Things Are Happening – December 15, 2017

A. P&G and Kellogg’s

Steve Penny’s worst nightmare just came true, which means it’s a good thing.

P&G and Kellogg’s have dropped their sponsorship of USAG because, well, duh. The surprise is that it even took this long. (Kellogg’s sponsorship did apparently end after 2016.)

On what planet is a company going to want “As P&G Championships approach, a reminder that Larry Nassar abused over 140 gymnasts. Here’s a picture of him with the Hershey’s logo” happening all over the place? And why Kellogg’s was happy to have its name on Tour of Death until now, I’ll never know.

Expect the others, like Under Armour and Hershey’s, to follow suit now that the biggest sponsors have dropped. And if they don’t…what’s going on there? [Annnnnnnnd…There go the rest. That didn’t take long.]

It has to be this way—even if it’s not great for the growth of the sport and even if the pain of budget constraints is most likely to be passed on to the athletes, fans, and everyone who doesn’t deserve it—because speaking through money and creating actual financial consequences is the only way to force USAG (or the USOC if need be) into real and necessary action.

What action does that mean exactly? Essentially, it means razing the administrative structure at USAG and starting again from scratch. It means dissolving the board of directors that emboldened and authorized the heartless Steve Penny culture of inverted priorities, removing anyone who was in a position of administrative power pre-2015, and forcing the organization to be publicly accountable for enacting all the recommendations in the Daniels report.

Which brings us to…

B. Athlete Reps

USAG has announced new members of the Athletes Council, which include Ivana Hong and Steve Legendre. Hey, we know them! What a delightful story, right?

Not so much.

Largely because of this little nugget.

You remember the Daniels report, right? The one that said athlete representatives should never serve on selection committees because it creates a conflict of interest that prevents athletes from reporting concerns to them?

What happened there? That was literally THE EASIEST one to do. Was that a try?

Oh, and it gets worse.

Great. This is why we feel that USAG isn’t doing enough (because it isn’t) and that more pressure must be put on USAG until actual changes are made to the oligarchical culture of patronage, corruption, favors, pressure, exploitation, and bias.

C. Banned coaches

Todd Gardiner from IGI has been added to USAG’s permanently ineligible members list because of sexual misconduct with an athlete. So, at least USAG is doing something. Also, everything is terrible.

D. Fetus Verbals

While we’re discussing changes that need to be made, the issue of fetus verbals came up again this week when a 7th grader who will be graduating high school in 2023 (which is not a real year) made a verbal commitment to Georgia. That is a CHILD.

You guys, the coaches all “hate” these early commitments, just not enough to actually stop or do anything about it or jeopardize their chances of getting a good gymnast.

“All of these early commitments are such an unhealthy epidemic,” she says, literally putting a baby in a sack with an NLI.


There was one rule passed in 2017 to try to curb early recruiting, which says that gymnasts can’t make unofficial visits to schools before the beginning of junior year of high school. (Unofficial visit = paid for by the parents, not the school, but the athletic department knows about and organizes it.) This is good, but it ends up meaning that these children(‘s parents) are still making the same decisions, just with even less information.

The rule simply needs to be that no verbal commitments can be made until the junior year of high school and no contact whatsoever initiated by any party can begin before the sophomore year of high school.

E. Toyota International and Voronin Cup

The results of last weekend’s Toyota International provided few surprises, with Miyakawa winning vault and Murakami winning floor, as they were expected to do. De Jesus Dos Santos took the bars title in a slight upset over Eremina, while Sanne proved that her beam is back by winning the title after struggling on beam by her standards through much of 2017.

Other significant moments included Sarah Voss of Germany scoring 14.600 for a DTY. We know Germany has the bars, and had a great worlds on beam, but vault and floor have still been trailing a little farther behind. Keep Voss in mind as a potential spoiler to the big five for Germany (Seitz, Alt, Schaefer, Scheder, Bui) in upcoming seasons if she keeps getting scores like that.

Juliette Bossu also had a strong event for France, finishing third on bars and fourth on floor, results that make her worlds exclusion feel more and more like a snub.

The final competition of the 2017 elite gymnastics season will be the Voronin Cup in Russia on December 19th and 20th. The team/AA titles for juniors and seniors are decided on the 19th, then event finals are on the 20th.

Most excitingly, this event is slated to be the triumphant competition return of Viktoria Komova. Also, the scores are always 1000% crazy, so I’m in it for that.

F. NCAA Training

We’re in full intrasquad season now. If you missed the broadcast displays from Georgia, UCLA, and LSU, the artist formerly known as NastiaFan101 obviously has you covered. I’ve run through the various important developments from those intrasquads for Georgia and LSU in the team previews and will soon do the same in the preview for UCLA. Keep in mind that this is all just practice that doesn’t mean anything, in terms of both who competed and fell and crazy scores.

I may be wildly biased (and am), but I do want to give credit to Jess, Scott, Dom, and Betty for giving scores at the UCLA meet that were way more accurate and true to life than what any of the NCAA judges gave during these other preseason shows.

We see you, judge who gave this a mathematically impossible 9.950.

For those that weren’t broadcast, Melanie Capps put the Oklahoma intrasquad videos on YouTube like a star.

I’m all about the front layout stepout trend in NCAA this year. Both Nichols and Nia Dennis are on it.

The Medalist Club Facebook has videos of Alabama’s preview.

