The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – January 12, 2018

A. Swaggy Maggie

“Up until now, I was identified as Athlete A by USA gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee and Michigan State University,” Nichols said. “I want everyone to know that he did not do this to Athlete A, he did it to Maggie Nichols.”

Bloop. Miss Maggie has not only added her name to the 700-mile-long list of people who are so much better and stronger and more important than That Guy, she also filled in a few of the question marks in the timeline regarding just how instrumental she and her coach were in getting something to happen. Because of course they were.

Maggie revealed that hers was the “conversation overheard by a coach” that we knew about, and the coach in question was her own coach, Sarah Jantzi. Sarah then informed Rhonda, Rhonda informed Steve Penny, and that’s when the whole thing fell to pieces. Try to act surprised.

(Actually it fell to pieces in the 90s, but you know where I’m going with this. Steve Penny.)

In response, USAG “well actually-ed” one of its worst yet. A tough bar to limbo under, I know.

USAG compulsively cannot put athlete well-being first. Whether it’s prioritizing maintaining the reputation of the organization, or whether it’s prioritizing a (rough and unconvincing) legal strategy, there’s always something preventing USAG from behaving sanely or with the vaguest shred of thoughtfulness and decency.

Also oopsies! In all of the rats’ eagerness to flee the sinking ship, some appear to have gotten their stories mixed up.

Item #1:

Item #2:

Item #3:

It’s almost like there’s some…disingenuous bad faith going on here?


Also, let’s go back to item #1:

“The information that Maggie and later a second athlete provided was important, but did not provide reasonable suspicion that sexual abuse had occurred.”

[Extremely Ron Howard voice]: It did.

Also, that’s totally not your call because you’re wildly unqualified to make that decision.

Moving on:

“USA Gymnastics cooperated fully with the FBI, including the agents’ July 28, 2015, request to not do anything that might interfere with their investigation. USA Gymnastics interpreted that request to mean that it should not discuss the matter, and it refrained from doing so.”


“We’re well aware that a serial sexual abuser is still seeing patients at Michigan State, but oh well better not push or question or do anything at all about that *snore* *snore* *snore*.”



Because this whole thing just wasn’t upsetting enough, we have to remember that Geddert is part of it. So it’s going to get worse. Geddert is involved because he owns Twistars, where much of the abuse took place, and therefore either knew or should have known what was happening in his gym. Some survivors have also related stories (as early as 1997!) that indicate that he totally knew. Geddert.

Geddert’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss today, filled with all kinds of fun little nuggets. And by fun, I mean I’m about to go jump into a volcano.

“The statute of limitations is expired as to all but a handful of Plaintiffs. There is no merit to any of the allegations made against him or against his award-winning gym.”

Ew. “Award-winning gym.” You gross little Trump. Guilty. Done.

But it gets RIL bad later.

So your defense is that Rachael should have sued her own mother instead of you? Good. Smart.

Ain’t no morals like gymnastics morals cuz gymnastics morals don’t exist apparently.

Lesson: Never trust a middle-aged man wearing a puka shell necklace. Also we’re officially forever absolved of guilt for making fun of him and that hideous Olympic tattoo he got. You’re not an Olympian.

And while we’re being petty, anyone who would put together that routine composition for Jordyn in an Olympic year surely can’t be trusted.

C. Why I Spoke Up

Watch immediately.

D. Team Finals

In better news, good old Twitter uncovered this week that in the FIG’s updated technical regulations, a somewhat new format for team finals had been slipped in without fanfare.

So instead of each team’s three gymnasts going back-to-back-to-back, they’ll alternate routines with the other team. From a spectator standpoint, this is excellent. It will produce a more compelling back-and-forth, will make deficits/margins clearer, and will ramp up the drama a little bit. The worry I’ve seen expressed is that…what if you have to rotate with China on bars and their 80-hour compulsive bars-preparation regimen? But I say…eh. They make it work in event finals, so they can make it work in the team final.

E. The piked full-in

As you may or may not have Hurd (I’m *literally* never going to stop), Morgan Hurd is currently working a piked full-in off beam.

We very, very rarely see this dismount (especially these days) partially because it’s, you know, hard. But also because it’s still a G skill, just like the tucked version, so there’s no benefit to upgrading from the tuck.

The decision to put both skills at the same value was made when all skills on all events were capped at G, but in the intervening period, the WTC has shifted values for some floor tumbling up to H and I, setting the precedent that it could do the same on the other events. It might be worth nudging the WTC to see if they’re willing to reevaluate and go H for the pike. You never know.

We have seen the piked full-in attempted a number of times in the past—Ponor, Galieva, Lussac to name a few—though it’s always rather controversial as to whether it’s truly a pike, or a tuck, or a puckity puck puck. Perhaps that’s why the WTC gave them the same value. To take the judgment call out of the picture. If Morgan were able to retain that shape on a real landing, it would be fairly original in that regard.


In “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” news, USA Gymnastics responded to the Maggie Nichols statement by announcing the dates and locations for classic and nationals this year. Because LOOK OVER HERE SHINY.

Classic will be moving away from Fake Chicago (Fake Chicago is hosting American Cup) to Columbus, Ohio on July 28. Nationals will take place in Boston from August 16-19.

Both events have no title sponsorship now because obviously.

Also, worlds is scheduled for quite a bit later this year than it was last year, so there’s an extra national team camp after nationals and before the selection camp.

It’s allegedly a camp for the “world team training squad,” even though that isn’t supposed to be selected for another month. K? Whatever. It’s a camp for the people invited to selection camp, but it’s not a selection camp, even though it’s totally a selection camp? Got it.

G. GymCastic

We’re back! We’re back from vacation and talking all about the endurance problems in the first week of NCAA, the new beam rules, Sarah Finnegan, the USAG/Fran developments (that had happened by that point—more to come), and whether puppies are inherently sexist? I think? Normal.

H. Beam routine of the week

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