Things Are Happening – December 1, 2017

A. The Ponor

Catalina Ponor competed at the Mexican Open last weekend and cried during her farewell Beyonce (all Olympic medalists are entitled to one farewell Beyonce), convincing me to start taking this slightly more seriously as a retirement. We’ll see how the rest of the quad goes. #PonorforLate2019.

She was here, you guys.

She lived. She loved. She did. She done. She blinded her enemies with those hip bones. She won five Olympic medals. She tricked you into thinking Romanian gymnastics wasn’t on the road to a garbage dump for a solid 10 years.

And she did the worm. You know, the retirement worm. Obviously my favorite part. The other best part is when she takes off her flappy and throws it at that photographer.

B. Just Simone things

Simone got everyone talking this week when she casually blooped that she already has all her skills back, being back to real training for not even a full month and all.

Are we surprised?

As long as she has the endurance, the skills aren’t even that hard for her. Which is sort of the whole point of Simone.

So, plenty of time to learn some new stuff, right? There’s a juicy new quad’s code to work with.

Today’s Project: How would you adjust Simone’s 2016 beam routine to best take advantage of the 2017 code?

For reference, here’s a side-by-side comparison of how the 2016 and 2017 codes would treat her 2016 beam routine.

2016 2017
Wolf turn 2.5 – E Wolf turn 2.5 – D
Barani – E Barani – F
Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV
Punch front + sissone – D+A = 0.1 CV Punch front + sissone – D+A
Switch split + switch 1/2 + back pike – C+D+C = 0.2 CV Switch split + switch 1/2 + back pike – C+D+C = 0.2 CV, 0.1 SB
Aerial + wolf – D+A = 0.1 CV Aerial + wolf – D+A
Bhs + bhs + full twisting double tuck – B+B+G = 0.1 CV Bhs + bhs + full twisting double tuck – B+B+G = 0.3 CV
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – GEDDC – 2.3 Acro – GFDDC – 2.4
Dance – EDC – 1.2 Dance – DDC – 1.1
CV – 0.7 CV – 0.8
Total D – 6.7 Total D – 6.3

Do you turn the wolf turn into a triple? Downgrade to a double? Or ditch it entirely?

How do you change the punch front and aerial combos to take advantage of CV and SB?

Punch front + one-arm back handspring + stag ring?

Side aerial + back handspring + Worley + straddle jump + Arabian? I’m only half kidding.

C. McKenna Kelley and Emily Schild

The NCAA preseason injuries are starting to pile up, as they always do. The most severe so far is McKenna Lou Kelley’s torn Achilles, which will keep her out for the entire 2018 season. The SHE’S MARY LOU’S DAUGHTER quotient is going to be so much lower this season. Not gone entirely (you know we’re going to see shots of her in a boot on the sidelines with Mary Lou doing some sort of pietà tableau—you KNOW it), just less.

Kelley’s injury means LSU 2018 will return only two floor routines from last season’s final lineup. It shouldn’t be too, too much of a problem (there are still 7 or 8 very usable options), but LSU is definitely going to need a high-scoring floor routine from Harrold this season to make up for the absence of Kelley.


For Georgia, the bad news keeps coming as the Suzanne News Network let us know that Emily Schild hyperextended her knee in training. She’s going to miss the beginning of the season but is expected back before the end.

In fact, all four of Georgia’s freshmen are currently injured. Oakley is the closest to getting back—they’re going to need more from her than originally expected to fill the gaps from these other injuries—and the hope is that Foss can get back from her March 2017 torn Achilles before the end of the season.

Dear Georgia, I’m really worried about your vault lineup. As in…do you have one? At the moment there’s Snead, Marino, Dickson, Johnson…Vaculik?…and…????? Are we going to have to force Vega to vault again?

I have a feeling Kupets In A Wig is going to be a really important contributor this season.


In other developments, Sam Ogden has been removed from Denver’s roster.

D. Massilia and Cottbus

The annual Elite Gym Massilia in Marseilles served as an opportunity to pop out of a cake for the next generation of Russian juniors, who are probably going to save gymnastics until they don’t.

The all-around champion of the masters division (the main competition) was Angelina Simakova—a 2018 senior—with a 55.500. Simakova also won the junior titles on beam and floor and, perhaps most significantly for 2018 purposes, vaults a rudi.