As we begin to get more and more broadcasts of full preseason showcases from more teams, it’s very odd that we suddenly won’t be able to watch this Friday’s Red Rocks Preview for Utah. I can’t remember the last time we didn’t get to see that. The RRP is the one that got this whole thing started. This year’s RRP will be broadcast only on radio, which only works if you trust the commentators to communicate reality rather than enthusiasm.

G. GymCastic

It’s Morgan Hurd week!

Jess and I chatted with Morgan Hurd about mostly Harry Potter and Hamilton, but also a little bit about gymnastics, competition plans, why she didn’t care for the training gym at worlds, what happened when Ragan got injured before the AA final, what she thought of the beam scoring, and original skill ideas.

So, I can check “Almost getting into a fight with the world all-around champion about Hagrid’s teaching abilities” off the bucket list. Phew. It’s about time.

H. Beam routine of the week

This week, keeping things elite but gearing up for NCAA season, I’m going with the bronze-winning beam routine from 2006 for Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs. Her comfort with the side aerial directly connected to layout stepout carried through almost to the end of her UCLA career and retained a special quality in her beam routine. Others don’t typically take that much risk.

The other signature in EHH’s gymnastics was her illusion turn work, which I bring up because she got the double illusion turn on floor named after her in the code of points, but in the 2017 code update, that skill was removed from the table of elements, which will never do. We need to keep talking about that until there’s justice for EHH.

This routine also still stands up in the current code, where it would have a 5.4 D score, largely because of how well-rewarded a series like the side aerial + loso + loso is now. Schaefer won worlds this year with a 5.5 D.

20 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – December 15, 2017”

  1. WHY do they remove named skills from the COP seriously? I minorly get it if they’re like ‘ok we thought about this and this isn’t a skill anymore’ like Nastia’s aerial-arabesque thing, or it’s been banned like the bars Korbut, (although I think they should keep them on a list of retired skills or something) but why would you remove a skill that still exists and is legit like a double illusion? Sure not many people do it (does anyone right now?) but in that case are we gonna start axing the Podkopayeva or something …? *rant*

    1. My cynical self suggests that this is because there’s no chance of naming it after Nelli Kim. But, seriously, I think someone should make a list of skills removed from the Code and see what countries the gymnasts hail from. (Are legit skills being removed because they’re not named after anyone famous?)

      1. i legit think they are being removed because no one in the WTC knows how to edit the document to add more lines so the new elements can be named.

  2. I’d like to see all the sponsors who dropped USAG to reallocate their funds towards directly supporting the gymnasts. In a way that doesn’t nix their NCAA eligibility. THAT would be a powerful message!

  3. This youtube channel has videos from Alabama’s preview in addition to the Medalist Club facebook.

    1. Emma Boyd is from Orlando Metro is the commit to Georgia for 2023. It is not just parents it is also the coaches that are recruiting her. In a sport where so much can change, why in the world would you even commit this early.

      1. But in the end it is the parents that allow the child to go forward with the recruitment process and commit that early. I agree that coaches are also involved but if the coach is that irresponsible, it is definately the parents’ duty to stop this ridiculous stuff.

      2. But if she is only verbally committing, obviously at her age, what’s to stop her from visiting other campuses like many high school students do to check them out? She can easily decided she may have verbally to UGA when she was 12 but when she’s 17 she can sign a NLI with the Gators or Crimson Tide. What’s to stop that from happening? (Bailey Key and Emily Gaskins both verbally committed to the Gators as babies and signed NLIs with Alabama when they were older and presumably wiser about what they wanted out of an education.)

      3. I absolutely don’t agree with this level of early recruiting, but if you’re a parent or a gymnast wanting to go to one of the many schools that are recruiting very young gymnasts then I understand their desire to make sure they have a (verbal) spot. If everyone else your age commits when they’re 14 and you wait until you’re 16 you’re running the risk that there may not be as many scholarship spots available in your freshman class because they’ve already been offered to girls that verbally committed before you did.

  4. Some of the ridiculous NCAA recruiting practices was another thing that Aly Raisman did a great job of covering in her book. One of my favorites was that since coaches aren’t allowed to contact athletes, but athletes can contact coaches, the coaches would contact her older teammates and get them to ask Aly to call the coach back. Hence why the “no contact until sophomore year” rule would be a good one. This has really got out of hand.

  5. I just hope for the athletes sake, that USAG deals with the lose of sponsorship appropriately. I agree that these sponsors should have dropped the organization, but I dont want to see anything passed on to the current national team gymnasts. Especially when a good chunk of them at the very least were close with individuals who have come forward with abuse. I am not a huge fan of the “burn usag to the ground” rhetoric because the main people thats gonna really effect is current athletes who don’t deserve that treatment. Athletes need to come first, and I think that seeing how they deal with it will be a big clue. Not just the WAG athletes either, I would also be more concerned for the T&T and rhythmic gymnasts treatment since they really don’t bring in any money. Especially compared to WAG nationals that is nationally televised on NBC w/ significant ad buys and high ticket sales (which I would expect to go up if Simone Biles returns as planned next year).

  6. That was a nice Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs video as Beam routine of the week.

    Speaking of EHH and Fetus verbals, her daughter’s bars routine:

    has reportedly lead to a record-breaking early verbal. (just kidding).

    1. Here’s a sample blurb:

      Please follow the example of Hershey’s and P&G and drop your sponsorship of USA Gymnastics.

      They have refused to take this sexual assault crisis seriously. Children must be protected from harm and abuse, no exceptions. It is the responsibility of companies to express their values through actions such as sponsorship. Until you drop USA Gymnastics sponsorship, I will not buy any of your products.

      Thank you for your consideration.

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