(Terrible) Things Are Happening – July 15, 2016

A. John Orozco


John Orozco suffered his 118th ACL tear and is out of the Olympics, to be replaced by Danell Leyva. Orozco’s injury is a lesson that as long as you work hard and are kind and generous, shitty things will keep happening to you forever because life is garbage. Get ready for all the emotionally exploitative narrative fluff at the Olympics!

Leyva is the natural replacement for Orozco on PBars and HBar (as long as he has his high bar together………) though this does mean that Leyva will also have to go on pommel horse in the team final. Orozco’s scoring potential on horse is higher than Leyva’s, but it’s also horse and America, so scoring potential isn’t always that meaningful. Someone was going to get a 13 anyway. Might as well be Leyva. Leyva and Orozco are similar enough that this probably shouldn’t change expectations for what the US will accomplish in Rio all that dramatically.

Leyva finished very well in the all-around at trials and thought he should have been named to the team based on that, but he also handled it like an adult person and is now going back to the Olympics. Just throwing that out there.

B. Team GB Women

Great Britain announced its Olympic teams this week, with the relatively non-dramatic women’s team being Downie 1, Downie 2, Fragapane, Tinkler, and Harrold. This is the expected team,  a decision far less wrought than GB’s 2012 team selection. Jupp and Simm would have been right in the running, but they’re both very 6th-person-on-the-team and fall victim to the limited size of the Olympic squads. Also, #CatherineLyons2020

In fact, this is the exact team that performed in the 2015 team final (since Simm competed only in qualification). It’s a well-rounded group that brings critical DTYs and can realistically aim to finish second to the US on floor in the team final. Bars will feature the Downies and Harrold and can be brilliant or terrifying, or both at the same time. Beam is, of course, the scariest because of Great Britain. At their best the Downies and Fragapane can put up competitive scores, but everyone is a fall risk. I’m already nervous about it.

C. Team GB Men

The men’s selection was far more dramatic, as it seems to be for most countries these days, marked by the shocking exclusion of Dan Purvis in favor of Brinn Bevan, who is joined by Whitlock, Wilson, Thomas, and Smith. I didn’t even really consider that possibility (because when is Purvis not on the British team?), and I remain emotionally devastated at the idea that My Purvy will not be at the Olympics. I’m seriously considering photoshopping him into a photo of the team in place of Louis Smith. Too soon?

PapaLiukin has a very good writeup of the reasoning behind the decision (vault, vault, vault, vault, and more vault) and the most likely TF lineup. It’s a risky little game—so I can’t be too angry because I love risky teams—to dismiss Johnny Solid in the hope that Bevan brings in a big vault score and that Smith justifies his place for one event. If Bevan doesn’t get a big vault score, it’s tough to argue his value over Purvis.

As for Smith, he often does justify his place on teams for just one event because his PH score is so high that it negates the couple extra tenths Purvis could have brought on floor or PBars. Picking him does make sense, but I have to admit part of me was hoping Smith would be left off just for the inevitable social media tantrum. Yes, I’m part of the problem, not part of the solution.

D. Russian team

So there’s that. At least until someone else’s knee ligaments fall into a gully. Through all of this, it seems like the message to Seda is, “Ugh, I guess we’ll take you, but the second Afan can walk again, we’re sending you to that dungeon under Kazakhstan that we definitely don’t have shhhh.”

This still has the potential to be a very good team, even if it’s too dependent on Mustafina and Melnikova and will have to rely on Tutkhalyan to do hit-routine things. This group of five can more than get by, and with no other team looking all that overwhelming, “getting by” may yet be enough for silver. Floor will be an adventure.

E. Axelle Klinckaert

Because things continue to be awful, Axelle Klinckaert is injured and off the Belgium team, denying the world an opportunity to gaze upon her floor routine, which is so bizarre, and I adore it completely.

Some of her choreography is pecking. I love it so much I just want to smash it.

Klinckaert was working a DTY and was by far Belgium’s best AAer. The team takes a serious hit with this injury and probably falls to 12th in the ranking of the teams heading to the Olympics, although making it as a team was the big accomplishment for Belgium anyway. The rest is gravy.

F. Italian team & TF prospects

Italy’s Olympic team will be Ferrari, Ferlito, Fasana, Rizzelli, and Meneghini, which is probably as strong as it could be. Bars is going to be a problem, but it was going to be a problem no matter which team had been selected. They’ll need a big number from Rizzelli there otherwise things are going to be all kinds of 13. On the other events, Italy should be able to put up 3-4 quite solid scores with Ferrari and Ferlito doing the heavy lifting.

If I were Italy, though, I would be worried about Brazil sneaking ahead and upsetting the order of things. Italy has consistently made team finals recently, and should again with this group, but Brazil may have that extra vault and extra Flavia to shift things around this time and make things interesting, especially with beloved Netherlands also hanging around being all beloved and Netherlands.

The real argument against Netherlands repeating as a TF squad is vault. Italy, Brazil, Japan, and Canada have the big-value vaults and Netherlands doesn’t, which means they’ll likely have to rely on someone having errors unless the judges are truly in love with spinny beam for 15s.

G. Baumann, Hundley, and Florida

A few “elite retirements” have been announced in the wake of trials, but it’s sort of….yeah. You’re going to college. We knew that. No one really needs an announcement about it.

