Things Are Happening – April 27, 2018

A. Pac Rims

The Pacific Rim Championships—one of the most geographically tenuous excuses for a gymnastics competition—begin today with the men’s team/AA competition. This is followed by the women’s team/AA competition on Saturday and event finals for all on Sunday. Here’s the full schedule:

Friday, April 27
2:45pm CT – Men’s subdivision 1
6:00pm CT – Men’s subdivision 2 (including USA)

Saturday, April 28
2:30pm CT – Women’s subdivision 1
5:00pm CT – Women’s subdivision 2
7:30pm CT – Women’s subdivision 3 (including USA)

Sunday, April 29
3:30pm CT – EF – Men’s Sr FX & Jr PH; Women’s Sr VT & Jr UB
4:05pm CT – EF – Men’s Sr PH & Jr FX; Women’s Sr UB & Jr VT
5:10pm CT – EF – Men’s Sr SR & Jr VT; Women’s Sr BB & Jr FX
5:45pm CT – EF – Men’s Sr VT & Jr SR; Women’s Sr FX & Jr BB
6:50pm CT – EF – Men’s Sr PB & Junior HB
7:25pm CT – EF – Men’s Sr HB & Junior PB

Flo has the broadcast rights, so I’ll make sure to provide live blogs.

The US women’s team is Hurd, McCallum, Chiles, Lee, DiCello, Bowers. The US men’s team is Mikulak, Kimble, Modi, Chow, Hong, and Lazarus Barnhill (the real name of a non-1950s detective).

Reviewing the competition format: Each country may bring up to six competitors—maximum three seniors, minimum three juniors. The team format is 6-5-4, but the sixth team member may also compete on each event in order to get an AA score (or qualify to EF), even though the score cannot count for the team.

That last part is significant because there will be apparatuses where the US decides that, say, Sunisa Lee has the 6th-best routine on the team overall, but she would still be able to compete on those apparatuses and therefore retain her opportunity for a junior AA medal.

As is typical, the US will enter Pac Rims as the heavy favorite for team and AA medals on both the men’s and women’s side. That’s especially true this year since the likes of China and Japan have elected not to send teams. They never send full-strength teams to this competition, but as we know on the men’s side, a C team from Japan or China would still be pretty good.

On the women’s side, Canada has sent some of its second-tier seniors with Marois, De Jong, and Victoria Woo and its first-tier juniors in Emma Spence, Zoe Allaire-Bourgie, and Imogen Paterson. Those are the best juniors Canada has right now, and all turn senior later this quad, so it will be worth checking out how competitive they are.

Australia is sending two seniors who didn’t make the CWG cut (Talia Folino and Kate McDonald) along with four juniors. Kiara Munteanu was on the original roster but has withdrawn, as has Yesenia Ferrera for Cuba. Maybe she realized that Cuba isn’t on the Pacific.

Others to watch out for include Martina Dominici of Argentina—also not on the Pacific. ANYBODY HAVE A MAP ANYBODY MAYBE HAPPEN TO KNOW HOW THE HELL TO DO THIS. Dominici is the future and present of Argentina’s team but is looking for a rebound competition after struggling at Gymnix. Also check out Nicolle Castro and Jimena Moreno for Mexico, probably Mexico’s top two AAers right now who will be significant if Mexico is to make a run at a solid team placement at worlds this quad.

B. Dateline: Karolyi-Fest 2018

Obviously we just can’t with this.

Dateline did an episode ostensibly about how Maroney was abused by That Guy hundreds of times and let down by those in a position to do something about it, but mostly it ended up being a chance for the Karolyis to float their “Oh, little old me? Why, how could I have known anything? I am but a humble coach” narrative. Because they’ve never seen anyone do anything ever and are conveniently absolved of blame in all situations because it was USAG’s responsibility to care about… whats the word…oh, like, safety?

Maroney: You knew what I ate, you knew what I wore, you controlled what I said, how could you not know?

