The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – August 4, 2017

A. Zero Downies

The summer of 2017 is not a great time in Downie Land—and therefore not a great time for any of us—as Ellie suddenly revealed that she has been gravely injured since March and competed at Euros even though her ankle was attached by only a single strand of floss, which seems like it would have been hard.

So, now she’s having surgery, which means we’ll have exactly zero Downies at worlds this year what with Becky’s elbow injury from Euros as well.

Ugh.

But, it also means there are some open spots to be won by gymnasts who might not previously have seemed likely to make the British worlds team, a team that looked like an inevitable Ellie, Becky, Tinks, Frags quartet only a couple months ago. Tinks and Frags are probably the top two AAers if they have their lives together, but now Georgia-Mae Fenton has a real shot at a bars spot if she can work out how not to get injured right on the eve of competitions, and then there’s room for one more. Gabby Jupp can come back and do beam, right? Right. Good idea, me.

B. Man Championships

BREAKING NEWS: When the women compete at P&G Championships two weeks from now (I’m not ready), there’s also some kind of men’s competition going on at the same time. Like a man championship. Huh. Learn something new every day.

(This year, you know the man days will be when everyone goes to Disneyland…)

USAG has the roster for us, so now we know that the men’s senior field will be as follows:

 Donothan Bailey Sean Melton Michael Reid
 Cameron Bock Sam Mikulak Jalon Stephens
 Allan Bower Akash Modi Christopher Stephenson
 Antonio Castro Yul Moldauer Jordan Valdez
Adrian De Los Angeles Zack Mollett Kiwan Watts
Chandler Eggleston Alex Naddour Matthew Wenske
Austin Epperson Stephen Nedoroscik Colin Van Wicklen
Trevor Howard Sean Neighbarger Donnell Whittenburg
Marvin Kimble Brandon Ngai Michael Wilner
Kyle King Kanji Oyama Andrew Wilson
Jordan Kovach Eddie Penev Shane Wiskus
Anthony McCallum Alex Powarzynski Alec Yoder

We’re missing 5 of the 15 people who were named to the national team after Winter Cup: Chris Brooks, Hunter Justus, Grant Breckenridge, Robert Neff, and Jake Dalton (injury petitioned onto the national team).

If this roster is the group we’re choosing from, then heading into the competition I’m fairly partial to a worlds team that looks like Moldauer, Modi, Mikulak, Penev, Whittenburg, Naddour, with room still available to be surprised. Much depends on how many events Mikulak is planning to do this year, which ones they are, and how they look. You know, just those little things.

One thing I’ll be watching is whether the US ends up deciding to send two AAers to worlds or just Moldauer (because I mean come on). Taking two AAers would leave only one spot left on each event for the other four members of the team and might limit the number of Eddie Penevs than can make it onto the squad, which would be a serious problem.

C. Junior worlds

The FIG just completed its summer meeting, announcing a fairly significant resolution: it plans to organize a junior world championship beginning in 2019.

YIPPEE HOORAY PROBABLY.

This, of course, is excellent news because of more major competitions, but I also have a number of questions re: the women’s competition. How are we limiting the ages of competitors/what’s the allowable range? They’re not going to let 4-year-olds compete, but this better not be available only to 15-year-olds or something because the field would be pretty pitiful. Also, is this going to be a team competition (yes) or just an individual competition (no)? The quality of this meet can go a lot of different ways depending on the restrictions.

I’d prefer an age range of 13-15 and a five-member team competition. That’s not going to happen because, while the US would have no problem fielding a competitive five-member team of juniors, pretty much every other country would have a lot of trouble scrabbling together a group. It would be even more of a rout than senior women’s team competitions. (Although recent evidence seems to suggest that a team of Russian juniors would be more competitive than a team of Russian seniors, before they’ve been broken emotionally.) If there is a team competition, it will probably be more like 3-member teams, which seems to be the trend.

We probably should also discuss how this completely undermines the argument in favor of senior age limits that they’re imposed to protect the young ones from being pushed too hard too early. Now, I’m fine with undermining that argument because it was BS to begin with (juniors are being pushed the same amount, just without the major competitions at the end of the road), but if you’re organizing a world championship for 15-year-olds, it’s harder to justify keeping them out of the real world championship for 16+. What’s even the difference?

D. Raducan to the rescue

Andreea Raducan will be the new president of the Romanian gymnastics federation and is going to fix everything and save the world. Glad we’re agreed.

E. NCAA odds and ends

Janay Honest let us know on twitter that she and Sonya Meraz have been granted scholarships for next season. 1) About damn time. They’ve contributed much more than a number of people who have been on scholarship the whole time. 2) We could barely figure out who was getting squeezed out of the 12 to make room for Peng’s sixth year, let alone these two.

Ashley Priess is joining Nadalie Walsh’s Illinois staff as an assistant.

Auburn is another school angling for honorable mention at the UCLA Awards for Most Gigantic Team, with 6 new 2017-2018 freshmen and 18 team members total. Along with the departed seniors, it appears that Sarah Garcia has left/done a medical. She vaulted for a portion of the season in 2016 but was out with injury for the entire 2017 season.

Arkansas has also released its roster for 2017-2018, reflecting a few things we already knew: that Amanda Wellick is back as a super senior and that Leah MacMoyle is done. The roster also includes Lakin Legereit, who was not previously on the list of freshmen. Of note, she has a full-in on floor.

F. Brazilian Championships

The competition slate is still sparse at the moment until P&G Championships ushers in the late-summer rush (with Universiade, Russian Cup, and Chinese National Games as well), but at least the Brazilian Championship has the common decency to be taking place this weekend.

Flavia Saraiva is not competing.

The Brazilian Championship has hereby been canceled.

The Brazilian selection for worlds could get interesting because my first instinct is to say they should just pull a US-women-2013 and go with three all-arounders in Andrade, Saraiva, and Fidelis, but that does eliminate the opportunity for someone else to be like, “I’m also a person!” Maybe the championship will change my mind.

G. GymCastic

This week, Jessica, Lauren, and I round up every feeling we (or anyone) had about the U.S. Classic competition, junior and senior divisions, including which juniors impressed us and will be future champions, which seniors did and didn’t impress us and what that means for world championships, and whether looking rough at Classic really even matters.

Also, we cast the Simone biopic. Because duh.

H. Beam routine of the week

The story of today: ANGER BEAM.

You can try to be one with the beam blah blah blah. Or you can just murder it in its sleep like a serial killer. I love the speed of work. I wish everyone did beam as though they were trying to force the downstairs neighbors to move out the way Produnova did.

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