A. Weekend schedule
|Friday, April 7
|5:00 ET/2:00 PT – USAG Championships Semifinal 1
|10:00 ET/7:00 PT – USAG Championships Semifinal 2
|Saturday, April 8
|8:00am ET/5:00am PT – London World Cup – Women||NBC|
|2:00 ET/11:00 PT – London World Cup – Men||NBC|
|10:00 ET/7:00 PT – USAG Championships Team Final||LINK||FREE|
|Sunday, April 9
|4:00 ET/1:00 PT – USAG Championships Event Finals||LINK||FREE|
B. NCAA news
We may be in a holding pattern until NCAA nationals next week, but the weekly tour of various other NCAA championships arrives in Seattle this weekend for the USAG Collegiate Championship, which is limited to teams offering between 0 and 6 scholarships (as opposed to the DI norm of 12). Lindenwood and Bridgeport finished the season with identical RQSs and come in as the favorites.
Last weekend, UW-Whitewater took the DIII “we score vaults like JO now, but just for you” championship, its first title since 2014. La Crosse had won the previous two seasons.
The other NCAA news of the week is the retirement of Mark Stevenson, head coach at NC State for only the last 37 years (must try harder…). He’s been there so long he started as an assistant coach for the men’s team. Like, back when colleges had men’s teams. NC State made nationals once during his tenure, in 1998, and won five EAGL titles.
Colleen Johnson has been associate head coach for a while now and seems positioned as the obvious successor, but as these head coaching jobs open up through the off season, we’ll have to replenish our list of cool new coaches whose names we throw out willy-nilly at every opportunity now that Elise Ray and the Santoses are taken. In terms of head coaches, I’d expect Jen Kesler and Umme Salim-Beasley to be quite sought after by bigger programs given what Jen has done at Lindenwood after being thrown into that position as a literal fetus, and given the record-exploding season Temple had this year.
C. London World Cup
The all-around World Cup series moves on to London this weekend, with a women’s roster that should make for a pretty competitive showdown. And by pretty competitive showdown, I probably mean on-fire garbage can, but the leading contenders have all proven similar 54ish scoring potential in their performances so far this season. Tinkler will be the main home favorite now that Ellie Downie has withdrawn, although Tinkler did only bars at the British and only three events at the American Cup, so…we good. But actually…we good?
Tabea Alt will also compete here coming off of her one-fall Stuttgart victory, Melnikova’s 54.800 at Jesolo is the highest AA score for any of the London competitors so far this season, and Victoria Nguyen went 54.550 at Jesolo herself for a performance with a couple errors. Should be worthwhile. Georgia-Mae Fenton’s bars will also make another appearance, as will Liu Jinru being forced to do the all-around even though she’d rather just vault.
Verniaiev headlines the men’s competition because of course he does, but this competition will also give us our first post-Winter Cup look at Donnell Whittenburg, as well as a cameo from Brinn Bevan.
D. Jesolo round-up
Last weekend, everyone went to Italy with the goal of soaking up the international experience and flying into space with every landing on the Spieth floor, so TWO FOR TWO.
Riley McCusker won the all-around title with her glorious performance of the original etude, Bizarro American Cup, in which she looked worlds better on her three bad events from American Cup and then simply felt the force of gravity a little stronger than everyone else on her final pass on floor. We’re still in the spring of one-fall-counts-as-zero-falls, so that one-fall performance was good enough to outpace Rebeca Andrade in second and Abby “I have a fun game, it’s called hitting” Paulson in third. Also, the US won the team title. BUT WHAT.
Eremina’s fourth-place AA finish, bars victory, consistently hit Nabieva + Pak combination, and only one beam fall earned her the title of Least Depressing Russian.
Most of the US seniors fell at least once in the team competition, probably because the world is dead or gymnastics is over or VALERI OUT or something, but the juniors had no such struggles, with Gabby Perea and Maile O’Keefe both besting any of the senior scores with their 1-2 finish.
E. Aly Time
Aly Raisman has suddenly been in the “news” a lot the last couple days, mostly because she’s on a press tour right now to announce that periods exist.
But, she also announced that she still plans to return to training, and when she does, she’ll continue at Brestyan’s while being semi-coached by Mihai, who isn’t moving to Australia. He’ll just be flying from Boston to Australia and back every two seconds for Australian national camps, which sounds hellish.
When Gandalf Brestyan shows up at the 2020 Olympics, we’ll all know why.
Japan is holding its national championship this weekend (and will presumably announce its 2020 Olympic team tomorrow because Japan), with the big news out of qualification being Kohei’s crashy fourth-place finish. Definitely read a lot into that. Tons.
Mai Murakami is well out in front of the women’s field after qualification, with Teramoto in second, and Shiho Nakaji in third. Many of those presumed second-tier Japanese gymnasts we’ve seen already this year like Nakaji, Hitomi Hatakeda, and Ayu Koike placed well with 53s and managed to rank ahead of several of the Olympians. Aiko Sugihara sits fifth after beam troubles, Yuki Uchiyama is ninth after the same, and Sae Miyakawa is tenth because she had to do the AA and was like, “ugh.” She did, however, rank first on vault and second on floor, so the world still spins.
On this week’s episode, Jess, Lauren, and I broke down all the qualifiers, major developments, and times the world was enveloped in a cloud of darkness from regionals, with special attention paid to leotards, the Morgan-Lane-not-qualifying problem, and the Skinner-not-being-Pac-12-GOTY situation.
Then, we took to Jesolo and provided our individual lists of 784 highlights from the meet, reached into the feedbag of feedback for letters about math and sexism, and got a little blind-itemy about what’s been going on at the ranch lately.
H. Beam routine of the week
Um, can we talk about how proud we are of me for resisting the urge to make Kupets my beam routine of the week every week until now? Because I’m really proud of myself. But, since this is likely the last one I’ll do before the NCAA season ends and I move on to the whole panoply of amazing elite beam routines (KUI YUANYUAN I’M COMING FOR YOU), it’s time for a Kupets moment.