Things Are Happening – February 23, 2017

A. Weekend schedule

Friday, February 24
Scores Watch
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Maryland, Temple, Southern Connecticut, West Chester (@ Philadelphia, PA)
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [13] Missouri @ [3] Florida LINK SEC
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [8] Denver @ [20] Ohio State LINK OSU $
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [18] Washington, [22] Illinois, Northern Illinois @ [11] Kentucky LINK SEC+
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – William & Mary @ North Carolina LINK ACC
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Rutgers @ Towson LINK FREE
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Ball State @ Eastern Michigan LINK ESPN3
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – Air Force @ [23] New Hampshire LINK FREE
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – UW-Whitewater @ UW-La Crosse FREE
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – UW-Eau Claire @ UW-Oshkosh FREE
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – UW-Stout @ Gustavus Adolphus LINK
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – [7] Georgia @ [1] Oklahoma LINK OU $
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [2] LSU @ [14] Auburn LINK SEC
8:30 ET/5:30 PT – [12] Boise State @ [4] Alabama LINK SEC+
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [10] Oregon State @ Stanford LINK P12
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – [17] Iowa @ BYU LINK FREE
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Sacramento State, San Jose State, Seattle Pacific @ UC Davis LINK FB
Saturday, February 25
Scores Watch
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Brown, Cornell, Penn @ Yale Ivy $
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – [21] Arkansas @ Michigan State LINK BTN+
2:00 ET/11:00 PT – Lindenwood @ Centenary LINK FREE
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Arizona @ [6] UCLA LINK P12
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Pitt @ Penn State LINK FREE
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [5] Utah @ Arizona State LINK P12
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – [19] Cal, [24] Utah State, SEMO @ [15] Nebraska LINK FREE?
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – [16] George Washington, Kent State @ NC State LINK ACC
Sunday, February 26
Scores Watch
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Southern Utah @ [9] Michigan LINK FREE
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – [24] Iowa State, Maryland @ West Virginia LINK FREE
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Bowling Green @ Central Michigan LINK ESPN3
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Air Force @ Bridgeport
1:00 ET/10:00 PT – Ursinus, Brockport, Rhode Island @ Ithaca FREE
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – [1] Oklahoma @ TWU LINK FLOG
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Winona State, Hamline, Gustavus Adolphus @ Minnesota LINK BTN+
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Western Michigan @ Illinois-Chicago LINK
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – [22] Illinois, Illinois State @ [8] Denver LINK DU $

It looks like no TV for Oklahoma’s meet against Georgia on Friday, but there will be plenty of SEC meets and a rare Friday Pac-12 affair between Oregon State and the concept of unease, all of which will keep us warm instead.

B. Meet Notes

Georgia @ Oklahoma
This is Oklahoma’s senior night (already!), so be on the lookout for the McKenzie Wofford 10 that we’ve been wondering about for, oh, four years now. And the Chayse Capps 10, but obviously. This will also be a excellent opportunity to gauge how competitive Georgia actually is, now 7th in the country and knocking on the door of the Super Six places but still with just one score into the 197s. Georgia isn’t going to win this meet, but is Georgia somewhere in the vicinity of Oklahoma, enough to look like a believable Super Six team?

Washington and Boise State?
Who would have thought that Boise State’s visit to Alabama and Washington and Illinois’ visits to Kentucky would be the most interesting meets of the weekend? They kind of are.

Boise State looks poised to reenter the top 10 with even a mid-196 in this meet, which is below the level of their recent scores. A couple seasons ago, Boise State was in a similar position, starting to make some ranking noise before a mid-season visit to Alabama. On that occasion, they were on 197 pace in the first half of the meet before a disastrous floor rotation in the 47s. Can’t make it back to the top 10 with that.

Washington and Kentucky are all set for the ultimate “people have been saying ‘they’re actually really good this season’ about us” throwdown. Two enter, but only one “they’re actually really good this season” can survive. Who will it be? Both teams still have some 195s to drop, though Washington’s need is more extreme since the Huskies don’t really have any usable road scores yet.

Illinois will also be right in this meet, especially if Kentucky has another one of those 195 walkabouts. Expect Illinois to jump up the rankings next Monday with a two-meet weekend and a 194.200 still to drop, which should be pretty easy to get rid of.

Northern Illinois is unlikely to challenge the other three, but it’s still a huge meet for NIU, a team that is squarely in the regionals picture (39th) and could do itself a world of good with a 195 road score that erases the 192.850 that’s currently being counted.

Pac-12 danger zone
A number of Pac-12 teams need some big totals this weekend. Washington and Cal both have regional-seed aspirations but will be stuck counting a 195 road score unless this weekend produces a solid result. These two also look to be fighting each other for the final evening-session spot at Pac-12s, so the back-and-forth between the two will be interesting to watch over the next month. Arizona is a bit farther behind in the rankings and the whole team is injured, so perhaps not the same seeding aspirations. Still, the danger of counting some iffy road scores is also getting real. And then there’s Stanford. The usual.

Also keep an eye on what Auburn and Nebraska score, both on the verge of counting a 196.0 unless they beat that mark this weekend. Not horrible, but not ideal.

C. Claire Boyce

In a surprising turn of events, Claire Boyce has decided to call it on her gymnastics career because of “I might not have a hip anymore.” I say it’s surprising because you don’t normally see gymnasts medically retire right after getting 9.775 on floor, which she did last weekend, but it was clear this season that Boyce was hampered, not competing comfortably, and not able to return to her previous level. We didn’t see her at all on beam, for instance, which had been her best event.

Still, Boyce put together a solid first two years of weekly contributions on beam and floor, which was impressive for a gymnast who came into a deep team without the same fanfare as the big Florida names. She became more than the “really help our depth” gymnast she might have been.