I’d add to that: How could you not CARE to know? Even if you maintain that you didn’t know, and even if it wasn’t in your job description, how could you not care to know? After Don Peters, after Marvin Sharp, after all the others, how could you not make it your business? How could you not make it your first priority for this thing you built that you’re apparently so proud of and devastated about how it’s being dragged down? And how could you still be content saying it wasn’t your responsibility? It was everyone’s responsibility. Even people who are actually innocent in all of this are consumed by guilt. Why aren’t you?

But Martha is also, you know, so so sad that anything…bad…might have…happened…

It is technically true that many of the issues were USAG’s domain not Martha’s, like having appropriately specific abuse reporting and prevention training, establishing codified reporting standards and consequences that cannot be fudged by the CEO on an ad hoc basis to suit nefarious and secretive ends, or not agreeing to have the training camps at SOMEONE’S DAMN HOUSE.

Side note: there’s a shot of that TV/massage room.

What a professional-looking environment! So many boundaries being maintained between doctors and minors here!

But still, the Karolyis’ insistence on having a completely clear conscience and not bearing any responsibility perfectly meshes with our very lowest expectations. They’re completely incapable of seeing how a fear-based coaching environment provides a Petri dish for abuse in all forms—capable only of self-preservation. I didn’t do it, so it’s not my fault.  Because Martha and Bela are the real victims here. I know hundreds were sexually abused, but WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF MARTHA’S LEGACY?????

Also did you know that the gymnasts were never afraid of Martha? Mmmhmmm. And that the Karolyis were definitely never verbally abusive to anyone or called anyone fat?


Never verbally abusive? Verbal abuse was like your whole thing. It was basically on the poster.

And they were only physically abusive in Romania, you guys, which apparently doesn’t count because it wasn’t America.

Great work, everyone.


C. Aly and Rhonda

Aly was unhappy with the Dateline episode, mostly because it shifted focus away from USAG executives and because in it she had a big bombshell moment where she named Rhonda as someone who ignored her reports of sexual abuse, which was cut out of the piece.

We don’t yet know when Aly’s reporting to Rhonda happened (or how this is different from Rhonda being informed by Sarah Jantzi in the original Maggie situation) or what Rhonda actually did with any of this information, so it’s difficult to form a reliable impression just yet either way.

It’s a tough one because it’s perfectly valid to say simply that anyone who was at USAG up through the end of 2016 needs to go because of fundamental organizational mishandling and ignorance—something anyone in a position of power (like a VP) would have known about and therefore been responsible for. Those in this camp probably also favor decertification because of a feeling that the entire organization is toxic from the inside out. You have to start fresh. (The worry being that the elite gymnastics world is too small for there to even be such thing as “starting fresh.” It’s always going to be the same people, the same coaches, with the same influences and same cultural problems that need to be fixed.)

But there are also different categories of culpability here that should be noted. We have the calculated evil: those who attempted to silence others, those who valued controlling the story over athlete safety, those who were involved in illegal NDAs, those who have withheld information from law enforcement or Congress. And then we have others, those who had better intentions but did not necessarily know the right things to do. This second category is guilty of things like not being aware that they needed to report immediately to the police (which should have been part of the most basic training in any of those jobs, including for all the coaches) or trusting Steve Penny to do the right thing when he said he was handling it despite the fact that he’s Steve Penny.

Those are not failures to be ignored, but they’re of a different category than the calculated evil. The second category can be fixed and learned from. My impression has been that Rhonda is in the second category, but that’s just an impression. We don’t know that, which is part of the point Aly is making here. We still don’t know who knew what and said what, and when, and who is really guilty of the calculated evil. It’s not good enough to go just on impressions, or what you’re told, or what you think of people’s characters. That’s exactly what got us into this problem in the first place. We need facts.

