The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – September 1, 2017

A. Post Hiatus

First, a little housekeeping. You won’t see any new posts for the next several weeks as I will be gallivanting around England going, “La la la” and not sitting here writing things. I’ll be back in time for a few worlds previews before heading off to Montreal.

This post is a little longer than usual to tide you over.

B. Chinese National Games

Qualification is complete at the Chinese National Games, with predominately the usual suspects doing the usual things. Scoring looks fairly realistic because of domestic Chinese competitions. It’s not crazy tight like it used to be (everyone gets a 7.0 E!), but…normal. Worlds-level scoring. Calmer than pretty much all the other domestic competitions.

In the all-around, the leader is junior Chen Yile, just to establish what the internet is going to be obsessed with for the next year. She’s followed by Liu Tingting, then Wang Yan, Luo Huan, and Shang Chunsong in that order. They’re all quite tightly packed, so this result is not decisive, but it does reinforce the idea that Liu and Wang would be the two AAers for China at worlds. Luo really needs to start beating Wang to make her case since it will be very tough for Luo to get a specialist spot.

On vault, Wang Yan and Liu Jinru qualified 1-2, both performing their Rudi and Tsuk 2/1 combos. (Apparently you guys really don’t like the term Kas 1/1, though it is the more accurate reflection of the technique used. Yes, it’s a MAG term. But…so is Tsuk. I get scolded either way, so I’m not too bothered.)

On bars, Fan Yilin qualified first, well in front of the rest of the group. That’s a critical result in helping to make her case. If Wang Yan is one of the AAers, then China will definitely need to take a medal-contending bars specialist to worlds (because otherwise what’s even the point), and Fan is reestablishing herself as the top nominee.

I heard at nationals that this dismount (which Riley McCusker also performs) has been reevaluated to a D. It used to be an E.

Fan did, however, have a disaster on beam, where Liu Tingting and Wang Yan are sitting 1-2, with Luo Huan just behind them. Again.

On floor, the junior Li Qi qualified first, but the top two seniors were Wang Yan (with a 5.7 D) and Shang Chunsong (with a 5.5 D), both scoring in the mid-13s. Liu TT sits just behind them, but her 5.2 D on floor may be the biggest concern for her international AA competitiveness. She’s giving away at least five tenths there.

In case you’re me and were wondering, Zhu Xiaofang missed on bars, got two-per-provinced out of the beam final, and scored 12.9 on floor, so everything is canceled.

Let’s talk about worlds. Based on today, you could justify a team like

 Liu TT  Liu TT  Liu TT  Liu TT
 Wang  Wang  Wang  Wang
 Nobody  Fan  Fan/Shang  Shang

Or…

Liu TT Liu TT Liu TT Liu TT
Wang Wang Wang Wang
Liu JR Fan Fan Old tire

The AA scores in the 55s from Liu and Wang are not competitive with the scores in the 57s we’ve been seeing lately, and while I’m not sure you can read too much into that because of the large variations in scoring standards, both do have one event where they won’t score among the top AA medal contenders.

There’s a potential argument that China should therefore go the one-AA route, keeping Wang to only vault and floor (maybe beam…?) and opening up opportunities for Shang to do more events at worlds or to shoehorn Luo onto the team. Somehow… We dream… I’m not sold on it, though.

C. Varna

The world cup circuit is also back in business this weekend in Varna, Bulgaria, where the Brazilian team showed up in qualification to go, “We run this.”

On vault, Rebeca Andrade returned to perform both her top-level vaults, including the Amanar, for a very strong 14.725 average. If she upgrades that Lopez at some point this quad—which is very doable for her—she’s going to be a serious vault medal threat. She could be one this year, even with her current vaults, because of the huge number she can get for the Amanar.

Shallon Olsen qualified second on vault, but she did not take Andrade’s lead and did not upgrade to her Amanar. At least for qualification. We’ll see what she does in the final.

On bars, Andrade showed a 6.1 D to qualify ahead of everyone else by a thousand billion points. Thais Fidelis ranks second, followed by Georgia-Mae Fenton and Kelly Simm, who both received E scores in the 6s (presumed falls). It didn’t really matter because scores in the 11s got into the final, but it wasn’t a great day for the Brits. Sans Downies, there’s a bars spot to be won on the British worlds team. No one is really taking it yet.

