A. The Era of House Watanabe
The FIG’s biennial Wearing Suits And Patting Each Other On The Back convention took place in Tokyo this week, and everyone wore a suit and patted each other the back for just being so darn great.
Unlike most years, the 2016 congress was actually worth paying attention to because it featured Bruno Grandi officially turning to ooze and seeping through a grate in the floor to return to his native state, followed by the selection of his successor.
The nominees, Morinari Watanabe and Georges Guelzec, were compelled to face off against each other in three categories: the joust, the compulsory vault, and the Salt-N-Pepa lip sync. Guelzec did well in the joust, but failed to show an appropriate piked shape in both the vault and lip sync portions, giving the competition to Watanabe pretty handily.
We’re all thrilled because Watanabe is the first non-European ever to hold this position (no corrupt nepotism here…) and seems the more likely of the two candidates to avoid being Grandi Part 2. His proposal was also very focused on doing more to help the smaller federations grow, which is a smart way to earn support in an election where everyone’s vote is worth the same. There are a lot more smaller federations than powerful federations.
B. The Era of House Sacchi
In less prominent news, but no less significant for our purposes, Nellie Kim has been elected as one of the three vice presidents to serve under Watanabe, meaning she will no longer be the head of the women’s technical committee. Nellie finished third in the first round of vice-presidential ballots and had to go to a second ballot to get elected, so you know someone is getting murdered in a lake later.
The WTC leadership now falls to Kim’s right-hand woman, Donatella Sacchi. Not Donatella Versace. Do we know what Sacchi thinks about anything? Particularly re: stork stands and stupid passages of dance elements? She has been Nellie’s loyal assistant for a while now, so probably more of the same. Unless it was some sort of elaborate long con, he says excitedly.
The congress also elected a brand new executive committee.
I’m going to assume all the women happened to be unavailable for this picture.
Yeah, good. You wouldn’t want any more women deciding the future of the sport. I mean yuck. That would be insane. I’m just going to say the “We Are Gymnastics” slogan maybe isn’t the best look for this particular picture.
C. NCAA Training
We still have a while to go before the teams start showing off videos from their Halloweentrasquads, but Oklahoma did give us a sneak peek of three milliseconds of Maggie Nichols’ new floor routine to a violin version of that song that follows me around like a poltergeist. So that will be fun to hear all year. But actually it looks good so far.
In other Oklahoma news, here are three events from Ali Jackson.
Bars will be an interesting one. Jackson was basically a stop-gap fill-in who ended up getting high 9.8s in the leadoff spot last season, though Nichols and Dowell won’t exactly make it easier for her to stay in the lineup this year.
Sonya Meraz is showing solid counter-rotation on a Ray—an upgrade from the Tkatchev—though the double layout dismount has always been the real deduction trap in her routine. That built-in tenth will probably decide whether she’s actually lineup again this year since UCLA is going to be so much better and deeper on bars.
Meanwhile, Florida is reminding us that Amelia Hundley and Rachel Gowey are kind of going to be things.
This week, a listener commission gave us the opportunity to sit around for a few hours recapping the 1992 Olympics with special inside perspective from 1992 Olympian Wendy Bruce Martin.
We recap every single moment (literally every single moment), gush about Gutsu and Lysenko and Hadarean and Lu Li, get the real story on Kim Kelly-gate, discuss the merits of compulsories, conduct an Australian leotard intervention, do some Nancy Drewing about Kim Gwang Suk’s teeth, and a whole lot more.
If you have any topic you’d like us to spend a couple hours having aggressive and silly opinions about, you can commission your own GymCastic podcast by clicking here.
E. Chinese individuals
Last week, I included a video of Bai Yawen’s podium training from the Chinese Individual Championships, but apparently that was just a clever trap because she didn’t end up competing. Not with a bang but a whimper.
None of the major Chinese gymnasts competed here, so the AA was ultimately won by Luo Huan with a score in the 52s. The vault final did feature some Tsuk 2/1s, and Wang Cenyu recorded the only non-vault score in the 14s with a 14.200 to win the beam final.
I wish the US had a little end-of-year second-tier championship like this, where none of the big names compete—and maybe the qualification score is lower than it is for Classic—but the secondary elites get a chance to show what they can do and, most importantly, entertain us during this long, cold off-season. Like Winter Cup, but less horrifying. Classic used to be sort of like that before it got name-brand sponsorship, but now we have only bigger domestic meets and random elite qualifiers, nothing in between.