A. NCAA coaches
Several more pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place in the past week, most significantly that Nadalie Walsh from Utah State has been chosen out of the claw machine to take the Illinois job.
Utah State made its biggest splash this past season, spending most of the year ranked in the rarefied and unexpected 22-25 range until a disappointing regionals dropped the team to 32nd. In Walsh’s four years, Utah State’s final placements were 32, 30, 30, and 36—compared to 54, 47, 47, 54 in the four years immediately before she arrived. It’s an accomplishment that clearly didn’t go unnoticed.
At Pittsburgh, the new head coach will be Samantha Snider. You’ll remember her as Samantha Cortez from some of those inaugural Arkansas teams, when they were like, “We’re good already suckassss” and knocked UCLA out at regionals in 2006—or more recently as the one who talks to them before beam and shows really nice Dana-Duckworth-beam-coaching-chin. [Yes, I did write Stephanie originally. No, I don’t know why.]
In a little Penn State/Eastern Michigan trade, Josh Nilson—who took over as Penn State’s interim co-head after Jeff Thompson was thrown out the moon door—will now be taking the role of Eastern Michigan head coach, after Sarah Shi…Brown (I’m getting better!) left Eastern Michigan to take the Penn State job. SWAPSIES!
And before Penn State, John Nilson was Nadalie Walsh’s assistant at Utah State. It’s just a mangled little web, isn’t it?
So by the transitive property of gymnastics coaching, that means that Utah State now has to hire…Rachelle Thompson? That can’t be right…
|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||To Penn State||Josh Nilson|
|Illinois||Kim Landrus||To NC State||Nadalie Walsh|
|Pittsburgh||Debbie Yohman||Retired||Stephanie Snider|
|Ohio State||Carey Fagan||Promoted||Meredith Paulicivic|
|Utah State||Nadalie Walsh||To Illinois|
We’re still waiting on Michigan State to notice that they have a head coach vacancy.
B. Training! START IMMEDIATELY!
And if you originally read that as “Aliya has named her baby Aliya,” you’re not alone. OH HOW I WISH. Aliya 2. We’ll always have that second I thought that was your name.
Obviously, Valentina is now declaring that she has basically kidnapped Aliya, put her in a sack, taken her to Round Lake, and thrown her onto the bars to resume training this instant. The range of Valentina training promises is currently immediately/October/sometime in 2017. So…never?
Laurie Hernandez was also asked about returning to training and gave pretty much the usual US post-Olympic “I might start maybe kind of looking at training possibly maybe soon” answer. Shawn Johnson is suing for copyright infringement. But she did set an actual date-ish—the end of summer—which is unusual. You’re supposed to be much vaguer than that, girl! Has no one taught you anything?! You’re supposed to say, “2020 is definitely on my mind, and I’m looking forward to getting back in the gym soon once things slow down. In the meantime, buy my leotard and/or doll and/or book.”
So, let the rumor-mongering and gym-change speculation begin!
C. Flanders results
Flanders has a pretty cool format (some might even say…rad), with the seniors and juniors competing separately in AA and team competitions on Saturday and then together as a combined national team in a team final on Sunday, where half the routines come from juniors and half from seniors. I could actually see this meet being very appealing to the US team in the future because you get a ton of juniors and seniors international-experiencing together in a team format, a la Jesolo.
For the senior teams, Italy just outpaced France, the two well ahead of Spain and the remaining countries. Belgium did not have a full contingent of counting scores because Derwael competed only UB/BB and Deriks only UB, but Rune Hermans did take the senior AA title ahead of Maellyse Brassart and Lorette Charpy of France in third. Ana Perez finished 4th after falling on bars.
Italy also took the junior competition, but by a much wider margin over France and Belgium than in the senior division. The result isn’t surprising given the quality of the Italian juniors, but while much of the focus this year has been on the D’Amatos, Villa, and Iorio, the AA winner here was 2018 senior Sydney Saturnino, whose 53.365 beat all the seniors.
Also of note for Italy, Elisa Meneghini competed. She had previously made cameos at some of the Serie A events, but this marked her return to international competition post-Rio. If she gets her floor difficulty back, she’ll be a major contender for worlds this year since she’s still one of Italy’s most likely qualifiers on beam and floor (missing the Rio floor final by just a tenth).
It was more of the same for Italy in the combined senior/junior team final, using those big junior scores to beat all comers by a couple points.
D. Dutch nationals
We’re sort of hitting a low point in competitions as things peter out until later in the summer (basically we’re living in a desert until Classic). I guess that just means more old meet recaps for me!
But, we do have Dutch nationals this weekend. The first day of competition for seniors—men and women—begins at 4:50pm CET (6 hours ahead of ET, 9 hours ahead of PT) on Saturday, and finals begin at 12:45pm CET on Sunday.
Website is here. The best thing about Dutch is that it’s basically English with some extra letters thrown in, so we don’t even need to know how to speak it to see what’s going on.
Also, Eythora will not be competing. Probably should have led with that.
Three Oklahomas (Moldauer, Oyama, and Bower) are heading to Portugal to compete at the Guimaraes Tournament this weekend, so we should also get some actual information about that one at some point since America.
Thanks to a lovely commission, this week’s episode is all about the 1996 Olympic team optionals! It’s basically a routine-by-routine breakdown of the entire competition, with special attention paid to the peak 1996 NBC fluff pieces and what the hell was even going on back then. (Like really.)
We get into issues such as whether Strug should have vaulted again, whether the cheering distracted Russia on floor, and what a hipster icon Mrs. Strug is now. She’s basically in the cast of Girls.
Even better: we actually received two commissions about the 1996 Olympics right on top of each other, so there’s more coming at you for next week’s episode, in which we’ll tackle the women’s AA final.
If you want to commission your own pod, you can do so here. We also have a new membership option whereby you can commission a segment on an episode, rather than a whole pod, if that’s more your speed.
F. Beam routine of the week
When you hear about the routine starting before you even mount the apparatus…Khorkina. Her no-look, one-arm, out-of-my-way-child, I’m-better-than-you salute is more artistic and perfect than anything seen in gymnastics ever since.
Also the routine. The squat-walk, the roll, the gainer double full, the everything. But mostly the no-look salute.