Andrade’s streak was broken on beam (because she didn’t compete it), with Thais Fidelis qualifying first ahead of Daniele Hypolito. The big surprise there was Farah Hussein of Egypt qualifying in third with a 13.000.

We saw much of the same on floor, with Thais Fidelis qualifying in first easily ahead of Hypolito in second and Shallon Olsen in third, but with just a 12.8.

D. Worlds teams

Speaking of Brazil, here’s something weird. Brazil announced that it will be sending only Thais Fidelis and Rebeca Andrade to worlds this year and not using the other two women’s spots it had previously registered.

This tells us first of all that Flavia Saraiva is too injured to compete at worlds because otherwise she would be here. But also…just two? Daniele Hypolito is literally competing right now in Varna. Yeah, she’s not going to make any finals, but she’s competing international-level routines and is clearly capable of going. Plus, she could really use the international experience. Those 12 worlds she’s been to are fine, but it’s that 13th one that would solidify her mentally. Chuso will be heading to her 15th worlds this year, which means Hypolito is going to start falling too far behind to catch up if she doesn’t go this year.

Or even just throw Carolyne Pedro a bone or something?

France also made its worlds announcement this week, selecting MDJDS, Boyer, Devillard, and Lorette Charpy. The first three were givens, with MDJDS and Boyer as France’s clear top-two AAers right now and Devillard as European champion on vault.

I would have expected the fourth spot to go to one of the bars specialists still competing this year like Lepin or Vanhille (the selected group of four is an oddly pedestrian bars team for a great bars country), or if not them then Bossu for floor and overall competitiveness on the other pieces. Instead Charpy gets the call and Bossu is the alternate. Quelle surprise.

Canada also confirmed that its team for worlds will be the prospective team: Black, Onyshko, Olsen, and Moors. Rogers needed that bars routine at Universiade, but it didn’t look EF ready.

E. National championships

Another set of national championships will take place this weekend including the Romanian women starting tomorrow, the Italian championships scheduled to feature Ferlito and Fasana, and the Swiss championships that are basically the Steingruber comeback championships.

F. Selection camp roster

The US announced the roster that will compete at selection camp (Sept 18-22) without incident, inviting the 8 national team members named at championships (Smith, Chiles, McCusker, Thomas, Frazier, Hurd, Carey, Locklear) and adding the next two in line in the all-around (Gaskins and Shchennikova) for good luck.

…or in case of bad luck?

G. NCAA schedules

Georgia kinda-sorta announced its schedule for the 2018 season this week, and then removed it, and then reposted it, and it was weird. But anyway, here it is.

It’s a deep and difficult schedule. You’ll note there’s no competition for Georgia on the first weekend of the season as Georgia recently elected to pull out of a scheduled visit to UCLA.

Georgia will also compete at an Elevate the Stage meet on podium on March 2nd. Previously, the Elevate the Stage meet was limited to an annual Alabama/Auburn clash in Birmingham, but this season the competition is expanding to four NCAA meets across the country throughout the season.

Elevate the Stage
January 14th – UCLA, Utah, Washington, Stanford – Reno, NV
February 23-25th (TBD) – Michigan, Denver, Utah State, Bowling Green – Toledo, OH
March 2nd – Georgia, Nebraska, Illinois, Stanford – Augusta, GA
March 9th – Alabama, Auburn – Huntsville, AL

H. Pretty sure the mascot at rhythmic worlds stole a baby

I. GymCastic

We venture out of our USA bubble this week to assess Larisa Iordache’s victory at the Universiade, a successful and relatively non-dramatic Russian Cup (where are you Nabz…..?), and the world of magical, hilarious falls.

Back in the US, we take a deep dive into rating the wolf turns of nationals, talk Katelyn Ohashi, and give play-by-play on the spiraling drama that is Geddert’s Twistars.

J. Beam routine of the week

Apparently I’ve never made Kui Yuanyuan my beam routine of the week. What?!?!?! An oversight that must immediately be remedied. She’s only the best beam worker of all time.

I was thinking about this routine most recently because of my criticism of the Iordache layout full on beam. Basically, if your layout full doesn’t look like this, then don’t.

I know it’s all about the layout full, but that double stag is my actual hero.

K. Discussion section

Skills invented by/named after Russians are overvalued in the code of points relative to skills invented by everyone else.

Citations for this argument have included the Nabieva being two tenths more than the Church and the Komova II being the only Shaposh variant that is given E value. Your in-class essay assignment: support, refute, or qualify that statement.

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