. We’d definitely rather do this than Gowey’s vault.

Kocian – UB – inbar full doesn’t connect out of it – inbar shap, fingertops – to pak to shap 1/2, worked it out – bent elbows catching jaeger – late piro – good stalder full to tuck full. 6.6 start and a bit clunky in places but solid. Locklear can beat that with execution.

6.6 – 15.450 for Kocian. Ouch. She was 15.700 at classic. In the words of Elfi Schlegel, “Ugh, it’s beatable.”

Well good, I’ve had an ad buffering problem and missed everything. FUN SO FUN.

Douglas – UB – toe full  – piked tkatchev to pak is nice – inbar half to endo to shap half is caught – bent elbows on inbar – sticks DLO – good one. Bits and pieces, some piking on the DLO. 15.100. 6.4 difficulty instead of her intended.

Raisman Raismaned well on floor. You know. That was the routine I missed with the buffering, but I think we can all just assume. She stayed in bounds, so that determines it.

Nichols – BB – wolf, hand support? – sold side somi – wolf to front tuck with a check, wolf is very short of positions – another large wobble on side aerial, bends at the hips – oh Maggie – strong loso series – fine switch – good double pike, small step but too many wobbles.

Raisman goes 15.600 on floor. Two jobs done.

13.900 for Nichols. Yeah…
For Nichols, she hasn’t done anything DEVASTATING, but this will mostly just be an incomplete until trials.

Skinner went 14.7 on floor, which isn’t going to do anything for her.

OH LOOK IT’S TIME FOR ANDREA. Forgiven because Kyla is here, looking lovely and SO GLAD to be done. Maybe I’m just reading that in, but this is the happiest she has ever looked in an interview. This was an “I’M FREE” interview.

“Boy, she was elegant.” She’s not fucking dead, Al.

Kocian – BB – “This is really important.” nails arabian, very strong – check on switch ring but commendable position on it – small adjustment on loso series – breaks connection from walkover into sheep, losing 0.2 – very pretty side aerial – switch alone, no back tuck this time – hop forward on double pike. Hit, not her full difficulty.

Oh phew, she got a Laurent hug. So it’s OK. 14.400.

Skinner – VT – I like how they’re pretending she’s a one-event gymnast. 2.5 – lands a bit short with a step to the side. Can’t believe we didn’t get a Tim “Oh gah OHHH, well that was…frankly dangerous.” 15.200. Just .150 more than the Hernandez DTY.

Second vault – One-Armed Willy. Solid landing. Now Tim wants this to be her first vault, suddenly now.

WHAT IS THIS WITH THE BEADS. Ragan is 15, not 7. Hi.

Smith – Too busy sarcastic tweeting – pretty pak – flings out tuck full with a hop – solid, fine, not her big event though.

Raisman – VT – 2.5 – corkscrew legs, larger step to the side, but comfortable enough. 15.350. Ahead of Skinner on it but not definitive or amazing for this one.

Douglas – BB – front pike to sissone, slides forward in the connection to avoid a break or wobble – very strong loso series – smallish check on back full – checks on switch, breaks connection with a switch 1/2 that was shorter than her usual – larger break on L turn, transfored it into a y spin to keep in on the beam – switch ring – walkover to split was very strong, but this is too wobbly – a little short on double pike, hop forward.

Biles – VT – hop forward on Amanar, everything else usual and perfect – .3 hop though, but let’s watch the execution score.

16.000. 9.700 E score, so just for the hop?

Second vault – Cheng is better than the Amanar – not as high, great distance, small hop.

Gabby 14.200 on beam. She just made a pretty good argument for Laurie Hernandez. Her beam is one of the significant routines still left.

Oh, Al. Shut up about her floor score like you know the code.

Hernandez – UB – stalder full crazy legs into shap to tkatechev  – piked tkatchev – Ricna to pak – Shayla composition but it’s working – good rhythm, short handstand before hismount, sticks tuck full. That will score well. Legs on the stalder remain the biggest thing.

Also, Brenna Dowell got 14.050 on bars. So that’s that.

15.300 for Hernandez. 8.900 E score.