Maggie Nichols is going to Oklahoma and has already received 10s on every event, and Amelia Hundley will head to Florida as planned. This Florida class remains stacked, but the injury to Alyssa Baumann and her projected nine-month recovery period changes some expectations for lineups, putting more pressure on Hundley, Gowey, and Chant to do Sloan-replacement work. If Hundley can avoid MLTitis, she’ll be the team’s rock star. The routines she showed at trials were so NCAA 9.950 I couldn’t even stand it.

These developments are why I didn’t fully subscribe to Emily Gaskins’ reason for switching to Alabama being that she was never going to make lineups at Florida. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. Now Baumann is out for what looks like a season, and Hernandez is obviously going to feel a really powerful lure to go pro over the next few months. It will still be an incredibly deep team come 2019, but things change all the time. We have no idea what those lineups are going to look like in January, let alone three years from now.

14 thoughts on “(Terrible) Things Are Happening – July 15, 2016”

  1. So Leyva who should have been on the team in the first place Is finally on the team now? Sweet. Love Orozco but I was worried about injury when his name was called. Now if Grandpa Brooks goes down and Whittenburg steps in the USA may actually win that bronze medal in team finals (apologize about that, but the only way I see USA winning a medal in TF is with both Leyva and Donzilla on the team, especially after last years worlds when Whittenburg came darn close to an AA medal with a fall on vault and Brestyan high bar routine….). Looks like the fear of pommel horse has lessened with choosing Leyva over Modi, but given the GB team, Mazeka may be wishing Ruggeri or Whittenburg hAd made the cut to help out on vault.

    So terrified about the Russian ladies team. I anticipate high drama and some beam meltdowns in the near future.


    1. In order to justify Whittenburg on the team over Brooks, you have to eschew math or completely disregard the performances across Nationals and Trials. Same with Ruggeri.

      Overall, taking the current team (Leyva over Orozco), and replacing Brooks with Whittenburg, reduces the average team score by four tenths. If you look at the worst case scenario (taking the worst performances from all team members), you lose 1.8 points. Whittenburg is just too inconsistent to be trusted just about anywhere but rings and vault, which just so happen to be the best events in the US. Brooks is strong on high bar, which is a weak event this year for the team given all the falls.

      As for medal chances, the average team score with the team we have in place is 273.425. In the past four years, the average scoring differential for hit routines at home vs. at worlds/Olympics has been roughly .2. Thus, the expected average score for the team this year at the Olympics should be 269.325. This score would include two falls (the average number of falls recorded by the athletes who will be competing on the events in event finals per day throughout trials and nationals). Thus, the scoring potential of the team could be as high as 271 or so if everyone hits. 269.325 is very close to China’s score at worlds last year and would have earned bronze in 2014. The US team as assembled is right in the mix for the medal count. If they hit their routines, they should medal. Even if they have two falls, they could medal depending on how many falls the other teams have.

      Ultimately, the point is Whittenburg is in no way necessary to the team’s chances. He only contributes on events the US is already strong at.


      1. Brooks is good on all events, except pommel, but only great on high bar. Leyva is even better on high bar and is now on the team, hence making Brooks less valuable. I worry Brooks will get hammered by the international judges but hopefully his execution scores will keep him in the mix. Im just worried Leyva knocks him out of AA finals and then he’s literally competing on 2 events and being a big help on just one. I guess with all the high bar falls recently the men’s team really does need him on high bar though. US is known for being weak on pommels and rings but right now high bar is the biggest concern.


  2. So many injuries! I’ve never heard of Lorrane Oliviera or Liu Tingting being injured… is that true? Honestly, I think Liu would be a great alternate for china, but Tan should obviously go in her place… just my opinion.


  3. Another TERRIBLE thing that’s happening is that Shannon Miller will be in Rio as a Hershey ambassador (?!?!), so she likely won’t be commentating for the BBC’s coverage. To be sure, I’d still take BBC over NBC any day of the ever-loving quadrennium, but Shannon was really, really good at commentating. Maybe Nastia would have been, too, if she hadn’t gotten bitten by the NBCVampire of over-dramatic “story lines” and apocalyptic doom and sidewalk and money-bar tom-foolery.


    1. Do you think the problem is ultimately NBC or the American audience vs. British audience? BBC is also, I believe, supported by government whereas NBC is supported by ads, so it might not even being the stupidity of the American public vs. British public, but rather the need to cater to stupidity vs. emphasis on creating high quality broadcast with public funds.


      1. That’s a good and fair point. Yes, the BBC is rather like PBS (mostly publicly funded [and ever at risk of having their budgets slashed, though that’s new for the BBC]). There are still ads across all of the BBC’s channels, but you’re quite right that they don’t have to cater to an appetite for dumb story lines for the sake of viewers and ads. So yes, I think it’s mainly an NBC problem, not so much a cultural one. And/but anyone who can’t listen to Tim Daggett’s “ZOMG”s without succumbing to the urge to punch themselves in the throat ought to find themselves a decent VPN and watch BBC coverage. Much more measured (a .1 landing deduction is “a tiny hop” or “a little step” instead of “A GINORMOUS STEP ERMAGHERD SHE IS OUT OF MEDALS CONTENTION”) and shows a lot more routines than NBC does (though they always show all of the US routines, too). To be fair, I don’t think all of NBC’s coverage is bad — in other sports, in fact, I think they’re quite good — I just despise the way they cover gymnastics. ::end rant:: 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s