D. All-Japan Championship

One of the reasons Japan is not sending a team to Pac Rims this year is the conflict with this weekend’s All-Japan Championship, an all-around competition, where qualification has already concluded. On the women’s side, Mai Murakami leads with 56.032 despite an iffy beam, ahead of Asuka Teramoto in second with 55.432, Hitomi Hatakeda in third with 54.032, and Aiko Sugihara in fourth with 53.565.

It’s also a solid result for Sae Miyakawa to be in fifth all-around because she’s not so much with the bars and beam. She did record the top vault score with 15.000 and the #2 floor score with 14.000, behind Mai’s 14.766 because of Mai in Japan.

Here are the scores for the top qualifiers for the AA final.

1. Mai Murakami 14.700 13.866 12.700 14.766 56.032
2. Asuka Teramoto 14.533 13.866 13.466 13.566 55.431
3. Hitomi Hatakeda 14.266 13.900 12.866 13.000 54.032
4. Aiko Sugihara 14.066 12.600 13.233 13.666 53.565
5. Sae Miyakawa 15.000 11.766 11.533 14.000 52.299
6. Nagi Kajita 14.100 12.133 12.533 13.266 52.032
7. Yuki Uchiyama 13.366 14.133 11.433 12.833 51.765
8. Chiaki Hatakeda 13.433 11.233 12.733 13.666 51.065

Kenzo leads men’s qualification, while Uchimura sits a point behind him in fifth after, according to Google translate, a “rainy fall” on horse. I also learned from Google translate that there’s such a thing as a “Tennessee Tkatchev,” which I will be referencing a lot from now on.

E. Simone’s new skills

There are all these people doing gymnastics and then Simone just showed up to be like, “BYE SMURFS” with all the upgrades.

On bars, we see her adding three new skills—one F and two Es—in the Fabrichnova dismount, the piked jaeger, and the long sought-after Shap 1/2. What’s encouraging is how realistic they all look, though I was partial to that one time we saw Simone do a Mustafina dismount and it was beautiful. But, yes, the Fabrichnova is worth more, whatever. Do all those, and she can very realistically break 6.0 in D and match her 2016 D score—when she had an extra five tenths in CR. (Now, if she were able to connect the Shap 1/2 out of the Pak, then…)

On beam, we see mostly the usual suspects but with a casual double double dismount. It’s a skill I would be very excited to see her put in a competition routine particularly because it would force the WTC to break out of the A-G system on beam. They’ve done it already with floor passes, but not yet on beam. Since the full-in dismount is already a G, the double double would have to be given a higher value.

The Moors is getting the most attention among Simone’s floor showings, but don’t overlook that front 1/1 through to full-in split jump for 0.3 CV, bonus that makes the pass worth the same as a DLO 1/1 or double double tucked. (I’m like snooze, Moors, what have you done for me lately.)

Not to be outdone, there is a momentary flash of a TTY, a skill we know Simone is physically capable of doing but also the one here that’s not an actual competition skill right now. She can get there, because Simone, but I’d temper vault upgrade expectations for the moment.

The bars upgrades are the wow moment here because they’re real and already quite well done.

F. GymCastic

It’s an “even more super long than normal!” special episode this week because we had a lot to get through considering we had to do play-by-play of both NCAA nationals and the Karolyi Dateline episode.

G. Beam routine of the week

Anna Mirgorodskaya, a classic. That mount. The smoothness. It’s so unnecessarily long and excellent. Mirgorodskaya competed for Ukraine in 1995-96, the crowning achievement being this beam routine in the team optionals at 95 worlds for 9.650, as well as making the bars final at 96 worlds.

Mirgorodskaya missed beam in the team optionals at the 1996 Olympics for 9.287 because Ukraine, which also meant she missed out on making the all-around final in an intra-team three-per-country-rule tiebreak that she lost to Sheremeta after they both finished on the same total. Which is also the most Ukraine thing to ever Ukraine.


