The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – May 4, 2017

A. Coaching Changes

We have a new position filled and a couple new positions opening since the last update.

First, Sarah Brown (I will stop instinctively typing Sarah Shire in about 13 years) has been hired to take over at Penn State. Phew. This is a time of optimism for Penn State: new direction, new coach, fresh ideas, fewer fake Adderall prescriptions, a little less entire-class-leaving-because-of-abuse, yada yada yada. It’s a real win-win. Sarah already cleared the first hurdle—be a human person—so it’s looking good for the future.

Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan is like, “Do you want to just take our house at this point? How about a foot? Do you need a foot?” That makes two separate head coaches and a star gymnast gone in under 12 months. Hopefully we’ll get an announcement soon about who EMU has hired to be the SEC coach of the year in 2020.

In other developments, Debbie Yohman is retiring at Pitt after 78 decades in charge. It is also my unfortunate duty to tell you that assistant Caleb Phillips (you may know him as “that hot one with the mustache”…or not…whatever) has left Washington.

So here’s the off-season coaching chart as we know it now.

Team Outgoing coach Reason Incoming coach
Penn State Jeff Thompson Everything Sarah Brown
Michigan State Kathie Klages Larry Nassar
NC State Mark Stevenson Retired Kim Landrus
Georgia Danna Durante Fired
Illinois Kim Landrus
Pittsburgh Debbie Yohman Retired
EMU Sarah Brown Fancier job

B. NCAA Postseason

The latest development regarding the upcoming rules meetings is this proposal for the postseason format.

I’m mostly good with this plan and would vote for it in a second.

It hits the most significant of my postseason needs, 1) no more byes, 2) adding an extra weekend of postseason elimination meets. My only major departure from this proposal is that it has two teams advancing from each quad meet. I prefer only winners advancing since winner-take-all is fundamentally more interesting and dramatic than “half of these teams get to go through,” but I could definitely live with this. At least for now.

Also, if the NCAA coaches are actually able to, you know, pass postseason reform and a four-team final, it will be a damn miracle worthy of a national day of celebration. Let’s get it done. Call your congressperson?

Question: Are the smaller conferences going to support a system that takes away four postseason spots? I’m completely fine with 32 teams instead of 36 teams, but…will they be? One of the reasons (the reason) I proposed a 40-team postseason was that it seemed like the simplest way to get the lower-ranked teams on board.

C. JO Nationals

This weekend brings us the JO Nationals, where the top level 10s in the country are…led around the arena on a leash so that the NCAA coaches can decide which one has the best breeding? I think that’s what we do here.

The competition assembles 46 billion of the country’s most accomplished L10s (judges, parents, coaches, organizers: remember to bring all the Xanax), who will compete for titles in 12 age groups. (Scores.) This year, USAG is also streaming the competition live because of MARRY ME.

Here’s the schedule:

Junior A & Senior A Saturday, May 6 – 9:00am ET
Junior B & Senior B Saturday, May 6 – 1:45pm ET
Junior C & Senior C Saturday, May 6 – 6:30pm ET
Junior D & Senior D Sunday, May 7 – 9:00am ET
Junior E & Senior E Sunday, May 7 – 1:45pm ET
Junior F & Senior F Sunday, May 7 – 6:30pm ET

For those not up on JO (because why would you be), gymnasts are divided into letter groups based on birth date. Those born February 17, 2001 and later compete as juniors, and those born before that date compete as seniors. For our immediate NCAA purposes, the ones who will be entering next season compete in Senior F and Senior E (with a few in Senior D). For the list of each NCAA team’s committed gymnasts for next year who will compete in the meet, this.

D. Chinese Nationals

The World Cup circuit might be taking a break this weekend, but thankfully the Chinese have swooped in to save the day with their national championship.

The competition begins May 5th (China time) with the men’s team final and individual qualification, followed by the women’s team final/qualification on May 6th. Both all-around finals will take place on the 7th, followed by event finals on the 8th and 9th.

I’ll have a full wrap-up once the competition is over regarding all the winners and surprises and how criminally overlooked Zhu Xiaofang is. In podium training, Liu Jinru’s rudi looked quite a bit better than it did in London.

E. GymCastic

We’re back! This week, Jess, Uncle Tim, Lauren and I took a tour through the highs and the lows and the Kyla Roos of the European Championships and addressed the NCAA coaching/roster merry-go-round with special attention paid to that thing that used to be Georgia. As always, you can listen on this page or by subscribing.

In other GymCastic affairs, Jess appeared on ESPN’s Outside the Lines this week to discuss her 2013 interview with Larry Nassar and what needs to happen next to make everything less terrible. If you were filled with an odd mixture of “this is serious and somber subject matter” and “EEEEEEEEE JESS IS ON TV,” that is normal.

F. Beam routine of the week

Because this weekend is China’s turn on the national championship stage, the beam routine of the week belongs to the all-time undisputed GOAT. When we whine about form, flexibility, rhythm, and hideous layout-stepout series from other gymnasts, it is because we’re comparing them to the Yang Bo standard.

This particular routine has become iconic because it’s the time she hit a dismount.

%d bloggers like this: