A. Morgan Hurd is world champ, BTW
That happened. It needs to be addressed. It’s very exciting, even if the all-around competition itself was a little “where is everyone else?”
It felt like a normal all-around competition, but where the lead group of six suddenly went missing right before the meet and we were just left with everyone else. Still, it made up for that by being super close and featuring a group of frontrunners that was very easy to support and for whom it is very easy to enjoy success. A highlight of a somewhat trashy worlds.
Plus, Hurd will be a great example in all future “nationals means nothing” arguments because nationals means nothing. Almost as little as Classic.
If you’re me, you’ve already started casually pondering “What’s the 2018 team going to be?”-related questions and then died from thinking about it. I know that we always say, “That team is going to be impossible to pick!” and then it ends up being super possible to pick because of gymnastics. But also, you guys. When the current world champion is just in the maybe pile…
Which brings us to…
B. Simone’s Unvacation
We can’t really say comeback, because she never officially left, but Simone has taken the next step in returning from her…extended, pretty stressful-seeming vacation?…by detailing her plan for 2018 competitions. Basically, she watched #trashworlds and was like, “Alright, enough of that racket. Mama’s home!”
It’s the specificity of dates and goals that makes this announcement somewhat unusual and refreshing. Simone discusses what events she’s been working on, what events she hasn’t touched yet, and an exact schedule for when she’ll introduce which events back into her competition plan.
Now, all of this is really far away and no one actually has any idea what Simone is going to do at Classic, including Simone, because…it’s nine months from now and a million things can happen. Still, providing specific dates and details right now is smart because it reinforces that she’s serious about returning to competition soon. There’s no “I’ll get back in the gym at some point and we’ll see what happens,” vagueness which usually indicates one of two things. 1) Blatant lying, or 2) Fear of being too specific, lest things not pan out and it blow up in your face. Simone has a real plan and is projecting confidence about it, which is lovely to see.
My favorite part is the caginess about who her new coaches are, which will be “announced” later this month, as though having secrets in gymnastics is a thing that can happen.
C. The NCAA approves
The plan to make the NCAA postseason no longer boring and terrible took another step forward this week when the NCAA Competition Oversight Committee approved the same postseason model that the coaches voted in favor of over the summer.
To summarize, the plan eliminates all bye rotations, adds an extra round of competition for the 16 teams advancing from regionals (instead of 12), and calls for an 8-team semifinal round and 4-team final to make those competitions faster and more broadcast-friendly. It would go into effect for the 2019 season.
I’m in favor of the plan because byes are boring and useless and make competitions take 3 hours for no reason. Also because this is a sport, which means “let’s make sure as many schools feel included in the championship day as possible” is nothing.
The NCAA approval was assumed to be a formality because the committee has approved a change in the postseason once before and ESPN (a.k.a, the one that matters) is very much on board with the change, but having official confirmation of their approval is important.
The true risk has always been (and continues to be) a couple powerful, persuasive coaches who are averse to improving the fan-friendliness, broadcast-friendliness, and national footprint of the sport because of nonspecific “but what if MY team…” reasons. Those coaches have gone back and derailed these attempts several times before. Finally getting some of those people on board is why the proposal has made it this far this time, but there’s always the fear that something might change. The porcelain vase is constantly teetering on the edge of the writing desk, and everyone’s worried something will happen to make it fall. But for now, things look good.
D. NCAA training
It’s that time of year already, where the teams that are actually trying to be good before April have started posting training videos.
We’ll have some new faces to learn on LSU’s team this year because there will be some significant lineup turnover, but note that we see Priessman doing a 1.5 and we see Harrold on floor. I’m hoping to see more events from Harrold more frequently this season. We don’t see a ton of different people here, but it’s also October, so whatever.
Utah is up on the training videos, as expected. With IDs. Because they get the point of things.
The real question is whether we’re going to stick with calling her Merrell or go with MMG this season. These are the things I think about.
Stanford has also taken our advice and chosen to exist (!) this preseason with some videos. (I repeat: !) Here’s Taylor Lawson with an Arabian. Please take all six spots in Stanford’s beam lineup last season.
E. The injuries
The ridiculous rate of injuries is the primary culprit for Montreal becoming #trashworlds. Well, besides how hungry I was. That was a huge part of it too. (Lesson: A hungry media = a media that’s going to think your competition is #trashworlds). We can point to many explanations for the injuries, including the preposterous angle of the lighting.
It was that, but all the way along both sides. When they made the perfunctory warning about flash photography, the response was basically, “Have you told the arena? Because that’s way worse than a flash.” I can’t think there was ever a single discussion about what the ideal lighting for a gymnastics competition was because you would never have come up with this. You know what would be cool during a giant swing? Becoming blind!
There was also the hardness of the mats, which had not been broken in before the competition, and the fact that the equipment just sort of fell apart sometimes.
Do these account for the high rate of injuries? Maybe some, maybe none, maybe all. We can’t really know, and each injury is going to have its own explanation. When you look at Larisa Iordache’s injured Achilles while just bouncing around on the floor, that was going to happen regardless of event circumstances. Her Achilles was on its way out. When you have Uchimura and Smith suffering similar ankle injuries on landings that didn’t even seem that bad (we’re told, in Smith’s case), you wonder about those hard mats. When you have Vanessa Ferrari injuring her 15th Achilles, you wonder about WHY WERE YOU EVEN COMPETING IN THIS MEET?!?
But, Vanessa is already planning her return. Sure. Why not? 2018 worlds it is! She’ll definitely make the team, so…
F. GymCastic worlds shows
We recorded a new episode every day of competition from worlds, so if you’re a person and therefore haven’t had a chance to listen to all 11 hours of podcast that we recorded that week, there are plenty of episodes to catch up on while we take a short hiatus to regroup and maybe sleep a little. Anything that happened at worlds, you will find at least 45 minutes of our thoughts about it in those episodes. We’ll be back with our next new episode a week from Wednesday.
We also have a ton of awesome videos created by our pride and savior Deanna on our YouTube page (yes, we have a YouTube page), including interviews featuring Jessica’s non-boring questions, so you should definitely watch those. Sometimes Jess accidentally pledges her undying love to French gymnasts, and it’s great. Translators were provided by the event, so we have a ton of interviews with non-English speakers whom you don’t typically get to hear from. Also be sure to watch all the videos with the Dutch boys because they’re a hoot.
If you enjoyed the worlds coverage—or just enjoy this site—and want us to be able to continue providing a different gymnastics coverage option that features an honest and analytical—yet still silly and humane—approach, consider joining Club Gym Nerd. We love this and would love to be able to do it all the damn time, and the way that happens is if people join Club Gym Nerd.
F. Beam routine of the week
Our new world champion, of course!
Would this routine have won a title in deeper years? No. Was it the best beam routine at worlds this year? Absolutely. Twice over, this was the best-executed routine we saw and deserved its “high” execution scores. That switch ring is the only one I saw in the entire competition that I would give full D-score credit to.