The big news this week: In December 2016, USAG and Maroney signed a nondisclosure agreement in which USAG paid Maroney in exchange for her silence over being abused by That Guy. Because USAG is so proud of these brave victims. Remember: at USA Gymnastics, nothing is more important than
the safety of the athletes making sure you never find out.
It turns out that under California law, that agreement is possibly illegal because a victim of child sexual abuse cannot be forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement as part of a settlement, but what’s mostly come out is that a lot of people were very interested in using Maroney as a strategic pawn without any attention to her well being.
Here’s what I’m thinking about: As recently as last December— so AFTER the story had come out and several lawsuits had been filed—Cosplay Chris Christie was still focused only on playing damage control with the potential public relations fallout. Boy, your ship had already sunk. Where did you think this was going? It’s so revealing about the heart of the sickness. “It’s not that bad if Jamie Dantzscher was abused because she’s not famous, but if they find out about Maroney, we could really be in trouble.”
B. Vika’s back
Phew. The year’s final competition, the Voronin Cup, brought us a special present, the return of Viktoria Komova to competition. She finished second in the all-around behind Melnikova in what was very much a “testing the waters” performance. She elected not to participate in the event finals and did not yet have full, I’m-trying routine composition. Because it’s the beginning.
For example, this #ButHerInbars bars routine is just a piddly little 4.7 because she has too many toe-on skills, meaning the toe-on 1/1 gets no credit and therefore does not fulfill the full-turn composition requirement. This is not a set designed to get a score. It’s a set designed to be something she can go out and do. It’s also ridiculously gorgeous until the “no me gusta giant swings” moment.
|Toe-on Shaposhnikova (D) + Pak (D) = 0.1 CV|
|Toe-on Shaposhnikova 1/2 (E)|
|Toe-on 1/2 (C) + Jaeger piked (E)|
|Toe-on 1/1 (NC) + Tkatchev (D)|
|Cast 1/2 (B)|
|Full-twisting double tuck (D)|
|EEDDDDCB = 3.1|
|Composition requirements = 1.5|
|CV = 0.1|
|D-SCORE = 4.7
I was most impressed by how far along floor is, in that it’s not actually there yet but she has a double Arabian, so yay! Pretty good for someone Valentina retired at least 54 times. She’s going for 5.0 with this set, which counts placeholders like a 2/1 (C) and a switch leap (B).
As expected, beam was the closest to being back (Arabian!) and would have outscored the rest of the competition by a laughable margin if hit.
Hitting beam was not so much a thing in this meet. Basically, only Nabieva hit, which is somehow the most Peak Nabieva thing possible. Until floor.
So basically what happened is that she started a floor routine, then went Full Tonya and stopped mid-pass because of…something. Then she started again, and the facial expression journey through the second half of this routine is glorious to behold.
The somehow-audible eye roll before that final switch 1/2 is my favorite.
Melnikova debuted a full-in beam dismount. It didn’t go awesome.
In the event finals, Kharenkova won beam and floor again, and Valentina went, “What’s her name? Kevin? I feel like it’s Kevin.”
C. NCAA updates
It’s already a roster bloodbath and we haven’t even started yet! After weeks of rumors, Lizzy Leduc has been officially removed from the Illinois team. That, coupled with yet another injury to Mary Jane Horth, really hampers Illinois’s expectations this year. In an effort to fill out some lineups, the staff got a redshirt year for Sarah Lyons (she missed her freshman year in 2014 with injury but wasn’t originally on the roster to return for a 5th) so that she can come back and compete vault and bars again.
Emi Watterson arrived at Cal this week to join the team for the current season. Keep her in mind for beam, where she’s lovely, and hopefully bars at some point. We’ll have to see how her bars work translates to NCAA in the form department, but the difficulty and potential is more than there. Her beam could be a “don’t worry Toni-Ann, you don’t have to beam anymore” set depending on consistency.
Meanwhile, Stanford has already lost one with freshman Caroline Spertus leaving the team. She was not expected to make lineups, so it doesn’t influence Stanford’s prospects for the season.
They’re just happy they might have six (or seven!) whole floor routines this season. It’s a miracle!
In the scheduling department, note that the ribbon-cutting meet for the 2018 season between Michigan and Alabama on Friday, January 5th has been moved to 5:30 ET/2:30 PT for live broadcast on ESPNU. You don’t have any obligations at 2:30pm on a Friday afternoon right? OK good. Didn’t think so.
Chuso competed at the Voronin Cup this week, winning the vault title. She also took the opportunity to announce that if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. Meaning, she does the AA again starting soon. Even when competing only vault, Chuso is still Uzbekistan’s best all-around score, so why not? She can rake in those world cup wins for years to come.
She also needs to get a beam skill named after herself to have the Chuso Slam with a skill on all four events, so get to work. She has two vaults, the DLO 1/1 on floor, and the hop full and full-out dismount on bars, but nothing on beam, like a lazy. Chuck something NOW.
For our final episode of 2017, we run down all the latest developments in what has been a very bad week for USA Gymnastics—and just people in general—before moving on to what excites us about 2018, like our favorite NCAA freshmen to watch and the new 2018 senior elites that are going to take the world by storm.
F. Beam routine of the week
In anticipation of the NCAA season and this being the year Kupets returns to us all, this week I’m highlighting the Kupets 2008 beam routine, the one with the famous (infamous?) mount series.
If you’ve watched Under the Lights, this is beam the routine Kupets hit at the Stanford meet in the final act so that there could be a triumphant conclusion, after she fell against Utah because of doubts and it being definitely the entire rest of the team’s fault because they doubted her to.
I live for this routine having double the bonus it needs. Because that’s what you do when you’re Kupets…before soon removing that mount series because it’s such an unnecessary risk.