A. NCAA Cavalcade of Stars
The parade of preseason showcases is winding down as the teams focus on pushing themselves into regular-season form, just so they can then take a big ol’ Christmas break right before the first meet. This is why coaches have aneurysms.
Anyway, the broadcast exhibitions from Utah, Michigan/EMU, and LSU can be replayed at the links provided, and for my thoughts on them, check out the respective team previews for Utah, Michigan, and LSU.
Oklahoma also held a public exhibition that wasn’t even on national television (like an idiot), but it featured Maggie Nichols being all Maggie Nichols.
She received a 10.0 for this routine. You should take preseason scoring with a vat of salt and the appropriate level of not paying attention to it at all (Michigan’s meet featured “celebrity” judges, as long as you don’t know what a celebrity is), but that actually is kind of a 10. From what I’ve seen, the Oklahoma routines were scored (relatively) realistically. I had to laugh about Nichols getting a 10.0 on bars before her first routine even happened, though, as I imagine McKenzie Wofford looking at that like, “Seriously?! Three years over here.”
Emily Giambalvo was at the meet and has Nichols’ full floor routine.
And the normal amount of not being able to even re: Miss Capps.
And Brenna on bars.
UCLA has our first glimpse of Kocian continuing to look completely Kocian in NCAA. We see Stalder Shap to Pak, and then Toe Shap 1/2, which is already six tenths of bonus and she hasn’t even dismounted yet. She might be OK.
We also see THE PENG, who is adding a Ray to her routine in addition to her impossibly beautifully executed Bhardwaj. Check out that full Zamarripa of a handstand from Savvidou, who (according to a totally unbiased and definitely mysterious UCLA-obsessed person whom you will never guess) is the sleeper hit of UCLA’s preseason training.
On beam, we have Peng’s Homma flares (directly connected to enacting world peace through arm wave), Kocian being normal (walkover, sheep, side aerial…no standout skills but she doesn’t need them), and Ohashi continuing to work the layout 1/1. She’s hitting it, and I’d imagine we’ll see some difficulty-respect scoring here. It’s the year of difficulty in NCAA.
Janay Honest won The Great Bruin DLO Off.
FLOG has its full visit to Alabama, the highlights of which are the expected: Kiana Winston’s Pak and Aja Sims’ switch side. Buttah.
“The goal is to be consistently consistent.” MURDERMURDERMURDERMURDER. My new resolution is to banish the word “consistent” from my gymnastics vocabulary. When a gymnast falls a lot, we always say, “She needs to work on her consistency.” Actually, she has been really consistent. She needs to work on her not falling.
Oregon State has Dani Dessaints and Kaytianna McMillan working their 1.5s again.
Because I’ve been talking up Southern Utah, here’s some very well executed beam.
Polina is getting back to training bars.
A few more teams still have preseason showcases to do, including Georgia today (Friday) and Denver on Saturday, so keep an eye out for videos of those.
In I-know-you-don’t-want-to-read-this-but-really-should affairs, the IndyStar has published its comprehensive investigation into sexual abuse in USA Gymnastics (reports from 368 gymnasts), with some expert analysis about all the things USAG could have done (and could do), but didn’t and isn’t.
OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, darlings Emma and Jess interviewed friend of the pod Danell Leyva again because who doesn’t want to hear more from Danell? It’s more fun than reading about sexual abuse. But also actually fun. And only a little bit about sexual abuse.
D. Toyota International
Last weekend, the Toyota International decided to confirm to us that Mai Murakami is excellent. Brand new information. Murakami won beam and floor, though also of note on floor is Aiko Sugihara’s silver with a 6.2 D score (compared to the 5.8 she showed at the Olympics). The woman is a post-Olympics upgrading queen, also showing a new DTY this fall instead of the 1.5 from Rio. Japan is in it to win it.
Melnikova had a solid meet, winning bars as expected, placing second to Murakami on beam and floor, and finishing 4th on vault by pulling out the requisite Russian DTY/Lopez combination that they all have to do for some reason. Speaking of DTY/Lopez combinations, miracle of miracles, Seda hit two consecutive vaults to win the vault title. The next day she went to floor and got an 11 with a 6.333 E score, which is closer to what we were expecting given the general “Eeyore meets Oliver Twist with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” look she has had this entire fall.
E. Olympic Channel
NBC is launching an Olympic TV channel next summer as part of the IOC’s Olympic channel initiatives. Didn’t you already do that? And wasn’t it called Universal Sports? And wasn’t it terrible and not even in HD and nobody got it and we couldn’t always watch Classic? That’s what I thought.
But wait. This one will be different.
Executives say this Olympic channel will be different because it will offer original programming the IOC is now producing to augment the lengthy schedule of live events. For example, Olympic Channel producers have created an original series, “The Z Team,” in which an Olympic great coaches a struggling team.
Here’s the thing: I’m obsessed with the Olympics, and even I don’t care about this. Are normals really going to?
F. Elite training
So, more people than NCAA gymnasts are training skills right now. Weird. Because she thinks she’s the love child of Dominique Dawes and Kui Yuanyuan, Maile O’Keefe is currently training a side aerial, layout stepout, layout stepout, tuck full on a floor beam.
The answer to your question is obviously never, but who cares?
G. Rounding up the gossips
Apparently we’re supposed to care that Aly Raisman is officially dating a giant slab of Wonder bread named Colton. Kendylzie saw them outside the cafeteria after study hall and everything. Because of gymnasts and football players?
Maria Paseka is the usual Russian amount of “I might have to retire because of injury” and plans to keep training.
Laurie Hernandez is aggressively noncommittal about becoming world champion in 2017. “Undecided” usually means no.
H. Fantasy Gymnastics
Your drafts are due by December 30th. Unfortunately, I found it way too easy to complete my list of 200 gymnasts. Now I just have to organize them. This is going to require a spreadsheet, isn’t it? “Damn it,” he says pretending like making a spreadsheet of gymnastics scores isn’t his literal dream.
The big strategic question for this year is whether you try to go after all those juicy new elite freshmen or just concede them in an effort to gobble up the less famous names.