14 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – April 27, 2018”

  1. No Brooklyn Moors at Pac Rims?!? I thought that was the main/only reason she wasn’t named to the Commonwealth Games team. Well that’s disappointing.

    1. I know have been so disappointed not seeing her at either comp. I hope she’s not injured or being penalized for American Cup.

  2. The commentator for the BB routine gives me the creeps. After the mount he says “The little girl is competing in her first world championships” in a really creepy/suggestive way.

  3. I have so many different ways I feel about the Karolyis, especially Martha.

    Assuming they actually (somehow) didn’t know what Nassar was up to, I do feel kind of bad for her that she was praised like nobody’s business for what she was doing for 15 years as long as she got results, and then as soon as she retired everyone is tripping over themselves to tell her how terrible she was. Like, she only did what she was asked to do, in the way that she new best, in a nicer way than her husband did, and now everyone’s turned tail and telling her she’s doing it wrong.

    On the other hand, how could she not have known? The suggested idea that the Karolyis kept quiet on Nassar’s transgressions so that Nassar could keep quiet on the Karolyis’ transgressions seems all to plausible.

    I don’t know. I warrant very few people do.

    1. I think you have a point that we all allowed and even encouraged Martha’s regime up until a year ago and then suddenly we’re turning on it as though we’d been saying the whole time that we shouldn’t have a team coordinator who is verbally abusive and manipulative, a training center that is remote and unsupervised, etc. etc. We hadn’t been saying this the whole time. Everyone was pretty much down with the Karolyi system – touting its successes and ignoring its failures (and I think it’s pretty clear that Mattie Larson was failed by that system even if you don’t consider the sexual abuse). We didn’t turn on them en masse until the sexual abuse came out.

      I’m glad the Karolyis are going down for this and I think it’s right, but it almost feels hypocritical how quickly gym fans are to jump on them like they’re the core of the problem. We’re all part of the problem.

      1. Thank you – you put it into better, more precise words than I could.

        I remember so clearly reading an article – I assume in 2000 – about one of the early camps, about how in the first half hour of warm ups one athlete went down with injury and another was in a corner vomiting. I have spent hours trying to find this article but perhaps it never made it online.

        Then when Martha took over I tried so hard to believe she was entirely different. And I think she was actually better. And I think her method/system worked well for some athletes (Aly? Gabby? Mohini?) and terribly for others (Simone? Mattie?) – and the same can be said of coaches. Yet they all, athletes and coaches alike, had to play in her system to compete. Until Simone and Aimee broke the system. And now we hate them for it.

        I became a mostly-NCAA fan in ~2001 largely due to the Karolyis and reemerged in 2016 because I let the gymternet convince me that the system was on the whole, not so bad. And I feel a bit duped. But maybe we all do? Or maybe we knew all along. I think we knew all along.

      2. Yes, we gym fans absolutely have some culpability in not paying more attention when gymnasts talked about the environment of the USAG/ Karolyi program. I definitely wrote off many complaints as “she’s just mad she wasn’t good enough to make xyz team”. BUT the massive difference is I/ other gym fans recognize my part and feel awful about some of the ways that my support of the sport played into this culture. The issue with the Karolyis is that they don’t seem to care or realize that they contributed to this. They have done no reflection, and seem to have no regrets for their actions.

    2. I have always disliked the Karolyis, especially Martha. However, I admit that Martha’s personality (especially how she was portrayed on TV) kept me captivated and glued to the TV because I wanted so badly for the girls to succeed so they wouldn’t get in trouble. I hate that I got entertainment value out of a situation where the girls were treated poorly.

  4. No wonder I couldn’t find pac rims on any of the NBC networks, FLO…ugh!!!

  5. Has Aly official named Rhonda as the other USAG official? My assumption was that it was her, but her tweet after Dateline still didn’t name him/her.

  6. I have mountains of homework tonight and can’t even with the Karolyis section.

    But I had to say: Spencer, bless you for the Dear Evan Hansen reference.

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