Her rudi looks really good there, but she did fall on it in event finals because of Russia and obviously. Simakova’s teammates won the remaining junior event titles with Klimenko taking bars and Schekoldina taking vault.

Ana Padurariu, the great Canadian hope, also had a significant competition, winning the open division that she competed in for some reason and then finishing third in the masters behind Simakova and Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos. DJDS had a mess on beam for 11, otherwise she likely would have taken the title over Simakova.

The meet proved nonetheless a worthwhile competition for the host French with Charpy taking 4th AA, DJDS winning bars, and Bossu winning floor.

Belgium’s woodland nymph Axelle Klinckaert also made her semi-triumphant comeback to the all-around in this meet, most significantly revealing her new floor interpretation.

Wait what?

Do I love it or hate it?

Absolutely both.

We’re going to need to talk about this in depth for multiple years. The best part of the music is when that street-performing clown baby just starts going, “LA LA LA! La La La.” The runner-up is when that woman just bursts into laughter in the middle because of fun with sound effects.


Meanwhile, the strongest Germans—along with a few of their best Russian, Chinese, and Dutch friends—gathered in Cottbus to watch Chuso win another world cup vault title and Seitz score a 2017-high of 14.900 on bars.

The competition also proved a successful one for a few gymnasts who have been prowling around the borders of actually making teams. Lilia Akhaimova scored 14.000 on floor, which could make her an appealing prospect for Russia as someone who, like, actually has a floor score, while Maria Kharenkova showed she can even do good things even outside of crazy-scored Russian home meets with a bronze on beam and a silver on floor.

The B-team Chinese showed well with Lyu Jiaqi and Wang Cenyu both medaling on bars and Wang winning beam. If all the 2016ers truly are as OVER IT as they sounded at worlds, China may need these two over the next year or three, the only issue being that they are bars and beam gymnasts. Like China needs more of those. The real good news for China is that Chen Yile and Li Qi are seniors in 2018.

E. Mexican Open Gala

The Mexican Open is an actual gymnastics competition, you guys, the women’s competition won by Yesenia Ferrera with the second-highest score on every event, but we’re all only here for the gala. No one should be allowed to gala except the Mexican Open.

In addition to her floor goodbye, Ponor also performed a moving tribute to her fraught relationship with Anger Beam.

Dear Nastia, this is how you pretend to do beam in an exhibition.

Also, this definitely happened. Hips.

But props for doing a real dismount and sticking it, too. Most are too afraid to do real gymnastics in exhibition. Not hips.

But let’s be honest, the guys have it way easier when it comes to gala performances because all they have to do is take off their shirts and everyone’s like, “That’s the best presentation I’ve ever seen,” while the women are expected to dance and emote or whatever.

Ahmet Onder gets it, electing to go for the classic bowtie-dress-shirt PBars striptease and literally one element. Nemov would be proud. You are all such hams. Stop encouraging them, he says encouraging them.

You know that thing where your biceps are so big that you physically cannot take your shirt off? That problem we all have?

And then just a bunch of cowboys. Because it’s like when you have to do a duel outside the saloon and you’re like, “that shirt was uncomfortable and I need to do a Kolman, OK bang bang we’re both dead somehow. Duel ended. Oops, I came back to life to be out of sync!”

F. NCAA training updates

Oklahoma is prepping its lineup of six 10.0 starts on vault.

Vault intrasquad highlights! #SIP

A post shared by Oklahoma Women's Gymnastics (@ou_wgymnastics) on

IDs in order: Webb, Dowell, Schoepfer, DeGouveia, Jackson, Nichols, Showers, Catour.

Latest intrasquad from LSU.

For lineup junkies, here’s what Utah showed at its most recent intrasquad:

And here are some whiteboard lineups that Alabama recently snapchattled:

According to the gymternet, you’re supposed to freak out that Bailie Key and Peyton Ernst are listed at the end with a line separating them from the other backups.

No injury updates have been released, but you’d think a healthy Key would be primo beamer at least, even if the other events aren’t ready (which they weren’t at G&G). At the same time, read exactly nothing into preseason lineups. They change drastically from minute to minute, reflecting anything from little aches and pains, to “you fell today and booooo,” to real injuries, and are also often used as mind games/motivation.

