A. Junior Pan Ams
Women’s team and AA competition concluded yesterday at the Junior Pan Ams, with the US taking the team title by 7 points over second-place Canada. The hosts Argentina beat out Brazil for the bronze.
Jordan Bowers won the AA title with a 54.750, followed by Canada’s Zoe Allaire-Bourgie with 53.450, and Leanne Wong with 52.950. Tori Tatum finished fourth overall with 52.600.
The top seven countries in the AA here each qualified 1 spot to October’s Youth Olympic Games if they want it. That would be USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala. (Panama’s athlete Hilary Heron finished ahead of Guatemala’s, but Heron is a 2004 baby and is not age-eligible for the YOG.)
The US is still ostensibly claiming that it’s not sending a female artistic athlete to the YOG (as per the original plan), but USAG also stated that it selected Tori Tatum for the team because she is age-eligible for the YOG. So huh?
There was some question over Tatum’s selection as a replacement for Sunisa Lee because Tatum finished behind Lippeatt, Pilgrim, and McClain at the verification meet at WCC, and those standings were used to choose the junior Pan Ams team. USAG’s explanation for the selection was that Tatum is YOG-eligible as a 2003 baby, while the other three are not. That would seem to indicate that USAG is planning to send a woman to YOG after all. Or is just a total garbage barge in all respects at this point, which is also true.
Anyway, if the US doesn’t send anyone, the next spot goes to Costa Rica.
On the men’s side, Brandon Briones of the US took the all-around title, with silver to Diego Soares from Brazil and bronze to Felix Dolci from Canada. The team standings followed the same pattern: Canada in 3rd, Brazil in 2nd, and the US in first.
All event finals will take place on Friday, and all the gymnasts have frostbite because the competition is being held in an industrial meat freezer. FUN!
B. Nationality news
Laney Madsen—who appeared at US Classic in 2017 to chuck all the beam difficulty into your face and competed most recently at an elite qualifier in January—has announced that she’s representing Bulgaria now and will be doing so at worlds this year.
This isn’t a BeloAmerican situation because Madsen’s mother is Bulgarian—so she has an actual connection to the country and equal heritable legitimacy to represent Bulgaria as to represent the US.
I do hope there’s some sort of real selection procedure with standards, though. Bulgaria is slated to send four people to worlds this year and does have a crop of 4-5 other senior WAG elites who tend to score around 44-47 in the AA (including Yoana Yankova who is in a somewhat similar situation, living and training in GB). Madsen put up a 45 AA score at Classic last year, which is right in line with the other Bulgarians, and while Madsen is probably more internationally competitive than the other Bulgarians given an ideal hit from her (she went into the 48s at the elite qualifier), it’s not an “OH OBVIOUSLY” situation.
I don’t love the idea of her just swooping in and being gifted a spot because ‘MERICA, but if she earned (or earns) it gymnastically over the other Bulgarian contenders, then this is fine and good.
On that note, Irina Alexeeva has officially received her FIG license to represent Russia—though because of unnecessarily different transliteration practices, her name is Irina Alekseeva now. But also no. That’s like how Aliya is Aliia on her FIG license. No thank you, please.
Alexeeva may just be on the outside of the Russian Euros picture, but I’d put her among the top group of contenders and potential alternates. Her chances would increase if Mustafina’s minor knee setback becomes limiting, or if everyone else looks at Valentina the wrong way and gets put on the naughty list.
Meanwhile, Jessica Lopez and Vasiliki Millousi also renewed their FIG licenses this month, in case you were curious.
C. Gymnast updates
Ashton Locklear has finally had knee surgery because her legs have always been a national betrayal.
Lieke Wevers is still injured and will miss the major competitions of 2018.
Canadian elite Meixi Semple will join Iowa State’s team for next season, and Georgia made its official signing announcement about Alexa Al-Hameed, previously an Oklahoma verbal who was in limbo for a while and then committed to Georgia earlier this year.
Also, Khorkina is now a coach on the Russian speedskating team because of course.
D. Competition news
Germany will hold its trials for the European Championship team on June 23rd. Eleven senior women are slated to compete: Bui, Schäfer, Scheder, Voss, Grießer, Höfele, Timm, Kröll, Schöniger, Stingl, and Ruoff. This will mark Scheder’s first competition since Rio. Alt and Seitz are both out with injury. Because of injuries, teams like Germany and Great Britain do not have straightforward selections for Euros this year. It will get real.
Meanwhile, Diana Varinska won the AA at the Ukrainian Cup with a 55.067.
The first day of qualification at the Guimaraes Challenge Cup has Yeo Seojeong leading women’s vault and Isabela Onyshko leading bars with a 13.650. For the men, Jorge Vega Lopez and his 6.4 D lead floor qualification. Manrique appears to have missed on floor (7.050 E) but just squeaked into the final nonetheless in 8th place. He leads on pommel horse and also advanced to the rings final, where Andrei Muntean and Yuri van Gelder are the top qualifiers. Qualifications continue on Friday, with finals streaming on the Olympic Channel on Saturday and Sunday.
This week, we’re back to our commissioned episodes with a detailed breakdown of the ever-fascinating 2004 Olympic women’s all-around final. We did things a little differently this time, watching the competition live as we recorded and providing our (far superior to NBC) commentary as we went. So, if you want to watch the meet along with us as you listen, you can follow the link in the show notes.
F. Beam routine of the week
You guys, I’ve never used Fan Ye as the beam routine of the week. A disaster that must be remedied immediately.
She even comes through in an most important moment and nails her dismount here instead of being a glorious heartbreaker the way we have been conditioned to expect after decades of mistreatment.
Also, you know, the best Yang Bo ever done.