D. Bye

In “another one bites the dust” news, Jeff Thompson is finally out at Penn State. Probably because he wants to spend more time with his family and no other reasons at all.

Obviously, none of us were falling for that “Rachelle resigned so please forget about this story immediately, it’s fine that Jeff is still here because it’s not like they were coaching together or anything” routine, though it is ridiculous that this didn’t happen…then. I know, let’s wait until two-thirds of the way into a season that will definitely go super smoothly and then fire him. That’ll be good for the team.

E. Melbourne World Cup

The World Cup season speckling-throughout-the-year has begun in Melbourne with a meet featuring the top Australians, some legit high-level Chinese team members, and Sanne Wevers. Qualification is already done, but with only a couple people even participating, basically everyone makes the final.

Wevers qualified in third on beam, going for the majority (but not all) of her usual difficulty. Of note, she broke a critical turn series at exactly the wrong moment to lose intended difficulty and ended with 5.4.

Still, we can see several clear adjustments made to accommodate the new code here, particularly adding a wolf jump 1/1 (now a D) and performing a split jump out of the aerial (to get that D+B mixed connection).

Qualifying first on beam was Liu Tingting, and I really want to talk about her brand-new beam composition because she basically demonstrated to all elite gymnasts exactly how to use the new code of points to her advantage with a 6.2 D (6.3 attempted).

Front pike mount (E)
Front handspring (B) + Front tuck (D) = 0.2 CV
Switch ring (E) + Back handspring (B) = 0.1 CV (broken connection)
Full turn (A)
Split leap (B) + Side aerial (D) + Split jump (B) = 0.2 CV, 0.1 SB
Front handspring (B) + Split ring jump (D) + Korbut (B) = 0.2 CV, 0.1 SB
Front aerial (D) + Stag ring (B) = 0.1 CV
Switch leap (C) + Sissone (A)
Round-off (B) + Double tuck (D)
Acro – EDDDD = 2.1
Dance – EDC = 1.2
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV and SB = 1.0
D-SCORE = 6.3

First of all, note how everyone in the world is suddenly doing real mounts now that they’ve gone up in value. I’m so for it.

More than that, however, Liu is skipping through the woods with a whole wicker basket of B elements that she’s using in combination to ramp up her D score. She’s attempting to use the new D+B mixed combination on seven different occasions, along with going for two of the new mixed-series 0.1 bonuses.

In the 2016 code, CV was granted for D+A mixed combinations with the specification that the D element be acro and the A element be dance. In the new D+B connection, there is no such specification, which opens up a new world of combos and series, like Liu’s front handspring + split ring + Korbut. A combination like that is suddenly extremely valuable. B elements are the new D elements.

That (attempted) switch ring to back handspring reveals another potential new method of squeezing out a connection tenth from a mixed combo, but one I’m not too thrilled about. We get enough “ending with a back handspring and pretending that’s a connection that makes sense” in NCAA.

F. WOGA Classic

On the subject of D, last weekend’s WOGA Classic saw Zsofia Kovacs of Hungary ultimately finish second in the AA to Japan’s Kiko Kuwajima, also finishing second on bars to China’s Lyu Jiaqi. Kovacs’ bars routine interests me because here’s the D-score she was given.

Inbar (D) + Toe-on 1/1 (D) + Toe-on Shap (D) + Pak (D) + Toe-on Shap 1/2 (E) = 0.4 CV
Toe-on 1/2 (C) + Piked Jaeger (E)
Cast 1/2 (B)
Full-twisting double tuck (D)
EEDDDDDC = 3.3
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.4
D-SCORE = 5.7

Yet—and there was some confusion over this when the new code came out—the code also has a new bars stipulation that only three elements from each root can be used, and the fourth skill from the same root should receive no value.

screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-1-29-33-pm

It would then seem to me that Kovacs’ toe-on 1/2—her fourth backward toe-on skill in the routine—shouldn’t have received DV credit, which would bring her to a 5.6. Or am I misreading this? Thoughts? Clarifications?

G. Sam Mikulak

Because we were all having fun predicting how many times Sam Mikulak would plummet to the ground on random difficulty at Winter Cup this year, he decided to make us all feel guilty by tearing his Achilles in his very first routine. Womp. That’s the end of that. We can’t have nice things.

Mikulak was supposed to compete at the American Cup in a week’s time, so instead the US spots will go to the 1-2 finishers from Winter Cup, Yul Moldauer and Akash Modi.

I’m pleased with this decision. I am a bit surprised that they didn’t select Whittenburg since he’s a more prominent name on the scene who was also able to compete the AA at Winter Cup (no small feat, apparently), but surprised in a good way. Modi and Moldauer earned their spots with their finishes, showed that they’re currently in the best form and most likely to actually hit at American Cup, and will get more out of this assignment in terms of experience and an investment in gymnasts who will need to be good come 2020. Whittenburg has been there before. He’ll instead go to the London World Cup event.

H. GymCastic

This week’s episode is an interview with Alaina and Steve Legendre about Vitaly Marinitch sexually assaulting Alaina after nationals in 2014. Their story is very revealing about USAG’s methods for dealing with this kind of issue. Beyond how utterly baffling it is that someone wouldn’t be fired immediately for sticking his unauthorized hand down someone’s pants (just…how?), their story also exposes USAG’s random handling of the matter, all very unofficial and unclear and unhelpful, focused more on plausible deniability than on athlete safety.

Gymnastics is basically just one bad story after another right now, but the hope is that we’re finally, actually starting to get the poison out. Whether that’s a naive thought remains to be seen and depends on what happens next.

I. Beam routine of the week

Applause for Jeanette Antolin this week.

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