The news from Michigan’s intrasquad:

Highlights from our intrasquad. #GoBlue

A post shared by Michigan Women's Gymnastics (@umichwgym) on

Arkansas training highlights, including the re-Wellicking.

We’re off today, but you can check out our highlights from last week’s intrasquad #WPS

A post shared by Razorback Gymnastics (@razorbackgym) on

George Washington highlights:

Exhibition Highlights! Working on details for season! #RaiseHigh

A post shared by George Washington Gymnastics (@gw_gymnastics) on

G. GymCastic

No new episode this week because of Thanksgiving, but we’ll be back next week with a discussion of Massilia, Cottbus, and a full recap of all the juiciness from the Mexican Open gala.

H. Beam routine of the week

Because it’s all about the Ponor tributes today, Ponor gets to be the beam routine of the week. I’m using the 2004 gold medal beam routine because her early days on beam really illustrate her best qualities, speed and aggression. Extreme confidence and extreme dominance of the apparatus like few others ever.

If you’re going to do a forward to backward combination, you better do it like Ponor 2004. And if you’re going to puck your dismount, you better do it like Ponor 2004.

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22 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – December 1, 2017”

  1. The best part of Axelle’s routine would be the honk honk at the end, but her honk-arm needs to get in synch with her honk-sound. Synch-honk or no honk.
    Otherwise I think the routine is borderline genius, but actually I’ve never liked her presentation that much because she’s a bit … hunchy. Is that mean? Does she have scoliosis? But she has great energy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. According to Georgia’s update videos on Facebook (which are extremely helpful for fantasy gym purposes btw), Vivi Babalis is training vault this year, since they are spread so thin.

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    1. Ditto. I was just coming down her to post this exact info about Vivi. Does Oakley even do vault? I thought that was the one event she didn’t do last summer during elite/nationals… Could be wrong since certain TV networks only show the gymnasts/routines they deem important.

      UGA potential vault lineup:
      Vaculik
      Babalis
      Dickson
      Snead
      Johnson
      Marino

      Snead/Marino could be flipped – I just like Johnson’s usually stickable and bit full between them. Those first two positions are wonky though and UGA will need big scores from the final four – I assume Schild will be expected back in this lineup at the end of the season (I don’t think it was her strongest elite event but she should be able to get a higher average score to replace one of the 1-2 seniors).

      Alabama: Either they were unaware of the whiteboard’s visibility in the Snapchat (possible) or they did it on purpose to get people talking… Or some gymnasts just had a bad week or were off for exams and missed a practice or two so others “moved ahead”. Could be anything really and we won’t know until the compete at Michigan in January or something (injury, knock on wood) leaks out.

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      1. Bars appears to be the bigger worry for UGA though –

        According to the Junior stories on the UGA website, Gracie Cherrey was only training bars, minus any dismounts, after have her second ankle reconstruction last season and is now dealing with a shoulder injury – this doesn’t bode well for seeing her in the lineup. Can she even land a dismount anymore?

        Oakley I believe is dealing with a shoulder problem and bars is her signature event – so she’ll definitely be in the lineup when she’s healthy, but how long will it take her shoulder to allow her to swing bars…

        UGA potential bars lineup (minus Oakley):
        Sanders
        Vaculik
        Johnson
        ??? (Peterson/Schild/Oakley – though I’d switch Oakley and Dickson)
        Dickson
        Snead

        Or they could go with Snead in the fifth spot and if all five hit have a freebie/practice for Peterson – she EX last year but didn’t look competition ready, so this way she’d be in the lineup but, hopefully, her routine would just be a bonus.

        Though other than Snead and Dickson those other routines aren’t always reliable for strong 9.80+ scores.

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      2. OK just to finish off the UGA potential lineups. (Minus any of the current gymnasts struggling with injury.)

        Beam:
        Snead
        Sanders
        Vaculik/Arnold
        Dickson
        Babalis
        Vega

        Floor:
        Babalis
        Arnold/Peterson – replaces Beth Roberts until a freshie is healthy
        Dickson
        Vega
        Snead
        Marino

        Floor actually doesn’t look too bad, outside of the second position, but I would assume a simple routine where the gymnast is just asked to get a useable score would be crafted – in case something goes wrong in one of the other routines.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oakley did Vault this summer at both Classics and Nationals. It was just a Yfull though, but it’s a clean vault (minus the landing), so I assume she’ll be in the lineup if healthy.