Baumann – BB – check on arabian but holds it – lovely aerial to sissone – exceptional two loso series – switch to switch half, larger wobble on switch half – aggressive switch ring, that thing could put an eye out – a little slow in onodi to wolf combo but she’ll get it, nothing to take in execution there – side aerial – double pike a bit low small step. Fine, good, too many checks.

Tim just said something about walnuts and Al literally snorted.

15.000 for Baumann. In behind Raisman with Hernandez and Smith still to beam, which won’t help her argument.

Simone is only ahead of Raisman by 1.500? Doesn’t it feel like it should be more?

Unless something happens, it looks like it will be Raisman 2, Hernandez 3, Douglas 4. Hernandez can gain a ton on Raisman if she hits beam because Raisman is on bars, but Raisman has a 1.150 lead, which is probably safe with a hit.

Locklear – UB – here we go, opportunity for her with just a normal hit – inbar full – to inbar shap to pak to toe shap – to bail – to shoot – all excellent – legs together and hitting handstands – strong jaeger – a little low on tuck full with a step forward. Will be another huge E score.

15.600 for Locklear.

Locklear 2, Kocian 0.

Smith – BB – actually a nice wolf – switch to straddle – break on layout, bend at teh hips – step back on tuck full and a leg-up wobble – check again on front tuck – breaks walkover to pike jump connection – sheep – pretty good on Patterson, hop back. I want a pep talk from Kim Zmeskal.

“If you see her head shaking side to side, she’s not happy.” Yes, Tim, that’s true of literally everyone.

Al informs us that 15.600 is SO MUCH MORE than 15.450.

Douglas – FX – good switch ring – solid double arabian to wolf – back full to back tuck, attempted Ferrari connection, ugh – double Y is OK – lovely split positions – heel falls on double L connection into L turn – nails double pike – a little short on double tuck with a small hop. Good. D score will be interesting.

14.300 for Smith.

Raisman – UB – SHE LOOKS SO THRILLED FOR THIS – toe full, late – shap with legs, hits tkatchev combo – jaeger – bail to stalder full, pause in the stalder full – hop on double front. Hit.

They’ve certainly changed their tune about Aly NEVER doing bars EVEN IN QUALIES.

Douglas 14.800 on floor. Same as Hernandez.

14.150 for Raisman. 8.250 E.

Hernandez would need 15.300 on beam to tie. Potentially doable for her.

Apparently Aly looks tired. HOW DARE SHE. Almost like she did a gymnastics meet or something.


Biles – UB – Weiler time – shap – toe full to tkatchev – pike tkatchev to pak, great legs throughout – sticks tuck full. Well, no trouble there.

“She will probably score higher than some of the other gymnasts competing tonight.” NASTIA IS WISDOM.

Hernandez – BB – solid front pike – walkover to sissone to split, wonderful positions – pulls back very well to avoid a check on her losos series – hits sheep – a little slow in combo from front tuck to wolf but she’ll get it – excellent throughout, just a bend or two – slow in the switch to switch 1/2 combo and a check after switch half – good switch ring – low on double pike step back. Good one.

62.900 for Simone. Slacker. Where’s my 63.

Exactly 15.300 for Hernandez. She will tie Raisman. Look how that worked out. 60.450 for both. Douglas at 58.900. Kocian still to finish with floor.

Kocian 14.500 on floor, goes into 5th with a 58.150. Would have been close to Douglas if she had done a DTY.

Hundley in 6th, Skinner 7th, Baumann 8th, Smith 9th.

VERY big for Hundley to finish 6th.


Everyone is great except Ragan Smith. Thanks.

Apparently, there’s something missing from Gabby’s personality. OK…? What. Tim managed to mispronounce stoic about it again. Um, she kind of messed up beam? So there’s something missing from her personally?

Well, so Biles, Raisman, Douglas, Hernandez, Locklear.

Everyone else has work to do.

I’m not in the camp who believes Douglas really did anything to jeopardize her chances with this. It was just OK. If anything, she’s less likely to do beam in TF, but that could have been the case anyway. Plus, we know that Douglas has her moments where she sucks on beam. It happened in 2011. It happened in 2012. It happened in 2015.

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