The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – May 12, 2017

A. NCAA coaching whack-a-mole

The big coaching news of the week was, of course, the announcement that Courtney Kupets is taking over as Georgia’s new head, while Suzanne Yoculan will take on the role of sitting in a little box on her shoulder whispering sweet nothings throughout the day.

Conversations with your 2009 self

My full thoughts. And by full thoughts, I mean gifs from The Devil Wears Prada. Obvi. That’s what thoughts are.

Since last week’s update, we also learned that Carey Fagan of Ohio State is being promoted away from the gymnasts, instead taking the role of Assistant AD in charge of student athlete well-being. Kasey Crawford was also officially named the (non-interim) head coach at LaCrosse, though she was already the coach this past season.

So that brings us to 8 head coach openings, three of which have been filled.

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 Courtney Kupets
EMU Sarah Brown Fancier job
Illinois Kim Landrus …different job?
Pittsburgh Debbie Yohman Retired
Ohio State Carey Fagan Promoted

That also makes four of the ten Big Ten coaches so far. Watch your backs, Dan and Bev.

B. Koper World Cup

The world cup series started up again this week with a World Challenge Cup in Slovenia. As a refresher, the difference between the typical world cup events and the challenge cups is zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Major names participating in this event include Iordache, Saraiva, Black, and Andrade on the women’s side, while on the men’s side, the US decided to send Whittenburg, Penev, and Bailey in an effort to soothe our general hopelessness and pain, kind of like a therapy dog or security blanket. Eddie Penev is my blankey.

Qualification is already complete. Many of the lower-tier gymnasts participate in these events, though their scores are never going to be high enough to beat the bigger names, even with errors. So, we saw minimal upsets in women’s qualification other than Andrade not making the bars final after a miss. Andrade does, however, lead the way on vault along with Devai, both going for DTY/Lopez.

On bars, Iordache qualified in the first position. Romania winning. On bars. It’s the first sign of the apocalypse. Totally kidding. It’s like the 70th. Iordache also leads on beam by a casual full point (not a sign of the apocalypse, just a sign of Iordache) ahead of Black in second. Saraiva scored just a 12.800, and Rose Woo just 12.650, but those were still enough to make the final. It’s Thais Fidelis who qualified first on floor over Saraiva in second, with Black in fifth. Black made all four finals, though showed downgrades on vault and floor in this her injury comeback meet.

On the men’s side, we did have an upset in pommel town (you don’t say…) with Donothan Bailey not making the final. He’s like, “Why did I even bother coming?” That’s especially true because he missed PB as well. Disappointingly, Jossimar Calvo in 9th also just missed the horse final, where Berki is going to win by 70 points. (Remember that time the NBC commentators introduced the woman carrying Colombia’s flag at the Rio opening ceremony as Jossimar Calvo? Me too.) In PHEW news, Calvo did qualify third on both PB and HB, so he will have some opportunities in the finals.

The other Americans had much better days. Whittenburg and Penev qualified 1-2 on floor and 2-3 on vault. Whittenburg also advanced to the rings final (qualifying behind Arthur Zanetti because obviously) and the PB final, qualifying in first. It was a strong day for Whittenburg, finishing no worse than third on any of his events. Things just tend to go a lot better when he isn’t doing horse or high bar. Amazing how that happens.

Fortunately, Andrey Medvedev also hit his vaults in a much-needed reversal of the “Smash, Clang, Ha-va Nagila Ha-va Nagila Ha-va…” situation from Euros.

Finals are streaming on the NBC sports app, beginning at 8:00am ET/5:00 PT both Saturday and Sunday.

C. Missouri

If you’ve been spending the last nine months or so staring off into the middle distance simply waiting to find out the whole story of that Morgan Porter/credit-fraud suspension and doing nothing else, you’re finally in luck.

There’s a lot going on with this beyond even the intra-team credit fraud. (Normal sentences you always say…) We have recorded phone calls and emails and police reports and a group of very unhappy gymnasts. On the Porter front, the claim seems to be that she was given a free pass because she’s good at gymnastics, while the non-competing victim of the fraud was removed from the team. I was certainly surprised to see Porter allowed to compete this season. That would be a “strike one, you’re out” situation on many teams, or just in real life. We also learned about some other possible red flags like the one who was only eating celery—who’s helping her?—and the mysterious circumstances of the Rachel Updike departure and non-release.

The gymnasts aren’t really done a ton of favors by this article, however, because there’s so much vagueness—what are you specifically accusing Shannon Welker of doing…other than cutting you from the team?—and some irrelevant complaints regarding not getting to travel with the team when not competing (that’s normal) or not feeling like the team was a family (ok?). Get back to the big stuff, like the credit fraud or why your star gymnast at the time chose to leave the team rather than compete for this coach. That must have been some contract Updike was asked to sign.

I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear about Missouri.

D. …is for D-score database

The elite Routine and D-Score Database has been updated to include D-score breakdowns for routines from Euros, Chinese Nationals, and the US spring assignments, along with new pages for the major new seniors (McCusker, Hurd, Eremina, etc).

E. GymCastic

This week’s episode is all about the developments from Chinese Nationals (broken floor, beautiful beam, you know the drill) and the standout skills and routines from JO Nationals. We touch a little on NCAA coaching, but we recorded the episode before the Suzantney Kupoculan announcement, so we’ll get to that one later.

F. Beam routine of the week

Continuing the whistle-stop tour of all-time greats, this week’s beam routine belongs to Oksana Omelianchik. If her forward roll to Korbut can’t get you on Team Beam Rolls, nothing ever will.

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