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      4. Vaculik mentioned she was only training bars and beam in the My Story video. So I think that until Oakley and Schild are healthy enough to vault, it may have to be Vega as the sixth vaulter in the lineup since she indicated she “had an opportunity to get in the vault lineup”.

        I agree with your comment below that bars is also a worry – Pederson said she was recently injured and is currently “out of the bar lineup” and I lost track of all of Cherrey’s injuries but I agree that it didn’t sound promising for her to be able to compete. Vega said she was “swinging bars” but that didn’t sound like something that was ready to put in a lineup so I’m curious who they would be able to put in that spot.

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  3. Don’t get me wrong, I totally love/hate/love Axelle’s new floor routine (what can I say, I’m a sucker for interesting choreographic choices), but all I could think of while watching it was the “every day we stray further from god’s light” meme.

    Seriously, how did they come up with that…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michigan’s looking good! Seven of the nine who performed at the intrasquad did all around. The other two did three events (neither Lauren vaulted). Townsend also had a nice round off, layout to two feet on the beam. Osman did a full in on the floor.

    Looking forward to the exhibition this weekend, which should give us more of an idea about the lineups. I’m hoping McLean’s back for it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Spencer omg you just helped me so much with my fantasy lineup! Tbh I was expecting to see more of Kiana on Alabama’s lineup but who knows how much stuff could change since this is only the tentative list for the first meet of the season…glad to see our favorite international gymnast Kylie Dickson though!

    I’m pretty impressed by the vault possibilities for Oklahoma (especially since LSU won’t have Sydney and Ashley this year) it’ll be interesting to see them vying for the top vault scores with Florida. Definitely not surprised about Peyton being at the end of the list, but I’m hoping we’ll see Bailie up soon later this season.

    We’re missing quite a few strong AAers this season! Michigan and Florida are looking insanely stacked this season with theirs but there’s a few other teams I’m definitely worried about. I’m still wondering if Maddie Kocian is going to be well enough to do AA? Anyone know?

    Also glad that everyone is finally getting on the Akhaimova train! In addition to her I-only-know-she’s-Russian-on-floor-because-of-her-choreography, seems like a really sweet and level-headed girl. I’m hoping that she can really prove herself and make it off the B-team next year with a healthy Kharenkova.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For Simone’s beam, she could replace the punch front + sissone with a pike front somi, maintaining the same value (seems like this wouldn’t be tough for her, esp with no connection to worry about). I also think she could do a bhs+layout and float a layout that would actually get credit. Does that B+E get 0.1 bonus still? I’d downgrade the wolf turn to a double and try to avoid deduction. Spencer what do you think Simone should do?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My suggestions for Simone’s beam are to upgrade to a triple wolf if possible and combine the punch front to immediate scale (like Nastia’s former skill) to get connection value without having to do a pike front. Alternatively, punch front to split leap would get bonus since the punch front seems hard enough on its own. Arial walkover + split jump would also get connection bonus.

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    2. 1: Triple wolf turn – if this were anyone but Simone I’d say downgrade, but she can pull it off.
      2: Punch front pike – doesn’t have to worry about a connection out of it which I think caused her to hesitate on it more than once.
      3: Front aerial into split jump – shouldn’t be too much more difficult than a wolf jump.

      All of these changes are pretty minimal and the rest of the routine would stay the same.

      One “dream” change I’d like to see would be a side aerial before the two LOSOs. That series would give her an extra D skill and 0.2 more bonus. It’s my favorite beam series, however, it’s very difficult and risky and probably not a smart composition choice.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think it is ridiculous for UGA to push Emily Schild to come back for the end of the season. It is quite clear that the team will not be making it into the Super Six (and maybe not even Nationals) this year, so better to not waste a year and red-shirt her.

    Love Axelle’s routine-from a choreography standpoint and love the honking motion at the end. However, too many vocals in there and the woman laughing is distracting. This is an example of a routine that is trying TOO hard and doesn’t need to.

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