A. NCAA moves and shakes
We’ve had a few roster developments in NCAA this week, beginning with the news that 2012 French Olympian Anne Kuhm is leaving elite and will be joining NCAA for this coming season. In the original interview, she did not state which team she’s joining (YOU IMPENETRABLE SPHINX), but it’s an open secret that it’s Arizona State. Which ASU confirmed today, also disclosing that she’ll have two years of eligibility upon transferring from her university in France.
It’s a big fat get for Arizona State. (And pretty unexpected. France-to-Arizona State, that well-worn track.) Here’s a routine refresher for Kuhm, her sets from the 2016 Test Event:
We’ll have to wait and see what her routines look like now, but you know, GET IN THE ALL-AROUND.
Arizona State also announced today that Kaitlyn Szafranski is coming to join her sister, transferring from LSU where she never competed. (How very Oregon State of you.) The third addition to next year’s team is Maya Williams, Toni-Ann’s sister. You might remember Maya from being on the 2015 Jamaican worlds team with Toni-Ann. Everything’s coming up ASU, it seems.
In other state-of-Arizona developments, Skyler Sheppard has been removed from U of Arizona’s roster for 2018. Sheppard was competing VT, BB, and FX pretty regularly before a vault injury mid-season.
In coaching news, Paul Stoklos is retiring after 33 seasons at Alaska. They say they’re going to search for a new head coach, so let’s hope. Alaska has recently cut sports like skiing and track, and gymnastics was among those on the chopping block. It has survived so far, but I worried that the retirement of the coach was a sign that the whole program was being shuttered.
The Kupets staff is also starting to take shape, with Charlie Tamayo joining as an assistant.
B. NCAA postseason
So, this is where we currently are with the proposed changes to the NCAA postseason. It’s pretty much what we knew before, but with the addition of the play-in round to retain 36 teams making the postseason. I knew the coaches weren’t going to stand for limiting it to 32. It’s still not my ideal system, but it’s so much better, and it makes sense.
I’m kind of surprised it took the coaches this long to approve the addition of an extra super regional round simply because an extra round of postseason = more layers of bonus structure that can be written into their contracts.
In other news, I hate the name “super regionals,” but it’s common in other NCAA sports, so they’re going for consistency.
The system for individual qualifying is still unclear. We’ll wait and see, but don’t anticipate a major change to how individuals advance. We’re basically just adding an extra round to the previous system. (Though I do think there’s room to allow the top finisher from a non-qualifying team on each event to advance from regionals to super regionals, even if she didn’t win the event.)
C. Canadian Nationals
Canada decided to be all Canada yesterday and Canada the first day of Canadian Nationals, scoring 10 out of 10 Canadas. Ellie Black cruised to 1st place in the AA by a couple points, still not performing full difficulty but hitting comfortably. Rose Woo came in second and Brooklyn Moors third, though Moors pretty much stole the show with her double front 1/2 out on floor, lovely leaps on beam, and beam dismount where she stumbled completely out of shot hilariously. And…SHE’S GONE.
Brittany Rogers competed three events, going for a 6.0 D on bars with a DLO 1/1 dismount and falling on it. She hit beam but was pretty shaky and didn’t get a lot of connections, which accounted for her fairly low 12.334 score. I attempted to watch the competition, but the buffering on the event streams was too frustrating so I gave up partway through. Sadly, that means I missed Isabela Onyshko getting an E score of 2.400 on bars. 2.400. I can’t even envision. According to Lauren, she fell five or six times. These are things I need to see. Anyway, Onyshko had a solid day on the other three events.
The junior competition is led by Ana Padurariu, obviously, whose 55.567 was higher than any of the senior scores as well.
Finals are Saturday at 6:30 ET. Stream is here.
D. Australian Nationals
Australia is trying to compete with Canada by holding its own nationals at the very same time. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT. This competition is brought to exclusively you by Mihai’s Disgust. Mihai’s Disgust: Be More Legs.
In a bit of a surprise, Emily Little did not lead the AA after qualification, coming in second to Georgia Godwin because of a fall on beam. Nonetheless, Little did recover in the AA final for a 53.925 (the high score on either day) to take gold, while Godwin does not appear to have competed in the AA final at all. That meant it was Georgia-Rose Brown coming in second and Rianna Mizzen in third.
We still have event finals to go on Saturday (America time) with vault and bars at 5:00am ET/2:00am PT and beam and floor at 11:30pm ET/8:30pm PT. Stream is here. Mostly, we’ll be looking to Little in the event finals, though GRB will be the favorite on bars, and beam could go any which way because beam.
Here’s GRB winning bars in the AA with a 5.4/13.800
E. Elite qualifier
Parkettes held its elite qualifier this week, with Margzetta Frazier winning the senior division. She would have already been qualified to Classic based on her performance at nationals last year, but the competition was held at Parkettes, so…
In the seniors, Luisa Blanco of WOGA also got her AA score to make Classic, while Chae Campbell from Metroplex got her Classic qualification with a three-event score. (You can still compete AA at Classic even if you qualify with a three-event score.)
A bajillion juniors also got their qualifying scores to Classic, since the cutoff is just 50.000 with the new code. Eli Lazzari led with 54.800.
F. Japanese world teams
Amidst all the other action last week, Japan held the NHK Trophy, the first qualifier for the world championship team, where the top two AA finishers automatically advance to worlds. I don’t love that system for the women in an individual year because it really handcuffs what you can do with a four-member team, but all of the people who earned qualification were going to make the team anyway, so it doesn’t matter that much.
Mai Murakami and Aiko Sugihara got their spots on the women’s side, while Kohei Something and Kenzo Shirai went 1-2 on the men’s side. The big news was Kenzo almost beating Kohei in the AA, so I’m excited to see Kenzo actually get to do all the events now that he has proven himself.
This week, we temporarily returned from the land of commissioned podcasts to break down all the recent competitions (featuring all the silliest moments from the world challenge cups) and all the major news that has been rattling around lately, from Nassar to Missouri. And yes, it’s a true story that someone did offer to pay us not to talk about Morgan Porter.
Also, Suzanne. I talk about Suzanne. Kind of a lot. I have some opinions.
H. Beam routine of the week
In revisiting the history of hilarious beam falls this week, I was of course reminded of Tatiana Gutsu’s original crested flail during the optionals at the 1992 Olympics. We owe her so much.
In the AA final, however, it was a much different story.
So difficult. Eternally competitive, regardless of code or era.
Her routine actually kind of creepily well-suited to the 2017-2020 beam code. Nellie was like, “Just do this.”
|Layout stepout mount (E)|
|Back tuck 1/1 (F)|
|Full turn (A)|
|Back handspring (B) + Layout stepout (C) + Layout stepout (C) = 0.1 CV, 0.1 SB|
|Switch leap (C) + Sissone (A)|
|Split jump (B) + Rulfova (D) = 0.1 CV|
|Back handspring (B) + Back handspring (B) + Back handspring (B) + Full in (G) = 0.2 CV, 0.1 SB|
|Acro – GFEDC = 2.5|
|Dance – CBA = 0.6|
|Composition requirements = 2.0|
|CV and SB = 0.6|
|D-SCORE = 5.7
Yeah, she doesn’t have a forward element, but I gave her the full CV anyway just for the purposes of illustrating what a competitive D score that is, and she’s barely getting any dance-element value. (Note that, future codes. Dumpy switch 1/2 =/= artistry or awe-inspiring difficulty.)